For over a decade now, mobile phones have come in all shapes and sizes and are available in so many different form factors. So much so that trying to find one that fits your hands like a good pair of gloves is enough to make your head spin. And I should know. December 27, 2007 was my 11th anniversary as DST Prima subscriber and in the time the mobile phone market exploded, my head has been in a constant state of Russian roulette each time I looked and gave up. This means I have not, in the past decade, owned many phones. The phones I have and do own have always been a Nokia—Walk on the Blue Side 8250, 6020 and very recently, the E51—the one that makes the most sense, to me!
Nokia E51 © Jan Shim Photography
I know for a fact that I am not alone when I say I am perhaps also a decade behind most people when it comes to mobile phone ownership. Would you believe until I got the E51, I’ve never had a phone that had capabilities in MP3 audio, Wifi, high definition LCD, Emails—sad but true. The time between the 8250 and the E51 had left me in the stone age of mobile communications. Quite the irony for an IT exec whose career spanned just as long.
Why the E51? For starters, the form factor (called the Candy Bar) is just right and the phone oozes appeal in every sense of the world—slim, black, stainless steel casing, improved keypad ergonomics and most of all not obvious to non-Nokia users are the interface improvements and extremely intuitive/common sense menus. Plenty of E51 specs and reviews on the web so I shan’t repeat them here.
Calender and Appointments. While this isn’t any ground-breaking news, I can finally sync my Outlook calendar between my PC and laptop (a big big thumbs-up). Anyone who’s tried to keep two instances of their Outlook calendar in sync between two or more computers know how inconvenient it is and there are no tools that let you accomplish this without going Ggrrrr! The E51 once connected with either computer automatically performs the updates. For years, I’ve had to wait to power up my laptop or PC to check my calendar then get back to clients if I was available for a job. That’s no longer the case as long as they’re sync’d.
The Screen. The LCD is the one single component that we spend 100% of the time using and looking at. While just 2-inch, the 240 x 320 pixel LCD supports 16 million colours and amazingly high resolution that make the graphics pop! Also, the transreflective LCD ensures visual legibility even in bright sunlight!
Migration. Moving from one Nokia to another is a cinch. Nokia has a tool called SWITCH which can very easily transfer/synchronize all your Contacts and Notes from your other Nokia phones using infrared (a transfer protocol that’s available on even the most basic of models) so if you have several hundred contacts, there’s no fuss.
FM Radio. Every country has a popular radio station but when we’re abroad, we don’t bother tuning in for obvious reasons. We’re hardly in the hotel room and nobody carries a radio in their pockets. I can think of more than one reason where a handy FM Radio is useful.
Multimedia capabilities: includes RealPlayer for MPEG-4, MP4, 3GP, RV, RA, AMR and MIDI playback while Music Player plays back sound files in MP3 and AAC extensions. Though not a music head, I’m impressed with the high fidelity this phone is capable of. For those of you who use a Recorder this phone is also a high quality voice recorder and lets you record up to 60 minutes of voice memo. I’m guessing one hour of voice recording is quite good though I am unable to find info of whether recording time can be extended if saving to external MicroSD card (recorder function activated via a factory programmed but user configurable shortcut key—essentially by pressing the Email Icon for one second)
Mobility and Connectivity. With WiFi technology, I can now sign on to the many free internet services available today when I am on the road and check my emails when I prefer not to have the burden of my 15.4″ laptop with me (in the absence of WiFi connectivity, there’s also the provider’s GPRS packet service though whether that’s roamed or not remains to be discovered). For instance, I posted my first blog comment on the E51 while I was taking a break in between my badminton game where the venue has free public WiFi access. Also, I should mention the use of standard miniUSB slot is a big bonus compared to proprietary connectors still used in many newer Nokia phones. You can very easily find miniUSB cables used in items such as Flash card readers, same USB cables supplied with most digital cameras I know so forgetting to bring one or misplacing the original is not life threatening!
© Jan Shim Photography
There are many more features on the E51 that makes the phone worthy. In short, it has made mobile communication interesting again for me. I was on the verge of switching to EASI Pre Paid end last year when I thought all I needed was text messaging and the occasional phone call. With my work now taking me on the road more than before, a laptop isn’t always a practical solution!
Update: May 23 2008 Since this post I have connected the phone to my laptop as a HSDPA modem and have successful gone online using Nokia PC Suite software. The E51 though a full HSDPA-compliant device is not capable of connecting at 7.2mbps due to (I suspect) Windows hardware driver limitation. It appears to always connect at 480kbps and actual throughput is decent to get work done on the go!
E51 with standard Mini-USB connector © Jan Shim Photography