Nokia's Booklet 3G is very impressive as a first attempt at a netbook by a phone manufacturer. The engineering and design work, and the thought that have obviously gone into the Booklet 3G, do shine through. We have our reservations about the heat output as this netbook is fanless, but we're open to being convinced that it's a good design after we fully test it. We also have a minor reservation about the battery but, once again, until we thoroughly put it through its paces, we'll reserve our final judgement.
We managed to get our hands on the Nokia Booklet 3G, the firm's entry into the netbook market, at the Nokia World show last week, and here are our initial impressions.
The Booklet 3G battery design stems from a Nokia 1000 mAh mobile phone battery. Building around this as a power source, Nokia has created a slim-line 16-cell removable battery that has been benchmarked at 12 hours' use. However, we were told by one of Nokia's design team that it's more realistic to see around eight to nine and a half hours over an average working day.
The chassis of the Booklet 3G is manufactured from a single piece of aircraft-grade aluminium, with no breaks or joins whatsoever. The chassis is part of the heat dispersal design of the netbook, as the device has no cooling fans. Nokia has abandoned the traditional way of cooling a portable computer, instead using passive heat sinks and relying heavily on the chassis as the largest one.
With all the netbooks we've ever seen and used, the fan always kicks in at some point during the benchmarking process, as the CPU's heat needs to go somewhere. When we get our review unit in for proper testing, it will be interesting to see how the Booklet handles processor-intensive tasks, such as video encoding or even high-definition Flash playback.
The Booklet's screen doesn't display an image that's as sharp and distinct as we're used to. The 10.1in glass display is reminiscent of the first Asus Eee PC netbooks that came out way back in 2007. Those were a little blurry as a result of the cheapness of the build and the material used in TFT LCD technology, and the Nokia Booklet 3G harks back to those days.
On a more positive note, the screen is capable of displaying a resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels. This isn't the normal resolution seen in 10in screens, as 1,024 x 600 is more commonly found in netbook displays of this size.
The Booklet has a very slim design, and is one of the thinnest we've seen in a first-generation model. Its overall thickness is just 19.9mm, which is only five millimetres more than the thickness of the Macbook Air, and it is 264mm wide and 185mm deep.
On the right-hand side is a flap which houses a SIM slot and SD card reader. The latter doesn't support the higher capacity SDHC cards, but that's neither here nor there as we're more interested in the SIM functionality rather than whether it has removable storage with more than 4GB capacity.
The SIM card is very easy to access and not buried away under the battery or anywhere else that's obscure, as is too often seen in other netbooks. The SIM card is also hot-swappable without powering down or rebooting the system. This could aid peace of mind for those who might be worried that the Booklet isn't using Wi-Fi and instead could be running up large data bills on their mobile contract, although all connections are easily managed by the operating system software.
The built-in 3G/HSPA modem can only be used for data calls, over WCDMA 900/2100 or 800-850/900/2100 GSM. The netbook has the Intel Poulsbo US15W mobile chipset with HD PowerVR SGX graphics, all of which is driven by an Intel Z530 1.6GHz processor.
On the keyboard, the keys are somewhat spaced out and separated from each other, but we found it quite easy to use in our short time of using the device.
There are some other well thought out niceties included with the Booklet 3G, such as Nokia's Ovi suite, access to Nokia's Music for the PC, a 120GB Toshiba hard drive, HDMI and audio jack.
As it runs Windows 7, don't expect the Nokia Booklet 3G to be on the shelves until sometime near the end of October. It will be priced at €575 (£506).