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Dolby Headphone demo

BARCELONA, Spain –You perhaps won’t be surprised to know that there was very little noise at the Dolby stand at Mobile World Congress. Just a lot of people standing around with headphones on and big smiles.

The audio tech giant was first on our list of Nokia partners to visit after we learned that they had supplied the sound software for the new award-winning Nokia 808 PureView.

Taking pride of place at their stand, the world’s best camera phone owes much to Dolby technologies for helping to make it an HD mobile entertainment device.

For the PureView is also about pure audio thanks to its high-definition Dolby Digital Plus 5.1-channel surround sound which plays on HD TVs, and home theatre systems, and when combined with Dolby Headphone technology – also built into the PureView – provides a personal 5.1 surround experience over any headphones.

Nokia is also bringing the Dolby experience to other smartphones with Nokia Belle Feature Pack 1 software upgrade for the Nokia 700, Nokia 701, and Nokia 603, also displayed on the Dolby stand.

Mobile Sales Director Shawn Richards talked us through the tech on a Nokia 700 with a demo from Batman movie The Dark Knight.

Dolby Headphone booth

He explained that the Dolby Headphone upgrade transforms stereo content into a personal surround sound. 

“You get a more natural, engaging, and authentic sound,” he said. “Good audio is even more important when you are watching a movie on a small screen. And Dolby Headphone creates a totally immersive feel.”

I popped on the headphones and gave it a try. Sure enough, the action sequence, complete with explosions at the back of my head and voice front and centre was really impressive.

I could see what Shawn meant. Normal stereo is fired into your ears, but this Dolby software converts it into a kind of sound halo around your head.

And the Dolby button on the Symbian phone screen took me right back to my first cassette recorder back in the 70s, which wiped out the awful hiss that came with it. These days however, the Dolby button means a whole new cinematic surround sound experience.

Nokia Siemens Networks

Leaving the Dolby people quietly entertaining themselves we headed off to
Nokia Siemens Networks who, with Qualcomm, showed us a new feature that will allow people to benefit from two base stations at the same time when using their phone.

Called HSPA+ (High-Speed Packet Access) Multiflow it allows the transmission of two data streams from base stations in two adjacent cells to a single handset.

After being standardised later  this year, it should come into use commercially sometime next year on existing hardware. Only a software upgrade will be needed for networks, modems and smartphones. And the future benefit to phones like the Nokia Lumia 900 which will run on HSPA, is obvious.

Nokia Siemens demonstrated the effect using a commercial base station and prototype USB dongle from Qualcomm.

Nokia Siemens Networks also repeated their world 4G speed record yesterday with 1.4 Gigabits-per-second mobile call.

Other partners at the show included Microsoft, who were displaying Nokia Windows Phones, much as they did at CES.

They were also holding a Smoked by Windows Phone challenge, where any Mobile World Congress visitor could try to outpace a Microsoft booth host who was using a Nokia Lumia 800 after nominating a task.

If you could manage to post a picture to Facebook before they did, for example, you’d win €100. It was fun watching users of so-called rival smartphones fumble and lose. Out of 20 or so challenges on the first day, they’d only paid out twice. And one of those was a dead heat, a Microsoft spokesperson told me.

Smoked by Windows Phone

Pictures: Ian Jones