Nokia has announced two new handsets within it's Eseries range, the E71 and E66, but can the follow up to the popular E65 impress? We had a quick play at the UK launch in London.

Designed for "Power message" users who want to react to email rather than act, the E66 is a slider handset that offers all the usual tech buzzwords and tricks form Nokia.

HSDPA, Wi-Fi, a 3.2 megapixel camera, Assisted-GPS come encased in a metal body that is solid and yet still lightweight. The front of the handset sports a large screen, the usual answer and hang-up buttons as well as a series of shortcuts to the home screen, messages, calendar and phone book.

Sliding the handset north reveals a standard un-fussed 12 key keypad for dialling. Volume and dedicated camera buttons alongside USB and memory card slots litter the side, but it's all kept to a minimum.

Overall the design of the E66 is simple, mooted and business like, especially the gun metal grey offering.

Turn it on and the S60 interface as been spilt in two and then forced back into the same device like twins sharing a box. On the one side there is the lifestyle user interface, something I like to think of as "Weekend mode", and on the other the business side.

Using something Nokia is calling "Mode Switching" the idea is that you can switch the phone from a business to lifestyle handset at the press of a button while still having access to your contacts.

It's an interesting concept, although one I am not sure you would use after the first couple of weeks. After all even a Nokia spokesperson we talked to at the launch event said that our "personal and work lives are blending", suggesting that we should all be able to multitask rather than a device telling us what we are supposed to be doing.

Whether you like it or not, it does mean that you can have your work and personal email set up in the different interfaces so you can switch off from either lurid emails from your mates at work, or messages from your boss at night.

The two interfaces have different themes to separate them and we are sure someone not capable of turning off might find it useful.

What is useful though is the semi push email service that the E66 offers.

Although it's not push email in the BlackBerry sense it will automatically check your POP or IMAP email account (all major ISPs and email services like Gmail, Yahoo, and Windows Live are supported) every 5 minutes and download mail without you having to think about it.

Users will only need to enter their email and password to access their email on the go with Nokia saying they will do the rest at the back end.

If you are after instant email it's not going to beat a BlackBerry, but it will help if your not looking for a "I need my email this instant".

Alternatively you can of course press send and receive to solve the problem.

First Impressions

While the Nokia E66 opts for a 12 key keypad rather than a 20 keypad, the device is well build and designed.

The feature set and user interface are Nokia doing what it does best and as Soren Petersen, the Senior VP or devices for Nokia even said at the launch himself, the company builds solid and sturdy handsets, and this is yet another one of them.

It would have been nice to see a push email service or even a 1-minute option for the above email offering so Nokia could have really taken on RIM and its BlackBerry, but this is still one to watch if you aren't ready to go for a QWERTY keyboard handset.

The Nokia E66 launches in July on all major operators in the UK.