Nokia's slimline slider with business smarts

Nokia's slimline slider with business smarts

It’s easy to see Nokia’s E66 smartphone as the poor cousin to the E71, the other recent update to the vendor’s enterprise handset line, which got many plaudits for its slimmed-down looks, email capability, and QWERTY keyboard.

Although the E66 is a smaller slider phone without the keyboard, it’s just as good looking and well built, and full of business functionality. Also, with decent multimedia features, it’s about more than just business.

The first impression of the unit is of its professional look, thanks to the smoky-grey chrome and glass front and textured metal back. At 107.5 x 49.5 x 13.6 mm and 121 grams it feels very solid to hold, if somewhat heavy.

The buttons and ports have been well placed – USB and infra-red port and headphone jack on the left, forward, stop, back, voice recognition and camera buttons on the left and battery release buttons on either side – and it’s only the red plastic on/off button on top that detracts from the device’s appearance.

The screen is 2.4 inches (240 x 320 pixels) and, in a similar feature to the iPhone, a built-in accelerometer makes your view of the interface switch between portrait and landscape depending which way you turn the phone.

The number keys are comfortable to press, and a novel design element is that the icons on the navigation keys only appear when the backlighting fires up. There’s also an option to pair the E66 with a wireless keyboard or printer, and it comes with a leather case.

A key feature on the device is the ability to switch between two home screens – one customised for business and the other for your life after work. Appearance, enabled applications and shortcuts can be altered to suit.

The E66 gets the voice basics right. Call sound is clear and strong and there are a range of settings to filter calls, or to respond to unwanted calls with a text or voicemail. Nokia’s Smart Dialling allows you to search for and call contacts from standby mode. You can also use the phone for IP-based calling and there’s a speakerphone, along with push to talk and instant messaging.

Business users can operate several applications at once, due to the processing performance and also through the main menu key, of which a long press can be used to display all the open applications and switch between them.

The E66 runs on a 369 MHz ARM processor and has 128 MB of RAM, and a MicroSD card slot. The model reviewed shipped with a 2 GB card.

The operating system is Symbian version 9.2, with Nokia’s S60 third edition interface and Feature Pack 1 installed.

The unit operates on four GSM bands, with data delivered at 3G speeds via HSDPA, with GPRS, EDGE and wifi thrown in.

The E66 is rich with business tools – including a PDF reader, zipped file manager, a wireless presenter application and printing can be done wirelessly from the unit. Encryption is also offered for data on the phone or card memory.

In addition, there’s a unit converter, calculator, voice recorder, barcode/card scanner, calendar and an alarm clock. Some pre-installed Nokia and third party apps such as a SportsTracker, MobiMate’s Worldmate for weather forecasts and foreign exchange information, Windows Live, Solitaire and Yahoo!Go, can also be activated.

Active Notes is a handy feature, with options to insert a media file, business card or bookmark into notes. The all-encompassing search feature on the home screen is also useful.

One of the drawbacks is that unlike the E71, the E66’s QuickOffice 4.1 application doesn’t have full document editing capabilities. You can view Word, Excel and Powerpoint files, but editing them requires an upgrade.

Email setup is a simple process on the E66 via POP3/SMTP or IMAP, and it will cater to most business and private accounts including Microsoft Exchange, Gmail, Yahoo!Mail, Hotmail and Nokia’s Intellisync wireless email. Users can also set up access to their corporate VPN.

Internet browsing is one of the highlights of using the device and is where the ability to view in portrait or landscape comes to the fore. Nokia’s Mini-map allows for good navigation of larger sites, while users can customise the font size they view pages in, and the amount of zoom, and there’s support for both Java and Flash.

The GPS receiver was quick to latch onto a signal and can be used in conjunction with Nokia’s mapping application or Google Maps. However, Nokia is only offering a paltry seven-day free licence with the review unit, for assisted navigation out of the box.

While the phone features a built-in 3.2 megapixel camera, still image picture quality is average, with pictures often looking purple-tinged or noisy. There was a distinct lag in video mode, too. Media menu functionality offsets this disappointment though – once you’ve taken your photo, options to email or share the image are displayed. There are also a range of settings for white balance, ISO, sharpness, contrast, colour and a self-timer. However, the lack of a lens cover is a downside.

Both still and video images offer up to 4x digital zoom, with maximum video resolution at 640 x 480 pixels.

The music player offers the range of functions common to such devices, but the Nokia Music Store service is not available locally. The phone also has a built-in FM radio and RealPlayer.

Nokia has bundled its PC Suite software with the device and the disk also contains the Download! App and Video Manager.

The vendor says the battery will provide 7.5 hours talk time and 264 hours on standby, and it was usual to get at least two days’ life from a full charge without sparing any application use.

Buyers will get value for money for the $999 outlay, with the range of business functionality the E66 offers. It may not have the all-around wow-factor of the E71, but it’s a slimmed down option which packs a performance punch.

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