Jim Louderback

September 20, 2008

Nokia Nights: A tragic tale of true love lost

Filed under: Commentary — Jim @ 2:52 pm

Thin, sleek, yet rounded in all the right ways, she walked through the door and captured my heart. Our courtship was brief, our romance torrid, our attraction mutual. Soon she was shacking up with me and sharing my heart and my pocket.

As regular readers know, I’ve had a really, really “complex” relationship with smartphones. I was the first person to do a hands-on review of the Treo 650 – which I then ended up carrying around for years. The same for T-Mobile’s Wing, and the Helio Ocean. I loved each of them deeply and completely, despite their obvious flaws. But in the end those flaws gave birth to smoldering resentment that turned into animosity and hate.

My latest fling with T-Mobile’s Wing started out well, but I’m so over her. That’s why I was so happy about receiving an evaluation copy of Nokia’s new E71 phone. It seemed to have it all: a slim slab no thicker than an iPhone, full typable QWERTY keyboard, a nice bright screen,a built in Exchange (and by extension Zimbra) email client, and all the Symbian apps you could download.

During the first few weeks I was overjoyed by the phone’s performance. Compared to the sluggish Wing, it was downright peppy. Switching the phone’s offline/online state was nearly instantaneous – compared to what seemed to take an eternity on the Wing. And battery life was eye-opening. No longer would I be penalized with a brick when forgetting to charge overnight – the E71 lasted for days between charging.

And the keyboard. Oh, I could wax eloquently about its sculpted keys, satisfying click and intuitive layout. My thumbs, it seemed, were made for its curvaceous charms.

But that’s not to say our relationship was not without its warts. Although the phone’s built in ringer, alarm and alerts were mellifluously melodious, I found it nearly impossible to figure out how to turn them down – much to the chagrin of my cubicle-mates. The volume controls on the side of the phone only control speaker level when you’re on a call; instead you have to define distinct “profiles” to change alert and ring-tone volume.

The phone also lacks standard USB ports, instead opting for non-standard connectors. But the Bluetooth is quite fast, and the PC-based desktop transfer application so good, it really didn’t bother me.

I also found the 3.2 megapixel camera a bit clunky, and its pictures somewhat red. I also quickly grew tired of the phone’s habit of dropping into the camera when I pressed the exit button too many times.

But those were just minor gripes. The more I used it, the more I liked it. The phone came with a screen condom, to protect it from abuse, but the screen held up well to unprotected intercourse – although I dropped it regularly (not on purpose), the screen showed nary a scratch. The Wing, by contrast, is barely visible now because of self-inflicted flaws over 6 months of regular use.

The phone’s coverage was adequate. I’m a T-Mobile customer, and thus ran into coverage problems in New York and parts of San Francisco. Some of those I blame on the phone, but most of them upon the network. Data service was pretty fast – I loved Google Maps, for example, after I loaded it up – it worked great with the built in GPS.

After two months of constant companionship, we were happier than the day we met.

Alas, in the end, she waltzed right out of my life, just like all the others. But unlike most breakups, I wasn’t the one yelling and throwing things – nor was she. Nope, in this case she laid down an ultimatum: Lay out the big bucks or she was heading home to Finland. It was really hard to let her go – but in the end she was simply too high-class, and at $400 too expensive for my meager means.

So it’s back to the Wing. Yeah I’m cheap. But better a devil I know, with all her flaws, than a high-priced ice queen. But I sure do miss her.

Want to see video?  Check out the following video I shot with David Prager in the Revision3 studios.  It’s a prototype, so let me know what you think.

 

 

 

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