Big in 2006: Nokia N91
Despite enough hype to fuel one of Richard Branson’s spaceships, the music-phone revolution has yet to begin in earnest. Sure, Sony Ericsson fired some early artillery shots with its initial trio of Walkman mobs, and Samsung finally brought the 3GB i300 to our shops. The Walkmans, though, are limited on capacity and the Samsung is nice but hardly an iPod troubler.
Our real hopes rest on Nokia’s hugely delayed N91. Come January, you’ll finally be able to pocket one. So why the anticipation? Well, the 4GB hard drive is a good place to start. That’s room for around a thousand tracks – a respectable stash in anyone’s gadget book, and far better than the Moto ROKR’s lame 100 songs. Sony Eric’s promising 4GB memory cards in Jan, but we’ll be surprised if they arrive that soon.
Second up is the fact that, from our early flings with the phone, the N91’s a treat for playing tunes. It plays most of the formats we dig – WMA, music-store DRM'd WMAs, AAC, MP3, WAV – and sound quality’s good. Since there’s a proper 3.5mm jack, you can whack in any headphones, be they cheapo Sennheisers or luxury Grados [see our Top 10]. The dedicated keys and app make for a smart interface, too.
Admittedly, the handset’s a bit porky, but it’s nowhere near as obese as we originally feared. Plus it’s a mighty well-specced phone in its own right, with 2MP cam, superb Series 60 OS, a top screen, Wi-Fi and 3G. If we were being outrageously anal, we’d point out it doesn’t support the new Bluetooth stereo standard, A2DP. Frankly, though, we try to avoid being outrageous and anal at the same time.