In the first of three posts today about new technology announced this week, we start with a look at the latest crop of handsets from Nokia.
The company has announced three new devices aimed at the business user, including its first proper foray into the Blackberry/Treo/Keyboard-enabled PDA space.
The E61 is more PDA than phone, with a full QWERTY keyboard and colour wide display. It features a folder-based user interface, and supports Blackberry server integration as well as conventional mail send/receive support. However while the screen is of excellent quality and the device is nice and light, the keyboard is horrid. Square keys with no play or responsiveness make the device difficult to use, while the current iteration of the operating system and firmware is far from reliable. In my early use of the device at the launch, held at London’s Cafe Royal, the device crashed in less than 20 seconds.
The E70 is a conventional phone, but another of Nokia’s disastrous designs based on the split QWERTY keyboard layout. The entire front of the device lifts up and folds over to reveal a keyboard divided by the screen in the centre. As a phone, it is a fine device, but the keyboard does not lend itself to comfortable use. I am surprised that Nokia has not learned from the awful Nokia 6820, the first of its phones to feature this terrible keyboard design.
Finally, we have the E60 – by far the most interesting of the three phones. A conventional candy bar design, and looking very similar to the Sony Ericsson T630, the E61 has the usual array of phone features as well as 3G support. It also has integrated WiFi and a Voice-over-IP client, making it the first mass-market phone from a major manufacturer to entertain the concept of dynamic switching between cellular and WiFi services as signal and cost dictates. The Nokia representatives at the launch were quick to play down the potential impact this might have on traditional phone revenues for operators offering it. They also failed to present any details of operators that were prepared to carry the handset, suggesting this one might end up being a SIM-Free specialist offering by virtue of being blacklisted by the major network operators.