Nokia N91 review: Real celebrity

Michal Sedlák, 09 May 2006. Read the original review at
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Plenty of space

Nokia calls the N91 model a music mobile phone. The combination of 4GB of memory space and smooth running USB support represents a true comfort. I even tested a Motorola miniUSB cable and it worked reliably. When connected to a PC, N91 appears as a new hard disk. From this point on, you simply can start copying your favorite music files.

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MiniUSB cable

The phone always asks you, in which mode you prefer to work. There are three options to choose from:

  • "Media Player" (transmits music through the use of special service software enclosed in the original Nokia N91 delivery package).
  • A second item, which co-works with PC Suite from the enclosed CD. Together they cover synchronization, convert the phone into a modem etc.
  • "High-capacity memory": this program does not require the installation of any special software. When data are downloaded from PC, the phone remains in offline mode.

Nokia N91
Selecting mode

The built-in Hitachi Microdrive disk is very small. It is situated between the camera lens and the battery bed. Its precise dimensions are 32 x 24 mm. It rotates at a speed of 3600 rpm, with an access time of 8 ms. The transfer of a 6 MB music file takes no more than 12 seconds.

Nokia N91 music player is brilliant, except for several insignificant details. ID3 tags are supported, of course. The player allows for creating infinite amount of playlists. Music files are automatically ordered by artist and album name.

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Music player interface • menu options • repeating option

Music files can be downloaded into the MyMusic folder through a standard "explorer". Every time you run the music player after new data has been downloaded the phone reminds itself that it should browse all available files and order them in a rational way. As expected, Nokia N91 does all this by itself. The time it needs to file new information is proportional to the amount of this information. For example, two albums, each one of 10 songs, take the phone approximately 15 seconds.

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Would you like to reorder files after synchronization? • re-filing

The work with the player menu is similar to the work with iPod devices. First you enter the album or artist folder, then you open the particular album (N91 counts total time automatically), and finally you get to the individual songs. According to the Nokia official website the search of a particular song takes approximately 12 ms; each additional song needs a mere 1 ms; an entire song is read within 22 ms.

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Menu's main section • artists • an album with its songs

When the music player is minimized, the name of the current song and its progress appear on the active stand-by display. When you go for the next song, it first appears in the upper right corner of the display, where it waits for your definite decision about a second. I you do not press NEXT again, it starts to play. I like this solution, because you can freely browse music files, without making the phone scan and read every marked song.

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Playing music on the active stand-by display • selecting the following music file

The music player application can also be controlled through the large keys situated on the keypad cover. They function smoothly and impeccably. The protruding bulgy button in the upper right corner of the cover takes you from the menu to the music player and vice versa. In order to make the switch between both applications possible, the music player remains constantly minimized in the background and a switch-off is impossible. On the other hand, by no means does the player harm the overall performance of the system. A long press on the above mentioned key opens the radio application.

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It is born for music player control

Along with respective buttons on the body of the phone, the player can also work with the remote control, which features a built-in microphone and a clip. The remote control together with the earpieces serve perfectly as a high-quality handset.

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In Nokia N91 original package you will find a HS-28 headset (remote control included). But if you are keen on seriously using the phone as a music player, please put the original Nokia headset aside. They are not bad at all, but are still worse compared to the headsets of the Nokia N91 competitors. They are incomparable to the brilliant performance of Sony Ericsson W800 plugs, for example.

I tested Nokia N91 with a Koss Porta Pro set. Sound is perfect, all acoustic elements being precise and clear. I tried to fiddle a bit with the built-in 8-band equalizer, but it seemed unnecessary. If your earphones are good, default setup is ideal.

Nokia N91
Eight-band equalizer

Nokia N91 has a function called "extended stereo", which works in a way similar to the SRS WOW effects in standard Windows Media Player. Eventually, I decided to leave it constantly on as it opens sound and is really useful. As far as the built-in sound amplifier is concerned, it is the most powerful one I have ever listened to in a mobile phone. My ears stopped recognizing individual sound elements from under 75% of its volume capacity. Each volume modification is accompanied by a slightly disturbing cracking tone.

Nokia N91
Extensive sound setting options

Sound became even better, when I plugged in the Sennheiser HD 215 headset. I am sure that even editors of audio-tech magazines would have liked it. The Nokia audio technicians have done an excellent job. It would be interesting to put the musical features of Nokia N91 and Sony Ericsoon W800 head to head in a dedicated review.

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Earphones Sennheiser HD 215

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