At long last I have managed to get my hands on a Nokia E61, one of the phone giant's latest business-focussed handsets. This device is designed as a messaging handset, with support for many wireless email systems and includes both 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity.
At its announcement, the E61 was greeted by the press as Nokia's 'BlackBerry killer', and with its qwerty keypad, bears more than a passing resemblance to its RIM rival.
Because of the keypad, the E61 is inevitably wider than most standard phone handsets, but it is slimmer than many rival smartphones and not too heavy at 144g.
On first impressions, the E61 has two features in its favour – a fantastic clear colour screen and a keypad layout that makes it easy to key in and edit text. Many other qwerty handsets place vital symbols such as @ and / where obscure combinations of key presses are needed to select them. The E61 has most symbols easily accessible and makes answering emails or text messages far easier than with a standard phone keypad.
Nokia has supplied the E61 with a connection to T-Mobile's 3G network, plus a trial account on an Exchange server to demonstrate Microsoft's Direct Push mail feature. A test email sent from my office account took several minutes to get delivered to the handset, however.
The display is well laid out, with icons to access messaging, calendar, and the E61's web browser. Oh, and it's a phone as well.
In fact, the only real problems I have experienced so far have been with the phone's Wi-Fi function. This stubbornly refuses to recognise my wireless LAN access point, or any access point for that matter. I'll report more findings in a full review of the E61 in a future issue of IT Week.
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