With its slim profile and full QWERTY keyboard, the Nokia E61 bears more than a striking resemblance to the Motorola Q and the RIM BlackBerry 8700 series, but that's not to say the smart phone doesn't have its own personality--with both good points and bad.
It's an attractive device overall, with an all-silver casing that makes it appropriate for the business set. At 4.6 by 2.7 by 0.5 inches and 5 ounces, the E61 is slightly bigger than the Moto Q, and will take some acclimation to use as a phone because it has a wider, blockier body. There are three buttons on the left spine--Volume Up, Volume Down, and Voice Record--but nothing on the right side, where we looked instinctively for a jog dial and a Back button like those found on the Q and BlackBerrys. We missed these controls, and their absence made it harder to use the E61 one-handed. Also, a Hold button would have been nice, since it was fairly easy to trigger the voice record function, and we ended up with a handful of useless recordings.
The E61's 2.8-inch screen certainly demands attention. It's large and bright with a 320x240 pixel resolution and 16-million-color output. Text and images looked excellent, and even better, it was still readable in sunlight; you can also adjust the backlighting and contrast. Just be aware that it's not a touch screen, so keep this in mind as you're shopping around for your new smart phone. You can enter all of the E61's commands via the navigation array below the screen and the full QWERTY keyboard. The array consist of left and right selection keys, Talk and End buttons for phone calls, a Menu shortcut, an e-mail launch key, and a four-way navigation joystick that acts as an OK button when you press it. We found all controls well spaced and easy to use, and they're large enough that even users with larger digits shouldn't have too many mishaps.
For the most part, we had the same praises for the keyboard as well. The buttons are fairly large, although the layout isn't quite as roomy as on the Q, particularly the bottom row. Still, we didn't have any problems firing off quick notes and messages, and the keys are adequately backlit for typing in darker environments. Our only complaint would be that the keys felt a bit stiff to press.
As a businesscentric device, the Nokia E61 doesn't come equipped with a camera, although some may still want to have this option. It does have a miniSD expansion slot, but it's inconveniently located behind the battery cover on the left side; the one upside is you don't actually have to remove the whole battery. The accessories included with the E61 will vary depending on the market; ours came with a USB cable, an AC adapter, a miniSD card, a software CD, and reference material.
Packed with powerful productivity apps and wireless options, the Nokia E61 is sure to be a corporate crowd pleaser. The E61 runs Symbian OS 9.1, Series 60 third edition, and comes with full support for viewing and editing Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents--an advantage it holds over the Moto Q. We used the included USB cable to transfer all three types of files to the E61 and had no problems opening them; we were pleased that little, if any, formatting was lost. In particular we were pleased to find we could edit the documents, including the PowerPoint presentations, which is a feature you won't find on too many devices. If that's not enough, there's a Screen Export function that allows you to display the E61's screen via a compatible projector. The smart phone also works with Adobe Reader and Zip Manager, and comes with your basic PIM apps and organization tools, such as a calendar, notes, a calculator, a clock, a voice recorder, and a currency converter. There's 75MB of built-in memory, which is a bit on the lower side, but it's helped by the miniSD slot.