Review: Nokia N73 Music Edition
As with each 'Music/Internet Edition' that Nokia produces, the end result is mainly an exercise in marketing, at least in that those who bought the original device certainly don't need to upgrade, since their hardware can almost certainly be used for the same purposes. But full credit to Nokia for making the extra effort to get across to consumers that you can (shock horror) listen to stereo music on their S60 smartphones.
In the N73's case, it's a bit of a double whammy, since it's already known for being something of a supreme camera phone. Camera AND music? Must sound pretty tempting to someone on the High Street.
But what has actually been added? After all, the original N73 was a fairly complete package. The hardware had its limitations, in the tiny keypad and the camera which couldn't handle very bright light conditions, and the hardware here's identical. What's different is the music software, a key assignment and the accessories shipped in the box.
Oh yes, and it's black. Music biz black and, in my opinion the best looking N73 yet. And it's not as obvious now that it's all plastic.
The key assignment mentioned above and pictured on the right is that of making the previous 'Media' key now go straight to Music player. I never liked the Media key and I think this is a definite improvement. Having only the single dedicated music key isn't as flexible as on some other devices, for example the HTC STRTrK and Nokia's own N75, N91 and 6290, not to mention the imminent N95, but at least any music function is now only two keypresses away at most.
Staying with hardware for a moment, the main changes for the N73 Music Edition are the welcome addition of a 2GB miniSD card (enough for around 30 CDs worth of music) and the superior AD-41 adapter/stereo headset. This has a standard 3.5mm stereo connector embedded in its control unit, meaning that you can plug in your own in-ear headset rather than having to stick with the slightly cheaper Nokia earbuds.
The Music Edition firmware (retro-fittable to standard N73's by some accounts) has as its centre piece a brand new version of Music player, complete with two Windows-style visualisations ('Oscilloscope' and 'Spectrum'), full support for Album Art (especially when syncing across from Windows Media Player) plus optional 'stereo widening' and 'loudness'. Ultimately these are all frills, but when you're aiming at the consumer it pays to tick all the boxes, I guess.
Rounding off the Music Edition are a couple of new themes, 'Waveform' and 'Stave'. Again, ultimately more frills and frippery, but combined with the black case, 'Waveform' at least looks pretty darned cool and gives off the right sort of vibe. (The less said about the awful green, default theme, 'Stave' the better...)
Despite my few marketing digs above, the facelift that is the Music Edition is definitely worthwhile overall. It reinforces another core capability of modern smartphones in a fairly friendly and very cool way - and the fact that it does it to a device which was arguably near the top of a different class of phone - camera phones - means that Nokia has made this doubly attractive.
Steve Litchfield, 12 Mar 2007
Reviewed by Steve Litchfield at