Posted by: Lee | January 31, 2010

The Nokia Booklet 3G…It’s a Very Good Start

Last year Nokia announced it was entering the netbook market, the greatly anticipated Nokia Booklet 3G is the result. I’ve recently been sent one by the great people at WOMWorld to have a look at and I thought I would share my thoughts with you.

Just opened

The Good

Lets start with the good points. The first thing that really captures your eye when you see the Booklet 3G for the first time is the size and design. It’s gorgeous looking and tiny thanks to it’s 10.1” widescreen display (it’s almost Apple esque).

From the moment you pick it up you can tell the booklets build oozes quality. The chassis is made from a single piece of aluminium making it feel very solid whilst the lid/screen has a nice sturdy hinge with a changeable fascia on top allowing for optional colour variation (currently Black, Blue and Silver/White). The keyboard is a good comfortable size making typing easy and the trackpad is big enough to make mouse use straightforward.

On the left hand side of the chassis there are 3 USB ports, one HDMI port and one 3.5mm audio jack. On the right hand side is the power adaptor socket,  SimCard and SD Card slot. Internally it has a capable Intel Dual Core Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, 120GB hard drive, GPS and an Accelerometer. As this is a netbook there is no CD/DVD drive, but that is to be expected and allows for the compact size.

When you boot up the booklet you get a quick flash of the Nokia hands logo followed by Windows 7. The booklet will be available with Windows 7 Starter and Home Premium, I’ll talk about the editions later. As a choice of Operating System (OS) Windows 7 is definitely the most sensible option, it’s a a very good OS with good performance. The vast majority of the world are familiar with Windows and familiarity is key when it comes to winning over customers. Some will try to argue the merits of Linux etc but for the layman Windows is the most sensible option.

Various programs are installed on the booklet as standard. As you would expect there are various bits of software for controlling the volume, display and wireless settings and there is even a little desktop widget encouraging you to install Ovi Suite (it’s a nice touch making it optional, I wouldn’t want it as default). Nokia Social hub is also available as a download via the pre-installed Nokia Software Updater. Social Hub allows you to send SMS via your optional 3G simcard and post updates to Twitter, Facebook and Flickr.

Microsoft Office 2007 and F-Secure Antivirus trial editions are also pre-installed.

Battery life is superb, I used it for several hours the other day with an active wireless connection and the battery only went down by a bit. With the screen slightly dimmed and not too many processor intensive tasks I can see it quite easily hitting the 10-12 hours that is promised. When you are used to 3 – 4 hours battery in a normal laptop 10 hours seems simply amazing.

All of the above makes for an extremely competent netbook. I’m already finding myself reaching straight for the Booklet rather than my laptop when I want to jump on the internet. It’s going to be very very difficult for me to send it back at the end of the trial.

10

The Bad

Now for the bad. As much as I love Nokia, this being a Nokia product of course means it can’t be all good. Nokia have an amazing talent for almost getting it so right but then shooting themselves in the foot at the last moment. I’m not sure why they do this but they do do it time and time again. Thankfully there are only a few issues but some of them are potential deal breakers.

The first thing that I really believe will hurt Nokia with this booklet is the price. Netbooks are supposed to be small, portable and cheap…The Nokia Booklet 3G rolls in at over £600…yes £600, I find this to be a completely unjustifiable price which immediately alienates a large majority of the netbook buying population. You can buy a good laptop for that. Either Nokia are planning on it being mostly offered subsidised with a mobile broadband contract or they’re just plain daft. They should be looking at the £400 price region if they really want to shift the booklets.

My next issue is the editions of Windows 7 available on the device. The booklet I received is running Windows 7 Starter. As far as I’m concerned, the only place for Windows 7 starter is a cheap as chips value device. Windows 7 Starter takes all that is great about Windows 7 from a usability perspective and rips it right out. Starter is supposed to allow for cheap licensing to compete with Linux etc. This is a £600+ device, it should have at least Windows 7 Home Premium. If you want to win over any Mac users you won’t with Starter edition. There is no eye candy what so ever as Starter does not run the Aero interface (Aero is responsible for the transparency and animation effects on 7 as well as graphics acceleration). Another annoyance is that Starter doesn’t let you do simple things like change the wallpaper, leading to many frustrated users. Most of the criticism of the booklet I have read is centered around Starter Edition. Come on Nokia, drop Starter Edition now, this a premium product and as such Home Premium should be the standard version with optional upgrade to Professional.

Next on the list is pre-installed software, F-Secure Security suite needs to go, it’s eating RAM and processor time, hindering performance and its Internet Explorer toolbar is sluggish (thankfully it’s a trial edition which gives you a good reason to remove it). If you want to bundle security software, bundle something more light weight like Microsoft Security Essentials which is free. Windows 7 is very secure, it does need Antivirus/Antispyware but not a full blown security suite.

The final issue is RAM, again at £600+ I would expect more than 1GB of it, 2GB should be the standard. Windows 7 is lightweight yes but as soon as you have a few tabs open in a web browser plus a few documents, not to mention security software running that RAM starts to rapidly disappear. Nokia are famous at scrimping with memory, the N97 Original being a prime example, it appears they haven’t learned their lesson yet. Stick another 1GB in and the booklet will fly.

Booklet next to 15" laptop

Conclusion

I love the Booklet 3G, i really really do and I want one of my own so much, however, I could never justify spending £600 of my hard earned money on it. If this trial device was mine I’d wipe Windows 7 Starter immediately and stick on Home Premium or Professional.

There’s room for improvement but none the less it’s a great start by Nokia.

If you’ve got £600 to spare and order the Windows Home Premium version you’ll be getting  a great little device.

Lee

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Responses

  1. […] has delivered his verdict on the Nokia Booklet 3G. He’s jotted down both his pros and cons, so head on over and take a […]

  2. Nice review – thorough, and as objective as can be. I’m ‘trialing’ a Nokia 5800 XM, and am eyeing the booklet 3G next (or the N900). I agree that Nokia products do come ever so close to perfection, then has oddball things like pricing, lack of features, etc.

    • Many thanks, that’s what I was aiming for 🙂

      I wouldn’t mind trying the N900 next myself, looks like a right little power house.


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