Nokia's Booklet 3G is undeniably well designed and has a good battery life, but it also costs significantly more than other netbooks with a similar specification. While it also offers built-in GPS and mobile broadband, the latter requires users to invest more money for a 3G data connection, and no UK carrier was offering to subsidise it at the time of writing.
Solid build quality; long battery life; built-in GPS and 3G.
Costly SIM-free price; relatively low performance.
Nokia's entry into the Windows laptop market is a radical departure from the firm's phone handset business, but the Booklet 3G is more than just a me-too product, combining a decent build quality with built-in 3G network access and GPS, plus a long battery life.
Announced in August 2009, the Booklet 3G will be available in the UK from February 2010 and can be pre-ordered now. It is effectively a netbook, with its 10.1in display, Intel Atom processor, 1GB memory and Windows 7 as its operating system.
While Nokia is a latecomer to the netbook market, it has made an effort to have the Booklet 3G stand out from the crowd. With its aluminium chassis, the system feels like one of the sturdiest laptops we have ever looked at, and its styling also makes the system pleasing to the eye.
However, unless you are prepared to pay for a 3G data connection as well, the Booklet is just that – a netbook, albeit a very well constructed one with a high price tag.
With Nokia's phone heritage, the inclusion of 3G/HSPA as well as 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi was to be expected, but sadly the Booklet only supports data on its cellular connection and does not provide the ability to make voice calls. Bluetooth is also available.
We evaluated the Booklet with a test 3G SIM provided by Vodafone, and we found that we could get reasonable access for web browsing from most places we tried, although obviously not as fast as when connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Thanks to Windows 7, which features built-in support for mobile broadband, getting connected was simply a matter of popping the SIM into the Booklet before powering it on, after which Vodafone's network appeared in the connection list on the taskbar. With earlier versions of Windows, users needed a software client, usually provided by and specific to the carrier, to manage the mobile broadband connection.
The built-in GPS hardware of the Booklet also only works when the 3G connection is active, and relies on this to download information from Nokia for Assisted GPS position calculations.
In our tests, the Booklet took a long time to establish our exact position, and did not seem capable of doing this at all when we tried it from our central London offices. Nokia does warn that GPS reception may be poor indoors or in built-up areas, but many smartphones with GPS that we have tested have performed much better.
One neat feature is a Windows desktop widget supplied by Nokia that shows your location, and this lets you click through to the web-based Ovi Maps for notable places and route finding, although it does not support turn-by-turn navigation.
Despite the aluminium chassis, the Booklet's weight is in line with many other netbooks, at about 1.25kg. It has styling that could be described as minimalist, with few features to detract from the brushed aluminium casing, save for a glossy coloured lid bearing Nokia's logo, in a choice of black, white and blue colours.