I've taken many months looking for the ultimate student device; something fairly cheap and not too expensive (especially in this current credit climate), something that'll last for a while, something which which can be multi-purpose; none of this "buy a camera, a phone and a sat-nav" when you can have it in all one little device.
I think I've found it. But then again, with technology there is always a newer version, a better model or something else to depress the masses once they've fallen for the first fad. So, to be specific yet broad, I think the Nokia E61/E71 (or at least a model in the E-series) is the best device a student could ask for.
The E61 is available in the UK only, yet the E71 is available worldwide and in the US. Whilst I've physically got in my hand the E61, the only differences between the two are that the E71 is: slightly lighter, slimmer and smaller (not always a good thing with a QWERTY keyboard), has more internal memory (which is negligible with a memory card anyway), has a 3.2 megapixel camera with video call features, and has HSDPA which is barely available in the UK anyway.
Productivity It has a range of mobile office suite software; a presentation program, a word program and a spreadsheet program, all of which are compatible with Office 2003/2007. It connects wirelessly via WLAN or Bluetooth to printers as well as projectors, and includes a Zip program so you can bundle files together and send them to others in a multitude of ways. The usual calculator, converter, calendar and note-taking programs are available, and Adobe Reader can be downloaded to view PDF's on the move.
Connectivity Not only do you have Bluetooth, but WLAN (wifi) is an essential feature in the E61/E71. No more will you have to get your laptop out, power it on, do what you need to, then pack it all away again. Having a wireless enabled phone lets you easily check your mail, check out a website or even use Skype if you so wish. It runs 3G technology, so if you're in an area which supports high-data access, you can use it as a mobile-broadband equivalent; and use the modem installed to connect your laptop if you don't.
Applications Both phones run on the Series 60 Symbian platform, so not only can you download and install Java programs, but Symbian ones as well. Applications such as Skype, Google Maps, YouTube and the Opera web browser can be installed... much like the iPhone, but better. Other applications on the phone allow you to set your geographic location for location-based services, 3D games can be installed and played, and Windows Live Messenger is provided, and when it's not, can be downloaded from a third-party source.
Communicating The main point of these devices are to be used as a Blackberry alternative. You can install the Blackberry Connector Client should you wish, and you can install the Exchange Connector Client if you use Exchange. But Windows Live Hotmail, GMail and any POP/IMAP server is supported by these two phones. Students get multiple emails a day, and having them on the go will save time and effort.
Not only that, with SIP protocol support, Push-to-Talk technology which lets you use your phone as a two-way-radio can be a cheaper option than an actual phone call, and Internet telephony should your university network support it. If you're in a 3G area and somebody video calls you, you can also receive video calls.
Multimedia Having fun is important at university; it's one of the main reasons people go. With a fully working web browser which supports pretty much everything, you can view full web pages on your phone. They also support downloads, streaming and watching videos - as well as a full gallery of tools to view your photos on. The only downside is that the E61 doesn't have a camera, whereas the E71 has a 3.2 megapixel camera which gives stunning results for "just a phone camera".
All in all, both of these phones are brilliant, but I prefer the E61. It's slightly bigger than the E71 but small enough not to be noticed in your pocket, yet big enough to be able to type easily with the buttons. The screens are huge and the batteries last for days. Prices vary depending on where you go and whether you want a contract or not, however the E61 is around £170-200, and the E71 is roughly £330 (or $442 in the US). Some may say it's expensive for a phone, but all in all, it really isn't bad for all you're getting.
These two phones are not just phones; these are a students' best friend.