My First Thoughts On The N86

Last Updated on: 8th March 2022, 08:00 am

Alrighty. I said I would review the N86, but it would have to be in pieces because it’s going to take me a while to master this beast. Let’s do the setup piece first. I would have done this earlier, but having to get apartment folk to chase down what was causing my sink to fill with another dude’s sink water kept me busy all day. Thankfully, the sink works now.

Let’s start with the beginning, the box! I was happy to note that I could identify every doohicker in there. There was the USB cable, the charger, a hands-free headset, an extra set of thingies if you had different-sized ears, an adaptor to plug in regular headphones, a SIM card, the battery, and of course, the phone! There was also a wack of print and a CD in there too. Yea! No trips to the store to have the person laugh at me while very slooowly identifying all the parts for me, all the while thinking I am the most slow-witted person on the planet since I’m not older. Older people are allowed to be confused about wacky tech. I don’t think the rest of us have that privilege, but maybe I’m nuts.

Now, let’s look at this sweet new phone. Unlike most thin pieces of crap that pass for cellphones nowadays, this phone has buttons you can feel and divisions you can get your head around. How it manages to be compact is it has two layers of buttons. The top layer has the scroll key, key 1, key 2, send, end, menu, and clear. But this cover slides. Slide it one way, and ta da, you have yourself a little phone keypad. Slide it the other way, and you have some media keys. I don’t know how much talks can interface with these, but they’re there for certain programs. Most of their functions can be accessed through the menus so I’ve heard. I haven’t figured out the side buttons, haven’t got there yet. But I have figured out the purpose of the switch on the side. It is a quick way to lock the phone so your butt doesn’t call people as you walk. I had to learn that lesson quick with my 6682, and occasionally I will still forget. But I have become a lot more vigilent ever since the first name in my list of contacts became a business. Your butt should never call a business!

There aren’t too many connectors to learn. The USB port doubles as the charger connector, and the phone can be charged with the charger or by USB. I like this connector way better than the 6682’s USB cable. After dealing with serial devices, I’m always nervous of pins that look like they can bend easily, and those look bendy. I’ve never had a problem, I’m just weird like that. The only other connector is for audio/video. It seems to be all handled in one jack.

Then there’s the camera cover. That thing is weird. No matter which way it is, it looks like there’s an opening. But I have learned now that if you hold the phone vertically with the square key at the bottom and the power button at the top, left is open, right is closed.

Oh yeah, the thing at the top next to the two jacks is not a mic, it’s power. That’s the button I was supposed to press to turn the phone on. But we’ll get to that later.

This phone has a lot of memory. In addition to the phone memory, it has 8 gb of built-in mass memory, and then there’s a place for an additional memory card. Wow. That’s a lot of stashing space.

I really wasn’t too worried about the setup part. I was a little worried about getting the actual license, because I heard the place I was trying to get it from had some weirdness with their store, and I was a wee bit worried about getting the battery in, but I figured it could only go in one way. But I wasn’t worried about the rest. Put in the battery, turn on the phone, wire phone to PC, have PC Suite detect it, have it hand over my IMEI number, march out to buy Talks, install Talks, done like dinner, easy as pie.

How about no?

My first hurdle was getting the battery in. My old phone had a tiny place where you could feel a groove to put your fingernail in there and sorta lift/slide the battery cover off. This one? Not that I could feel. I thought it was funny. Here I was holding a piece of technology that had a camera capable of OCR, could send email, had wireless-capability, and here, I couldn’t even put the battery in it! I felt like it was giving me a series of tests. Would I prove myself worthy of it?

I decided to go get a manual for the phone. But where? Manuals designed with sighted folks in mind have lots of pictures with the words “do as shown” in them. That isn’t gonna fly for me. I eventually found the manual in text format in Blind Sea’s phone manuals section. It still had quite a few instances of “do as shown,” but at least the rest of the text was well-structured and free of errors. Then I went and found The KNFB Reader User’s Guide, and Appendix C explained things about the phone in a more blinkcentric manner. But of course, it didn’t cover everything about the phone.

Ok, now I had my manuals. Still not sure about the battery thing. Since I wanted to start setting up some time this century, I wussed out and got Steve’s sister to put the battery in. I was relieved that she took the phone in her hands, looked at it from a few angles, and then said, “Do you have a manual?” Aha! Even the sighty needs a manual! As soon as she looked at the manual, she said “That was easy!” When she showed me, I have to agree. There is a teeny tiny groove near where you would speak. Put your nail in there and lift straight up. Don’t slide, as that will make the keypad start to slide, which you don’t need happening. Just lift. It will come off, revealing where you put the battery, SIM, and a memory card that was already in there. Sweet!

I’m pretty sure the battery will only go in one way, but I haven’t tested that. She had it in in no time. Oh, when you’re putting the cover back on, check each corner to make sure it’s down tight. Sometimes it looks like it is, but then you notice raised edges that weren’t there before. Woops.

Ok, battery is in. Plug in the damn phone! And it was at this point when I realized how dependent I had become on Talks. I wanted to check the battery status to make sure it was charging. Nope, you have to remember how you used to operate a phone before Talks, by deciphering beeps. Luckily for me, this phone made a beep similar to my other phone’s charging battery beep, so I knew what it meant. It also has a very small green indicator light which I managed to find by holding the phone almost tight against my face while plugging in the charger, waiting a few seconds, unplugging it, waiting a few seconds. Plug in, light on! Plug out, light off! Got it! At least, if I heard beeps, I would have the indicator to verify that the phone was done charging.

After the phone was charged, I wanted to get crackin’ with getting the IMEI number off the phone to use to get Talks. I plugged in the phone to the USB cable, at which point my computer was convinced I had a USB rom device. Uh, how about no? It tried to install the hardware drivers, failed, and then told me my device was ready to use. I love that stupid message. Whether or not the wizard succeeds or fails, it proudly announces that the device is ready to use. I thought “Oh well, I’ll turn on my phone and then it’ll find it.” After pressing and fiddling with every button and switch I thought was power and getting no response, I looked at KNFB Reader’s Appendix C. Guess what? I had never pushed power!

After I pushed power, I discovered two things: After my phone sings the nokia song, it sings the little Rogers song! Blech! I have to figure out how to turn that off if I can at all.

But I also discovered that as long as my phone was on, my computer couldn’t see it. Raaar!

Let me say at this point that I love, love, love the Talks Users Mailing List. If you are new to Talks, they are a rockin’ good resource. While all this was going on, I was sending them messages, and they were guiding me to the solution. My biggest help, though, was Stephen Giggar. That man knows a frightening amount about Nokia phones. It was through his careful thinking that I figured out something funky.

When you first get a Nokia phone, it asks you for a home city and all that bla. While that screen is up, PC Suite will not be allowed to see your phone. I didn’t think this was possible, but it is. Once Stephen carefully guided me past that screen, my computer went crazy. “Nokia N86! Nokia N86!” it yelped. It screamed, yelped, screached and squawked. And looky there, what do I see? It’s an IMEI number! I was so happy, since it was freezing out there, and I did not relish taking my phone to the mall to have some guy at a store find the IMEI number. Would they even know what that number was? I took that IMEI number and hotfooted it over to the place where I wanted to buy Talks. Within a few minutes, I had a new serial number, all ready to put in Talks.

The next part wasn’t too bad. I just followed the old tried and true seminar by the very same Stephen Giggar who got me out of my IMEI number jam. The worst was when I remembered “holy shit, I’m installing this Talks completely new. I’m going to have to enter in a serial number, possibly without speech, and how in hell am I going to make dashes without being able to scroll through the symbol list? I tried entering it at what I thought was the most logical spot, and my phone got very angry and made loud screaming noises at me. I still don’t know what those meant.

After a couple of shaky spots, Talks came up speaking…except it was using the most hideous voice known to mankind… well, next to the Echo 2 for the Apple that is. I learned that this was the Nokia TTS. Seriously, this voice could not handle saying Nokia. It was made by fucking Nokia, and it sounded like it said Nooka or Nookya or something.

It was at this point that the good people on the Talks list told me that I could wait until the install was done and then register. Sweet! So that is what I did. And it went in without a hitch. Yea!

Then, I tried to put in Eloquence. I love that now, you can load Talks first and the Nookya TTS will talk you through the synth install. In the old days, you had to do both installs sans speech. But even with Nooka dooka doo speaking for me, I could not get the Eloquence install to go in. This would be because I thought it would be smart to install it in the mass memory when in fact, it wasn’t. Once I installed it to phone memory, I once again had the wonderful beautiful Eloquence voice back.

Oh. One more thing. Back when my computer couldn’t find the phone, I thought I’d install the software that came on the CD with the phone. Don’t! It’s completely inaccessible. Get an old copy of PC Suite. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than this.

Geesh! And that was just to get it to talk! I remember when my 6682 came out of the box talking. I can’t imagine how hellish it would have been for me to set up back then, since I had no experience with the stuff. I still have to install the SIM card and run phone switch to get a bunch of my stuff off the old phone. Stay tuned. Hopefully I haven’t made you run screaming. Probably, to most people, the install wouldn’t have been that hard. I, apparently, am not most people.

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