Friday, 18 July 2008

Nokia E71: First Impressions

The Nokia E71 has arrived here at the Nokia Guide and having just a weekend to play with the new enterpriselicious QWERTY device so far, it’s not enough to write a full-blown Mega Review, but how about a few random thoughts and opinion based on my usage for now? The E71 arrived in a box similar to what we are used to with Nseries devices, except for two interesting things: a much much smaller box and using the color red as an “accent color”. Normally we are used to the grey, white and even pinkish Nseries, but red for the Eseries?! As you’ll soon see, it’s not only a part of the box that’s red.

The sample received was a “Grey Steel” E71-1 supporting Dual mode WCDMA (900/2100 HSDPA) and Quadband GSM (EGSM900, GSM850/1800/1900MHz) with the v100.07.76 firmware. The standard retail package comes with:

· Nokia E71

· Nokia Battery (BP-4L)

· Nokia Charger (AC-5)

· Nokia connectivity cable (CA-101)

· Nokia Headset (HS-47)

· Nokia Eseries Lanyard

· Nokia Eseries Pouch

· User Guide, Quick Start Guide and other documentation

· 2GB microSD card

-Build-Quality is exceptional. Coming from something like N95 8GB, N95 or even the N82, the E71 stays true to Eseries tradition by delivering outstanding build quality that only gets better with the use of metals and the tight gaps between parts. The E71 leaves the N95 and N95 8GB far behind when it comes to build quality.

-The textured metal on the back adds a surprising amount of grip, yet adds an interesting and sophisticated design element.

-The E71 has a layout that’s the closest thing to perfect I have ever seen from Nokia, everything from the QWERTY keyboard, the overall size, the space between the elements, the buttons, it all just works perfectly, if only they could make the screen bigger: 2.8 or even 3”. The Nseries definitely should get such a device with such a layout and QWERTY keyboard.

-The included 2.5 mm Nokia AV connector is a disappointment and believe me it’s a big one. You truly appreciate the 3.5mm audio jack when a device lacks it. This is probably the biggest negative side of the E71.

-No TV-Out. With full-office editing and viewing functions, having this would have been the ultimate “leave your notebook at home” feature. Doing presentations via a TV-out function would have been ideal for the business user.

-The E71’s keys remind me of the excellent N93 keys, only slightly smaller and not as “spongey”, with the same rounded shape pointing upwards. The keys on the E71 work really well and are a positive change from flat keys we’ve seen so far from the likes of the N78. N93i. Even though the keys on the N82, N95 and N95 8GB worked, they should have been like the N93 and W71. Every key on the E71 exudes a quality feel, including the solid feeling Naviwheel.

-The new Nokia Tune is an interesting change, but where’s the original one?

-The addition of a lanyard and a pouch is nice touch and Nokia should this every Eseries and Nseries device. Too bad the pouch doesn’t have a belt loop or clip.

-Remember the red color on the box? This color is again repeated on the power button, lanyard and even the inside of the pouch. Red isn’t the accent color I would think of using when designing a business device, but it sure works well. This leads me to believe that the E71 and slider E66 are despite their business roots, they seem to have robbed a few ideas from Nokia L’Amour and Super Nova fashion devices.

-Despite the inclusion of a fairly decent (on paper atleast) 3.2 Megapixel Auto-Focus camera, the E71 falls behind other 3.2 MP devices like the N73 and N93 or even 2 Megapixel devices like the N70. The reason why the camera falls behind is due to the noisy sensor and poor dynamic range. This is expected from a business oriented devices, but this probably means that unlike devices like N82 that can double as a camera, the E71 should be left for emergencies only. In the case of the N82 you could leave the camera at home, in the case of the E71 you’ll probably need to carry more devices to cover the multimedia side of things.

-The breathing light is a cool, yet functional touch.

-The E71 is smaller in person than what I expected and let’s not forget how thing the device is, especially when you realize that the battery takes quite a bit of space.

-Speaking of batteries, the E71 battery life is quite impressive.

-Devices like the N76, N800 and even N93i screen were almost unreadable in direct sunlight, luckily just like the N95, N95 8GB and N93, the E71’s screen stays readable even in the brightest tropical sun.

-The E71 is a finger print magnet, especially the back. This is probably caused by the abundant use of metals and shiny surfaces. Just in case you were wondering the E71 should double as a signaling device in case of any emergency due to the shiny surfaces. Even when taking pictures of yourself, the back can be used as a giant mirror.

-The menu is very responsive and apps open up very quick.

What would you like to know about the E71? And if you were lucky enough to score an E71, what interesting things have you noticed?

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