Yes – Gadling may be a little late to the party (Engadget reviewed this machine last year), but the Nokia Booklet is still important enough to warrant its own review here on Gadling.
For those that missed all the other reviews – the Nokia Booklet 3G is the first netbook designed by Nokia – the world’s largest producer of mobile phones. Needless to say, when a company like Nokia sits down to develop a netbook, the end result has to be pretty damn good.
On paper, the Nokia Booklet 3G is like most machines on the market – a 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor, 1GB of memory, a 120GB hard drive and a 10″ screen. Thankfully, that is where the similarities with other machines ends. The Booklet 3G has a glass frame high-definition screen (running at 1280×768, unlike the weak 1024×600 pixels on most other machines), GPS, Bluetooth, worldwide 3G support and a battery capable of keeping the machine running for up to 12 hours.
The design is also unlike any other netbook on the market – forget cheap flimsy plastic, the Booklet 3G is designed around a single aluminum frame, and the end result is quite simply stunning. The one poor design choice is in the lid – instead of making that in the same finish as the rest, Nokia picked a glossy plastic cover – making the machine one big fingerprint magnet. I tried keeping it clean for the first couple of days, then just gave up.
This one is simple – the Booklet 3G performs like any other Atom powered netbook. Don’t purchase one of these if you plan to do any heavy lifting in your applications.
The combination of the slow processor, 1GB of memory and a sluggish 4200RPM hard drive makes the machine feel a bit underpowered. Web and email work won’t scare it, but you won’t be watching any HD videos on the Booklet 3G.
Thankfully, gaming and videos are not something its target audience wants anyway – the Booklet 3G is the perfect business machine. All work and no play. But thankfully, the work portion is something it excels at.
Keyboard / trackpad
I could keep this portion really short – the keyboard and trackpad are just right. Normally, most computers I review have something I hate. But Nokia got this just right.
The Booklet 3G keyboard is “chiclet style”, with a bit of spacing between the keys. Typing is a pleasure on it, obviously helped by its bright hi-res screen. The trackpad is just the right size, and its buttons are easy to press, unlike some others on the market.
The real “unique selling point” of the Booklet 3G is of course the “3G” part of its name. Inside the Booklet 3G is a 3G HSDPA modem capable of working on 850/1900/2100 bands. This makes it compatible with AT&T in the US, and most foreign operators.
The lack of AWS/1700MHz support rules out using it on the T-Mobile 3G network, and in my tests, I could not get it to find the T-Mobile EDGE network. This is either because the machine is SIM-locked to AT&T, or because the EDGE frequencies are locked out of the modem.
Other connectivity options inside the machine include Bluetooth, 802.11a/b/n Wi-Fi and GPS.
Connectivity through ports is somewhat limited – you get an SD memory card slot, 3 USB ports, HDMI and a combined audio in/out jack. Hidden behind the SD card panel is the SIM card slot. Above the screen is a bog standard 1.3 megapixel webcam.
The lack of Ethernet is a tricky one – not everyone will still need Ethernet, but some hotels insist on offering their Internet service wired only, so you may need to invest in a small USB to Ethernet adapter. Slightly trickier is the choice to offer an HDMI port. Even though HDMI is becoming more popular, picking HDMI instead of VGA means you may need to invest in another adapter if you plan to use the Booklet 3G on a projector.
Thankfully, the Nokia assortment of accessories for their Booklet 3G includes a USB Ethernet adapter and an HDMI to DVI plug (though no HDMI to VGA).
The Booklet 3G comes with Windows 7 starter, a much better choice than the old XP installations on most netbooks. Windows 7 feels at home on the Nokia, and things run quit smooth (unless you open too many applications).
Nokia also pre-installs applications from their Ovi suite – including Ovi maps and a social networking application that supports Twitter. The desktop software also lets you send and receive text messages, but you’ll need to be sure that text messaging is bundled in your plan, or these messages could cost a fortune.
To make using the Booklet 3G easier with a Nokia smartphone, the box also includes a special dual USB charge/sync cable (because Nokia still doesn’t believe in charging over USB).
The Nokia Booklet 3G is only available from Nokia.com or your local Best Buy retail store. Out the door from Nokia, you’ll pay $599.99 for the Booklet – which is about $200 more than a similarly spec’d machine from other brands. Thankfully, a cheaper option is to order one combined with a 2 year AT&T wireless mobile broadband subscription.
This 2 year contract drops the price of the machine down to a more manageable
$199.99. $149.99. Service is $59.99/month, so you’ll need to do some math to determine whether this makes sense for your specific connectivity needs.
Update: I noticed that Best Buy is now selling these for $149.99 when purchased on a two year AT&T plan.
The Nokia Booklet 3G for travelers
On paper, the Nokia Booklet 3G looks like the perfect netbook for travelers – you get fantastic battery life, a hi-res screen, decent keyboard and mouse, 3G, Bluetooth and GPS all in a gorgeous machine that weighs a little over 2 lbs, 10 ounces.
And to be honest, it really is the perfect machine for the roadwarrior – the only downside to the Booklet 3G is its price – unless you already have a need for an AT&T mobile data subscription, that $600 price tag is going to hurt a lot. Especially when a more powerful machine can be found for at least $100 less.
That said – there is something awesome about a machine this well built. I hate to draw comparisons with Apple, but if you don’t mind paying a premium for a machine that isn’t carved out of 20 pieces of plastic, you will love the Nokia Booklet 3G.
Pricing aside, the Nokia Booklet 3G is a brilliant little machine – though a lot of that brilliance is in its design, the connectivity options, great display and long battery life do help complete the package.
PROS: design, connectivity, long battery life, great screen
CONS: price, slow hard drive, non-upgradeable memory
It is hard for me to tell someone that this is a “must buy”, because that price tag is a tough one – but if you are already budgeting for 3G access, then the investment in the Booklet 3G suddenly becomes much easier to justify.
$200 for a netbook is a no-brainer when you already need 3G access. Best of all, you are not stuck with the 3G inside the Booklet 3G – you could always buy a (used) AT&T 3G modem, and swap the sim around when you need it, especially if you need your mobile broadband on more than one computer.
The Nokia Booklet 3G is available directly from Nokia, or from your local Best Buy. Call your store for availability, only Best Buy stores with an in-store Mobile department stock the Booklet 3G.