Archive for November, 2008

Indian forces kill last muslim terrorist gunmen in Mumbai

November 29, 2008

Facts:

Perpetrators: muslim terrorist gunmen

Duration of crisis: 60 hours

Killed Americans: 6

Killed foreigners total: 18

Sites attacked: 10

Killed Indian troops: 20

Total killed people: 195

Jews killed: New York Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his wife Rivkah

MUMBAI, India – A 60-hour terror rampage that killed at least 195 people across India’s financial capital ended Saturday when commandos killed the last three gunmen inside a luxury hotel while it was engulfed in flames.

Authorities searched for any remaining captives hiding in their rooms and began to shift their focus to who was behind the attacks, which killed 18 foreigners including six Americans.

A previously unknown Muslim group with a name suggesting origins inside India claimed responsibility for the attack, but Indian officials said the sole surviving gunman was from Pakistan and pointed a finger of blame at their neighbor and rival.

Islamabad denied involvement and promised to help in the investigation. A team of FBI agents also was on its way to India to lend assistance.

Some 295 people also were wounded in the violence that started when heavily armed assailants attacked 10 sites across Mumbai on Wednesday night. At least 20 soldiers and police were among the dead.

Orange flames and black smoke engulfed the landmark 565-room Taj Mahal hotel after dawn Saturday as Indian forces ended the siege there in a hail of gunfire, just hours after elite commandos stormed a Jewish center and found at least eight hostages dead.

“There were three terrorists, we have killed them,” said J.K. Dutt, director general of India’s elite National Security Guard commando unit.

Later, adoring crowds surrounded six buses carrying weary, unshaven commandos, shaking their hands and giving them flowers. The commandos, dressed in black fatigues, said they had been ordered not to talk about the operation, but said they had not slept since the ordeal began. One sat sipping a bottle of water and holding a pink rose.

With the end of one of the most brazen terror attacks in India’s history, attention turned from the military operation to questions of who was behind the attack and the heavy toll on human life.

The bodies of New York Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his wife, Rivkah, were found at the Jewish center. Their son, Moshe, who turned 2 on Saturday, was scooped up by an employee Thursday as she fled the building. Two Israelis and another American were also killed in the house, said Rabbi Zalman Schmotkin, a spokesman for the Chabad Lubavitch movement, which ran the center.

In Jerusalem, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said eight bodies had been discovered in the Jewish center and that officials were investigating the possibility of there being a ninth.

Among the foreigners killed in the attacks were six Americans, according to the U.S. Embassy. The dead also included Germans, Canadians, Israelis and nationals from Britain, Italy, Japan, China, Thailand, Australia and Singapore.

By Saturday morning the death toll was at 195, the deadliest attack in India since 1993 serial bombings in Mumbai killed 257 people. But officials said the toll from the three days of carnage was likely to rise as more bodies were brought out of the hotels.

“There is a limit a city can take. This is a very, very different kind of fear. It will be some time before things get back to normal,” said Ayesha Dar, a 33-year-old homemaker.

Indians began cremating their dead, many of them security force members killed fighting the gunmen. In the southern city of Bangalore, black clad commandos formed an honor guard for the flag-draped coffin of Maj. Sandeep Unnikrishnan, who was killed in the fighting at the Taj Mahal hotel.

“He gave up his own life to save the others,” Dutt said from Mumbai.

A group called deccan mujahideen, which alludes to a region in southern India traditionally ruled by Muslim kings, claimed responsibility for the attack, but Indian officials pointed the finger at neighboring Pakistan.

On Saturday, officials said they believed that just 10 gunmen had taken part in the attack. “Nine were killed and one was captured,” Maharshta state Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh told reporters. “We are interrogating him.”

Deshmukh’s deputy, R.R. Patil, identified the gunman as a Pakistani national, Mohammad Ajmal Qasam.

The gunmen had sophisticated equipment and used “GPS, mobile and satellite phones to communicate,” Patil said. “They were constantly in touch with a foreign country,” he said, refusing to give further details.

On Friday, India’s foreign minister, Pranab Mukherjee, told reporters that evidence indicated “some elements in Pakistan are responsible for the Mumbai terror attacks.”

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani insisted his country was not involved. His government was sending an intelligence official to assist in the probe.

Deshmukh said the attackers arrived by sea.

On Saturday the Indian navy said it was investigating whether a trawler found drifting off the coast of Mumbai, with a bound corpse on board, was used in the attack.

Navy spokesman Capt. Manohar Nambiar said the trawler, named Kuber, had been found Thursday and was brought to Mumbai. Officials said they believe the boat had sailed from a port in the neighboring state of Gujarat.

Indian security officers believe many of the gunmen may have reached the city using a black and yellow rubber dinghy found near the site of the attacks.

In the U.S., President-elect Barack Obama said he was closely monitoring the situation. “These terrorists who targeted innocent civilians will not defeat India’s great democracy, nor shake the will of a global coalition to defeat them,” he said in a statement.

On Friday, commandos killed the last two gunmen inside the luxury Oberoi hotel, where 24 bodies had been found, authorities said.

But in the most dramatic of the counterstrikes Friday, masked Indian commandos rappelled from a helicopter to the rooftop of the Chabad Lubavitch Jewish center.

For nearly 12 hours, explosions and gunfire erupted from the five-story building as the commandos fought their way downward, while thousands of people gathered behind barricades in the streets to watch. At one point, Indian forces fired a rocket at the building.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israel’s Channel 1 TV that some of the victims found at the center had been bound.

The attackers were well-prepared, carrying large bags of almonds to keep up their energy during a long siege. One backpack found contained 400 rounds of ammunition.

India has been shaken repeatedly by terror attacks blamed on muslim militants in recent years, but most were bombings striking crowded places: markets, street corners, parks. Mumbai — one of the most highly populated cities in the world with some 18 million people — was hit by a series of bombings in July 2006 that killed 187 people.

The latest attacks began Wednesday at about 9:20 p.m. with shooters spraying gunfire across the Chhatrapati Shivaji railroad station. For the next two hours, there was an attack roughly every 15 minutes — the Jewish center, a tourist restaurant, one hotel, then another, and two attacks on hospitals.

Behind the Mumbai Massacre: India’s muslims in Crisis

November 27, 2008

The disembodied voice was chilling in its rage. A gunman, holed up in Mumbai’s Oberoi Trident hotel where some 40 people had been taken hostage, told an Indian news channel that the attacks were revenge for the persecution of Muslims in India. “We love this as our country but when our mothers and sisters were being killed, where was everybody?” he asked via telephone. No answer came. But then he probably wasn’t expecting one.

The roots of Muslim rage run deep in India, nourished by a long-held sense of injustice over what many Indian Muslims believe is institutionalized discrimination against the country’s largest minority group. The disparities between Muslims, which make up 13.4% of the population, and India‘s Hindu population, which hovers around 80%, are striking. There are exceptions, of course, but generally speaking Muslim Indians have shorter life spans, worse health, lower literacy levels, and lower-paying jobs. Add to that toxic brew the lingering resentment over 2002’s anti-Muslim riots in the state of Gujarat. The riots, instigated by Hindu nationalists, killed some 2000 people, most of them Muslim. To this day, few of the perpetrators have been convicted. See pictures of the terrorist shootings in Mumbai.

The huge gap between Muslims and Hindus will continue to haunt India’s, and neighboring Pakistan‘s, progress towards peace and prosperity. But before inter-communal relations can improve there is an even bigger problem that must first be worked out: the schism in subcontinental Islam, and the religion’s place and role in modern India and Pakistan. It is a crisis 150 years in the making.

The Beginning of the Problem
On the afternoon of March 29, 1857, Mangal Pandey, a handsome, mustachioed soldier in the East India Company‘s native regiment, attacked his British lieutenant. His hanging a week later sparked a subcontinental revolt known to Indians as the first war of independence and to the British as the Sepoy Mutiny. Retribution was swift, and though Pandey was a Hindu, it was the subcontinent’s Muslims, whose Mughal King nominally held power in Delhi, who bore the brunt of British rage. The remnants of the Mughal Empire were dismantled, and five hundred years of Muslim supremacy on the subcontinent was brought to a halt.

Muslim society in India collapsed. The British imposed English as the official language. The impact was cataclysmic. Muslims went from near 100% literacy to 20% within a half-century. The country’s educated Muslim Élite was effectively blocked from administrative jobs in the government. Between 1858 and 1878, only 57 out of 3,100 graduates of Calcutta University – then the center of South Asian education – were Muslim. While discrimination by both Hindus and the British played a role, it was as if the whole of Muslim society had retreated to lick its collective wounds.

From this period of introspection two rival movements emerged to foster an Islamic ascendancy. Revivalist groups blamed the collapse of their empire on a society that had strayed too far from the teachings of the Koran. They promoted a return to a more pure form of Islam, modeled on the life of the Prophet Muhammad. Others embraced the modern ways of their new rulers, seeking Muslim advancement through the pursuit of Western sciences, culture and law. From these movements two great Islamic institutions were born: Darul Uloom Deoband in northern India, rivaled only by al-Azhar University in Cairo for its teaching of Islam, and Aligarh Muslim University, a secular institution that promoted Muslim culture, philosophy and languages, but left religion to the mosque. These two schools embody the fundamental split that continues to divide Islam in the subcontinent today. “You could say that Deoband and Aligarh are husband and wife, born from the same historical events,” says Adil Siddiqui, information coordinator for Deoband. “But they live at daggers drawn.”

The campus at Deoband is only a three-hour drive from New Delhi through the modern megasuburb of Noida. Strip malls and monster shopping complexes have consumed many of the mango groves that once framed the road to Deoband, but the contemporary world stops at the gate. The courtyards are packed with bearded young men wearing long, collared shirts and white caps. The air thrums with the voices of hundreds of students reciting the Koran from open-door classrooms.

See TIME’s Pictures of the Week.

Founded in 1866, the Deoband School quickly set itself apart from other traditional madrasahs, which were usually based in the home of the village mosque’s prayer leader. Deoband’s founders, a group of Muslim scholars from New Delhi, instituted a regimented system of classrooms, coursework, texts and exams. Instruction is in Urdu, Persian and Arabic, and the curriculum closely follows the teachings of the 18th century Indian Islamic scholar Mullah Nizamuddin Sehalvi. Graduates go on to study at Cairo’s al-Azhar and Islamic University of Medina in Saudi Arabia, or found their own Deobandi institutions.

Today, more than 9,000 Deobandi madrasahs are scattered throughout India, Afghanistan and Pakistan, most infamously the Dara-ul-Uloom Haqaniya Akora Khattak, near Peshawar, where Mullah Mohammed Omar, and several other leaders of Afghanistan’s Taliban first tasted a life lived in accordance with Shari’a. Siddiqui visibly stiffens when those names are brought up. They have become synonymous with Islamic radicalism, and Siddiqui is careful to disassociate his institution from those that carry on its traditions, without actually condemning their actions. “Our books are being taught there,” he says. “They have the same system and rules. But if someone is following the path of terrorism, it is because of local compulsions and local politics.”

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, founder of the Anglo-Mohammedan Oriental College at Aligarh in 1877, studied under the same teachers as the founders of Deoband. But he believed that the downfall of India’s Muslims was due to their unwillingness to embrace modern ways. He decoupled religion from education, and in his school sought to emulate the culture and training of India’s new colonial masters. Islamic culture was part of the curriculum, but so were the latest advances in sciences, medicine and Western philosophy. The medium was English, the better to prepare students for civil-service jobs. He called his school the Oxford of the East. In architecture alone, the campus lives up to that name. A euphoric blend of clock towers, crenellated battlements, Mughal arches, domes and the staid red brick of Victorian institutions that only India’s enthusiastic embrace of all things European could produce, the central campus of Aligarh today is haven to a diverse crowd of male, female, Hindu and Muslim students. Its law and medicine schools are among the top-ranked in India, but so are its arts faculty and Quranic Studies Centre. “With all this diversity, language, culture, secularism was the only way to go forward as a nation,” says Aligarh’s vice-chancellor, P.K. Abdul Azis. “It was the new religion.”

This fracture in religious doctrine – whether Islam should embrace the modern or revert to its fundamental origins – between two schools less than a day’s donkey ride apart when they were founded, was barely remarked upon at the time. But over the course of the next 100 years, that tiny crack would split Islam into two warring ideologies with repercussions that reverberate around the world to this day. Before the split manifested into crisis, however, the founders of both the Deoband and Aligarh universities shared the common goal of an independent India. Pedagogical leanings were overlooked as students and staff of both institutions joined with Hindus across the subcontinent to remove the yoke of colonial rule in the early decades of the 20th century.

Two Faiths, Two Nations
But nationalistic trends were pulling at the fragile alliance, and India began to splinter along ethnic and religious lines. Following World War I, a populist Muslim poet-philosopher by the name of Muhammad Iqbal framed the Islamic zeitgeist when he questioned the position of minority Muslims in a future, independent India. The solution, Iqbal proposed, was an independent state for Muslim-majority provinces in northwestern India, a separate country where Muslims would rule themselves. The idea of Pakistan was born.

Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the Savile Row-suited lawyer who midwifed Pakistan into existence on Aug. 14, 1947, was notoriously ambiguous about how he envisioned the country once it became an independent state. Both he and Iqbal, who were friends until the poet’s death in 1938, had repeatedly stated their dream for a “modern, moderate and very enlightened Pakistan,” says Sharifuddin Pirzada, Jinnah’s personal secretary. Jinnah’s own wish was that the Pakistani people, as members of a new, modern and democratic nation, would decide the country’s direction.

But rarely in Pakistan’s history have its people lived Jinnah’s vision for a modern Muslim democracy. Only three times in its 62-year history has Pakistan seen a peaceful, democratic transition of power. With four disparate provinces, over a dozen languages and dialects, and powerful neighbors, leaders – be they Presidents, Prime Ministers or army chiefs – have been forced to knit the nation together with the only thing Pakistanis have in common: religion.

Following the 1971 civil war, when East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, broke away, the populist Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto embarked on a Muslim identity program to prevent the country from fracturing further. General Mohammed Zia ul-Haq continued the Islamization campaign when he overthrew Bhutto in 1977, hoping to garner favor with the religious parties, the only constituency available to a military dictator. He instituted Shari’a courts, made blasphemy illegal, and established laws that punished fornicators with lashes and held that rape victims could be convicted of adultery. When the Soviet Union invaded neighboring Afghanistan in December 1979, Pakistan was already poised for its own Islamic revolution.

Almost overnight, thousands of refugees poured over the border into Pakistan. Camps mushroomed, and so did madrasahs. Ostensibly created to educate the refugees, they provided the ideal recruiting ground for a new breed of soldier: mujahedin, or holy warriors, trained to vanquish the infidel invaders in America’s proxy war with the Soviet Union. Thousands of Pakistanis joined fellow Muslims from across the world to fight the Soviets. As far away as Karachi, high-school kids started wearing “jihadi jackets,” the pocketed vests popular with the mujahedin. Says Hamid Gul, then head of the Pakistan intelligence agency charged with arming and training the mujahedin: “In the 1980s, the world watched the people of Afghanistan stand up to tyranny, oppression and slavery. The spirit of jihad was rekindled, and it gave a new vision to the youth of Pakistan.”

But jihad, as it is described in the Koran, does not end merely with political gain. It ends in a perfect Islamic state. The West’s, and Pakistan’s, cynical resurrection of something so profoundly powerful and complex unleashed a force whose roots can be found in al-Qaeda’s rage, the Taliban‘s dream of an Islamic utopia in Afghanistan, and in the dozens of radical Islamic groups rapidly replicating themselves in India and around the world today. “The promise of jihad was never fulfilled,” says Gul. “Is it any wonder the fighting continues to this day?” Religion may have been used to unite Pakistan, but it is also tearing it apart.

India Today
In India, Islam is, in contrast, the other – purged by the British, denigrated by the Hindu right, mistrusted by the majority, marginalized by society. India has nearly as many Muslims as all of Pakistan, but in a nation of more than a billion, they are still a minority, with all the burdens that minorities anywhere carry. Government surveys show that Muslims live shorter, poorer and unhealthier lives than Hindus and are often excluded from the better jobs. To be sure, there are Muslim success stories in the booming economy. Azim Premji, the founder of the outsourcing giant Wipro, is one of the richest individuals in India. But, for many Muslims, the inequality of the boom has reinforced their exclusion.

Kashmir, a Muslim-dominated state whose fate had been left undecided in the chaos that led up to partition, remains a suppurating wound in India’s Muslim psyche. As the cause of three wars between India and Pakistan – one of which nearly went nuclear in 1999 – Kashmir has become a symbol of profound injustice to Indian Muslims who believe that their government cares little for Kashmir’s claim of independence, which is based upon a 1948 U.N. resolution promising a plebiscite to determine the Kashmiri people‘s future. That frustration has spilled into the rest of India in the form of several devastating terrorist attacks that have made Indian Muslims both perpetrators and victims.

A mounting sense of persecution, fueled by the government’s seeming reluctance to address the brutal anti-Muslim riots that killed more than 2,000 in the state of Gujarat in 2002, has aided the cause of homegrown militant groups. They include the banned Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), which was accused of detonating nine bombs in Bombay during the course of 2003, killing close to 80. The 2006 terrorist attacks on the Bombay commuter rail system that killed 183 people were also blamed on SIMI, as well as the pro-Kashmir Pakistani terrorist group Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). Those incidents exposed the all-too-common Hindu belief that Muslims aren’t really Indian. “LeT, SIMI, it doesn’t matter who was behind these attacks. They are all children of [Pervez] Musharraf,” sneered Manish Shah, a Mumbai resident who lost his best friend in the explosions, referring to the then president of Pakistan. In India, unlike Pakistan, Islam does not unify, but divide.

Still, many South Asian Muslims insist Islam is the one and only force that can bring the subcontinent together and return it to preeminence as a single whole. “We [Muslims] were the legal rulers of India, and in 1857 the British took that away from us,” says Tarik Jan, a gentle-mannered scholar at Islamabad’s Institute of Policy Studies. “In 1947 they should have given that back to the Muslims.” Jan is no militant, but he pines for the golden era of the Mughal period in the 1700s, and has a fervent desire to see India, Pakistan and Bangladesh reunited under Islamic rule.

That sense of injustice is at the root of Muslim identity today. It has permeated every aspect of society, and forms the basis of rising Islamic radicalism on the subcontinent. “People are hungry for justice,” says Ahmed Rashid, Pakistani journalist and author of the new book Descent Into Chaos. “It is perceived to be the fundamental promise of the Koran.” These twin phenomena – the longing many Muslims have to see their religion restored as the subcontinent’s core, and the marks of both piety and extremism Islam bears – reflect the lack of strong political and civic institutions in the region for people to have faith in. If the subcontinent’s governments can’t provide those institutions, then terrorists such as the Trident’s mysterious caller, will continue asking questions. And providing their own answers.

Should you borrow to pay off debt?

November 24, 2008

Posted date: November 23, 2008

HERE’S a quick quiz for the financially enlightened Filipino:What’s easier: Earning P20,000 additional income in a year or paying off your debt from the paluwagan, the friendly five-six guy or credit cards in full and saving that amount in interest payments?

As more Filipinos entered middle-class status in the last few years (thanks to sister or cousin or aunt living and working overseas), credit cards and other forms of consumer loans have not only become a preferred way of juggling cash flow but also a matter of status.

But whispers of a global recession and creeping fears of a crisis are allowing both the nouveau middle class, and to some extent others in different strata, to re-embrace an austerity they thought they had been freed from. To many, that means finding holes in the budget they can plug, as well as moonlighting, a Filipino word for extra work on the side.

Here’s an idea, however. Before you look any further, consider retiring consumer debt. Immediately, you’ll free up cash. Instantly, you’ll benefit from lower blood pressure or more peaceful slumber at night.

Expecting a sizeable Christmas bonus? Don’t even think of throwing a Yuletide party for the Friday night videoke gang. Chip off a huge chunk from that consumer debt right away and opt for a potluck gathering.

If the Christmas bonus is not forthcoming, Augustus J.V. Ferreria, a registered financial planner, suggests simple credit substitution. Borrow money from the Social Security System or Government Service Insurance System, which give out salary loans at low interest rates and easy monthly installments, and pay off the credit card debt (and here we go again: Or the paluwagan or the friendly five-six guy on the motorbike).

If you choose to borrow from SSS or GSIS to pay off your credit card, you are most likely to get a congratulatory call from the call center agents of the company because you have qualified for a higher credit limit or a new promotion. Just say you’re not interested and hang up. Ferreria says you have to put your beloved plastic in deep freeze.

“Don’t use it anymore or else you will actually increase your debt instead of reduce it,” he explains.

Balance transfer, add-on rates
Lately, more and more credit card companies have been offering balance transfer facilities with what would seem to be very low interest rates. The idea is to transfer an existing debt with a credit card company to another company and pay the full amount in equal monthly installments at low interest. In effect, you’ll also be borrowing to pay off your loan.

What’s the catch? Balance transfer add-on rates are not simple interest rates. You do not simply pay 0.75 percent per month. That huge billboard ad has very fine print that, in effect, says that the add-on rate is not the final interest. Of course, you can’t see it from where you’re driving or waiting for the traffic to move.

Add-on rates mean the effective interest rate charged is added to your full payable amount, and that amount is divided by the number of months you want to pay your debt. A 1.5-percent add-on rate, for example, can have a final interest of up to 32.4 percent a year, depending on a certain “factor rate” used by the credit card company and the term of your loan.

The wildly confusing thing is that the computations are not uniform across banks. Finding that final interest rate is not as easy as multiplying by 12. Decoding it can be very tricky. The final interest rate will still be lower than the 42 percent per annum most banks charge, but they are not as low as those ads make them to be.

Managing debt
Credit cards and credit lines are useful personal finance tools for those who know how to use them. But if you feel like you’re getting flummoxed by all the variables, here are some more tips to manage your debt:

1. Prioritize. Writing down all your debt may be a scary thing to do, but you need to get a grip on how much you really owe. (Don’t forget the loan your mother or father extended to you).

2. Focus on where you’re bleeding the most. List down all your debt from highest interest to lowest. Then hack off the one with the highest interest rate first while paying the minimum on the others to avoid late payment charges. Once you’re done with the first, most difficult debt, add the amount you paid monthly on that account to the second debt, effectively pushing down debt at an accelerated pace. Proceed until you finish paying all your debt. This way, you focus on where you’re bleeding the most.

3. Avoid new debt. Credit card companies are aggressively looking for new clients, and old clients who will want to swipe more. Just remember that if you can’t pay in full, then you can’t afford to swipe.

4. Save, save, save. Keep a healthy emergency fund of three to six months of your monthly consumption so that you don’t have to borrow heavily when you need the money.

Sony Ericsson W902 Walkman

November 21, 2008
Nov 20, 2008

Announced back in July, the W902 is Sony Ericsson’s flagship Walkman phone for the end of 2008, and the first Walkman to come with a 5-megapixel camera. We loved the early pre-production sample we were given several months ago, and have been desperate to get our hands on the W902 ever since. Now we have.

Design

This is a solid quad-band phone. It feels tough, rugged and built to last. At 100g it’s not hugely light, but we’re glad–it’s the kind of build that benefits from being just a little heavier than some, with a chunky, well-spaced-out set of keys that are dead easy to get used to.

Excellent too is the W902’s 66mm (2.2-inch) 320 x 240-pixel display, with a tight pixel density resulting in a crisp, bright screen. Even small text is easy to read, and your photos or well-encoded videos will looks smashing, though we’ll cover that some more shortly.

The W902 lost most marks for its lack of a standard headphone socket, though. Sony Ericsson has, once again, used its proprietary USB-cum-headphone socket, meaning you’ll need to use a haggard bundled adapter if you want to plug in your own headphones. Would you enjoy using a car that required an adapter to fit its wheels? No, us neither. But some dedicated Walkman keys do at least make using music features a little less annoying.

Features

The big selling point for the W902 is its 5-megapixel camera, and it comes paired with a typical LED flash and a smaller secondary front-facing camera for video calling. The flash is one of the key differences between this and the Sony Ericsson Cyber-shot range, which often features high-quality Xenon flashes.

You can save your photos and media to a pitiful 25MB internal memory, or the bundled 8GB Memory Stick Micro M2 memory card. A dedicated Walkman button will take you into a clean media manager interface for browsing music, video, pictures, Flash games and RSS feeds.

Support media formats in here include MP3, WMA (including protected WMA), AAC and WAV. Bear in mind only DRM-free songs from the iTunes Store are compatible, and there’s no gapless playback, so live albums experience a little pause between each track.

You’ve also got a 3.6Mbps 3.5G HSDPA data connection on hand for browsing the Web (we advise installing the free Opera Mini browser), downloading music, or for watching YouTube clips via the built-in YouTube app, which works extremely well.

Of course you’ve also got the usual roster of office apps, calendars and alarms, an integrated FM radio, stereo Bluetooth 2.0 and built-in email. What you haven’t got is integrated GPS navigation, which was something we praised in the W760i–our favorite Walkman phone ever. There’s also no Wi-Fi.

Performance

With these minor disappointments out of the way, we started taking some photos. The 5-megapixel lens is on par with the Nokia N95‘s, and offers three-photo-wide panorama shots, too. Outdoor images are slightly more natural looking, but the N95 offers more detail and less noise at full resolution. It’s still nowhere near as good as even an average 5-megapixel compact, but for a phone–particularly a music phone–it’s great.

And since it’s a music phone, we’re not massively disappointed. True, the phone, like all Sony Ericssons, loses significant marks for not using a standard headphone socket (and will continue to lose marks until the design guys get the message), but its Walkman interface is clean and easy to use, as are the rest of the phone’s menus, despite being sluggish at times.

Sound quality is decent, providing you upgrade the budget earphones that come in the box. A dedicated MP3 player such as a Creative Zen, Cowon D2 or iPod classic sound noticeably better, and dedicated players offer way more music and video features. But for casual listening, it’s a great music phone that most people should enjoy using.

The phone supports H.264 MPEG-4 video, as well as lower quality WMV, and we enjoyed a full episode of a popular TV programme on the handset. We encoded the 100MB file ourselves in H.264 with a 320 x 240-pixel resolution, and a combined bit rate of around 512Kbps. No software comes bundled for doing this, and using Windows Media Player only converts to less impressive WMV quality. But if you know what you’re doing the phone can, in practise, support half-decent video.

Still, we can’t help but notice that there’s really nothing different between the W902 and every other Walkman phone from the last 12 months. It strikes us as a typical Sony Ericsson, just with a better camera and a new case–evolution, not revolution, and only mild evolution at that. So is it worth the wait?

Conclusion

In a word, yes. The W902 offers the best camera we’ve seen on a dedicated music phone, with a decent interface for browsing media and a solid, attractive design. It suffers hard at the hand of whoever at Sony Ericsson hates 3.5mm headphone sockets, but if you want a full-featured music phone with a great camera, fast Internet and above average sound quality, it’s one to check out.

If you can live with a 3-megapixel camera but want integrated satellite navigation, check out the Sony Ericsson W760i. Subjectively, we’d still choose this over the W902, because we prefer the design and quite frankly it’s the same phone on the inside.

Specs

Physical design
Phone type Candy bar
Dimensions (W x D x H) 110 x 49 x 11.7 mm
Weight w/battery 99.8 g
Primary display type TFT
Secondary display resolution x pixels
Available colours Volcanic Black; Wine Red; Earth Green
Phone
Network Quadband
Network type(s) GSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900
Connectivity options 3G, EDGE, GPRS, Bluetooth, A2DP
Calling Features Video calls, Speakerphone
General
LCD display size 2.2-inch 240 x 320-pixel
Color LCD? Yes
Performance
Max. talktime (in hours) 9 hours
Max. standby time (in hours) 380 hours
Internal memory 25 MB
Expansion slot(s) Memory Stick Micro
Included accessories Battery, charger, USB cable, 8GB Memory Stick Micro card, stereo portable handsfree, Sony Ericsson PC Suite, Media manager and user guide
Other Features
MMS? Yes
Predictive text input? Yes
Polyphonic? Yes
Built-in vibrate alert? Yes
Multimedia
Built-in digital camera? Yes
Maximum camera resolution 5 megapixels

Sony Ericsson W760i Walkman

November 21, 2008
Jul 09, 2008 Ever since we first set eyes on Sony Ericsson’s W760i Walkman phone, we knew we’d love it. It enters the music phone market and goes up against one of our all-time favourite music handsets, the W890i. As this slider phone faces some tough competition–even from its own siblings–is it everything we hoped for?

Editors’ note:

This review is based on tests done by our sister site CNET.co.uk. As such, please note that there may be slight differences in the testing procedure and ratings system. For more information on the actual tests conducted on the product, please inquire directly at the site where the article was originally published. References made to some other products or telcos in this review may not be available or applicable in Asia.

Design

This stylish handset immediately feels good to use, with a solid, lightweight build and in our opinion, an attractive design for business or personal use. Sliding out the keypad reveals a smashing set of large, flat keys, which are soft to push and easy for speedy texting.

A Memory Stick Micro slot sits on top of the phone for easy memory card swapage. It’s also possible to unlock and navigate the Walkman features of the W760i without sliding out the keypad, using a dedicated Walkman button. This is extremely useful for when you’re listening to music.

What isn’t useful is the lack of a 3.5mm headphone socket, immediately nulifying any chance of us recommending this handset as a suitable replacement to a dedicated MP3 player. You’ll need to use the bundled plastic proprietary adapter in order to use your own headphones, resulting in roughly 3 metres of cable between your ears and the phone. But that’s our only massive criticism of the W760i’s design.

Features

This quad-band music phone has some distinctly non-music phone features. Firstly, an accelerometer detects the phone’s position in space. It knows when it’s being tilted and in what direction. For instance, if you tilt the phone on its side when viewing a photo, the photo will rotate to better fit the screen.

This also allows you to control games by tilting the phone. EA’s Need For Speed Pro Street 3D racing game comes pre-installed among others. Its cars can be steered and accelerated by tilting the handset in a variety of directions.

Sony Ericsson also crammed in GPS navigation, coupled with Google Maps and Wayfinder Navigator for helping you get around in unfamiliar locations. A 3-megapixel camera will let you take photos and videos of these locations and email them over the W760i’s high-speed HSDPA data connection.

Download the amazing–and free–Opera Mini browser and the W760i becomes a blisteringly fast Internet browsing device, too. Sony Ericsson has bundled an integrated RSS feed reader into the slick dedicated media menus, so even if you’re not bothered about browsing the Web, you can at least keep up to date with news as its published.

DRM’d WMA content purchased from most online music download stores should be supported–we had no problem playing some protected Dream Theater tracks purchased from Napster. Sadly not supported are AIFF, OGG, FLAC and lossless WMA music formats. There’s no gapless playback either, so live albums will have a second-long pause between tracks.

This is pretty typical for music phones and the supported formats–unprotected MP3, WMA, AAC and WAV–are at least the ones most commonly used in the music world. Additionally, A2DP stereo Bluetooth enables the W760i to work with any Bluetooth headphones you’ve got lying around.

Performance

We’ve enjoyed using this phone so much. Its menus are slick and attractive and the physical controls are well placed. It’s not flawless, but we’re confident most people will agree it’s a nice handset to use.

Music can be dragged and dropped through Windows or synced with either Windows Media Player or Sony Ericsson’s bundled software. We had trouble getting video on here, though, and we wouldn’t recommend the W760i if watching video is a major desire. File transfers are also extremely slow–around eight to ten seconds per 320Kbps MP3.

Testing with uncompressed, lossless WAV files, we heard a decent sound quality, though through our reference-grade headphones we could hear a tiny element of background distortion. Most people won’t even notice this and it won’t be an issue for casual listening. A keen ear with a good pair of earphones may spot it.

Call quality is great and you should get a brilliant 9 hours of calls or 400 hours of standby time. Pictures quality is okay too, though at full resolution there’s a good deal of noise. Check out our full-res example shot here.

If there was one more thing we’d like, it’d be Wi-Fi. No, a music phone doesn’t necessarily need it, but considering the inclusion of so many other features that aren’t synonymous with music phones, Wi-Fi is notably absent from the W760i.

Conclusion

The W760i is probably our favourite Sony Ericsson Walkman phone to date and with its terrific design encasing a feature-packed and high-performing handset, it rivals even Nokia’s N95. Even if you’re not bothered about Walkman features, you’d be daft not to consider it for its other selling points.

Its biggest let down is its lack of a standard headphone socket. In this area, it’s no competitor to dedicated MP3 players or the terrific 3.5mm-ready Motorola ROKR E8.

Specs

Physical design
Phone type Slider
Dimensions (W x D x H) 92 x 49 x 16 mm
Weight w/battery 100 g
Primary display type TFT
Secondary display resolution x pixels
Phone
Network Quadband
Network type(s) GSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900
Connectivity options 3G, EDGE, GPS, HSDPA, Bluetooth, A2DP, USB
Calling Features Video calls
General
LCD display size 2.2-inch 240 x 320-pixel LCD
Color LCD? Yes
Primary Display Color 18 bit
Performance
Max. talktime (in hours) 9 hours
Max. standby time (in hours) 400 hours
Internal memory 40 MB
Expansion slot(s) Memory Stick Micro
Other Features
Additional functions A-GPS; Motion sensing
MMS? Yes
Predictive text input? Yes
Polyphonic? Yes
Built-in vibrate alert? Yes
Multimedia
Built-in digital camera? Yes
Maximum camera resolution 3.2 megapixels

Nokia N85

November 21, 2008

What you need to know

We like:

HSDPA, GPS, Wi-Fi keep you connected; 5-megapixel camera takes good pics; 3.5mm headphone jack is convenient, and well placed

We don’t like:

Keys on the keypad could be better defined

CNET.co.uk judgement:

The Nokia N85 is another solid N-series phone from the peeps in Finland, but if you’re looking for something different this won’t be your bag. What you have with the N85 is a well-designed, feature-packed phone, but it’s not a million miles away from the N95 — it’s just more refined. We still like it and think that as long as you don’t mind having a 5-megapixel camera instead of an 8-megapixel one, it’s definitely worth checking out

Score:

8 Excellent

Full Review

Reviewed 18 November 2008

Reviewed by Andrew Lim

From the model number, you’d think the N85 is a lesser version of the famous N95, but it’s actually an upgrade. Is this a case of Nokia running out of ideas, or is it merely honing a deservedly popular phone? We took a good look at the N85 to see whether Nokia has cracked it again.

The N85 will be available soon for free on a monthly contract. Pricing has yet to be announced.

Design
The N85 is a solid-feeling slider phone that’s smooth around the edges, giving it a more up-to-date feel than the blocky N95. Considering how many features it packs in, it doesn’t feel chunky or too heavy.

Aside from the keypad, we found all the keys on the N85 well-designed and easy to press. There’s even a handy toggle switch for locking and unlocking the N85 quickly. As for the keypad, we found it too flat for our liking, but not unusable.

We found the N85’s keypad flatter than we’d like

The double sliding mechanism — which moves around too much on the N95 — feels more solid in the N85, and doesn’t slide when it’s in your pocket. Equally secure is the N85’s camera cover — again, it won’t open by mistake in your trousers and take photos of your keys.

We really appreciate that Nokia has placed a 3.5mm headphone jack at the top of the phone instead of on the side, making it much less fiddly to use. You’ll also be glad to hear that charging and connecting to a PC can all be done via a micro-USB cable.

Worth noting is the N85’s OLED display, which consumes less power than a standard LCD. The screen is bright and large enough to view text messages or watch YouTube videos on. We also found that the Opera Mini browser looked superb on it.

Features
The N85 offers up some truly useful features, starting with HSDPA and Wi-Fi — you can access the Web almost everywhere you go. The on-board browser works well enough, but we prefer using Opera Mini, which you can download for free and offers a neat way of viewing full Web pages.

Similar to the N95 and N96, the N85 is a dual sliding phone with dedicated media keys on one side

GPS means you can find your location and plan trips, using Nokia Maps, which comes pre-installed, or you can download Google Maps. We didn’t have any problems picking up satellites, but as expected, the GPS doesn’t work indoors.

On the back of the N85 lies a 5-megapixel camera with auto-focus and dual LEDs. It’s very easy to use, with a simple interface, and we found the picture quality to be very good, even in low light — the LEDs providing more illumination than expected.

The N85’s camera features a sliding cover and LED photo lights

Equally unexpected is the built-in FM transmitter, which allows you to play music wirelessly through a car radio. It’s something that’s been made available in the past using third-party technology, but having it built-in is really useful.

As we mentioned before, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack and the Nokia N85’s dedicated media keys mean using it as a music player is really easy. The music player interface is straightforward and gives you the option to shuffle tracks, adjust the equaliser and create playlists.

Performance
Audio quality during calls was loud and clear, as was the loudspeaker, but we recommend using a Bluetooth headset (the N85 supports A2DP stereo) for hands-free calls. Battery life is quoted at 6.9 hours talk time using GSM and 4.5 hours using 3G. Standby time is 363 hours using GSM or 3G. In real life, we found that with moderate use it lasted over a day before needing to be recharged.

Conclusion
After spending some quality time with the Nokia N85, we’re not sure why Nokia didn’t just launch this as the N95’s successor instead of the N96. The N85 is a refined phone that packs in a whole bunch of features into an attractive casing. Our only disappointment is that the keypad is a little flatter than we would like, but the rest of it left us very happy.

Wi-Fi, HSDPA and a music player you can listen to by simply plugging a pair of standard headphones straight in — great stuff. Okay, it’s not a revolutionary product, but it is a very good one nevertheless, and if you’re an N95 fan looking for something a little smaller and better-looking, you could a lot worse than this.

Nokia N85

November 19, 2008

What you need to know

We like:

HSDPA, GPS, Wi-Fi keep you connected; 5-megapixel camera takes good pics; 3.5mm headphone jack is convenient, and well placed

We don’t like:

Keys on the keypad could be better defined

CNET.co.uk judgement:

The Nokia N85 is another solid N-series phone from the peeps in Finland, but if you’re looking for something different this won’t be your bag. What you have with the N85 is a well-designed, feature-packed phone, but it’s not a million miles away from the N95 — it’s just more refined. We still like it and think that as long as you don’t mind having a 5-megapixel camera instead of an 8-megapixel one, it’s definitely worth checking out

Score:

8 Excellent

Full Review

Reviewed 18 November 2008

Reviewed by Andrew Lim

From the model number, you’d think the N85 is a lesser version of the famous N95, but it’s actually an upgrade. Is this a case of Nokia running out of ideas, or is it merely honing a deservedly popular phone? We took a good look at the N85 to see whether Nokia has cracked it again.

The N85 will be available soon for free on a monthly contract. Pricing has yet to be announced.

Design
The N85 is a solid-feeling slider phone that’s smooth around the edges, giving it a more up-to-date feel than the blocky N95. Considering how many features it packs in, it doesn’t feel chunky or too heavy.

Aside from the keypad, we found all the keys on the N85 well-designed and easy to press. There’s even a handy toggle switch for locking and unlocking the N85 quickly. As for the keypad, we found it too flat for our liking, but not unusable.

The double sliding mechanism — which moves around too much on the N95 — feels more solid in the N85, and doesn’t slide when it’s in your pocket. Equally secure is the N85’s camera cover — again, it won’t open by mistake in your trousers and take photos of your keys.

We really appreciate that Nokia has placed a 3.5mm headphone jack at the top of the phone instead of on the side, making it much less fiddly to use. You’ll also be glad to hear that charging and connecting to a PC can all be done via a micro-USB cable.

Worth noting is the N85’s OLED display, which consumes less power than a standard LCD. The screen is bright and large enough to view text messages or watch YouTube videos on. We also found that the Opera Mini browser looked superb on it.

Features
The N85 offers up some truly useful features, starting with HSDPA and Wi-Fi — you can access the Web almost everywhere you go. The on-board browser works well enough, but we prefer using Opera Mini, which you can download for free and offers a neat way of viewing full Web pages.

GPS means you can find your location and plan trips, using Nokia Maps, which comes pre-installed, or you can download Google Maps. We didn’t have any problems picking up satellites, but as expected, the GPS doesn’t work indoors.

On the back of the N85 lies a 5-megapixel camera with auto-focus and dual LEDs. It’s very easy to use, with a simple interface, and we found the picture quality to be very good, even in low light — the LEDs providing more illumination than expected.

Equally unexpected is the built-in FM transmitter, which allows you to play music wirelessly through a car radio. It’s something that’s been made available in the past using third-party technology, but having it built-in is really useful.

As we mentioned before, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack and the Nokia N85’s dedicated media keys mean using it as a music player is really easy. The music player interface is straightforward and gives you the option to shuffle tracks, adjust the equaliser and create playlists.

Performance
Audio quality during calls was loud and clear, as was the loudspeaker, but we recommend using a Bluetooth headset (the N85 supports A2DP stereo) for hands-free calls. Battery life is quoted at 6.9 hours talk time using GSM and 4.5 hours using 3G. Standby time is 363 hours using GSM or 3G. In real life, we found that with moderate use it lasted over a day before needing to be recharged.

Conclusion
After spending some quality time with the Nokia N85, we’re not sure why Nokia didn’t just launch this as the N95’s successor instead of the N96. The N85 is a refined phone that packs in a whole bunch of features into an attractive casing. Our only disappointment is that the keypad is a little flatter than we would like, but the rest of it left us very happy.

Wi-Fi, HSDPA and a music player you can listen to by simply plugging a pair of standard headphones straight in — great stuff. Okay, it’s not a revolutionary product, but it is a very good one nevertheless, and if you’re an N95 fan looking for something a little smaller and better-looking, you could a lot worse than this.

N79

November 19, 2008

Sales package:

  • Nokia N79
  • Two interchangeable covers
  • 4 Gb microSD memory card
  • Battery (BL-6F)
  • Charger (AC-5)
  • Wired stereo-headset with a remote (HS-45/AD-54)
  • USB data cable CA-101
  • User Guide
  • Software DVD

Positioning

To answer the question what the Nokia N79 is all about, first we will need to figure out what model it comes in to replace. While it has a strong resemblance with the Nokia N78, it targets a completely different audience. What we are getting at is that the N79 is here to take the place of the best selling Nseries device to date – the N73 and all its iterations. Looking back at how the N73 was presented nearly two years ago, offering best camera for very little money, the Nokia N79 does exactly the same thing, packing in a 5 Mpix camera module along with the N78-esque hardware and software.

Nokia N73:

Nokia N78:

Nokia N79:

As far as Nokia’s consumer map goes, this audience is classified as Technology Stylists. In our review on the N78 we pondered over different scenarios for that phone, but each of them required Nokia to cut its price tag a fair bit, so as to make it a more appealing choice in view of the N82’s hegemony. However they haven’t heeded this piece of advice, and effectively, the N79 serves as a replacement not only for the N73, but the N78 too. All in all, this segment has reached the level of saturation when this many offerings simply can’t get along and some will have to withdraw. Luckily for Nokia, the N79 seems to be all the rage these days, for it offers a decent feature pack at an adequate price point. Even without any further price reductions the Nokia N79 has all it takes to secure its place on the shelves of retail stores for a very long while; especially since the Nokia N82 is becoming a thing of the past – while Nokia haven’t depleted its potential just yet, they are definitely about to. Although there is always an option to send the price though the floor, it’s not the best way to keep some handset afloat while maintaining an acceptable profit margin.

On top of that, the N79 completes the Nokia N85 in the sense that it acts as a less sophisticated version of the latter for those who aren’t into sliding phones. Compared the N85, it packs in an inferior display and fewer options in its sales package, but as far as hardware and features go, they aren’t all that different. The bottom line is that the Nokia N79 is for those people who are looking for the best price to quality ratio and in that respect the N79 is second to none for its 350 euro price bracket, furthermore it won’t relinquish this status during 2009. The only question remains, however, is whether it will surpass the N73’s sales – we think it’s more thank likely to.

Back to the table of contents >>>

Design, Size, Controls

The N79 is styled after most other NSeries-branded devices with very few differences at all, even its back cover is very much in turn with this line-up’s latest trend – it’s glossy and features a fancy pattern. Coming boxed with the phone are two spare interchangeable panels and thanks to a contact pad found on the N79’s body, it will know which one of them is on and will adjust the menu theme accordingly. You can always opt to disable this feature in the menu.

var so = new SWFObject(“/vplayer.swf”, “sotester”, “366”, “312”, “7”, “#000000”);
so.addVariable(“path”, “review/image/nokia/n79/video/video.flv”);
so.write(“player”);

Video: phone’s design, menu, user interface (wmv, 63,8 mb) >>>

The Nokia N79 can come with a variety of interchangeable back plates, including Light Sea Blue, Espresso Brown, Olive Green, White and Coral Red. Every phone ships with a certain combination of panels, though (for example Light Sea Blue, Espresso Brown and White for the white variant of the N79).

All editions of the handset sport either white or black front fascia, running along it is a chromed plastic strip that adds a decent touch of elegance to the N79’s apparel. The sides are decked out in dark grey plastic, although it’s possible we will see some more color schemes down the line.

My personal favorite is the white version of the phone – there aren’t many phones like this out there, which sets you apart from the crowd and it’s a welcome feat. While the N79’s glossy surface is a real fingerprint-magnet, it does a pretty good job making them nearly indiscernible. Mounted right above the display is the forward-facing VGA camera for videoconferencing.

Housed on the left-hand side is a plastic door of the memory expansion slot along with microUSB slot. Also there is the 2 mm socket for plugging in a charger. Perched on the opposite spine are the volume rocker and dedicated camera button, with a couple of stereo-speakers. On the top end is the power key, keypad lock slider and 3.5 mm audio jack.

Measuring up at 110x49x15 mm and 97 grams, the N79 is a pretty palm-friendly device, although we found it a tad too wide. But it didn’t hurt the overall experience at all. As far as build quality is concerned, it may feel creaky at times, but other than that we had no grips with its assembly quality.

Nokia N79 vs Nokia N78:

Nokia N79 vs Samsung I7110:

Nokia N79 vs Nokia N85:

Back to the table of contents >>>

Display

The handset comes equipped with a 2.4-inch QVGA (240×320 pixels) display, capable of showing up to 16M colors, presenting you with quite a bright picture that remains visible in various environments.

Generally, the N79’s display fares well. The display accommodates up to 8 text and up to 3 service lines. In some modes, though, you may get up to 14 text lines. All fonts are sharp and easy to read.

Compared to the Nokia N85, this display isn’t as bright and vibrant (all images below feature the N79 on the right).

Back to the table of contents >>>

Keypad

All in all, we found the N79’s plastic keypad a joy to use. Its buttons were quite responsive and soft. All keys are evenly lit in white, which makes the numberpad visible in various environments.

On top of that, it utilizes the NavyWheel, which is a touch-sensitive pad that allows paging through lists by sweeping your finger around the navigation button. The good thing about it is that they have tweaked this sensor a little bit, so that you will experience fewer misclicks than with the Nokia N78.

The keypad’s backlight is managed by the ambient light sensor.

Back to the table of contents >>>

Battery

The handset utilizes a 1200 mAh Li-Ion battery (BL-6F), similar to that employed in the Nokia N85. The N79 is rated for 5.5 hours of talk time and 372 hours of standby. Music time – up to 30 hours, video recording time (top resolution and quality settings) – up to 280 minutes, video playback time – up to 320 minutess.

The handset’s battery life averaged 3 days in our tests, when we used the N79 for about two hours of calls, a dozen or two snaps, several minutes of video, and around an hour of music/radio. It takes the N79 around two hours to charge from empty to full.

Below is our chart of battery times we managed to squeeze out of the N79:

  • GPS-navigation – 3.5-4 hours
  • Video playback – 4 hours 45 minutes
  • WEB-surfing (EDGE) – 4 hours
  • Wi-Fi (non-stop data upload) – 3.5 hours
  • Music (in earphones) – 28 hours
  • Radio – 19.5 hours
  • Internet radio (over Wi-Fi) – 6 hours
  • Games – 5.5 hours

Thanks to the inclusion of the FP2, some modes are now less power-hungry, which adds up to a nice battery life boost. The N79 is obviously ahead of both the N82 and N78.

Back to the table of contents >>>

Memory

The device comes equipped with 120 Mb of RAM, after first launch you will get around 62 Mb of free memory at your disposal, which is enough for running a dozen applications and browsing “heavy” web-pages – the word “slow-down” is definitely not in the N78’s vocabulary.

The user almost has 50 Mb of storage available, where any data can be stored.

The N78 deals with microSD memory cards (hot-swappable), the phone comes packaged with a 4 Gb unit. There are no restrictions as far as memory card’s size is concerned – our handset easily identified a 8Gb card.

Back to the table of contents >>>

Hardware Platform

Using the Nokia N82’s TI OMAP 2420 platform wouldn’t be the right thing to do in a relatively cheap solution, so for the N78 they went for a single-chip platform from Freescale with the ARM11 CPU running at 369 Mhz inside. Also, N79 packs in a motion sensor, and can rotate the screen automatically, depending on how you are holding the phone.

Back to the table of contents >>>

Performance

The N79 is almost no different from other FP2-based phones performance-wise, so it is pretty much in line with other state-of-the-art S60-powered devices.

Back to the table of contents >>>

USB, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi

USB. You pick one of these 3 connection modes in the USB settings of the N79:

  • Data Transfer (Mass Storage USB) – memory cards is available, no drivers required, as your OS identifies the handset automatically.
  • PC Suite – used for device management via Nokia PC Suite, enables all features of the phone, data backup etc.
  • Image Print – no explanation required.

Data transfer speeds top out at around 2 Mb/s. Once you plug the N79 into a PC it starts recharging automatically via the USB cable

Bluetooth. The phone comes with Bluetooth v2.0, with support for EDR. The following profiles are supported

  • A2DP
  • AVCRP
  • BIP-ImagePush
  • DUN-GW
  • FT-Server
  • HandsFree-AG (1.0)
  • Headset-AG
  • OBEX
  • OPP-Client
  • OPP-Server
  • SIM Access-Server

The top speed you can get with the N79’s Bluetooth connection is around 100 Kb/s. We also tested its A2DP profile in pair with the Sony Ericsson DS970 headset, which worked just fine – we managed our play list, skipped within tracks and adjusted volume seamlessly, however we couldn’t make current track’s title show up on the headset’s display.

Wi-Fi. This handset comes armed with Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11 g) support. All security standards are supported: WEP , WPA , WPA 2, with other advanced settings available. The device supports Universal PnP standard (UPnP), which is the successor to the wired standard PnP. With its help, along with Wi-Fi, you can send slides to a TV, music to a stereo system, and photos to a printer. In a certain sense UPnP is like an add-on to the infrastructure (Wi-Fi, for example) in the form of Bluetooth-esque services, so this looks more like a software upgrade. The sales package includes Home Media Server, which allows connecting the N79 through your home Wi-Fi network to a desktop PC.

There is also a Wi-Fi wizard available in the N79 – it can keep looking for enabled networks in the background mode and tap into them.

Back to the table of contents >>>

Camera

The handset comes bundled with a 5 Mpix CMOS camera, similar to that found in the Nokia N85 and some other Nokia-branded phones. The N79 features a two-section LED flash that can make some difference when taking a picture from 1-2 meters away. While the N79’s flash does better at shooting sceneries rather than people, it’s still debatable which kind of flash is superior – Xenon or LED. Perhaps the Sony Ericsson K850i answers this question in a certain way, utilizing both the Xenon and LED flash types.

The picture quality put up by the N79 only loses to that of the Motorola MOTOZINE ZN5, although some people still like it better. For those wondering whether the brand new N79 is any different from the Nokia N82 in terms of camera – it’s not, or, at least, not in the way you will notice.

(+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG (+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG
(+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG (+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG
(+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG (+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG
(+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG (+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG
(+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG (+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG
(+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG (+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG
(+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG (+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG

Nokia N79 camera specs:

  • Carl Zeiss Tessar lenses
  • 20x digital zoom
  • Focal length 5.45 mm
  • Focus range: 10 cm ~ infinity
  • Macro mode – 10 cm ~ 50 cm
  • Scenes – automatic, user defined, close-up, portrait, landscape, sport, night;
  • Geotagging

The N79’s top resolution is Print 5M – large, which stands for 2592×1944 pixels and image size of 700Kb-2Mb. The user can also make use of the following resolution settings:

  • Print 3M – Medium (2048×1536 pixels)
  • Print 2 M- Medium (1600×1200 pixels)
  • E-mail 0.8 M – Med. (1024×768 pixels)
  • MMS 0.3 M – Small (640×480 pixels)

It takes the N79 around 3-4 seconds to save a shot in any of the above resolutions if you have enabled the after-shoot view. Or 1-2 seconds in case you are ready to take another snap right after that (in the latter case all images are saved from the buffer).

Color tones. Since these overlays can be applied to any snap in a standard graphics editor, it won’t be wise of you to enable them for taking a snap on the N79. There are four effects available – Sepia, Black & White, Vivid, Negative.

Exposure compensation. This parameter is adjusted at a 0.33 step here; it will prove useful for shooting objects with dominating light or dark tones.

White balance. The N79’s camera does very well in the auto mode, though you can manually adjust the white balance and choose one of the following settings – Sunny, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent.

Obviously, we were eager to put the N79 up against the Nokia N85, and as it turned out, we were in for a major surprise. Since the Nokia N79 came with a newer firmware version and more up-to-date camera drivers, some of its shots were considerably crisper and more detailed than those snapped by the N85. It’s possible to upgrade the N85’s firmware as well, so it’s not much of a deal.

Nokia N79 Nokia N85
(+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG (+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG
(+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG (+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG
(+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG (+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG
(+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG (+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG
(+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG (+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG
(+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG (+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG
(+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG (+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG
(+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG (+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG
(+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG (+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG
(+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG (+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG
(+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG (+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG
(+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG (+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG
(+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG (+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG
(+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG (+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG
(+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG (+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG
(+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG (+) enlarge, 2592×1944, JPEG

Video recording. When recording video with N79, there are considerably fewer settings, than in the still image mode. There is a software image stabilizer that was first introduced in the Nokia N80. You can adjust the white balance, choosing from Automatic, Sun, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent. The overlay pool includes Sepia, Black&White, Negative. There are only two shooting modes – auto or night mode. Maximum resolution – 640×480 pixels (mpeg4), you can also mute sound, although there is no way you can adjust the N79’s FPS, which is locked at 30. The handset allows recording videos until you run out of free memory.

Back to the table of contents >>>

GPS-navigation

The major update to this department is the new version of Nokia Maps, which you can learn more about in our review of the FP2. Also, we would like to note that the application has become even speedier, the cold start time makes around 4-5 minutes, and we felt that the gears were spinning faster, so to speak. To my mind, the N79 is a tidy navigation-savvy solution, it does the job hands down. But, unfortunately, as far as battery life goes, the N79 doesn’t improve over the predecessors.

Back to the table of contents >>>

Music Department

All applications that have something to do with the N79’s music department (music player, radio, Internet radio) have been carried over from the FP2’s standard suite of features and are basically nothing to out of the ordinary. The handset ships with a remote control, the same as that found in the box with the Nokia N78; the bundled earphones are nothing to shout about, so you should definitely replace them with something me capable.

In terms of sound quality, the N79 is a standard Nokia’s S60 fare and is little to no different from the Nokia N78, meaning that while it is has no serious glitches on this front, it still can’t be viewed as a full-time replacement for a dedicated music player. Although, people who tend to listen to their tunes in music-unfriendly environments (subway, trains, etc) won’t feel any real difference.

On the downside, its FM transmitter that can beams music, didn’t manage to impress us. It is a quaint feat that may even settle down on Nokia’s solutions, but by and large it is of no real use. Unfortunately, this decent idea is drowned by poor technical implementation, which is not the letdown of this particular handset, but rather all devices of this type. This weakish transmitter can’t make for a stable and strong signal, therefore allowing noise and static to slip into your broadcasts, that’s why even audio books get pretty irritating to listen (as far as using the transmitter in the car goes).

Back to the table of contents >>>

Multimedia Menu

This is a wheel-shaped menu (made its first appearance with the Nokia N81), where every tab features kindred functions. You can navigate through these tabs with the help of the D-Pad or the numeric keypad.

The current version sports only six pages, whose order of appearance may be easily varied – by the default, the first tab you see is all about music (with this tab on, you can check out your library, start random playback of your tracks or view podcasts). The Games tab proposes exactly the same options as the N-Gage section. The Gallery allows you to view your last captured shot and calls up the Album. You can submit some entries to the Contacts tab, so it acts like a speed dial menu, which may come in handy on certain occasions. Internet – links to your favorite pages, Maps – points of interests and locations.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to notice that there are a whole lot of functions typical of stand-alone apps duplicated in the N82 – in the multimedia menu you can add new bookmarks, but the browser can serve the same purposes as well. You can throw some contacts into this menu, but adding them to the list of Fast dial makes more sense. Ergonomics-wise, this menu is a complete blank, bringing nothing new to the table. It is just another way to display the phone’s contents, and that’s about it. Let’s call it a “contemporary” way.

Back to the table of contents >>>

N-Gage and Gaming Department

The Nokia N79 is the first phone to feature a full-fledged N-Gage client – a tad later its localized editions will become available world-wide. The handset comes boxed with fifteen Try&Buy games, although you can pick one of them and get a full version free of charge using the activation code the N79 ships with.

Back to the table of contents >>>

Preinstalled applications

Video Center – enables the user to subscribe to various channels offering an assortment of video clips, including YouTube’s mobile version. All videos get uploaded onto the device, so that you will be able to watch them whenever you want. You can expand clips to full screen in the landscape mode, plus there is the portrait mode available with the N79. The best way to upload clips is via home or office Wi-Fi networks.

QuickOffice comes in its shrunk edition. Specifically, with the version found in the Nokia N95 8Gb you won’t be able to edit office documents. To go beyond the Read Only mode you will need to pay extra money.

Adobe PDF – allows reading PDF-files, no complaints about the application.

ZIP – enables you to extract files from archives or create new archives.

Barcode – reads bar codes, as its name suggests. Almost of no real use these days, though.

Firmware update – this application checks your current firmware version and updates it if necessary.

Back to the table of contents >>>

Impressions

Call quality was never an issue with the N79, as it easily lived up to our expectations of a Nokia-branded phone. Ring tones sounded quite loud thanks to the handset’s dual speakers. The vibrating alert was on the stronger side all thanks to the N79’s balanced casing.

Nokia have come up with a very solid phone for both work and play. I have thought a lot over what the N79 really is, and here is what I have come to – it’s a pretty good workhorse not without a pinch of style to it, but it’s more about function rather than looks. Among similarly geared offerings is the Sony Ericsson W902, however it’s forte is design. Given that they retail at pretty much the same price point, the N79 trumps the W902 with its bundled GPS, WiFi, superior music quality, plus longer battery times (compared to those of Nokia’s previous offerings). On top of that it allows the user to order one game for free, which is a nice feat to have.

As for the Samsung i7110, it’d make sense to compare it to the N79 only if you never actually held the former in hands. Effectively, it has got a different way of positioning, different feature pack, but they do have one thing in common – both phones run S60. Furthermore, the i7110 doesn’t even offer a full-fledged navigation package out of the box, which will make consumers sympathies sway in favor of the N79.

Going for around 350 Euro, the N79 doesn’t face any direct competition – the Motorola ZN5 doesn’t qualify as one, and neither does the Sony Ericsson W902. Also, with the arrival of the N79 it’s clear that the N78 will have to go, same goes for the Nokia N82, but it will at least hold up a while longer. All in all, the Nokia N79 is one of this segment’s finest solutions, and everyone looking for this type of phone is ought to keep a close eye on it.

Failure to meet

November 10, 2008

Analysis : Snubs show Obama is no RP friend

By Amando Doronila
Editorial Consultant
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Posted date: November 10, 2008

In the first blush of victory, US President-elect Barack Obama accepted congratulations from nine presidents and prime ministers and returned their calls. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, one of the numerous early callers, was not one of the chosen few.The favored world leaders were Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

All are leaders of democracies known as important allies of the United States. Two are Asians—Aso and Lee; one is leader of the centerpiece of US policy in the Middle East, Olmert of Israel; Calderon heads Mexico, the most strategic US neighbor in Latin America; and the rest are leaders of Europe’s most important democracies.

Their talks ranged over a number of issues indicating the priorities of Obama as he moved swiftly to revamp the focus of US foreign policy, including the global financial crisis, the Afghanistan war, and the North Korean and Iranian nuclear crisis.

Sarkozy’s office said he and Obama spoke for 30 minutes, characterized as “extremely warm,” as they discussed the financial crisis and agreed to meet in the “quite near future.” It said they spoke about an international financial summit in Washington.

A second round of calls to world leaders quickly followed on Saturday when Obama spoke with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Polish President Lech Kaczynski and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

After this second round, Ms Arroyo was pushed back on the queue of the waiting list. Malacañang has been waiting in vain for a return call. None, at the time of this writing, had been received.

Not on radar screen

These telephone chats over the past few days gave a first glimpse into the “world view” of the incoming administration—the countries that mattered to it, the countries Obama have downgraded and the issues that concern it most as he redefines US foreign policy in the post-Bush era.

From the looks of it, the Philippines is not on the Obama radar screen, no matter how our humiliated leaders on the waiting list claim our strategic importance is to the United Sates in the Asia-Pacific region and our historic ties with Washington.

Obama has barely a couple of years experience as junior senator from Illinois and has only a brushing acquaintance with foreign policy. It’s very likely the Philippines struck him as just a speck on the map.

And so, if his team received an early call from Ms Arroyo congratulating him for his election, one of his ignorant staff could have asked: “Where is the Philippines?”

American presidents take seriously countries whose leaders create trouble for the United States and who assail its authority as the lone superpower after the collapse of communism in the 1990s. They scorn obsequious vassal poor countries although they may have historical special relations with the United States.

Take Sarkozy. Amid the financial crisis of Wall Street in October, Sarkozy seized the Wall Street turmoil as an opening wedge to revamp the free-enterprise US model along the lines of the state-interventionist style of France. This has been seen in Washington as a revival of neo-Gaullism in France challenging the American model of capitalism.

The Canadian prime minister’s office said Obama and Harper emphasized there could be no closer friends and allies than the United States and Canada and vowed to strengthen their relationship.

President Calderon’s office said Obama pledged continued US support for Mexico’s fight against organized crime and drug trafficking. The office of Olmert said he and Obama “discussed the need to continue and advance the peace process, while maintaining Israel’s security.” Australian Prime Minister Rudd said he and Obama talked about national security and climate change.

Constructive interaction

In his conversation with Lee, Obama said the US-South Korean alliance was a “cornerstone” of Asia’s peace and stability and promised improved relations between the two countries.

In the second round of telephone talks, Obama and Russian President Medvedev “expressed the determination to create constructive interaction for the good of global stability,” and agreed their countries had common responsibility to address “serious problems of global nature.”

On Wednesday, after Obama’s election, Medvedev threatened to move short-range missiles on Russia’s borders with NATO allies, including Poland and the Czech Republic.

Obama’s talk with China’s Hu covered a range of issues, including the global financial turmoil and the sensitive issue of Taiwan. China opposes independence for Taiwan, saying that the proper handling of the issue was the key to good relations between Beijing and Washington.

‘Fairer’ Middle East policy

In his first foreign policy pronouncement as president-elect, Obama called for an international effort to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. The pronouncement came a day after Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged Obama to implement a “fairer” policy in the Middle East.

Ahmadinejad congratulated Obama on his election—the first time an Iranian leader had offered such wishes to a US president-elect since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Obama acknowledged the letter, but said Iran’s development of nuclear weapons was “unacceptable” and Iran must end its “support of terrorist organizations.”

By contrast, the Philippines encountered a frosty reception from the incoming administration. Ms Arroyo put in a call to Obama at 2-3 a.m. to congratulate him, and Obama did not receive her call.

Instead, US Ambassador Kristie Kenney offered an explanation that failed to mask the snub. In Bacolod City, Kenney said Obama was “a fan of the Philippines,” and she expected the two countries to have “extraordinarily good relations” during the Obama presidency.

Kenney said she did not foresee any major changes in the security relations with the Philippines, where US Special Forces are training Filipino troops in fighting Moro rebels linked to Osama bin Laden’s terror network in Southeast Asia.

RP not in charmed circle

Kenney said the Philippines would continue to be a “strong ally” of the United States, and acknowledged that the Philippines increasingly had a “great regional role to play.”

She said that when Ms Arroyo put in a call to Obama, his team told her that the President’s call was one of “the first and most gracious calls,” and they were taking down names and numbers and they would “call back when they get a chance.”

They never did.

Kenney said it was not likely that Ms Arroyo would be able to meet Obama when she goes to the United States next week to attend a UN function.

“I think [an Obama-Arroyo] meeting is unlikely because the president-elect, as I understand it, is not yet meeting with foreign leaders. He is busy assembling his Cabinet,” the US ambassador said.

The sidelining of the Arroyo call gave a glimpse of the importance of the Philippines to the United States at a moment of change of administration.

It is clear that the Philippines stands on the outer perimeter of US concerns in world affairs.

The first telephone conversations reveal the Philippines is not within the charmed circles of the Obama administration. It is a leper outside looking in.

It is imperative that Manila should rearrange its priorities vis-à-vis Washington. Obama is not our friend.

U.S. Jobless Rate Hits 14-Year High

November 8, 2008

Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

Job-seekers in New York filed out applications on Friday at a recruitment event for the Census Bureau.

function getSharePasskey() { return ‘ex=1383886800&en=3ecf1f995cc34311&ei=5124’;}
function getShareURL() {
return encodeURIComponent(‘http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/08/business/08jobs.html’);
}
function getShareHeadline() {
return encodeURIComponent(‘U.S. Jobless Rate Hits 14-Year High’);
}
function getShareDescription() {

return encodeURIComponent(‘The toll of lost jobs rose to 1.2 million for the year as 240,000 American jobs disappeared in October.’);
}
function getShareKeywords() {
return encodeURIComponent(‘Economic Conditions and Trends,Unemployment,Economic Conditions and Trends,United States Economy,Labor’);
}
function getShareSection() {
return encodeURIComponent(‘business’);
}
function getShareSectionDisplay() {

return encodeURIComponent(‘Business’);
}
function getShareSubSection() {
return encodeURIComponent(”);
}
function getShareByline() {
return encodeURIComponent(‘By PETER S. GOODMAN’);
}
function getSharePubdate() {
return encodeURIComponent(‘November 8, 2008’);
}

<!–
function submitCCCForm(){
PopUp = window.open(”, ‘_Icon’,’location=no,toolbar=no,status=no,width=650,height=550,scrollbars=yes,resizable=yes’);
this.document.cccform.submit();
}
// –>

Published: November 7, 2008

In a sign that American workers may face even more difficult times for many months to come, the nation’s unemployment rate last month jumped to the highest level in 14 years as job losses mounted.

Skip to next paragraph

Related

Times Topics: Credit Crisis — The Essentials

Times Topics: United States Economy

mm.DI = true;
mm.LI = false;
mm.AH = “Today’s Business: Peter S. Goodman on the Sharp Rise in the Jobless Rate”;
mm.AS = “20081107_TodaysBusinessGoodman_ready”;
mm.AD = “365”;
mm.AU = “http://graphics8.nytimes.com/podcasts/2008/11/07/07todaysbiz-goodman.mp3&#8221;;
mm.IU = “”;
writePlayer();

Today’s Business: Peter S. Goodman on the Sharp Rise in the Jobless Rate

var so = new SWFObject(“http://www.nytimes.com/packages/flash/multimedia/swfs/multiloader.swf&#8221;, “p736440”, “100%”, “25”, “8”, “#FFFFFF”);
so.addVariable(“mp3″,”http://graphics8.nytimes.com/podcasts/2008/11/07/07todaysbiz-goodman.mp3&#8221;)
so.addVariable(“duration”,”365″)
so.addVariable(“contentPath”,”http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/flash/multimedia/INLINE_PLAYER/NYTInline.swf&#8221;)
so.addParam(“allowScriptAccess”, “always”);
so.write(“p736440”);

Labor Department News Release on Employment

Marc Steiner/Agency New Jersey for The New York Times

Ken Stelma, of South Plainfield, N.J., has been jobless since last January, and his unemployment benefits ran out last month.

Gloomy enough was word from the government on Friday that a fresh 240,000 American jobs disappeared in October, the 10th consecutive month of retrenchment. It brought the toll of lost jobs to 1.2 million for the year — more than half in the last three months alone — while the unemployment rate climbed to 6.5 percent. Worse was the sense that little could be done near term to alter this now-accelerating trajectory.

President-elect Barack Obama, speaking at his first news conference since winning Tuesday’s election, sounded resigned to inheriting a starkly troubled economy when he moves into the White House next year.

“It’s not going to be quick, and it’s not going to be easy to dig ourselves out of the hole that we’re in,” Mr. Obama said, calling for swift passage of spending measures aimed at stimulating the economy, including another extension of unemployment benefits.

But while experts said this could soften the damage, it was unlikely to change the fundamentals. They said the economy would probably lose several hundred thousand jobs a month well into next year, taking the unemployment rate to near 8 percent — a level last seen a quarter-century ago.

“The economy is slipping deeper into a recessionary sinkhole that is getting broader,” said Stuart G. Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh. “The layoffs are getting larger, and coming faster.”

The health care industry, mining and public schools were the only sectors that showed more than modest growth last month. Otherwise, losses were deep and broad. Manufacturing jobs shrank by 90,000, construction by 49,000, retail by 38,000 and the financial industry by 24,000.

The outlook is troubling in part because a new atmosphere of tightness in American banking could prevail for years, say analysts, crimping economic growth. Economists tend to think in terms of a natural cycle of commerce, with businesses investing aggressively when money is abundant, pulling back when times are lean, then jumping back in when fresh opportunities emerge. This time the money may be particularly slow to return.

The worst of the financial crisis seems to have been tamed, staving off the prospect of a cataclysm, but the underlying reality endures: after two decades in which economic growth has been powered by extraordinary surges of borrowed money — a time of entrepreneurial machismo — a new era of risk-avoidance appears at hand.

In Washington, and in capitals on multiple continents, governments are devising new regulatory approaches for banks aimed at reining in the sorts of reckless engineering that made capital abundant before bringing the global financial system to grave peril. Whatever the rules, surviving banks seem likely to operate conservatively.

“The economy’s long-term, underlying growth prospects have been reduced, not forever but maybe for five or 10 years,” said Mark M. Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com. “We’re just not going to see the same sort of entrepreneurial spirit needed to generate those strong productivity gains. People have been so chastened, and they’re so fearful, that they are going to take too few risks for quite some time before the psyche is healed.”

The number of unemployed Americans leapt in October to 10.1 million — the largest number since 1983. More than 22 percent of all unemployed people have been out of work for six months or longer — another level not reached in a quarter-century.

Only 32 percent of all unemployed people were drawing state benefit checks in October because of restrictions on eligibility. More than half of all unemployed people drew benefits in the 1950s, and about 45 percent received state checks during the last recession in 2001.

“It’s a national shame,” said Andrew Stettner, deputy director of the National Employment Law Project in New York, which has been advocating an extension of unemployment benefits. “We need to be helping these families avert financial disaster, and help make up for the loss of consumer demand, and the best way we can do that is to get people unemployment checks.”

In South Plainfield, N.J., Ken Stelma, 49, has been out of work since January, when he lost his job as a customer care representative for a company that installed kitchens. Since then, he had been living on a $562 weekly unemployment check in place of his roughly $1,200 paycheck. But last month, his benefits ran out.

He is relying on his girlfriend to pay his rent. His provisional health coverage — a carryover from his last job — will end this month because he can no longer afford the $250 monthly payments, leaving him with a tumor in his foot and no insurance. Next, he will stop paying his auto insurance policy.

“What am I going to do, drive illegally just to go out and look for a job?” Mr. Stelma said.

Despite dozens of applications — at Lowe’s, Home Depot and at a home for the elderly — he remains unemployed. “I’ll do anything,” he said, adding that he was contemplating a job as an office mailroom clerk. “We’re getting desperate, man.”

Democratic leaders in the House said this week they might seek swift adoption of $60 billion to $100 billion worth of measures that would extend unemployment benefits and food stamps, while aiding states whose tax revenue has plummeted. They would then pursue a broader package of spending measures that could reach $200 billion once Mr. Obama takes office.

The Bush administration has criticized Democratic proposals for immediate aid, raising the specter of a veto. On Friday, in a written statement, President Bush said that “aggressive and decisive measures to address this situation” had already been unleashed by the government.

“It will take time for these measures to have their full impact on an economy in which many Americans are struggling,” Mr. Bush said.

The jobs report reinforced how a potent assemblage of troubles — plunging housing prices, tight credit and shrinking paychecks — was combining to drag the economy down, depriving consumers of cash.

All through the year, companies have hired tepidly and begun to lay off workers as their sales sagged, while cutting working hours for those on the payroll. That trend continued in October: the so-called underemployment rate — which includes those who have lost jobs, people working part time for lack of full-time positions and those who have given up looking for work — rose to 11.8 percent from 8.4 percent a year earlier.

The pace of layoffs has accelerated in recent months. From January to August, the economy lost about 75,000 jobs a month. In September alone, 284,000 jobs vanished, the Labor Department now says, revising its initial estimate of 159,000.

“What you see now is this cascading of unemployment moving from hours cut to hiring freezes to layoffs,” said Jared Bernstein, senior economist at the labor-oriented Economic Policy Institute in Washington. “There’s almost no economic activity out there that’s going to generate jobs right now. This is the front edge of the deeper trough of the recession. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

On Friday, some 800 people lined up outside the Pierre Hotel on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan for a chance to apply for 200 to 250 jobs.

“So many people are going for the same jobs,” said Antonio Santos, who lost a job in construction in August, as he stood amid the throng. “It’s like rolling the dice.”

Wages have effectively shrunk for most workers, as rising costs for food and fuel have more than absorbed meager increases in pay, further crimping Americans’ spending proclivities. In October, weekly wages for nonsupervisory workers grew just 2.9 percent from October 2007, less than the pace of inflation.

“Part of what I fear is a more entrenched insufficiency of demand,” said Alan D. Levenson, chief economist at T. Rowe Price Associates in Baltimore. “To the extent we’re going to have a significantly tighter credit regime, it’s going to take us longer to come out of this.”