The 7710 has been around for some time now. One minute the phone is available, the next it’s awaiting the next phase. Some 2 years after it was originally shown off, Nokia has finally got product to market. So was it worth the wait?
“Whoa, big fella!” were my exact words on opening the box (read: trunk) that the 7710 arrived in. Swiftly followed by “What is it?”
This is a beast of a phone, but it has to be to accommodate the myriad bells, whistles and, let’s face it, foghorns that Nokia has crammed into its latest smartphone. It weighs in at a pocket-busting 190g and with dimensions to make a family car blush; you know almost immediately that you’re holding something a bit different in your hand, sorry, hands. (Enough jokes about its size, I promise!). But, two hands is definitely the case here - one-handed operation is nigh-on impossible. They even provide a cute little stand to rest it on - which annoyingly isn’t very stable when you’re charging the phone.
If you’re used to a regular smartphone like Nokia’s 6600 or 6630, your first thought might be: “Where’s the keypad…?” and you soon realise that there isn’t one. Nokia has done this before, notably on the recent 7280 Fashion model where it came across as a bit of a gimmick. However, with the 7710, you’ll soon appreciate the break from tradition and more PDA-styled interface.
This is definitely a PDA with a phone built in, rather than the other way round, and for once we have a manufacturer not apologising for it - both modes are equally functional.
The screen is wide, touch-sensitive and as sharp as I’ve seen on a PDA/phone combo. It’s a gamer’s dream as I soon discovered - and a word of warning the casino set of games is horribly addictive even if you can’t win any cash.
The 7710 runs on the Symbian Series 90 operating system and third party applications are widely available, but in my opinion hardly necessary with everything that comes preloaded.
Start-up however was disappointingly slow and to be honest the processor seems a little sluggish generally, nothing like the Intel X-Scale processors we’ve seen in Dell and HP/Compaq PDAs. The whopping 90Mb of RAM helps though and with an MMC expansion slot hidden inside, we can’t see memory ever being an issue.
The menu screen resembles a PC desktop and is customisable for those of us who really like to fiddle about with things. The usual suspects are here, application-wise and the To-Do, Calendar and Contacts are some of the best I’ve seen on a device like this.
The telephone function - (I love the way it’s listed separately!) - brings up a touch-screen dialler and this will probably be the first time you use the handy stowaway stylus. Simply tap in the number and hit call. Once you’ve figured out which end to speak into (it might take a while) you’re in business. Call quality was excellent and despite its bulk the phone felt surprisingly comfortable to use. Mind you, the black leather case that came bundled will not see the light of day unless you want to be seen chatting into to your granny’s purse.
There’s the de rigueur 1.3 mega pixel camera and video functions and they’re both more than adequate. The photo-editing is a welcome inclusion for those serious about their phone-based photography; however I thought the video playback was decidedly average.
As a multi-media device generally though, the 7710 performs well, even if it’s only on a relatively basic level. There’s Real Player installed as well as Nokia’s own music player, though where this phone excels is in its FM radio capabilities.
The Visual Radio application links you straight into a directory of radio stations, which you select according to your local area. Then simply select the stations you want and store them in any of the 20 preset channels. The bundled headset is the HS-3, which is a superior piece of kit to the bog-standard ones usually found in Nokia boxes. Despite lacking 3G the 7710 is a heavyweight in the data division too. The GPRS connections I used were quick to connect with no dropouts.
Inputting text into any application is achieved with the stylus and you have the choice of a size-selectable on-screen keyboard or the option of handwriting recognition. The latter was pretty impressive, once I’d stopped using all those ingrained Palm-type hieroglyphics I spent years perfecting!
Once inputting text is mastered, the 7710 becomes a joy to operate. The messaging suite has everything you could desire and configuring everything was probably the easiest I’ve found. The email was HTML compatible which really brings the screen surprisingly low 65k colour screen to life, and multiple accounts are supported. The screen is also a real advantage when using the web browser, which really suffers from the lack of connection speed. (Come on Nokia - slap in the 3G here and you’ve got a winner).
You can take your office with you with a suite of applications to view Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents and synchronising with your desktop is a breeze, if a little slow, with PC Suite (visit http://www.nokia.com/ to make sure you get the latest version). Bluetooth reliability was vastly improved on previous smartphones I’ve tried too. Virtual Private Networking is possible for the advanced user and both file and device management are clear and easy to use.
In all the 7710 is a positive early step by Nokia into a touch-screen interface smartphone and should appeal to anybody wanting to take their office with them. Advanced users might be frustrated at its lack of speed and a faster processor, so a 3G version (assuming the networks get their act together soon) would be a product to be reckoned with. Gamers will love it regardless.