Nokia’s newest category of device is the mini laptop. It isn’t groundbreaking, it doesn’t do anything that has not been done before, yet it comes in at a hefty price. In the absence of network operator reductions Nokia must be hoping that its name and some striking build credentials are enough to sell the Booklet 3G.
The largely aluminium chassis, built, Apple style, from a single sheet of the metal, is about as pleasing to look at as a notebook chassis gets. It is tough too. But it really does need a protective case of some kind, if only to guard the shiny plastic outer part of the lid section against scratches. And Nokia does not provide one. Churlish, maybe, given the price – which I will reveal later.
At 264mm x 185mm x 19.9mm and 1.2Kg it is quite small and light. The fanless design is also welcome. In a quiet space you can hear the hard drive kicking in periodically, but apart from that no sound at all comes from the Booklet 3G unless it is something emanating from the speakers or the tap, tap, tap of fingertips on keys. Bizarrely I actually found the hard drive’s ‘clicks’ a bit irritating.
These small format devices often exhibit compromises on the usability front. The 10.1-inch screen has a glass fascia which is quite irritatingly reflective in some circumstances and it lacks vibrancy. It does the job, but is not a top-notch offering. The 1280 x 720 pixels are something of a lure, though.
By contrast I found the chiclet keyboard to be very well designed. Despite that there is a relatively small space available to it I was able to touch type at pretty much normal speed – which is quite an endorsement for a computer of the Booklet 3G’s small frame. The touchpad, too was comfy to use, and it supports multitouch. At times when I found the screen a bit cramped to view, a quick pinch-to-zoom worked wonders.
The specifications are netbook through and through. The processor is Intel’s Atom Z530. There is 1GB of RAM and a 120GB hard drive. Wi-Fi is built in, and this includes support for 802.11n as well as b and g. There’s no Ethernet but there is a modem for data calls (it is not possible to make voice calls).
The operating system is Windows 7 Starter Edition. When given a lot to do, such as having several application windows opened at once, the Booklet 3G struggled a little. And – importantly for multimedia fans, Windows 7 Starter Edition lacks the Windows Media Centre, so you’ll have to find third party apps. Easily done, but not in an ‘out of the box’ way.
There are three USB connectors, an HDMI port, 3.5mm headset slot and a slot for SD and compatible cards. The SIM fits in a side-mounted slot next to the SD card reader, and both share the same protective, hinged cover. GPS is built in, and Ovi Maps should be pre-installed, though it wasn’t on my sample.
A 1.3 megapixel camera sits above the screen, and there are stereo speakers sitting on the front of the left and right edges of the chassis. Nokia’s other software extra, the Nokia Social Hub shows Facebook and Twitter updates and lets you send SMS messages.
Nokia claims 12 hours battery life for the Booklet 3G. On the basis of a couple of days experimenting I’d suggest the most you are likely to get in the real world is in the vicinity of 7 to 8 hours.
And now, the price.
The Booklet 3G is available from the Nokia online store at £649.00 inc VAT.
That’s an absolutely exorbitant price for what is, basically, a netbook. The chassis design, long battery life and built in 3G data are plusses, but not enough to justify the price tag. Nokia must be hoping a network operator picks this one up soon and offers it for a hefty subsidy.