Continuing our weekly new series, “Interview with a Nokia Enthusiast”, today it’s Michael Hell’s turn to answer my questions. This is our biggest Interview yet, with Michael going into much detail as possible for us, and really gives us a detailed profile insight into Michael’s thinking with all things Nokia related.
Now would be a good time to put the kettle on, make yourself a cuppa, and get yourself comfortable for a good read.
Michael Hell runs his own blog, Thought’s from Hell, and although its quite a new blog, he has provided a great resource for all to enjoy, and has gained an impressive following, both on his blog, and on twitter, @xMichaelSFx. Thats Michael, pictured right, with his trusty Nokia N82.
Without further a do, here is the Interview, click “Read More”, enjoy.!
Hi Michael, for the benefit of our readers, please tell us a little about yourself, what you do, where your from, connections with WOM Nokia etc, and of course, how your blog became, Thoughts From Hell.
Hi, I’m Michael Hell, 25 Years old and from Austria, Europe. My connected Life kicked off in 2005 where i was lurking around at some german Forums. In 2006 i discovered and joined the Symbian Freak Website and Forums. I was searching for Themes for my Nokia 6630 at that Time and stumbled upon a Screenshot that had a changed Font.
Impressed from what i’ve seen i went on and registered with Symbian Freak Forums and started a bit modding myself. The Guys in the Forums have been very friendly, so it was easy to integrate myself. I’ve been very active and was promoted Moderator in the Middle of 2006 already. Time flew by and at the End of 2006 i got an Invitation by WOM World, to fly with them to Las Vegas to CES. The funny Thing is, that i didn’t even know WOM World at that Time and i almost marked the Mail as Spam and deleted it lol. After that i created a short-lived Blog, but went back to Symbian Freak soon after.
I took the Opportunity and accepted the Offers of getting Trial Devices, which i didnt even think was possible. Throughout the Time i have trialed and owned a lot of Phones and started to concentrate on writing honest, unbiased Reviews from the Standpoint of a Poweruser. The Beginning of 2009 marked another Milestone for me, as i became Symbian Freaks first ever Co-Admin, a very proud Moment for me. In October 2009 i travelled again with the WOM World Team, this Time to London to kick off the OVI Good Things.
Shortly after that i started my Thoughts from Hell Blog, i’m writing there totally stress-free, with no Limits regarding Brands or Operating Systems. My Main Goal was to blog whenever i want, about whatever i want and after 3 Months i can see that i’m completely comfortable with standing on my own Feet again and i hope i can continue this for as long as possible!
What was your first Nokia device?
Good Question to start! My first ever Nokia Device was the Nokia 5110. I don’t remember the exact date, but i remember i bought it 2nd hand from an ex-colleague. Nokia was “in” at that Time but more expensive than other Devices. I was always aiming for one. My first ever Mobile Phone was the Alcatel One Touch Easy in yellow, this lovable Brick of a Phone. Followed a Year later by a Panasonic Phone, which had a bigger Display and came bundled with a Discman lol. Boy was i happy at that time!
Including Nokia Accessories, and Devices, how many in total do you own?
Hmm let me recap. I have recently bought a 2nd hand Nokia 6680, as i wanna mod it again like in the good old Times (air-brushed Covers, changed, multi-colour Keypad LEDs etc). Another Device i still own is the Nokia E70. I had its predecessor, the 6820 before that and absolutely loved that form factor – the flip-open QWERTY keyboard. When the E70 was announced it was a clear Purchase for me. Form Factor + Symbian + 2 MP Camera was a win for me and i used it for quite some Time. It’s still working fine, and has become a very reliable backup handset. Next, there’s one of the best all around Devices ever – my lovely Nokia N82.
If you follow my Blog, you know that i absolutely love it. The Software may be outdated, but it has become very stabile with FW Updates, the Camera can still compete with the best Phones out there. I have gone through good Times and bad Times with it, and whenever i needed it, it was there. I love the N82 and will never sell this Device.
Last, but not least is the Nokia 5800XM, which i got as a Present from Teo (Admin of Symbian Freak), for my Work on SF and the Promotion to the first ever Co-Admin. It’s a nice Music Device, but not more than that. I had my Issues with it and rarely use it, the Combination of resistive Screen and the S60 5th edition have made my Time with it a Love/Hate Relationship. A special Mention goes to to the Nokia N900 which i’m currently trialing. It’s not my own Device but it deserves a Mention as its simply the best Nokia Phone I had in a long Time. Maemo is amazing and the N900 is powerfull as Hell. Hopefully a great Start of Things to come!
I’m not big on Accessoires, but i have the BH-803 and BH.900 Bluetooth Headsets. Special Mention again, to the Proporta Turbocharger, which should be essential for every Phone Geek.
Why do you like the brand, Nokia?
At the beginning, Nokia was just cool to have because “they are the best phones to have”. Nowadays, with all the Things i experienced, i think what makes Nokia my favourite Brand, is their Internet Community and Blogosphere. Throughout the Years I got to know and respect so many great People, that share the same Love for Mobiles – if someone told me 10 Years ago that a Mobile Phone Brand brings me to where i am today, i would’ve told him straight in the Face that he’s lying.
Nokia has opened a Lot of Doors for me, and i doubt that would’ve been possible on any other Brand. I love being an active Part of the Community, no Matter if it’s in writing Reviews (which i love to do), trying new Apps or simply just chat about whatever comes to Mind!
What activities, venues, shows, and places have you been with WOM World Nokia?
Basically two Places: Las Vegas and London! Las Vegas took Place in Jan. 2007 at the infamous CES, when Nokia launched the N93i, N76 and N800! After a 23h Flight and Lots of Excitement (first time abroad on my own, first flights, etc) i stepped Foot in Vegas and was just completely blown away. Here’s little Michael, running around in HUGE Vegas, with like-minded tech people, at probably one of the biggest Geek Places to be. That was probably one of the best Weeks in my Life, basically the Start that opened the Doors to a bigger Audience. I ran a short-lived Blog after Vegas, but went back to Symbian Freak quickly after.
The Trip to Vegas has also been very good in Terms of making first Contacts throughout the Blogosphere (i like that word), People like Jay Montano, Dan Carter, Rafe Blandford, Darla Mack, Reggie from Internet Tablet Talks, Anssi Hautubacka and of course the awesome People from WOM World, namely Donna Suffling, Frank Grindrod and Mike Davison.
The second Event i’ve been to was the OVI Good Things Trip to London which took Place in October 2009. Another Fun Trip, where i met some new People, met some Friends from Vegas again (hi jay!). The Trip was there to cover and bring us some Informations about the Ovi Good Things Launch, with Lots of Fun and some sightseeing! WOM World Trips are always fun, as they not only bring you to the Events and being only there, but they also try and show you something of the City you’re in. If one of your Readers ever gets invited, don’t hesitate a Second, just do it!
Relating to question 4, what is you most memorable thing about any of your trips?
Hehe thats an easy one: In Las Vegas it was the general Excitement i had. Being with like-minded Friends in the huge Nokia Tent, having my Hands on an early N95 proto etc.. oh, and standing there with Mike Davison for an Hour and listening to Metallica via his iPod In London it was without a Doubt being on our own Partyship, with lots of drinks, food and relaxed Chats. Shipping over the River Thames, underneath Tower Bridge to see the Nokia Signpost Arrow. Fantastic Memories..
You, and Mona have recently reviewed the Nokia Booklet 3G on your blog, great review by the way. What are your likes, and dislikes about the Booklet, and what would you suggest to Nokia in order for them to succeed with their next Nokia/Symbian/Maemo Booklet?
Thanks a lot, glad you like it. Well, i basically covered all Likes and Dislikes in my Blog Post – but to sum up what i miss after being a Week without it, i have to say that i absolutely miss the handy Size of it, its fantastic Battery Life of more than 8 Hours and the Build Quality.
On the Opposite we have a horribly underpowered, weak Booklet, that only runs on the Starter Edition of Windows 7, and is priced like a full-sized, lot more powerful Laptop! I’m still not totally sold to the Idea that Nokia wants to step foot in the Netbook Market, but if they wanna succeed, they need to get 2GB of RAM in the Booklet, upgrade the delivered OS to Home Premium and give it a bit more of a Nokia Touch. When you first start the Booklet, there is almost no Sign that you’re holding a Nokia Device here.
I was expecting some Apps specially made for it, but there were absolutely none, which was a bit disappointing. However, i’m still looking forward to what Nokia plans to give out next. The Fact that they send out a lot of Trial Booklets, makes me think that they wanna garner a Lot of Feedback, which will hopefully result in a better Successor.
Of all the Nokia handsets you have owned, which was your most favorable, and for what reasons?
Thats a very tough Question. I have a few Devices on my Mind already. E70, N95/8GB, N900, .. but i think i’m going to give this one, again, to my beloved black Nokia N82. I have this Handset for a bit less than 2 years now, and i see myself going back to it time and time again. The Camera can still defeat 8 Megapixel Shooters, which is something important for me.
I have all the Applications and little Gimmicks on it, which have become a Key Factor for me. Gravity is unmatched as Twitter Client, no matter which OS or Device i use, Profimail is unmatched as Mail Client. Apart from that, i think i have some kind of weird emotional connection with the N82. As i said, i have gone through some awesome Times with it, as well as some very difficult ones, and we both survived. I believe this is what makes the N82 a very good Friend for me.
Which Nokia device in the last 10 years would you say pushed the boundaries for technology used for its time?
Clearly the Nokia N95. It simply was the Jesus Phone at that Time. It had it all, a big Display, a good 5 MP Cam, GPS, a unique Form Factor, Lots of Connectivity Options.. i could go on and on all day. I was unbelievably proud to have my Hands on a Proto before everyone else back in 2007 at CES, think i took more Pictures of the N95 than of the Phones that were supposed to be launched those Days
I owned both, the N95 classic, and its big Brother, the N95 8GB and loved them both. My Sister still has a N95 8GB and i sometimes catch myself playing with it, just for the good old times. And it feels really good!
What would be your ideal Nokia mobile device, including form factor, and specifications?
I love such Questions. But i dont wanna go insane on Specifications here, i rather want a solid Phone with the following Characteristics:
• A rock-solid Touchscreen Device with improved (special keys and space-bar usable with both hands) 4-row Slide-out QWERTY, N97mini/E-series-like build quality. Size like the N900 but thinner
• 1 GHZ Snapdragon Processor and at least 1 GB Application Memory like on the N900 (256 MB RAM + 768 MB Virtual Memory)
• a 3,5-3,7″ capacitive Multi-touch AMOLED Touchscreen, 800×480 Resolution
• Stereo Speakers as used in the 5800XM
• I’d get rid of those stupid Keylock-Sliders on the Sides of the Devices, and rather get a on-screen touch combination as used on Android
• 32GB of Storage – just because we can, right?
• a fully-customizable LED on the Corner of the Device also reaches to the down the Sides of the Device
• a 8MP Camera with improved Optics and Software, with a Dual LED for Video Recording and a Xenon Flash for Photography. I dont give much about the Megapixel Race, i rather want a decent allround Camera that’s good enough to take it on the Road with me and count on, no matter if its Day or Night. As for Video Recording, i’m still skeptic about 720p on a mobile phone, we’ll see how that turns out.
• improved Battery Life in Terms of both, Software and Hardware. 1800 mAh the very least and Improvements similar than E-Series FP2. I want 2 straight Days with heavy Usage.
• full social network integrations: Adressbook with Contacts of Facebook, Twitter, MSN etc and possibilities to interact them via adressbook. the same goes for the picture/video gallery and Flickr, Picasa, Youtube. Let’s face it, our Lifes are getting more and more connected, almost everyone jumps the Facebook Wagon or something similar. I also think geo-social stuff will be a big hit in the near future, so nokia definitely has to do something with it..
• Rubberized Backsides of the Devices.. a small detail but very important. i hate phones that are too slick!
• and the OS of my Choice would be Maemo
As you can see, i’m not going for any Science-Fiction-like details, i want a high-end equipped phone, that fits my Needs and does what i want it to. All of the above mentioned Features are available right now and this is how i’d like my Phone to have. I’m sure i forgot some Things, but this is what came to Mind so far.
Do you have any advice to give Nokia on their direction in todays marketplace?
I’d be a bad critic if i wouldn’t. Nokia should get more in Touch with Bloggers all over the World. We are the Powerusers, we don’t talk Shit, we can and WILL provide Informations and Feedback that Nokia needs. Stop pumping out useless Updates like the X6 16GB. Who needs that? Focus and get back on Track again. Plus, on Top of that, I have to refer to The Prodigal Guide, who wrote that awesome open Letter to Nokia CEO OPK – give your World of Mouth Agencie(s) a Raise, a big One. WOM World does an awesome Job in keeping us Guys talking, give us a Possibility to get our Hands on the best Nokia Handsets available and bring us to the good Events. As i said, i haven’t seen that much Involvement on any other Brand.
Aside from that, Nokia is on a good Way i think. The Build Quality got better again (see N97mini or N900 f.e.), we’re going to see Overhauls for Symbian and Maemo, all in all it should be an interesting Year 2010. I’m mostly looking forward to Maemo 6, as Maemo 5 already impresses me a Lot. Looking forward to what Nokia has up their Sleeves for us (something xenon-equipped i hope )
How do you feel about Nokia’s competition in todays market, and do you agree that the gap between Nokia, and say, Apple is getting smaller?
Nokia’s Competition is alive and well, and they’re getting stronger. To be honest, with the Fails of Nokia last Year, i saw them going down. Mid-Year 2009 i switched to Android, cause i was so bored and disappointed by Nokia. While i’m waiting to decide if Symbian has a Future with me, Maemo has been the real Gamechanger for me and brought me back home again. It’s fresh, looks and works great and the Fact that practically everyone can go on and develope Apps for it, or fix Problems in the Firmware is just amazing.
THIS is how the Future has to be – and will be for me. Android is close, but for now, lacks the fitting Hardware. The Nexus One seems to be a good Choice if you aim for Android, but i haven’t tried it yet, so i can’t say much about it. The iPhone has never been an Option. You gotta hand it to Apple, their Marketing Machine is one mean Tank, and the iPhone brought the People to the Point that they started using 3rd party Apps, which has never been done on Symbian. Why? Simply because People didn’t know most of it.
Apple went on and delivered their App Store, and they heavily advertised it. It works and this is where Apple really hit everyone. But, the OS itself has never attracted me. It just didn’t click. I use the iPhone from Time to Time when my Girlfriend is here (an Apple Fangirl :p) but it’s just not working for me. Is the Gap between Apple and Nokia getting smaller? I don’t think so, i think the 2 Brands are too different. Apple counts on their Apps and the pure Speed of their OS, which is without a Doubt the fastest working OS i know.
Nokia just started off with their OVI Store and to be honest, i never really downloaded something after all the Problems they had, i rather went directly to the Developer and bought it from them. Nokia on the other Hand, delivers a decent Hardware, but (for now) lacks the fitting OS for it. Once Maemo 6 and the Symbian Versions are here, it will be very interesting again. The N900 is a perfect Example for it – a great Device with allround good Hardware and an OS, that might be immature, but already impresses. I said it often and i’ll say it once again, 2010 will be a very interesting Year for us..
Are you happy with the amount of in-car Accessories available from Nokia?
Uhm, there could be more. I use a Car Charger and my BT Headsets, but i’m a Guy that like to choose from a bigger Collection. I can’t really think of anything missing in their Portfolio – and to be honest, i don’t use much in the Car. I’m pretty happy with the BT headset and chargers.
What is the longest you have owned, and used a single Nokia mobile phone?
The Device i’ve owned the longest is the Nokia E70. I’m having it since March 27th, 2007. The Joystick is a bit damaged, but apart from that its still running fine! But the Device i’ve actually used the longest is my N82. I can still say i use it from Day to Day, even if its just a Backup Device. I bought that one on May 28th, 2008. Both were pretty good Devices at their Times, the N82 still is!
You currently have an N900 for review from Nokia Austria, how do you feel about Nokia being more contactable, and forward coming with bloggers like yourself?
Love it. absolutely love it. I mean, how much better can it get for Nokia to get in Touch with the People who love their Devices, see whats possible with them and, most important, give Feedback. I’m glad Things changed at Nokia Austria, and Stephanie, the new Nokia Digital & Relationship Marketing Manager for Alps and South East Europe is working very hard to get in Touch with us and see what we’re up to.
I’ve been waiting a long Time for Nokia to get in Touch with me, and it feels good now. Over the next Couple of Months and Years, Nokia is aiming to work closer together with austrian Bloggers and I’m really looking forward to it. WOM World has showed them their Way and i do hope they follow.
What new functionality would you like to see brought to our future Nokia devices?
Tight Integration of social Networks. Until last Year this wasn’t really important to me, but since i started using Facebook, Twitter etc, i just love to check all those Things on my Phone. Android already had a limited Feature like that, but i wanna see much more. Starting from the Adressbook (why not send DM’s or @ Replies directly via Phonebook), to the Gallery to share all your Photos and Videos, and Calendar, yes, a connected Phone is what i’d like to see the most.
Last but not least i wanna say Thank You to everyone who supported me and helped me out the last Years, you know who you are. A very special Thanks goes out to WOM World Nokia, Nokia Austria, Sony Ericsson Austria, Proporta and Mugen for their Support! And of course, thank you, Micky, for letting me tell my story to the world
Thank You Michael, I’m sure our reader will over enjoyed reading your Interview!