A few weeks back I had a rare opportunity to review device #31. This #31 was the Nokia Booklet 3G, Nokia’s first attempt at bridging the divide that exists between PCs and ‘do it all‘ mobile phones. Nokia seems determined to spread the brand to more devices and not just stay limited to cellular phones. It wants to be seen as a one stop shop for communication needs.

Anyways, without detracting too far from why this post is being written, The Booklet3G is Nokia’s first attempt in the crowded netbook market. Nokia, however prefers to call its new baby, a mini laptop. So what’s this mini laptop have under it’s hood? let’s list it out so we know about this mini laptop.

Dimensions

  • Weight (max) 1250 g
  • Dimensions (max) 264 x 185 x 19.9 mm

CPU and Chipset

  • Intel Atom Z530, 1.6 GHz
  • Intel Poulsbo US15W, fanless design

Memory and Storage

  • RAM: 1 GB, DDR2, 533 Mhz, soldered down
  • HDD: 120 GB, 1.8”/5mmH/SATA, 8 MB cache, 4200 RPM

Display

  • 10.1”, 1280×720 pixels, glass window

Battery

  • 16 cell, 56.8 Wh, Li-Ion prismatic, removable design

Connectivity

  • 802.11 b/g/n, 2T2R
  • BT 2.1 + EDR
  • Inbuilt 3G modem (data calls only). Different variants: WCDMA: 850/1900/2100 or WCDMA 900/2100 or no modem.
  • All modem variants have GSM and GPRS
  • Assisted-GPS

I/O ports

  • 1 x HDMI 1.2 out
  • 3 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x headphone out (OMTP 3.5 mm) – with OMTP headsets also functions as audio in
  • 1 x DC-in
  • 1 x SD card reader
  • 1 x SIM / USIM slot

Camera and microphone

  • 1.3 MP front facing camera with integrated microphone

Keyboard

  • Frame keyboard
  • 2 physical layouts: US (78 keys, 17 mm pitch, 1.8 mm stroke) and UK (79 keys, 16.7 mm pitch, 1.8 mm stroke)

Other

  • Accelerometer

Inbox contents

  • Nokia Booklet 3G
  • BC-1S battery
  • AC/DC power adapter
  • Quick setup guide and warranty instructions
  • Headset WH-205
  • USB charging multi-cable CA-126

Software

  • Operating System: Windows 7 Starter Edition, Home Premium or Professional
  • MS Office Small Business 60 day trial
  • MS Internet Explorer 8
  • HDD protection utility, Hotkey utility , Knock Control utility, Power Profile Switcher, Battery Life utility
  • Nokia Update Manager
  • Ovi Suite
  • Ovi Maps Gadget
  • Social Hub
  • F-Secure Internet Security 2010 trial

Now, that’s quite a mouthful. If you see carefully, it has quite a few things listed that one does not get to see in a PC, no matter what form they are in. An accelerometer, assisted GPS and a slot for inserting a SIM card (ok the last one is common in quite a few laptops) – all these features clearly indicate that Nokia does not want to be seen as a mundane device, but rather as a device that allows one to do more.

So when I first received this device, I was expecting a ‘cute’ netbook, but what lay inside was anything but cute. The Nokia Booklet3G is far from cute, it’s sleek and ubërcool. I was left visibly impressed with it as I removed it from the blue colour packaging (which was refreshing from the whites and browns). Now, I own a netbook, an Asus EeePC 1000H and have had it for almost a year, so I do know a thing or two about netbooks. So having had one for so long, I thought that my netbook was small compact and ‘awesome’ that was of course until the Booklet3G was out of the box, once out, I was wondering if WOM World had played a practical joke on me… for the record, they did not. This mini laptop is incredibly thin and absolutely amazing in terms of fit and finish. The Booklet can easily give a complex to all those size zero women. This device had made my oh so beautiful netbook look old disgusting and ugly in an instant. it left my father wanting to buy it immediately. He even quizzed me on whether we could just reimburse WOM World for it and keep it for himself to use. The price in Indian Rupees is exorbitant and elsewhere too, this is a premium device, but all that aside, the sheer weight(lessness) and looks of it made him want it.

I know, I got Mac owners to turn and gawk in amazement and wonder how their ‘oh so cool’ and amazing laptops suddenly looked old and clunky. Clearly there’s a new design in town.

Those reactions from family, friends and strangers was enough to declare the Nokia Booklet 3G a winner in terms of looks. If an Apple user can gawk, you’ve got a winner Nokia. The keyboard was a typical chiclet keyboard, with obvious changes to make it look more original. The buttons are softer, more rounded and definitely seem to be made of very high quality plastic. In complete black, this keyboard definitely looked and felt great to use. the feedback received was great and I honestly did not take much time to get used to it. What did take time was to learn where the symbols were. Nokia odd placement of the symbols left me confused, and somewhat dissatisfied. I love to have the ‘@’ symbol on the number ‘2’ key of my keyboard, Nokia! getting to remember a new placement is rather irritating and I really detested it. Form over function seems to be motto here. Absence of physical key that fires the ‘right click’ menu was a major irritant and since I really use that key a lot, I did find myself lost at times. If things were to have been where they always are, then this would be by far, one of the best keyboards a ‘netbook’ could ever have.

The track pad was strictly okay. I wouldn’t rate it really high as it was too sensitive at times. At times the rotate screen option would be triggered when all I wanted to do was browse through a page, after a while it became plain annoying. The left and right click buttons were obviously the best things that could happen to track pads. I honestly loved it. The aluminum finish buttons are seriously a work of art. The gaps between the keys and the palm rest are what one expects from high quality devices. No complaints with the buttons, they gave a reassuring ‘click’ sound.

Screen size of 10.1 inches is a standard size, but makes it unique is the resolution. 1280×720 is unheard of for a screen of that size. Clearly we are looking at one of the best displays in a PC of this size. This makes it capable of playing HD video (720p) without any problems whatsoever. Now with that kind of crispness, everything looks good and the glass add to richness and makes it even more nice. Clearly Nokia seems to be sending a message to the current crop of 10 inch PCs (read netbooks) and perhaps Apple even. To ensure you can play videos on the HD TV, there is even an HDMI out, so connecting the mini laptop to an HD TV is as easy as pie. However, the absence of a VGA out is something that could be an issue.

Again when we look at just the ports on this device, the 3 USB ports are standard along with the SD card reader. Then there is no RJ-45 (LAN) out, which means if you live in India and don’t have WiFi, this is not a device to have. I personally think it’s the single biggest deal breaker for this wonderful mini laptop. One can even do without the VGA out, but the absence of the humble RJ-45 out is simply too much. This is where I feel Nokia got it wrong.

The position of the speakers and the power key is surely innovative and I kind of like it. In fact, I wonder why was it not explored enough earlier. The speaker quality is good, the sound is clear and is not muffled or distorted. I am no audiophile, but I think it has the one of the nicest sounding speakers in the business. The camera and the integrated mic are present to the complete the picture.

The Booklet 3G comes with Windows 7 Starter out of the box. Now there are talks of Nokia releasing Maemo, nay, MeeGo on this soon. Windows 7 starter is definitely easier on the system specs and that’s a good thing. But clearly losing out on the ability of changing the wallpaper is next to blasphemy. Oceanis Change Windows 7 Background is the perfect solution (you can find it here. Use at your own risk folks) to this rather silly and stupid restriction. I found no problems in the system freezing, but there were times when it lagged. I think 2GB would have been a better choice in terms of RAM. Over all Windows 7 starter is a better OS than Vista but the option of doing some very basic personalizations is absent, which robs it of everything fun.

Battery life is where this mini laptop scored over others. Have you ever seen 27% battery power remaining and close to 2 hours left at the same time? This machine is capable of showing you those magic numbers. With close to 12 hours of operation possible on full charge, we are looking at possibly the best timings for a netbook (that’s what it is after all).

The presence of a SIM slot is an advantage, if you have one of those unlimited or very high data limit packages on your 3G SIM, this should be an absolute boon for you. If you have EDGE, fret not, you can still do your work, but be prepared for lags in the internet experience. This addition is definitely a plus point and the slot for it is placed right next to the SD card slot and is covered by a high quality rubber-plastic lid. One has to admit that nothing seems to protrude out on this device, everything closes perfectly.

There is one software, Social Hub, which has been developed by Nokia to allow the users to easily access their Twitter and Facebook accounts through one window, somewhat like how Tweetdeck operates, but with less number of features. One can send and probably receive SMSes using this software too. I tried sending an SMS to myself and it worked perfectly. This is a very nice application and it’s a smart way of keeping in touch with with that online social world that one has. Definitely a unique add on to have on a PC, pity it works only for the Nokia netbook.

This brings us to the end, while there are many facets left to explore, I think its best to stop here and give you my verdict.

The Nokia Booklet3G is one good looking device, easily as good looking if not better looking than a Mac. There are some quirks that this device has, but what it offers in return makes it worth wanting. It’s only a question of whether you need those things it misses, but what it does provide in exchange is what you will not get on netbooks. Price is definitely a little bit on the higher side but then again, this isn’t an Asus EeePC. This is a Nokia Booklet 3G. If you have the money, this is the netbook to buy.

Advertisements