Nokia Booklet 3G - First Look

Nokia's entry to the netbook market is an interesting development from the world's largest phone maker, seeing the Finnish company enter an already crowded space. So, is the Booklet 3G a good debut product from Nokia? We got hands-on with the new netbook at the Nokia World 2009 event to give you an idea of what can be expected from the new device.

The highlights, over products in the same category, are HD capabilities, the Windows 7 operating system (rather than XP which almost all mainstream competitors offer) and 12 hours battery life.

Sadly, that bold claim is in fact not what you can expect from the battery life. Nokia, as all the other PC manufacturers do, quotes the 12 hour from lab tests. In reality, a Nokia exec told Pocket-lint, you're looking at 8-hours - enough for a proper working day.

Looks-wise - and this obviously a matter of opinion - the Booklet 3G is a good-looking netbook. It has smooth lines, a glossy (predictably finger-print accumulating) cover, an aluminium underside and is light and thin. Even the packaging - a matt blue cardboard box with an embossed outline of the Booklet 3G is good looking.

So how does it fare in use? Pretty well is the answer. Like many netbooks the screen is surrounded by a fairly large black outline which may look a little odd to those more used to full-fat laptops, but it's a decent display.

The keyboard's keys are small and spaced far apart. Obviously the keyboard is small as it's a netbook, but the actual keys feel smaller than average, so those with big hands thinking of getting the device might be wise to try and get hands-on themselves before committing.

The touchpad is fine, while the click buttons - certainly on several models we played with - seemed particularly stiff. Whether this is because the devices we saw were brand, brand new, only time will tell.

There's no moans about the layout - the ports all seem logically placed with two USBs, the headphone port, HDMI and speaker on one side and one USB, the power button and the card slot on the other.

The card slot is the one thing hardware-wise that seems to let the netbook down. There is a plastic flap, a flange if you will, that pulls out and down to let users insert memory cards and SIM cards. It seems really flimsy, and the type of thing that will instantly break. We could be dead wrong, and it might be super-strong flimsy plastic, but it looks like a weak point on what's otherwise a nice bit of hardware.

From what we saw Windows 7 runs nicely on the machine and the whole experience of using it was glitch-free.

There is no confirmed UK launch for the Booklet 3G, and no timescale from Nokia as to when it might debut, although a Nokia staffer on the show floor at the Nokia event told us it was going to launch in October, when the Windows 7 operating system arrives.

Verdict

Nokia is insisting on calling the Booklet 3G a "mini-laptop", rather than a netbook. This is in part to help persuade consumers to part with the £500 Nokia is asking for the device (twice the price of many netbooks) but if its long-term performance is as positive as our brief hands-on was, that term might do the device more justice than just "netbook".


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