Neonode N2 Review

Connectivity:

As the Neonode N2 is a quad-band GSM phone, it can work in any GSM network all around the world. It’s sad that the dwarf supports only GPRS (not even EDGE), which is a big disadvantage for today’s standards. Nevertheless, it has not one but two web browsers. There’s Internet Explorer (thanks to Windows CE OS) and WAP, but the slow speed and the low resolution will limit your surfing abilities.

As we suspected, the sites were loading very slowly, and some of them couldn’t even be fully rendered. On top of that, the navigation is not user-friendly at all due to the sluggish 4-way scrolling as opposed to the free mode seen in iPhone’s Safari or Opera Mobile. The lack of zooming options or pan view in combination with the low resolution, contribute for an unpleasant experience. Not only that, but selecting is done via dragging as in the phonebook, and instead of a cursor there is a yellow outline. Therefore, we wouldn’t use N2 for browsing at all.


Locally it connects to other devices through Bluetooth, and wireless headset on that technology can be used with it. Lacking A2DP profile though, it cannot transmit stereo music to compatible devices. The USB cable in the box will be used for synchronization with computer. As it is Windows CE-based phone, like Windows Mobile phone requires ActiveSync (Microsoft Device Center with Vista) applications installed on your computer, which will allow for synchronization of the contacts and the calendar with Outlook. If the phone is turned off, it will be recognized as mass storage device and you’ll be able to only transmit files to and from its memory card.

Camera:

The camera interface is as simple as it could be: it is a big viewfinder on which you must tap to capture the image. In the settings there are a few resolution options as well as settings for the White balance, Brightness and Color Saturations. Considering the usage of the N2’s camera, those settings won’t be used often.


The images quality will not surprise you but will do the job, for a memory-photo. It is OK when compared to other 2-megapixel cameras and the only thing we would want from such camera is more-accurate color representation.


Multimedia:

Do not underestimate the multimedia capabilities of this tiny gadget. The nice headphones and the 3.5 mm jack have not get in to the package by chance. Our review unit had preloaded video and music files as well as the CorePlayer, known for its DivX and Xvid support. Sadly, both players (music and video) are not user friendly. To change the position, track or clip you’ll have to enter in the options menu and execute several commands afterwards. It would’ve been much better if this was simply done with the respective movements or buttons in the bottom of the screen.


Playing the music is done through the loudspeaker on the back (the one used also during a call) and delivers very good sound but with low volume. It’s impossible to listen to it in noisy environment but for personal enjoyment come the stereo headphones. They are made of two pieces – the one attaches to the phone universal jack and ends with 3.5mm stereo jack and volume scroll while the other are the noise-isolating earpieces. Although the sound didn’t sound like Sony Ericsson W980, but close to Nokia’s XpressMusic. If you don’t like the headphones included in the package, you can always use a different set thanks to the 3.5 mm adapter.

We had some problems with the video playback. The preset ones ran well only being slightly choppy at times. We tested H.263 and H.264 files but there was only image with no sound. Luckily, the Xvid and DivX files played without any problems, even at a resolution of 320 x 144 pixels, 512 kbps bitrate and 25 fps. That’s not bad at all for such a small phone if only the display was larger...



Software:

The N2 comes preloaded with two games – Tetris and Sudoku. Based on Windows CE 5 it can be considered as a smartphone, but there aren’t much applications for this system. Still, such can be developed and evidence for this is the CorePlayer preinstalled on our review unit. The manual also points that in the future there may be some applications at the manufacturer’s site, but currently there aren't any.

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