So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
- Full keyboard, usable software, very nice screen, not overly large
- No camera, no Wi-Fi
It lacks a camera or Wi-Fi support, but makes up for it with its compact design.
Price$ 1,199.00 (AUD)
Nokia's Communicator line of phones, the 9000 series, has had a long and deserved reputation as a set of innovative, but rather impractical, mobile phones. Sporting full QWERTY keyboards in a clamshell design, earlier models were huge, more like satellite phones than GSM mobiles. The new Nokia 9300 smartphone still has a full keyboard and a clamshell design--but it's a much more manageable size. It's not a petite phone by any means, but perhaps just a centimetre or two longer than models without keyboards.
We found we were most impressed by both the keyboard and the software. The keys were large enough for us to type relatively quickly using two thumbs, there were quick action buttons for most common functions and the thumbstick pointer worked very well once we got used to its sensitivity. We're certainly going to find it hard to go back to typing SMSes using the number pad. On the downside, there is no backlighting to the keyboard, so it's impossible to use in low-light situations.
The internal 640 x 200 TFT screen, visible when the 9300 is opened, was outstanding. It's bright, can be viewed easily at angles and provides a display clarity rarely seen in mobiles. The widescreen aspect also makes it excellent for viewing Web pages, received faxes and longer text documents and emails.
The excellent software supplied with the phone, using the Symbian OS 7.0s Series 80 platform, supports email, a calendar, contact management, fax, Web browsing (through GPRS--it doesn't support Wi-Fi) and text and spreadsheet documents. It also has a media player that supports AAC, MP3 and WAV audio, and can display images and play back MPEG-4 video. All of the applications make good use of the softkeys located on the right-hand side of the interior display. The softkeys provide ATM-like quick functions, such as save or delete.
When the phone is closed, it's not bad either. The keypad was spacious and comfortable, the thumb scroller excellent and the interface readily accessible. The 128 x 128 front screen could have been larger, given the extra real estate available, but even when you're not using the PDA functionality, the 9300 works very well as a phone. It demonstrated excellent audio quality and volume.
The 9300 has internal storage for up to 80MB of data or multimedia, and you can add an MMC card for additional space. It can talk to other devices using infrared, USB 2.0 and Bluetooth.
While its lack of a camera may put off some prospective buyers, the 9300 is an improvement overall on earlier Communicator designs.
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