Nokia Booklet 3G Review
- Very sturdy aluminum build
- Comfortable rubberized keyboard
- Nice quality HD display
- Slow 4,200rpm hard drive
- Sluggish everyday performance
- Very expensive compared to other netbooks
Design and ergonomics
Although the Booklet's aluminum body makes it feel stronger than other netbooks, it also makes it slightly heavier: at 2.8 pounds it's heftier than the Eee PC 1008HA, but it's still comfortable to hold and carry in one hand. Nokia's also managed to fit the 16 cell battery (yes, 16-cells) flush to the bottom of the case, so the whole machine is just .78-inches thick, thin enough to nicely fit into a bag or purse. Around the sides of the machine you'll find three USB ports, an HDMI port, a headphone jack, and SD and SIM card slots -- but there's no VGA or Ethernet ports. We were frustrated by the latter when we traveled to a location that had a weak 3G connection and no WiFi network, although you can obviously buy a USB Ethernet adapter.
The first thing you notice when you open up the Booklet is the attractive 10.1-inch edge-to-edge glass display. While we could have done with a smaller bezel, the 1280 x 720 screen is high quality and much roomier than the usual 1024 x 600 netbook resolution. The LED-backlit display was actually easier on the eyes than we'd anticipated, and 720p video clips looked vivid and crisp.
Performance, battery life, and connectivity
Nokia chose to use the lower-power Intel Atom Z530 instead of the usual N270 or N280 in the Booklet, and though it increases battery life, it's definitely more sluggish in performance. The Booklet could handle running Firefox and Word simultaneously, but adding an app like TweetDeck to the mix caused things to drag. Worse, we often got a "not responding" message when we tried to do "too much," like streaming a movie on Hulu while running Tweetdeck, AT&T's connection manager and Microsoft Word. And the numbers back us up; on Geekbench the Booklet scored 825 points, which was just under 100 points behind the HP Mini 5101's 920.
But the Booklet's sluggishness can't be blamed solely on the processor: it also has 4,200rpm, 120GB hard drive that's slower and smaller than the 5,200rpm units in most other netbooks. Again, the numbers have our back – it took the Booklet over a minute to boot Windows 7 Starter Edition (and the preloaded F-Secure security suite didn't help). Oh yes, the Booklet runs Windows 7 Starter edition, so forget about changing the desktop background or extending your desktop to another monitor.
We were happy to leave the Booklet's charger at home: its battery consistently ran for eight hours when we used the system at 75 percent brightness to browse the web and edit documents. That is longer than most netbooks with six-cell batteries which annoyingly protrude from the notebook, though the $399 Toshiba Mini NB205 runs for over 8 hours.
There's also assisted GPS in the form of an Ovi Maps widget for the desktop. It struggled to find our location while in an office building, but when standing next to a window it found our apartment location and plotted it quite accurately. Nokia also bundles its Ovi Suite for syncing a Nokia phone and its Social Hub software, which is useful for centralizing your social networks (Twitter, Facebook) to one desktop application. It also lets you easily send text messages from your SIM.
If you ask us, it all comes back to the MikroMikko and Nokia's recent inexperience in the laptop market. Sure, it's one of the world's leading mobile phone manufacturers (though Michael Gartenberg argues it needs to change drastically to survive as innovators), but when it comes to laptops and netbooks it's important to know the basics and get performance right before attaching a premium price to a product. The Booklet 3G is a great-looking netbook with stellar endurance, but its price and performance simply don't match up.