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Access to product upgrades are one of the perks of being in the tech industry. If you've come across a great product, you can't wait to see what the company’s going to come up with next. For instance, Nokia's E61 and then the E62 made Symbian a force to reckon with in the business world, and the upgraded and slimmer E61i with a 2MP camera took it a step further. And now the E71 is here. This time Nokia's gone beyond a step – it's a big leap, in fact.
The design is superb.The E71 seems to be a culmination of elegance, style, and class, with functionality kept utmost in mind. I think its steel shell gives it a macho look and feel. The display may be a little smaller than the E61i at 2.36 inches, but on the whole the E71’s specs are way better. The QWERTY keypad looks rather compressed, however, and will take a bit of getting used to. But the five-way nav-pad and relevant shortcut keys are located for easy accessibility. The prominent bottom portion of the handset kind of reminded me of Jay Leno’s chin.
The E71 is just 10mm thin and weighs 127g. This might seem a bit heavy, but it actually works in the handset's favor. The weight makes it feel solid and secure in your palm, and also imparts a sense of balance. The microSD card slot and USB port are located on one side, just beneath the infrared lens. On the other side you’ll find the volume/zoom keys and a dedicated key for the voice recorder. The 2.5mm earphone socket is located above these.
What surprised me the most is the lack of a dedicated camera key. Considering that the E71 has a 3.2MP autofocus camera (with LED flash) it's odd there’s no soft-touch key that allows you to focus, or so I thought. I realized – quite by chance, I must add – that you can autofocus using the the 'T' key located just under nav-pad, and then use the center key of the nav-pad to release the shutter and capture the image. It’s ridiculous... you won't know any of this till you actually read the manual – and how many of us bother to do that?
The new tweaked Symbian OS 9.2 (Series 60 v3.1 UI) looks great, with clear and large icons. It doesn’t look exactly like the old interface, but it retains most characteristics, so you’ll still recognize everything. When you enable ‘Active Desktop’, the screen now clearly indicates Missed Call and Unread Message notifications at the bottom. What would have been perfect is an ‘Open Applications’ check feature that can let you close any app running in the background with one simple click.
The interface has a Switch Mode option that allows users to easily switch between a personalized theme with non-business features, and a business-oriented profile. A minor annoyance with this particular S60 OS is the phonebook, which doesn’t let you use SIM contacts as default. You’ll have to copy all your contacts on to the phone if you want to keep accessing your phonebook for information. Luckily, this may not be a problem with newer handsets – the N78, for instance, already has the ‘SIM as Default’ feature.
The E71 is fully equipped with media options to suit all users, business or otherwise. The music player isn’t very different from other Nokia S60 players; it offers EQ presets and the option to create your own with a 5-band EQ. Other options include stereo widening and loudness. The sound quality is superb. It’s not exceptionally loud, but it's enough to drown out any ambient noise. The video player is great too, with no issues. The E71 reads MP3, MPEG4, 3GP and AAC file formats.
Visual radio comes preloaded on the E71, and it automatically finds all the radio stations available in your city – a few clicks are all it takes to save them as presets. While it may seem a roundabout way to go about it, it also saves the name of each station along with the frequency. Reception was better than average even while commuting. I wish it allowed FM recording though, but then the E71 does have a separate voice recorder for voice memos.
Other media features include access to the Nokia Store for music downloads, a Podcasting application for listening in and downloading Podcasts, a Flash player, and 3D tones. A dedicated application allows you to connect to VOX and Nokia M-Blog and upload images taken from your phone's camera.
Nokia Maps 2.0 makes the E71 that bit more enticing. Its GPS receiver works like a charm; there isn't much delay in picking up satellite reception. The display is clear, which makes it possible to navigate your way through streets with ease. The handset has full support for A-GPS, but unfortunately there's no Geotagging. But that’s easily fixed by installing applications like Nokia’s Location Tagger and LOCR (from the catalog). These apps are freeware.
In this area the E71 is loaded with goodies, from Bluetooth v2.0 with Stereo Bluetooth support, Wi-Fi, microUSB and even Infrared. It also supports 3G with HSDPA. Users can use the handset as a modem, and as an Internet telephone (for which you can download Gizmo, which is available as freeware from the Download section in the handset). The E71 can handle GPRS/EDGE and WAP connectivity.
From a business point of view the E71 handles itself really well. To start with, it comes preloaded with QuickOffice that has all licenses in place. This enables users to create/edit new and existing documents in Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. A PDF reader is present, along with a ZIP application. Also included is a preloaded dictionary, printer connectivity, support for a Bluetooth enabled wireless keyboard, and my favorite – Active Notes, which allows you to create notes in which you can insert media such as audio, video, and images.
The search feature is something that all new Nokia handsets come with, and is quite handy for locating data on the Internet as well as within the phone itself. The E71 has an Intranet feature that allows users to install a VPN (Virtual Private Network) policy into the handset, so if your office has a setup of this sort, you’re good to go. It also supports Mail for Exchange; once that’s set up your mail will follow you wherever you and your E71 go. I’m not entirely sure that’s a good thing. Other tools include PC syncing for data backup, a converter, calculator and calendar.
Some of the features Nokia has incorporated into the E71 are native to the S60 OS. They may not be overly relevant to a handset’s use, but some do come in handy. One example is the Voice command that allows you to simply call out what feature in the handset you wish to activate. For instance, you could say "Bluetooth" and the Bluetooth radio will switch on. Text-to-speech could also come in handy if you receive a message while driving.
The E71 has an encryption application that allows users to create a password for the memory card and the phone memory. A Switch application lets you easily transfer data between Nokia handsets via Bluetooth. It allows the transfer of all personal data, including contacts and notes. Push-To-Talk is also on offer. There's a barcode reader but it proved quite useless. I'm told there's a business card reader as well, but the handset I got for review seemed to lack this useful feature. So tell your dealer to make sure it's included.
Unfortunately, the 3.2MP autofocus camera is the biggest downside of this otherwise great handset. The image quality is below par, and that's an understatement. The camera has plenty of options to choose from – such as white balance, exposure compensation, and effects – but none of them help improve the overall quality.
The images appear noisy and riddled with annoying purple and blue watercolor effects. The graininess is quite evident, except perhaps when the pictures are viewed on the handset's smaller display (as against its native size on the PC). The colors are not too accurate either.
Close-ups can be a problem, as the camera doesn’t seem to want to focus on the images you want, no matter how hard you try.
We were impressed by the E71’s battery life. On a single charge we managed to get over two days' usage. You’ll be able to get at least four hours and 45 minutes of talktime, along with decent usage of the Internet for email, regular messaging, and a little music. This is one of the better batteries we’ve tested.
The E71 isn’t just a business handset, but rather a full-function device that has a lot to offer the individual mobile user. What's more, the device delivers it all with consummate ease. The less-than-spectacular camera is the only thing you’ll have to learn to live with. The E71 costs Rs 19,990, which I feel is good value. I'd give it two thumbs-up for its superb design, well-tweaked interface, and overall functionality. Now I can’t wait to test the E66 and see how that fares.
GSM 850/900/1800/1900, EDGE, 3G, HSDPA
|Physical||114 x 57 x 10 mm, 127g|
|Display||320 x 240, 16mk colors, TFT, 2.36 inch |
|Memory||110MB internal, MicroSD for external|
|Media||MP4, AAC+, MP3, 3GP, Voice Recorder, FM radio|
|Camera||3.2 megapixel, auto-focus, LED flash, secondary camera for video calling, face|
|Connectivity||USB v2.0, Bluetooth with A2DP, GPS (A-GPS), Wi-Fi, Infrared |
|Battery||410 hrs standby, 4 hrs 45 mins talktime |
|Street Price ||Rs 19,990|