The Nokia Booklet 3G looks great, with a range of tactile, matt colours to choose from.
The keyboard is well made, which aids usability. The Social Hub is an excellent feature for organising your life, and accessing the internet via a SIM card slot is straightforward.
As the first netbook to access the internet via the 3G from a SIM card, this is definitely a worthy string to its bow. It also offers a SMS sending feature, though it is irritating that you can’t access your contacts unless you use a Nokia phone.
The Booklet 3G is sluggish when it comes to installing programs and running multiple apps, and our screen often froze mid-task – frustrating to say the least.
Battery life was superb – we managed nine hours of heavy browsing before we needed to recharge.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:56:55 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Excellent battery life, quality build, tactile keyboard, first netbook with ability to get online via SIM card
Slow processing speed, comparatively high price, SMS feature requires Nokia phone to add contacts
Talk about role reversal. Computer manufacturers have been trying their hand at phones for awhile, with results that vary from the iPhone to, well, all the others. Now Nokia’s got its PC hat on, with its very first computer. The Booklet 3G is a ‘mini laptop’ running on the spanking new Windows 7 operating system, but a couple of Nokia-centric features set it apart. The most interesting? It gets online via a 3G SIM card.
The Booklet is a great looking device, with a glossy black, blue or white cover edged in matt aluminium, and a tactile black keyboard set in a silver casing. The keys are nicely weighted and spaced, and the touchpad a good distance from the keys so we never unintentionally swiped it (believe us, sending a cursor flying all over the place when typing an email is monumentally frustrating). At 264x185x19.9mm, it easily fits into most handbags, though it’s somewhat heavier than you’d expect for such a small piece of kit. It feels sturdy though, with a smooth, heavy hinge mechanism and a screen that tilts almost 180 degrees. The 10.1-inch display is high-definition at 1280x720 pixels, which compares very favourably to similarly specced devices such as the Asus Eee Seashell 1005HA that only manage a lower-res 1024x600 pixels. Like other netbooks though, the Booklet 3G also packs an average 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z530 chip and 1GB of RAM, so there was a lot of waiting time when it came to program loading – especially when multiple apps were running. What we did love was the mammoth battery life – it lasted a full nine hours of heavy 3G and Wi-Fi use and media playing. We were also sorted for connections, with three USB ports allowing us to play media off a hard drive, charge a phone and hook up some speakers. There’s also an HDMI port to connect a high-definition TV, and a generous internal 120GB hard drive.
Next to its SD memory slot is a first for a computer – a bona fide SIM slot. Slot in any SIM card and the Booklet will connect to 3G internet. Even better is that you can swap SIMs whenever you want, and it’ll load the new connection in under 15 seconds. Aesthetically, it beats a mobile broadband dongle hollow, and feature wise, it does the exact same thing. The Booklet is also Wi-Fi enabled, and we got onto the local network in less than 10 seconds. Then there’s Social Hub, Nokia software that consolidates Twitter and Facebook feeds with Flickr photo updates. More interesting though, is that this is where you can send texts to mobile phones. It only works when you have a SIM card in though, and annoyingly, it doesn’t warn you when you don’t. The text interface itself is very simple with no threaded view option, so you’ll just see a long list of texts you’ve sent and received in chronological order. We also expected to be able to access contacts in the loaded SIM, but in fact, the only way to get at your phone numbers is to sync your phone to Ovi Suite – and for that, you need a Nokia phone. You can’t even manually input and save friends’ names and numbers, nor access any other universal database such as Microsoft Outlook. At least Social Hub will save all your texts though, no matter which SIM was in the Booklet at the time of sending. And we suppose if you really, really wanted, all you’d have to do is borrow a Nokia phone and sync it with your existing database, then sync your borrowed Nokia with the Booklet. Elsewhere, Social Hub will pop up notifications in the taskbar when you receive a text or update from any of your registered social networks, but its Twitter and Facebook features are a little anaemic – you can reply/re-tweet with Twitter but there’s no dedicated list of @mentions; with Facebook, you can post updates, comment and ‘like’, but you can’t accept friend requests and event invitations didn’t show up at all. That’s OK from a practicality point of view – you can easily download better software – but from a usability standpoint, that doesn’t exactly make it a must-have program. We did like that you can post updates to all or some of your networks at the same time though.
Or jog slowly, as was often the case – we observed lags when running more than one application, particularly if installing a program was involved. And we mean the kind of lags where you shut a program down, and it leaves shadows of its screen on the display; or when you try to maximise the window of a loading app, it just freezes halfway. Installing in general was slow – Ovi Suite took around 25 minutes, while Nokia’s software updater took about five minutes to load – but the new Internet Explorer browser finally has all the features other browsers have had for a while – tabbed browsing, ‘private’ browsing, and ‘Accelerators’, which let you perform a range of actions on selected text, such as looking a word up in a dictionary, or mapping an address.Nokia has also loaded two of its own ‘gadgets’ – desktop widgets that first debuted in Windows Vista and are much more prominent with Windows 7. The preloaded ones are standard, useful fare such as a CPU meter, currency converter and weather, and there’s also an Ovi Maps gadget that, thanks to the pleasing addition of A-GPS, shows your current location on a map with a link to the Ovi Maps site. It’s not actually very useful since you can’t interact with the map to get directions or restaurant recommendations in the area for example, but we guess it fulfils its use as a giant shortcut button.
Getting onto mobile broadband via a SIM card is a neat step forward and being able to text from the Booklet is a nice little feature that we hope becomes standard, though the complete inability to add contacts if you’re not a Nokia user is a bit silly. As a netbook, the Booklet 3G ticks all the boxes, but it’s around twice the price of its peers. In exchange, you get the beefed up battery life, SMS feature and SIM card internet, but if those last two don’t matter too much, there are similar, cheaper options.
Reviewed by Natasha Stokes