Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Review: Nokia 5310 Xpress music

About a month ago, when the peso went down in value but the prices in Mexico hadn't gone up yet to compensate, I got a Nokia Xpressmusic 5310 cell phone to replace my old cell phones that have been slowly falling apart for a while now.

This is a cell phone I have had my eye on for a while. My goal was to get a cell phone that has clear voice quality and that is a quality MP3 player.

The 5310 does well in terms of voice; the voice quality is clear--one family member with hearing problems who had problems with my low-cost LG phone had no problems hearing me talk on my 5310. The only time I recall someone complaining about not clearly hearing me was one time when I was talking to my former neighbor, but she's been having problems with her cell phone so the problem might have been at her end. Even then we were able to communicate without problem after I closed the door and talked very loudly in to the phone.

The 5310 is a very good music player. It has a standard 3.5mm headphone jack; this phone doesn't need any weird adapters for me to listen to music with my favorite headphones. The audio is quite loud when using earbuds, but not always as loud as I would like when listening with low-cost standard headphones which I need to wear while running (earbuds fall out of my ears). This, however, is only a problem when the gym plays music loudly for their dancing and stationary bicycle classes in the evening; in the afternoon, when it's quieter, or when I run at the local park, the music is loud enough.

The one annoyance is that the music player crashes about once every day or two or so. This usually happens when I try to play a new song when playing another song. What happens is that the screen turns white, the telephone is unresponsive for a few seconds, then it reboots the OS. Within 20 seconds, the phone is fine again. Annoying, but not a deal breaker.

This is using version 5.3 of the OS for this phone; The most current version of the OS is 7.1. However, my phone is a TelCel (the largest cell phone carrier in Mexico) branded 5310 and TelCel hasn't updated the OS to the most current version. 7.1, which may or may not fix this issue, also has support for 16gb mini-SD cards.

The cell phone also has a lot of other goodies. It has a basic 2 megapixel camera which is nice for taking snapshots for putting on my personal web pages. The camera is no Nikon SLR, but can take decent pictures. For example, this picture of me and my former neighbor, who I saw a movie with on my birthday, was taken with the camera in my phone:

It also has a stopwatch, with a fairly large time display, which is useful when running without a treadmill to control my pace, and an "egg timer", which is useful for taking my pulse or cooking pasta. In addition, it has the ability to play J2ME video games, a basic HTML viewer, and even Opera Mini.

I can't use Opera Mini, since TelCel charges nearly 50 dollars a month for slow non-3G WAP internet access (TelCel may offer 3G, but my phone doesn't support 3G; just WAP), which is too much, especially since I now have internet at home. But, what I can use is the crude HTML browser for reading books and other documents offline (using the 4gb memory card I have in the phone).

The 5310 uses a slightly older revision of the S40 operating system (S40 5th edition, instead of the newer 6th edition with a webkit-based browser), and the HTML browser is, at best, very crude. It is very slow opening documents more than 15k in size or so, and has limited image and javascript support.

What I have done to be able to read ebooks and other documents online is write up some *NIX scripts for splitting up HTML pages and stripping unnecessary tags from these pages; by making the pages short simple text with the occasional image and little or no java script, I can make the pages readable in my cell phone. I have been enjoying some books from Baen's free library and use the phone to read daily Catholic mass readings in English (so I can fully understand them) while at Spanish-language mass.

In my next blog entry, I will show some of the *NIX scripts I use to split up and make the HTML readable with this cell phone's crude HTML reader.