Nokia Gets Into the Computer Business With the Booklet 3G Netbook
The Booklet 3G resembles many another netbook in its use of a budget-mobile-optimized Intel Atom1.6 GHz processor and in its pint-sized dimensions and weight (less than 2.76 pounds). However, it adds a few extra features more often seen on mobile phones than on computers. These extras include 12-hour battery life (presumably offline rather than continuously online, though we couldn't get a clear answer from Nokia), built-in A-GPS (with Nokia maps software), 3G mobile broadband capability, and no fan (so it's quiet). It also has three USB ports, an HDMI port (for playing HD video on a bigger screen), and one port that serves as both a headphone and mic jack. Windows 7 (out October 22nd) is quick to start up, making it a perfect fit for this device, which is meant to be an always-on, always-connected kind of a laptop -- much like an enlarged smartphone.
We got to take an early look today, and found the overall look and feel of the Booklet to be solid and sexy, probably due to its smooth, light aluminum super chassis (which also helps heat escape). We also liked the keyboard, which is almost full-size (well, 95-percent of full-size). It let us type quickly without hitting more than one key at a time (a problem with many cramped, reduced-size netbook keyboards). The roomy, quasi-full-size quality springs from the noticeably broader space around each key.
There were some things we didn't like that our first look revealed, though. The speakers were disappointing. We couldn't hear a word of the 'Daily Show' broadcast we were streaming, despite having the volume turned up all the way. Music, though audible, sounded tinny and compressed. And we had problems with video streaming, getting a choppy version of the aforementioned 'Daily Show' when we tried to play it. Whether this was due to poor Wi-Fi or 3G coverage, or slow video-processing power, we're not sure, but it made us wonder how useful that HDMI port would be if we couldn't get decent video quality in the first place. (This is a problem we experience with a lot of netbooks, by the way.)
We should be getting more extended hands-on with the Booklet 3G in the coming weeks, and we're hoping some of the above issues will be ironed out by then, because we like the look, feel, specs, and price of the device. Even with the issues we experienced, we'd have to say this Nokia netbook still feels more deluxe than any netbook we've tried out so far (again, it may just be that "aircraft grade" aluminum body).
The Nokia Booklet 3G will be available exclusively at Best Buy through the end of the year for $299, with a two-year contract and a $60, 5-gigabyte-per-month data plan from AT&T. It will also be available in unlocked, non-AT&T form for $599.