Thursday, September 25, 2008

Another WM users take on the E71

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We all know how my time with the E71 ended, so its nice to hear from others who have other experiences. Mickliq has been spotlighted on Mobigasmic before and he gives a nice well-rounded review of his impression of the Nokia E71. Here's what he had to say about it over on Howard Forums:

Nokia E71 thoughts (coming from a WM Pro device)

I just wanted to share with my WM Pro friends some thoughts about the Nokia E71. I just received it yesterday so this is somewhat preliminary but some things are unlikely to change.

I couldn't resist the E71 due to its form factor. There is simply no other functional QWERTY bar device on any platform that is this narrow and sexy, while still offering a full QWERTY that is very usable. While my i-mate 8502 is about the same width, the E71 is literally 1/2 the thickness...and the 8502 is no pig.

Overall thoughts:
- As others have noted, S60 v3 is no WM Pro in terms of customizations. However, I've found applications that do everything I need (more or less) without much effort. The "Today screen" (Active Standy in S60 speak) is the biggest weak point, though there is a beta app out there that tries to replicate the WM Today screen, that I've yet to install.

- The device is FAST. As I suspected, with a ~350mhz processor and a lean OS in S60 v3, this thing flies. It handles multitasking better than WM Pro (which isn't terrible itself, but does suffer slowdowns when a lot is going on)

- Battery life is incredible. The 1500mAh battery (almost exactly the same size as my 8502's) is on 3/5 bars after 14 hours. The 8502 would be at half that or less. This is pretty much apples to apples use.

- In-built browser is worlds better than IE. Yes, there's Opera Mobile and others on WM, but they somehow don't work exactly the way they should, and I always fall back to IE, even though it sucks. The Webkit-based browser in the S60 flies, and even Opera Mini feels right on the E71

- Keyboard is very good, but this will take time to get used to. The keys are very differently located than the 8502's. It took me a few days to get used to the 8502 when I first switched to it, but I'm 5x faster on it now than the E71. We'll see in a few weeks...in any case, the keyboard itself feels good and is very workable.

- The UI feels very old (I know it in fact is). Such is life...having used WM Standard (WM5 and WM6) for over a year, it's not that bad, but it's a step down from WM6.1 Pro, which in itself isn't perfect.

- I have very good experience with 3G reception/performance. There are some reported problems but it seems it was a single bad batch

- Haven't faced this yet, but the E71 is only dual-band 3G. This sucks when travelling to Europe. I really want an E71-3 but these don't exist yet, so I figured I'd try out the platform first and if I really love it, I can move up to the E71-3 (or E72 if it isn't crippled).

- BT and Wifi work great. My home network is WPA2 encrypted and had no issues. Have tested BT with headset, built-in BT in the car, and BT transfers with my PC. Haven't tethered yet but it's the same app that installs software and xfers files so I assume it will work as advertised. The PC suite app is a nice everything-in-one-place compared to WMDC synching and Windows Explorer for everything else.

- Mail for Exchange syncs perfectly with my Exchange server, but it falls way short of what Pocket Outlook can do. I knew this before buying it. I have to install Roadsync (a $50 app) to get he same functionality as POL, but I'm not there yet. For right now, I get my Inbox pushed, but no sub-folders. There are times I just need to dive into the sub-folders (not to mention that filing while on the road is a nice option).

- It also syncs calendar, contacts and tasks...same as Outlook. I like the month view in the calendar better on the E71 - it has sort of an Outlook 2007 look to it.

- Media player doesn't sync with WMP (at least not automatically, though maybe I can get the MicroSD card to sync inside WMP if I launch it manually)...I just copied the songs over through Explorer to the mem card and that worked fine.

- As a phone, it's superior. It just works better. Earpiece volume is very high, unlike a lot of WM Pro devices.

- No USB charging without a (simple) workaround. For some reason this thing has both a USB port (for data sync) and the proprietary 2mm Nokia charging port. The simple work-around is to purchase a USB to 2mm cable so you can still charge from PC. I hate lugging extra AC adapters around (if I have a laptop) so this workable. I found a USB cable that does this for $7.99.

- Haven't used the cam yet. Most users have complained about it being "purple". Time will tell.

- Screen is a bit small, and the stupid large fonts (even in "small" mode) don't help, but that's not my biggest problem. The layout of the Inbox, for example, shows plenty of emails, so at least it's functional. Web browsing is a nice experience.

- Touch screen. I like the QWERTY-WM Pro combination so that I can actually use it one-handed, without much need for stylus or touching the screen. There are times when touching is faster (rather than d-pad 6 times), but I usually use WM like that anyway, so the loss of the touchscreen isn`t a big deal for me.

Bottom line...definitely worth it (especially at the price I paid since it was LNIB) for the form factor, sex, speed, stability, etc. I suspect over time, Symbian is going to become a real force as it moves open source. I assume the UI will eventually become competitive, with the underpinning being a very stable, mature OS. It's a fight right now between WM, Symbian, RIM and Android. Apple and RIM are on their own islands and will only work with their hardware, so not much debate there.

I am keeping my 8502, depending on the outcome of my Roadsync experience, we'll see what happens. The 8502 is still a very good device, some 8 or 9 months later, and very competitive with the E71 short of the sex appeal and form factor. This probably won't change much over the coming months, with the possible exception of the Treo 850, which has a f-upped screen rez.

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