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Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Lab: Nokia E75 - phone + email + keyboard

Recently, Nokia has made quite a few important announcements. The first was the launch of the local version of its "Comes with Music" program, where the owner of a new compatible Nokia phone could get one year's worth of (legal) music downloads for free.

Most recently, Nokia announced a new focus on messaging. And not just familiar SMS or MMS, but email as well. Sure, most modern phones have supported email, but Nokia has extended its support by providing a new email user interface. And I had a chance to try out one of these phones, the Nokia E75.

Nokia claims to be able to provide out-of-the-box support for Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes, two common email systems in businesses. It also supports regular protocols like POP3, SMTP and IMAP. Though I didn't attempt to add an email account to the display phone, I did see in its user interface that it not only supported those protocols, but allowed you to see your email from different service providers within the same inbox. This shoud make it convenient for a person on-the-go to view his personal- and work-related emails at a glance. If there are too many messages, you can view only those from a particular service through a drop-down menu.

Of course, providing email support is only one part of the equation. The other important part is the hardware for composing emails. The Nokia E75 solves this with a slide-out keyboard. This is a full-sized QWERTY keyboard, like a mini version of what you'd find in notebooks. This means you get all of the alphabets and punctuation marks, and numbers are a function key-press away.

Typing on this keyboard was a snap. The keys are made of a material that feels like metal and produce sufficient tactile feedback. The closest analogy that I can think of about the keyboard is like what you get at ATMs. The buttons are solid to the touch and depress nicely within their fixed rectangle spaces. There was little chance of me accidentally pressing the wrong key with this keyboard.

Since the phone is turned sideways when used with the keyboard, the screen not only turns correspondingly, but the directional keypad also changes. What used to be the up-down buttons become left-right, and vice versa.

Nokia E75 photo
Besides these, the phone also packs a 3-megapixel camera. Normally, I would expect low quality pictures on an E-series phone, since it's not meant to be used for taking pictures. But with the E75, I was pleasantly surprised. Pictures not only came out clear and rich, but they also looked pretty clear! So now business-type people have no reason to say that their phones take crappy pictures.

The Nokia E75 comes in three colours: silver black, red, and copper yellow. (I found the red to be very trendy!) It is expected to ship in March 2009.

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