Functional and Fun Part work and part play make the Nokia E71 a great mobile.
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You're not a one-dimensional phone user--you've got a work life and a home life, and it's difficult to tell where one begins and the other ends. Nokia's new E71 covers all your bases. It marries the appointments any thumb-typing, web-surfing, e-mail-forwarding entrepreneur could ask for with fun things like an incredible 3.2 megapixel camera/video camera and streaming music. It has enough battery life to juggle both lives, and its facile Assisted GPS, or A-GPS, ensures you'll never get lost between home and office again.
The good and bad news is that E71 is an unlocked phone. Lacking a network provider's subsidy, it can cost up to $485, depending on the retailer/e-tailer. But there is no two-year contract or third-party application lockout tying your hands, either. The E71 works on AT&T and T-Mobile's GSM-based 3G WAN and will automatically spot an available Wi-Fi broadband connection at home, the office or your favorite coffee and burger joints.
Wi-Fi delivers more bandwidth but less range than 3G. Still, Wi-Fi networks blanket urban areas now, so turn on the E71 and it will find several. For safety's sake, be sure to stick with networks to which you have legitimate access and use an encryption key. It's fast and intuitive on E71.
So are application downloading, web browsing and synching your phone and e-mail inboxes. The E71 does most of the messy background "SMTP" this and "pop.mail.com" that for common public exchanges. Your company's e-mail system may require a few additional security tweaks like VPN access.
The point is that this phone--unlike many phones before it--has intuitive navigation across most functions. As a qwerty device, it still suffers from the need to cram multiple characters on small keys and use Shift. But hey, that's just thumb-typing, right? Virtual on-screen keyboards like Samsung's Instinct are easier for one-finger navigation but not for texting or e-mail.
Mike Hogan has been covering technology issues for magazines with more than 1 million readers for 25 years.