While I was enjoying the series of PDAs described in the previous post, I was using a series of increasingly smart and functional Nokia cell phones. Eventually, I tried out the Nokia E71, which they advertised as a business-oriented smart phone.
I was doubtful that a phone could incorporate the power and efficient multi-functionality of the HP iPaq I was using at the time. However, I began to notice within a few months of getting the phone that I was using more and more of its features in place of those on my PDA. What’s more, it was easier to customize the E-71 with its vast store of internal functions and 2nd party applications.
Soon enough, there was no doubting it: the Nokia E-71 was indeed a very smart, very powerful phone. The iPaq was cleared and given away. Everything I needed was on a single, slim, sleek device that fit, hardly noticed, in a shirt pocket.
Things had certainly come a long way since my first home-made task list. Here’s just a brief overview of the phone’s designed-in capabilities, as well as some of the built-in and 2nd party applications:
- Nokia-hosted push email service (free)
- Excellent built-in internet browser (although I came to use Opera)
- 8GB mini-SD card (I used that for music & applications, and the substantial phone memory for data and documents)
- Efficient, robust, and reliable sync capability with Outlook
- Superb music playing software
- Full-keyboard – the most intelligently designed and usable one I’ve seen on any phone (also, multi-lingual)
- Integrated contacts, calendar, to-do list – extraordinarily efficient and usable
- Mini-office suite for MS Office compatible documents, spreadsheets, even presentations.
- PDF reader
- Navigation software – point-to-point – both driving and walking
- Multi-language dictionaries
- Mobipocket and other book reading software
- Sophisticated financial calculator
- Travel itinerary software
- A stupendous voice-recognition program that could interpret your voice to match the name you spoke against the spellings of your contacts, then ask you which of that contact’s numbers you wanted to dial.
- An excellent camera lens, with terrific standard and video capability.
- A front-facing camera which allowed video phone calls over 3-G long before the i-Phone’s much ballyhooed Wi-Fi-only version appeared.
Those are the ones I seemed to use the most, and do not include the usual clock, weather, and other standard items, many of which I also used regularly. One that they made a big fuss about, but which I never used, was a feature that converts your text messages to voice and reads them to you.
A disadvantage was that the phone used a 2.5mm earphone port, which required a clumsy step-down from the standard 3.5mm earphone plug. Nevertheless, that phone was always with me, and had seemingly everything I needed in it. I can hardly remember when I’ve viewed a single device as so indispensable, although we all recognize that feeling these days.
I listened to music while reading books, news on the internet, emails, or while writing – either in the phone or on a writing pad if I had one with me. I consulted and updated my schedule, and had recourse to the same contact information as was in Outlook, as well as regular reference documents accessible through the e-book readers on the phone. In the course of all this, it gently notified me of incoming calls and suspended whatever I was doing on the phone until I ended the calls, upon which it smoothly re-started them. I typically used a bluetooth headset for these phone conversations, which allowed me to access information on the phone or to write notes during the call.
Outstanding! All this in one device. Really, just incredible.
This perfect unity of all my device needs in the Nokia E-71 lasted for more than a year. That’s when they brought out the E-72. More memory (both in the phone and the mini-SD card, both needed by now), an even faster processor (also needed), and a standard-sized receptor for portable earphones (no more awkward step-down).
I picked one up as my main phone, and assigned the E-71 to a secondary business number.
On one end of the technology spectrum, I find myself using the E-72′s camera more often than I would have expected, since it has a very high-resolution and high-quality lens. At the other end, I also use the built-in flashlight (derived from the camera’s flash capability) all the time. Everything else is the same as the E-71, although with more memory, speed, and ease-of use.
Except for one thing, which has resulted in my drifting back into multiple device mode, albeit happily. That comes next. See you then!