Just the other day, I forgot my BlackBerry Curve at home. A momentary frisson of panic later, I manfully decided not to turn my bike around, and headed to work. I actually had quite a pleasant day without the malevolent pulsating red eye of the ‘push’ devil commanding me to check my latest email, or the urgent vibrations in my pant pocket signalling a call to arms on some front. So this is how life was before cellphones and BlackBerrys, and I liked it.
The respite was short-lived, and gadget-lust has arrived in the form of the Nokia E90 Communicator. The Nokia E90 is the best ‘ultra-converged’ cellphone I’ve ever seen. And remember that I’ve have spent a lot of airtime on the much touted Nokia N95. To carry a single device in my pocket that’s a phone, PDA, mobile office, Internet browser, camera, camcorder, GPS navigator and music player is quite cool. That evening, I took pictures and made a video of a new piston being put into my Royal Enfield bike, sat in a Barista with Mr Fudgee The Brownie and replied to emails, then used the E90 again to calculate my taxi’s average speed in Mumbai’s fabled rush hour (a miserable 13km per hour), answering a call on hands-free en route that cut into Kid Rock’s hilarious rant against Pam in Half your Age, which proclaims Rock’s new girlfriend to be “half your age and twice as hot”, playing on my phone.
The E90 is undoubtedly the latest and greatest Communicator. It follows a line of similar laptop-like text entry devices from the original 9000 Communicator that first made its debut around 10 years ago. What’s great about the E90, which is basically aimed at the business-focused user, is the hardware extras that match, and often exceed, any other phone in the world, including Nokia’s own N95. The three megapixel still camera produces pictures as good as anything from the N95, N93 or N73, video recording at VGA and 25 frames per second is smooth and, again, comparable with the footage from any N-series cellphone; stereo music output, through built-in speakers or the wired headset, is of higher quality than any other smartphone or Communicator (N95 included), and GPS navigation is as adequate as on the N95, hitherto Nokia’s wonder phone.
The build quality is exemplary, with a combination metal and plastic body and very solid hinges. The E90 exudes style discreetly and is a pleasure to hold and use. It is big enough to provide space for a huge screen and superb keyboard, but small enough not to be called a brick, even though it tips the scales at 210gm.
The E90’s external screen (240x320 pixels, 16 million colours) is fully functional, providing access to all functions and applications of the device. Open the phone and the application you worked with on the small screen becomes visible on the large screen, and vice versa, and the switch is almost instantaneous. What I really like about the E90 is the internal screen and the full QWERTY keyboard. With a resolution of 800x352 pixels (24-bit, 16.7 million colours), it is one of the largest screens you can find on a smartphone, which makes it ideal for Web browsing and editing documents. I loved the size, sharpness and clarity of the monster display of the E90. The screen is not touch sensitive, but the E90 is optimized for keyboard control. The professional-looking internal keyboard is all black with white letters and blue symbols, and the QWERTY part is separated from the application shortcut buttons with an elegant shiny silver stripe.
The E90 is not just a great looking device with a big screen, it is also one of the most advanced mobile devices ever made. The same processor as the Nokia N93 and N93i, the N95 or the powerful N800 Internet Tablet powers it, and it is really fast! No agonizing delays when launching applications, and switching between applications and screens is very quick and smooth. The total operating memory (RAM) capacity is a capacious 128MB, and multitasking is a breeze—no problems with large PDF or Word documents, browsing the Web, GPS...all of it at the same time, with Kid Rock raucously playing in the background.
The E90 provides most connectivity options you can dream of. A quad-band GSM and WCDMA device, the E90 not only supports GPRS/EDGE and UMTS but also HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) with transfer speed up to 3.6MB per second, making the E90 a 3.5G device, whenever that Utopia descends upon us. The E90 supports WiFi 802.11 b/g (up to 54MB per second); Bluetooth 2.0 A2DP support provides compatibility with stereo Bluetooth headsets; and USB 2.0 provides mass storage support for drag and drop desktop functionality.
To add to its array of aforementioned multimedia capabilities, Nokia has also included FM radio. As in all smartphones, it requires connecting the “wired” headset which serves as an antenna to the 2.5mm jack connector. There is 128MB of onboard memory with a microSD expansion slot (a 512MB card is bundled) and with Samsung and SanDisk announcing the imminent launch of their 8GB microSD cards, space should not be a problem.
Undoubtedly, the E90 is the most powerful Nokia Communicator ever created, with a host of powerful features for a single device. As someone who wants to both work and play on a single device, I really appreciate the E90’s skill set. The E90 retails at Rs40,499.
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