Nokia gets down the business with the E61

September 19th, 2006 Mobile Phones, Tech, The West Australian

RRP $749

At half the size of the new crop of ultramobile PCs starting to appear on shelves, the Nokia E61 is aiming squarely for the same market. It has none of the add-ons that would appeal to your average 15 year old, even to the point where Nokia has left out a camera.

It’s unlikely in this day and age any mobile design lacks the capacity for one, so the statement Nokia appears to be making by doing so is that the E61 is strictly business.

What that means is that it’s trying as hard as it can to be a mobile PC, which means a clutter-free interface, full keyboard and large screen.

What we really need is a UPI — usability versus portability index — which measures the distance between how small a device is as a mobile phone and how functional it is as a portable PC. If there were such a system, the Nokia E61 would be close to the mid point. It has a full QWERTY keyboard including shift, enter and backspace keys and a 6 x 4.5cm screen that’s comfortable for composing short emails or text messages. The whole device however is only 12 cm long and about 7.5cm wide, just right for use as a mobile phone.

If you’re a heavy user such as those Nokia’s targeting with the E61, a quality Bluetooth keyboard won’t go astray. Despite the presence of a full suite of office tools, you need nimble fingers to type on the E61, so like most mobiles it’s too small to use to compose long documents.

The body of the device is clean, uncluttered and businesslike. There’s a surprising lack of hardware-based features on the brushed steel surface, but under the hood is where it counts.

A memory card slot makes the E61 a mobile hard drive for managing large files so it can indeed be your PC on the run. The Nokia operating system takes advantage of the large, clear screen and puts a whole range of essential applications and accessories at your fingertips. The native Windows software that provides access to the E61 on your PC makes transferring files easy and synching your calendar, email and contact data is a one-click task.

You’ll enjoy just about every sort of connectivity there is, another critical ability if you treat the E61 as the office in your pocket. GPRS, Bluetooth and infrared are built in so you can use any wireless or cable-based connection method. As befits any business traveler, you can also receive and send emails direct from the device with the Blackberry Connect client.

At first glance the E61 looks light on features, but after using it for awhile you realise Nokia has created a tool for a specific market, and removed everything that doesn’t suit it. Even if you’re not a traveling salesman it’s comfortable to use and easy to manage. If a lot of your mobile needs are text-based and you have no need for the state of the art in multimedia, it’s cheaper than other mobiles packed full of music players and video cameras. If you get a decent sized memory card, the E61 will be the only mobile device you’ll need for the next couple of years.


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