The Nokia Luna Bluetooth Headset Reviewed

The Nokia Luna is one of the smaller bluetooth headsets I’ve come across, in a beautifully compact and different design. The first time I saw the Luna headset a year or so back, in it’s holder, I wondered what it was, since it isn’t shaped like any conventional set. In fact, anyone I showed the headset to was intrigued at first, and impressed when they found out what it actually was. As you can see in the image on the left, its a nice beautiful and compact package. The Luna is also available in a variety of colors to match your moods and style – Black, White, Blue, Green and Pink.

When the Luna headset is in it’s holder, it’s quite a portable package, just leave it lying around your pocket, or your car dash. When the headset is in the holder, it’s actually charging. The holder charges via a micro-USB charger, and charges your headset when it’s locked in place. You should be able to squeeze out around 8 hours of talk time out of this combo. To access the headset, just click on the triangular shape, and the spring mechanism pops out the headset.

The Luna is a NFC enabled device, which means pairing it with a NFC phone is a breeze, just tap the two together and you’re connected. You can also use plain ol’ Bluetooth pairing if you don’t have a NFC enabled phone yet. It works great either way. The headset fits in your ear for easy use.  The earpiece is just as large as a coin not too big at all.

I found the fit just about fine. It wasn’t a snug fit, but was good enough for the ride between home and work. Since it was small and compact, it made for a great basic bluetooth headset. Even though I was sceptical about the mic pickup, the set worked flawlessly with all the call functions.  The set also features a tiny multi-function button, but my big pudgy fingers couldn’t get around to using it. So I had to control most of the features from the phone. Check if you can spot the button in the image below

If you are looking for a nice headset which goes beyond the conventional, this is one unit to get your hands on. The looks of it itself will ensure that it’s the center of attraction in your group. You can find the Nokia Luna retailing from around Rs.3,500 upwards to around Rs.4,500 from online retailers.

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Using NFC to automate your Life: Sony SmartTags and Samsung TecTiles

NFC (Near Field Communication) is one of the oft-mentioned seldom-seen mobile innovations that is supposed to change the way we used our phones. It’s been around for a really long time, and one of the Pioneers of NFC Technology is Nokia (They set up the NFC Forum and the first phone with NFC was the Nokia 6131). The other two companies that were involved with the initial set-up of the NFC Forum were Sony and Philips.

Most of the things that we’ve been hearing about NFC lately has been about using it for Mobile Payments, and this is a really old use case (the Nokia 6131 was released and the payment partner back then was Citibank, for NFC payments). It didn’t catch on then (phones with NFC were few and far-between) and it hasn’t caught on yet (even though there are services like ISIS and Google Wallet). This is due to a variety of reasons: I would guess that it’s mostly because they aren’t a standard unlike using your Credit Card, which is more or less universally accepted. There are other uses for NFC too: Nokia used them as a way to initiate the pairing of your phone with accessories like the Play 360 Speaker (Check it out here) and sharing photos, similar to Google’s Android Beam implementation.

You can also use NFC to set up certain actions: launch a web-page or an app, or perform a function like turning Silent Mode on, or WiFi off. Enabling functions though, is going to be platform dependent. If you have an Android Phone with NFC, you can write NFC tags to save certain functions. Imagine having an NFC tag at your office entrance that would put everyone’s phone on Silent Mode as they walk in: they just have to tap the tag with their phone (I find it really annoying when people leave their phones on normal mode in office, with really loud Notification Tones). Turn on GPS and launch the Maps app when you’re in your car by tapping on a NFC tag in the car. If various venues had NFC tags at the entrance, you could just tap on them with you phone to check in there on FourSquare. Now that would be super useful.But you need the NFC Tags to do this right?

Sony launched the Xperia SmartTags a while back, along with the NXT series of phones. Available for £12.99 on their website for a set of 4 (you could probably shop around and get it for less), you can set up the tags by using the companion app available on the Play Store. Once you get that set up, you just place the tags where you want them. Here’s a look at how you can use these Tags:

Samsung recently launched their NFC accessory, TecTiles, which are a bit cheaper, at $14.99 for a set of 5. And you can set them up using the app that’s available on the Play Store. They have a set of daily scenarios where you could use these TecTiles. Check them out, here.

Check out TecTiles in use in the Video Below:

Now if only there were more phones that had NFC! Interested in getting an NFC enabled phone? Here’s a list on Wikipedia which shows you which phones are NFC enabled.

NFC Sharing – As easy as Tapping two Devices

In the Nokia meetup last week, we had a chance to play around with some Nokia Belle devices which were NFC enabled. In this video which I captured, Aditya Singhvi from World of Phones takes us through a demo which shows how easy it is to share an image between two NFC enabled phones.

As you can see in the video, there’s no need for hunting for devices, social sharing, or emailing large files required to send even large videos to your friend if both your phones are NFC enabled. With the Nokia 600, 700 and 701 rolling out, and phones from other manufacturers coming with NFC functionality, it not too far in the future when you’ll be able to do this.

Sun, Sands, Belle and NFC: The #NokiaNFC meet in Goa

The Folks at Nokia India had invited me and a bloggers from around India to the Nokia Costal Voyage (#NokiaNFC) event at Goa last week. The highlight of the event were the new handsets from Nokia powered by Symbian Belle, which are NFC ( Near Field Communication ) enabled. We all got a Belle device each to use for a day, and capture the sights and sounds of Goa. This gave us time with the devices and see how it coped up with the tasks of capturing and recording our experience, while we shared it through our Social Networks as well. The star of the event was of course the NFC capabilities of the phones, and more about it later in the post.

Symbian Belle is the latest version of the Symbian OS which powers the latest range of phones from Nokia. This  version of the OS is a huge improvement over the previous versions of Symbian, which brings in major usability and performance improvements to phones. The latest range of devices from Nokia running Symbian bell are the 600, 700 and 701 phones. Here’s a wrap of of what we experienced during this event.

Symbian Belle

Sorry but we couldn’t take live images of the phones, since the ones were using were prototype devices which are still running development versions of the OS. We’ll soon have some devices to review, so stay tuned.

Some of the highlights of Symbian Belle, are

  • The pull down notification window on phone, similar to what you see on Android devices, which gives you easy access to enable and disable connectivity options like data, bluetooth, wireless and profile. Also notifications from apps come up here. All you need to do is to swipe down the Notification Window from the top of the phone screen too access it.
  • Flattened application menu: Gone are the days of Nokia deciding what folders the app shortcuts fall under. Now when you access the menu button, you get a list of apps which you can scroll through. You can of course create your own folders to organize apps yourselves.
  • Better Home screen Widgets: Widgets have gotten smarter and more flexible in this version. You can drag and drop widgets anywhere on screen now, and there are interactive widgets as well.
  • Improvements in the keyboard layouts, browser and other areas as well.

NFC

Symbian Belle devices which we saw were NFC enabled, which mean they can interact with other NFC enabled devices by just tapping them together. Some of the accessories which we tried out were the Nokia BH-201 headset and the Nokia Play 360° speakers.

This is the coolest part of NFC enabled devices. When you have to pair your NFC enabled phone with any of these accessories, all you have to do is tap the two devices together and they’re automagically working together with no settings to do. The demo we saw was with the Nokia 701 playing music from the phone, and when it was tapped with the Nokia Play 360°, within a fraction of a second, the music continued playing from the speaker. Cool stuff!

When people think of NFC, the first thing which comes to mind is banking applications which use NFC for enabling payments, by the NFC technology can do so much more to make daily life easier. For example, if you open an image using the Photo Gallery, and tap another phone to yours. It automatically asks you if you want to share the image with the other phone, as easy as that. Contact sharing, and Social apps is another idea which comes to mind. In fact we were told that there’s a Symbian app in the making called Pokein, where you could add friends to your social network by just tapping with their phones. NFC is one area where the potentials are unlimited and it’s just the application developer’s ingenuity which would dictate what the next big app will be.

If you want to see how easy sharing is with NFC devices check out the demo on this post – NFC Sharing – As easy as Tapping two Devices.

Nokia 600,700 and the 701

Each of these devices are running on Symbian Belle, are NFC enabled and come with a 1Ghz processor. This combination along with the right price points should see good sales for Nokia for this range of devices.

The 600 is touted as the loudest phone because of it’s loud in built speakers, which packs a punch.  The 700 is a real sleek device, so it’s being marketed as the Smallest Smartphone. The 701, with it’s bright Clear Black glass screen is nicked named the brightest of the lot.

Even though these phones feature EDOF cameras (which I used to dislike), I was quite impressed with the quality of the snaps which the 701 churned out. Since I had the 701 with me the whole day, and was clicking away, I was pleasantly surprised with the images which came out of this phone, given the fact that I was just clicking away with the auto settings, and didn’t bother with specialized settings for any of the snaps. Here are some of the star images which I liked out of the lot (click on them for the larger images):

Impressed with the EDOF camera yet? Well, I certainly was. The 701 handled the different lighting conditions with ease. Send in your thoughts and comments.

In all, the #NokiaNFC meet was a really great event Nokia India put together for us bloggers. We got to play with these devices, meet and discuss with bloggers from around India, and most importantly, all this in the relaxed Goa spirit. Thanks Nokia India!

If you’re looking for a video of how easy sharing is with NFC devices, stay tuned for the next post.

Fujitsu announces NFC WaterProof Phones with Biometrics!

Technology always develops according to the direction of the consumer demands. This is true for every field of technology. Mobile phones are a vital area where technology constantly adds more to the consumers’ comforts and benefits. The latest in this line of developments is the launch of three Fujitsu mobile phones, which feature Authentec’s innovative finger print sensors.

Fujitsu is famous for its competitive quality standards. The company has come up with the brand new models, F-09C, F-10C and F-11C. NTT Docomo collaborated with Fujitsu in this project. The models were categorized in three series namely – Prime, Style and Smart series. The mobile phones include the high tech sensor AES1750 by Authentec. Adding biometric components to mobile phones give them an added boost, in terms of features as well as speed and safety. The companies are pitching the fact that inclusion of biometric in mobiles can help the consumers conduct safe and speedy transactions at all the NFC transaction and payment centers in Japan. It is true that finger sensors heighten the touch-enabled features of the mobile phones. When the sensors are as powerful as the ones used in these series mobiles, the safety and user-friendliness of the models are bound to increase tenfold.

Fujitsu's WaterProof Biometrics enabled NFC phones

The sensor should not just be effective; it also needs a competent design that can help it achieve maximum results. AES1750 sensors come with water resistance. This is a huge leap in mobile technology, since water and damp conditions are considered the worst mobile hardware enemies. Eliminating the dangers created by the presence of water, adds to the durability and functionality of the product. The technology used here is the Touchstone packaging technology. This is the innovative development, which produces aesthetically pleasing and most competitive designs for the sensor chips. Fortunately, due to this high impact technology, the sensors are smooth colored and have a uniform surface throughout.

The biggest benefit that this technology provides to the mobiles is that the touch sensitivity of the mobiles increases. Therefore, controlling the touch functions and effects is easier and more accurate. Further features include emulation of full body touch pad and better cursor placements. These mobiles eliminate the need of using conventional mobile hardware, like joysticks, for the basic functions. Each series model has unique specifications that make them suitable for different types of target audiences.

The F-09C prime series comes with a 3.5-inch rotating-touch screen. The 16.3 megapixel camera is powerful enough to capture clear pictures and high definition videos. The mobile also has a waterproof body. The F-10C style series sports a 12.2 megapixel camera with a sleek body. The highlight of this series is that it exudes style with its jewel design concept and the ‘prism glass illumination” feature that bounces lights. F-11C smart series is for business class users. The phone is slim with just a 12.8 mm thick body. The features of this phone are altered to adjust business needs and professional demands. All these mobile phone models are water resistant and can go the extra mile about durability.

We’re on a Costal Voyage with Nokia’s NFC devices #NokiaNFC

We’ve just landed in Goa today to attend an event arranged by the folks at Nokia India. According to what we hear, we’ll be shown some of the latest NFC devices which Nokia is launching along with accessories to make our mobile lifes easier. NFC is a technology which allows us to pair or share information between them by just tapping both devices together. If you have to pair your NFC enabled phone with a speaker or headset which is /NFC enabled, all you have on do is just tap both of them together and you’re all set.

Apart from prototypes, I haven’t had a chance to play around with NFC devices in real world situations, so I’m pretty eager to see Nokia has to offer tomorrow on the NFC front. Stay tuned to find out more as tomorrow progresses. You can read up on tomorrow’s event live on twitter by following @vinuthomas and @myportableworld. Of course we’ll have some blog posts at the end of the day as well.

Nokia N9 and C7 will not support NFC Wallets

A week ago, we were at a Samsung Mobile Developers Conference, where a bunch of questions were asked (Including some hilariously stupid ones such as this one: “do your batteries use nanotechnology?”.. Seriously!). regarding developing apps to utilize NFC chips. For those of you who don’t know, NFC, or Near Field Communication is a hardware/communication protocol that allows for transfer of data over short distances. Read more about it here.

Anyways, one interesting question asked was, how would the service or content provider make sure that the users secure data remains secure on the device, especially when it can be rooted, which would give one access to the system files. The answer was that the NFC chips used had their own secure data element, which would not be accessible even if the phone is rooted.

Which brings us to this post from Read Write Web. It seems the new Nokia phones that have NFC chips, such as the N9 and C7, will not support NFC mobile payment applications. It seems the NFC chips used in those devices do not have that secure storage element, which rules out the ability to use it for mobile payments. It doesn’t mean NFC is useless on those devices though, there are a wide range of applications that NFC is still used for.

It’s surprising that Nokia omitted this though, as the Nokia 6131 was the first NFC enabled handset, and Nokia was one of the pioneers in the NFC area, where they partnered with Sony and Phillips to set up the NFC Forum back in 2004. Mobile wallets seem to be the next big thing in the mobile techology evolution (well, usage evolution would probably be more accurate), and I don’t see why Nokia isn’t stepping up their game. Are they too busy trying to decide if they’re going to jump off the burning platform?

Source: ReadWriteWeb

Google Wallet: Coming soon to your Android Phone

Yesterday, Google launched Google Wallet, to take advantage of the NFC chip in the Nexus S, and a whole bunch of new Android Devices. Currently, this venture is in collaboration with Citi, MasterCard, First Data and Sprint (and I’m sure more companies will get on board soon).

What it does is really simple: you can add your Citi or Mastercard Credit card to your Wallet account, and once authenticated, just swipe your phone (assuming the merchant has an NFC reader) and have your purchases recorded electronically, without the need for your card. All your transactions are mainted on the Wallet account, which can be locked (you have multiple layers of security for that), and you can review everything, whenever you want, whereever you want. Currently, Wallet works with GCard, which is a pre-paid access card, and the initial trial runs will be held in San Francisco and New York. If your phone doesn’t have an NFC chip, Google says that they’ll soon have simple NFC stickers to take care of that.

Here’s a video of what Wallet is about:

 

Anyways, here’s the post from the Google Mobile Blog:

Coming soon: make your phone your wallet

Thursday, May 26, 2011 | 9:20 AM


Today in our New York City office, along with Citi, MasterCard, First Data and Sprint, we gave a demo of Google Wallet, an app that will make your phone your wallet. You’ll be able to tap, pay and save using your phone and near field communication (NFC). We’re field testing Google Wallet now and plan to release it soon.


 

Google Wallet is a key part of our ongoing effort to improve shopping for both businesses and consumers. It’s aimed at making it easier for you to pay for and save on the goods you want, while giving merchants more ways to offer coupons and loyalty programs to customers, as well as bridging the gap between online and offline commerce.
Because Google Wallet is a mobile app, it will do more than a regular wallet ever could. You’ll be able to store your credit cards, offers, loyalty cards and gift cards, but without the bulk. When you tap to pay, your phone will also automatically redeem offers and earn loyalty points for you. Someday, even things like boarding passes, tickets, ID and keys could be stored in Google Wallet.
At first, Google Wallet will support both Citi MasterCard and a Google Prepaid Card, which you’ll be able to fund with almost any payment card. From the outset, you’ll be able to tap your phone to pay wherever MasterCard PayPass is accepted. Google Wallet will also sync your Google Offers, which you’ll be able to redeem via NFC at participating SingleTap™ merchants, or by showing the barcode as you check out. Many merchants are working to integrate their offers and loyalty programs with Google Wallet.
With Google Wallet, we’re building an open commerce ecosystem, and we’re planning to develop APIs that will enable integration with numerous partners. In the beginning, Google Wallet will be compatible with Nexus S 4G by Google, available on Sprint. Over time, we plan on expanding support to more phones.
To learn more please visit our Google Wallet website at www.google.com/wallet.
This is just the start of what has already been a great adventure towards the future of mobile shopping. We’re incredibly excited and hope you are, too.
Posted by Rob von Behren and Jonathan Wall, Founding Engineers on Google Wallet
Source: Google Mobile Blog

Paypal ‘Leads The Way’ for Mobile Payments

With technological advancements in the arena of financial payments, the world of making payments through mobile phones is not far behind; this being the age of smart phone users and many major companies like Apple, Nokia, Samsung etc offering mobile payment solutions to their clients. While PayPal, the eBay owned online payment system, is a new entrant in this space, it has been observed to be one of the most trustworthy options with the security of one’s personal data. This company is one of the most used alternatives to the age old credit card payment option. With the huge client base that PayPal has, it will soon be able to divert a lot of them to using latest technology of making mobile payments. The basic reason for clients still not making use of this great system is the extent of trust that can be relied on divulgence of crucial information.

This was evident with even top brands like Sony that conceded to a hacker attack last month to give up the personal information of as many as 100 millions users. This gives an edge to the most trusted though new entrant like PayPal to take on a better position than any of these reliable companies that exist in the market so far. Even though the option of making small mobile payments for newspaper or coffee existed since a very long time, it was the much-needed infrastructure that was not in place to make the optimum use of this wonderful payment system. But with the change in technology and the launch of Google’s most advanced Android based smartphones along with new Bold Blackberry launch; are totally compatible with NFC technology.

[ad#ga-cbox-right]It is believed that one in every five phones will be NFC enabled and by the end of 2014. There will be as many as 300 million smartphones that are NFC enabled. With this trend catching on, the mobile operators are no behind and most of them getting ready to launch newer options that are mobile payments compatible.

Even companies like Telefonica that plans to enter the baking business shortly have entered into agreements with Orange and Vodafone to provide the NFC technology. To join this bandwagon are retailers such as Tesco and McDonald’s which are trying their best to offer contactless payment options to their clients.

A recent survey was conducted to analyze the willingness of people to make use of this mobile payments system in Britain, United States, Germany, France, Spain, Brazil, China, Italy and South Korea; as these countries have been using this option since many years. The outcome was the clients in China were the most positive about using it with about 82 percent people finding it a great idea to make mobile payments. While Brazil followed suit with 73 percent clients approving of the system, followed by 42 percent French people welcoming this system of payment. Even in other regions like Western Europe, America, Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia similar welcome trends to make use of the mobile phone payments options were vividly seen.

Google, Mastercard and Citigroup team up for NFC payment system

When the Nexus S was announced, one thing that stood out, and still does (to a certain extant),was the NFC or Near Field Communications chip on the phone. NFC is basically a short range communication system, which can be used for mobile payments. Nokia came out with the 6131 ages ago, and tied up with Citigroup back then to display the use of NFC.

Well, now, according to the WSJ, Google has teamed up with Mastercard and Citigroup have teamed up to bring proper NFC payments to NFC capable Android devices. It seems Google is working on an app for a specific Android Device (I guess the Nexus S) for now, and will add other devices in the future, where you can link your Citigroup Credit/Debit cards and use that for payment when you check out (assuming that retailer has a NFC reader installed). What Google aims to get out of this is greater traffic for mobile ads, with more specific ads for the user, where they can use the details to drive specific ads/discounts/offers to that user.

Verifone will be delivering NFC specific readers to places, so that you can use this service.

We’re not really sure where this program will be trialled at first (but it wouldn’t be too far off the mark to say that this would be US specific for now), but it seems pretty handy!

Used NFC before? Planning on using it soon? Have any thoughts on the subject? Comment below and let us know. Or catch us on twitter, we’re @myportableworld.

Source: WSJ via Mashable