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Review: Nokia N95 8GB

Is Nokia's N95 a phone with a camera, a camera with a phone, or a media player that lets you stream video calls? The Test Center examines the device to see what gives.

The device, also known as the N95-4, measures 3.90 by 2.09 by 0.83 inches and has a bright 2.8 inch, 240 by 320 pixel TFT display. The sliding front panel has a solid feel and settles into place with a satisfying click. It contains the usual navigation controls, including a four-way ring surrounding a select button as well as left and right soft keys. When the panel is slid up, it reveals a standard telephone keypad. When slid down, the display rotates into landscape mode and five media control buttons are exposed.

Media files can be placed onto the device by either downloading straight from the Internet, or via a USB connection to a PC. When the latter is chosen, it can connect as a drive on the computer for data transfer, or as an MTP device to sync through Windows Media Player. The built-in stereo speakers on either side of the unit are fairly powerful for their small size and, although a little tinny, are sufficient for when headphones aren't available or desired. Supported audio file types include MP3, AAC, WMA, and M4A while the included RealPlayer Media Player supports the video formats of MPEG-4, H.264, H.263/3GPP, and RealVideo 8/9/10. There is also an integrated FM radio.

The N95-4 can connect to the Internet via a cellular 3G network or through a WLAN access point. When a network connection is attempted, the device prompts the user to choose a connection method. Connecting to a 802.11 b/g WiFi network is as simple as selecting "Search for WLAN," clicking on the desired network, and entering any necessary passwords. Utilizing either of these connection types in conjunction with an Internet call service will allow the N95-4 to be used as an Internet phone.

The included browser displayed Websites cleanly and is easy to navigate using the four-way ring. YouTube videos stream smoothly with the help of RealPlayer, and can be controlled either with the soft keys or the media player buttons.

Featuring a five megapixel camera with a Carl Zeiss Optics lens, the N95-4 rivals other similarly spec'd digital cameras. The camera button is located on the lower right side of the unit. When the device is turned to landscape mode, this button lines up exactly where the shutter release would be on a regular camera. A few of the many settings that can be customized are color tones, white balance, and light sensitivity. There is also a zoom feature and a flash.

In addition to the five MP camera, the N95-4 also sports a lower resolution, secondary camera. This lens is located above the screen on the front of the unit and is used in portrait mode. Both cameras support video recording.

Voice quality on the N95-4 is very good. Although reviewers would have preferred the volume to be a little louder, callers were clearly heard and the same was reported to be true from the other side of the conversation. Both 3.5 mm wired, as well as Bluetooth headsets, are supported.

Other features of the N95-4 are applications commonly found in the latest cell phones such as, contacts, calendar, to-do lists, and email. A built-in GPS is included as is Nokia's own Maps program, but GPS functionality is open to applications such as Google Maps.

During our battery tests, reviewers received 3 hours and 10 minutes of talk time from the 1200mAh battery, which is well below the up to 5 hours Nokia rated the N95-4 on GSM networks, but still respectable nonetheless. The completely drained battery charged to full in 2 hours and 15 minutes.

With too many features to mention, each done well, it is clear why the Nokia N95 series has been popular in the U.S. and around the world -- even without a carrier subsidizing sales. The latest 8GB model just improves on an already successful device. Anyone looking to replace, or buy their first, phone, camera, or media player would be wise to consider the N95-4.

Nokia itself has a channel program and recently extended its relationship with DH Distributing.

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