Recently at Nokia's NokiaWorld 09 event, the company unveiled what appears to be the first in a line of netbook devices, the Booklet 3G. Dave Weinstein was there to get a first hand look at the device.
The Nokia Booklet 3G is sleek, thin, well designed, and generally feels like a high quality device. Key feel and pitch is good for a unit of its size and casual typing was possible with minimal errors after just a few minutes of practice.
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We're not sure how, but Nokia managed to cram a gigantic battery into a device that's total thickness is only about 3/4 of an inch (including the folded screen AND the body), and the company reports that the expected battery life will be around 12 hours with normal use (but we'll have more to say about this later). On first impressions, this is the best netbook class device that I've seen yet.
Shiny shinyConsidering its ultra-portable nature, we believe that the Booklet 3G could benefit from an anti-glare rather than ultra-glossy screen. There were certainly occasions, even in the controlled environment we tested in, where the glossy screen turned into a mirror due to glare. Also, the non standard screen resolution for 1280x720 is a bit of mystery - 1280x768, or even a higher resolution would be a preferable option.
Windows 7 support
Nokia is shipping the Booklet 3G with Windows 7, and has skipped supporting Windows XP and Vista completely. This seems like a smart move since they're entering the market so close to the Windows 7 launch.
The device runs this new OS well, although the performance of the machine was a bit sluggish with its default settings. As it turned out, part of the way that Nokia achieved its 12 hour battery rating was by setting up some fairly power thrifty defaults. So we decided the try an experiment. By tweaking the settings to favor performance over battery life we were able to get the Booklet to run like a champ, and significantly improved its speed. Roughly estimating by eyeballing the Windows battery meter, these changes would reduce the total run time from 12 hours to nine. Certainly a trade off that we'd be willing to make for the extra performance that it yielded.
Pricing detailsOf course the big question still unanswered is what the device will cost end users. While Nokia did announce an MSRP of EUR575, its built in 3G radio makes it a shoe-in for carrier subsidies. While it has recently been reported that Best Buy has landed exclusive distribution of the Booklet 3G in the U.S., it's not clear that the US$599 price that's been touted won't still be subsidized by U.S. wireless carriers if customers sign up for service when they buy the device. Best Buy has a long history of selling subsidized phones from multiple carriers in the past. Fortunately for us, there isn't long to wait - hopefully the device will be available on or shortly after Windows 7 "ships" on October 22nd.
Check out the gallery for more shots of the Booklet 3G.