Is the Nokia E61 the real BlackBerry contender?

Is the Nokia E61 the real BlackBerry contender?

Summary: You may not think of a Nokia smartphone as a business focused device, but the E61 has more to offer to the executive than the RIM BlackBerry or Motorola Q. Get "push" email, full Office compatibility, integrated thumb keyboard, WiFi and Bluetooth in this latest device from Nokia.

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TOPICS: Nokia
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Last week I posted some thoughts and experiences on using the Motorola Q and how this device was being targeted as a competitor to the BlackBerry. However, if you look further in more detail at current features and software of the Q you will see that it is actually a bit stronger in the multimedia consumer area with Bluetooth stereo headphone support, wide screen display for viewing movies, integrated 1.3 megapixel camera, and on board stereo speakers. On the enterprise side of things, the Motorola Q lacks the Microsoft AKU-2 update that provides "push" email capability, has no integrated WiFi (and it cannot be added with an external card), and there is not an alternative model without a camera (cameras are forbidden in many workplaces).

nokiae61.jpgYesterday I received a device that may actually be the top contender to take on the BlackBerry in the enterprise market, the Nokia E61. This device is not available in the U.S. through any retail channels or wireless carriers, but I found a nice deal from phonesource-usa on ebay. There are rumors that Cingular will be carrying the Nokia E62 shortly, but this model looks to have no integrated WiFi radio. You can view my unboxing photos to see what was included in the package.

Specifications for the Nokia E61 include UMTS/EDGE/GSM/GPRS connectivity, 802.11b/g and Bluetooth 1.2 radios, push to talk and VoIP integrated functionality, Symbian OS 9.1 with S60 3rd Edition interface, 32-bit RISC CPU based on ARM-9 series clocking in at 220 MHz (may be faster, but this spec is very hard to find), 64MB user accessible onboard memory, miniSD external card slot, large 320x240 high resolution display with support for 16 million colors, large 1500 mAh battery, and full QWERTY thumb keyboard in a magnesium alloy and plastic silver casing.

Software on the device includes a full Office suite that allows you to view, edit, and create Word documents, Excel spreadsheets (with charts), and PowerPoint presentations, voice command utilities, PIM software with improvements over S60 2nd Edition, MP3, video and Flash players, voice recorder, basic GPS application that gives you location, speed, altitude, and basic trip data when paired with a Bluetooth GPS device, web browser and email client. The E61 is 4.61" x 2.74" x 0.55" and weighs in at 5.08 ounces. There is no camera on the E61, which is more conducive to the enterprise environment in most cases.

While the "push" email client is not installed on the device when it is shipped, you can visit the Nokia Business Software site and choose which wireless email conduit you need, Visto, Good, BlackBerry, ActiveSync or Seven, to connect to your server. I downloaded and installed the ActiveSync client and was up and running with my hosted Exchange service in a few minutes and then had all my email, contacts, and calendar synced to my server. I now get true "push" email and can specify what peak times I desire to have email instantly hit my device.

I am a huge thumb keyboard fan and the Treo 650 has been my primary device for about a year, even though it doesn't have WiFi. I have only had the Nokia E61 for a day, but I have to say that this could very likely be my next main device with the integrated WiFi and Bluetooth, outstanding high quality construction and phone performance (call and speakerphone volume, reception, usability), very functional integrated applications (the Office suite looks like the best I have ever seen on a mobile device), ability to sync to Exchange ActiveSync effortlessly, high resolution vivid display, and thumb keyboard. I'll be working on a full review over the next couple weeks and if the device sticks with me I am sure I'll be mentioning it in future blog entries.

Topic: Nokia

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7 comments
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  • Web Browser

    Hi,

    I also got my new E61 yesterday and have been playing around with it since. I honestly have to say that, although very attractive, the device is just too complex. And I'm not completely illiterate in mobile devices - I've owned Palm Pilots, WM devices (latest was Dell Axim), RIM/Blackberries, and previous Symbian-based Nokias.

    I bought the E61 to replace my BlackBerry 7105t (T-Mobile). I wanted a faster processor, EDGE capability (faster data speeds), WiFi, memory slot, ability to use 2 connections simmultaniously (ie data/voice), ability to use phone as wireless modem for laptop, and quad-band for travel. The e61 was supposed to have it all, so I decided to give it a try.

    All good and true on paper. Yet when I opened the box and started installing it, I noticed that all those features come at the price of extreme complexity. Everything is just so complex.

    After powering it on, going through the lenghty tutorials, countless question, familiarizing myself with the new (more complex) Symbian layout, installing the Nokia PC Suite on my PC, and synchronizing it with Outlook, I still didn't have no GPRS/EDGE capability and no BlackBerry.

    I went online and searched for clues from other users until I stumbled here into your blog. I'm glad I found you, Matt, as you've enlightened me about how to add Blackberry. I think I'm also gonna try ActiveSync with Exchange as it seems like a perfect solution.

    I've always liked Nokia phones for their sturdy construction and super-easy menues and layouts, and I'm frustrated why that is no longer true in this so-much-anticipated model. I shouldn't have to learn how to install Blackberry from a blog online - don't you think?

    I still have one problem that maybe you or one of the readers may be able to help me out with. It is that I still have no internet connection. I already have the GPRS and Blakberry bar showing on top of screen, my blackberry messages are coming through, but when I open the browser it asks me (yet another complexity) which connection to use. It has a choice of 3 connections (Blackberry, Blackberry2, and 'connection'), I've tried all of them, and none work. Can you help me out here?

    Thanks,
    Sam
    sapter5361
    • One tip you might try for internet browsing

      Sam,

      I think out of the box the E61 can seem complex, but after setting up the Active Standby screen and organizing the icons into folders that make sense to you it may seem a bit more user friendly. One thing that is a bit confusing, even after reading the full manual, is using the WiFi radio. There is no switch or ability to turn on WiFi specifically from the standby screen or menu and the only way I have found to use WiFi for the browser is to leave the setting to ask what connection to use each time. This way, I can then select to use my T-Mobile data connection or a WiFi access point.

      While the device may seem to have too much packed into it I think it is important to realize that very few 3rd party apps are really required to get tons of functionality, where you would most likely have to add these apps on a Palm Treo or Windows Mobile Smartphone.

      I have the T-Mobile data plan that I have had for about 4 years, but it was never tied to a BlackBerry device so I do not have personal experience to assist you with your question. However, I did do some searching on Howard Forums (a great wireless device focused community site) and found a post that stated, "in order to use the web browser and other internet applications add a new connections profile with the APN wap.voicestream.com." Check out the <a href="http://www.howardforums.com/showthread.php?t=922893">thread for more discussion</a> on this issue. It sounds like BlackBerry Connect doesn't work quite as well as Exchange ActiveSync. Are you keeping the BlackBerry SIM in case you go back to using a BlackBerry device? Can you change it in for a standard T-Mobile data SIM? Then again, I am not sure what your email server setup is so there may be issues getting that lined up too.

      Let me know if there is anything I can do to help you out, other than BlackBerry issues ;)
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
  • Thanx

    Thank you Matt, it's now finally up and running! Now I can start experimenting with hosted Exhcange/ActiveSync combo.

    BTW, there is no special Blcbry SIM for use with T-Mobile blcbry; there is only one SIM available and the usage allowed is determined by what is activated on your subsription, so if, say, one no longer wants to subscribe to Blcbry service and wants to switch to a regular data plan, all he needs to do is call T-Mobile. Also, the configuration settings are slightly different - wap.voicestream.com for blcbry vs internet2.voicestream.com for regular data plans.
    sapter5361
    • Active Sync setting

      Hi, I just got my E61 today and install the Mail for Exchange. I try the Active Sync setting with no luck. I have a pocket pc and active sync works just fine. Is there any differences between the two active sync ? Would you kindly provide me with the setting that works for you ?
      Thank you.
      sunlie
      • Nokia E61 ActiveSync settings

        Sunlie,

        I know I responded to you via the email you sent, but I thought that others may find the settings helpful so am posting a reply to your inquiry.

        OK, here are my settings for the Mail for Exchange client using
        4smartphone.net hosted Exchange:

        Under Connection:
        Exchange server: secure.4smartphone.net
        Secure connection: Yes
        Access point:T-Mobile Internet
        Sync while roaming: Yes, always
        Use default port: Yes

        Under Credentials:
        Username: (put in hosted exchange username)
        Password: (put in hosted exchange password)
        Domain: 4smartphone

        Under Sync Content:
        Yes to all with server wins in case of conflict

        Under Sync schedule:
        Peak: Always on
        Off peak: Every 30 minutes
        Start time: 0530
        End time: 2030
        Days: M-F

        Under Calendar:
        Sync back one month
        Initial sync: delete items on phone

        Under Contacts:
        Initial sync: delete items on phone

        Under Email:
        Email address: palmsolo@gmail.com
        Show new mail popup: Yes
        Use signature: Yes
        Signature: blah blah blah
        When sending mail: Send immediately
        Sync back messages: 3 days
        palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
        • moving outlook contacts and calendar to 4smartphone

          hi Matthew - i current sync my outlook contacts and calendar "offline" between my laptop and imate Jam.
          I'm interested in subscribing to the 4smartphone.net service but have a few questions:
          do i need to use Mail for Exchange with this service? or is there a way to move pst files into the new outlook exchange server profile?

          what's the least painful way to synchronize my contacts and calendar without subscribing to 4smartphone?

          any advantages of the 4smartphone.net service (with tmobile Internet) vs blackberry connect/Tmo 1995 Blackberry plan?

          -how does internet and email work on the e61 via gprs versus WIFI? Do you subscribe to Tmo Hotspots?

          -Lastly, have you tried synching the device to a mac?

          thanks so much
          tahvo
          • a few more questions

            Forgot a few more things:
            Have you tried Dataviz's RoadSync? Does this work with 4smartphone service?
            is roadsync the same as Goodlink? or Does Roadsync replace Mail for Exchange/ActiveSync?
            Have you tried any IM applications yet? which ones work and can you share the correct settings
            Have you tried any VOIP apps? if so what works?

            thanks again
            tahvo