Tuesday, December 29, 2009

[N900 REVIEW] Part 7 : Multimedia Player and UPnP Streaming

Posted on 22:32 by SlipKoRnSaad

Hello in this part where we gonna highlight part 1 of Multimedia capabilities of the N900.

Due to the N900’s 32GB internal memory (expandable by a further 16GB using a memory card), the phone is it a viable alternative to a dedicated MP3 player? Well, it depends on what's a viable MP3 player for you...for me, it depends not only on available memory space but mainly on the quality delivered by the audio chipset...and as such it is important that the built in media player hits all the right notes, details after the break !

We come into the media player, the multimedia center of the N900, it is divided into three areas :

In the field of music, one has the overview of all the audio files on the N900. After opening music, the default setting is to sort music by album but this can also be changed to sort by artist, genre, playlists and all songs. The N900 supports album art which displays all music using album covers.



Once you’ve clicked on the album you’ll be taken to a list of all the songs in the album


If you ask me about the output delivered quality, you can check out my audio test on music and video playback with the Nokia 5800 Xpress Music (known by his hi quality speakers with bass rendering) and the Samsung Omnia HD (known by his Cristal sound effect), let's check out the demo (Sorry for the destroyed like audio quality, my camera isn't that good) :

As you may see, the 5800 pins down many many mobile phone out there, so the N900 sounds really fade and weak, i'm still talking about speakers right here...so, i decided to grab a N95 8GB to test its speakers quality versus the N900's ones as requested by many readers after the Part 1 Audio test series.

This time, the actual devices speakers orientation isn't the same, the devices are oriented in a position when they should be used in a day to day use (as advertised !) to output the sound, all settings are the same, no sound effects, no equalizer, volume is set at the max, check it out :

Then i've choose to plug the Tv Cable to a Tv Set to see how the N900 performs against the 5800XM, the Omnia HD and the N95 8GB, some nice surprises to check out :

In addition, i grabbed my Sennheiser HD 448 to make some comparisons and the results was somehow the same as the ones on the video above, i see that the N95 8GB has a "normal" rendering sound in a way it has an average bass and trebles output but the N900 has surprisingly deeper and clearer sound (even if i set up the N95's EQ to bass boost mode, the N900 is still a little ahead !), when it comes to the 5800, sure it has deeper bass rendering than both the N95 8GB and N900 but a lower volume, also no Cristal clear sound, it's the Omnia HD who wins this race (Cristal sound effect) as you can see/hear.

For the N900, the lack of equalizer will make things a little difficult for some earphones/headphones to provide sound as how it's meant to sound.

In summary, the N900 has a really, really great potential when it comes the sound delivered by the earphones/headphones, it just needs hardware access to EQ and i'm sure it'll beat the best in class ;)

Ps : Please do not confuse speaker sound quality with the quality on the headphone jack

That said, when tapping on the top status bar, you can choose to delete the current song from the playslist, to add it in another one or simply to activate FM transmitter functionality that lets you output audio content to a car or home FM radio :


Will show you a demo of that when i'll have a good Internet connection for uploading videos, stay tuned ;)

Ps : I was wondering if can we go even further with this functionality and not be limited to the "Nokia" RDS text that is being transmitted by FM transmitter, and guess what ! You can even display Musics tags from N900 player, incoming caller name, or full SMS text message on the radio car display !

To match the music, there is the field of Internet radio. There are already several international channels stored so that you can get started right away. Other internet stations can be added as well.

And finally, there is a range for the videos. Standards-3gp, mp4, DivX and flv are not a problem. For other codecs such as MPEG2, there are already plug-ins, but not fully developed yet, and everyday use.

You have a list of all supported video clips in the device, divided into three groups:

- Recorded by device camera
- Films (i.e. all other video files)
- Video bookmarks (saved links to remote streaming videos)

Files are listed in alphabetical order and can be sorted by date or category, and in a playback mode, a press on the screen shows the controls which are normally hidden.

UPnP :

The N900's built-in media player is a UPnP/DLNA client only (Yes, the N900 is without any surprise a "unofficially" certified DLNA device), to use the N900 as a sever too, you may install MediaBox Media Center for example.

The UPnP subsystem of Maemo5 is based on gupnp. it can streams Videos, both HTTP and RTSP streaming are supported with following content formats : 3GPP formats (H.263), Flash Video, ASF, .AVI, H.264/AVC, MP4, MPG, .MOV, .RA, .RAM, .RM, .RMVB and WMV.

In addition, HTTP streaming is also supported with : AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, M4A, MP3, WAV, WMA AMR, and MP2.

As i said, Nokia N900 is not officially DLNA or UPnP certified, but it includes features that enable to use the device with DLNA and UPnP enabled media servers.

Ps : trying with pictures i receive a "folder empty" error

Check this video out to see how it performs with Orb and XBMC :

The functionality is more user friendly than what is currently available from any Nokia or Samsung in date when streaming from source to phone...

FM radio

FM radio chip is included. However, the N900 doesn't have FM radio software preinstalled built-in but the device is capable of receiving an FM-radio signal via a free 3rd-party FM-radio application ! The hardware is disabled for power saving reasons, in addition, Bluetooth has to be powered up :

Ps : Careful with the FM radio app, it's in alpha stage and will probably eat the battery

What's hot :

- Default audio quality is good in comparison with other Nokia's brand
- FM Transmitter
- DivX and XviD videos support out of the box
- WVGA display provides excellent clarity, detailness and resolution, and the playback is smooth enough
- Kickstand
- UPnP client easy to set up (all set up should be done from pc's server)
- Internet radio out of the box

What's not :

- No equalizer
- No decent FM Radio out of the box
- No advanced video tagging like on the photos viewer
- Despite the sound is clear, stereo speakers are somehow weak (volume, bass rendering) from what we saw in other N-Series
- Built-in media player is a UPnP/DLNA client only

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