Nokia N79, N85 and N96 hands-on

Well, they're here. Nokia's latest and greatest N-series devices just hit the market like a trio of well-aimed bricks -- or at least that's what Nokia's hoping. We got to spend a little bit of hands-on time with prototypes of the new devices, and while we came away slightly impressed, we were nowhere near E-series impressed. Here's our biggest problem with the lineup: the only one worth talking about is the N85. Other than minor screen size disparities, the 16GB built-in memory of the N96 and the fresh candybar form of the N79, these three phones are pretty much exactly identical on specs, and yet the N96 manages to be inexcusably bulky, while the N79 sports an inexcusably terrible screen -- we're hoping that was just the prototype being funky, but we saw two versions with the same problem. The N85 isn't exactly the pinnacle of thinphoneness, but its amazing OLED screen and more refined design make the N96 look like more of a rough draft than a sibling. On the interface side, the phones are much more responsive to S60's new motion and transitions, but Nokia has oddly chosen to disable the Navi Wheel scrolling in all three phones -- a weird move, but we can't say we blame them, we haven't had a single good experience with Navi Wheel since Nokia introduced it. In all, we're not exactly thrilled about Nokia's prospects for winning over the masses with this new series of devices. Sure, Nokia will protest that it's going after the high-end users, but 5 megapixel cameras, GPS and WiFi are no longer the differentiators they once were, and users have begun to expect thinner, sexier devices at prices far below the N96's gargantuan $895 pricetag.