Pros Wireless G, bright screen, VOIP, push email, solid design, bluetooth
Cons menu layout, media functions, customizability, lack of 3G camera
Summary As a business phone, the Nokia E61 gets an A- for being fast, powerful, and (reasonably) simple to use. The tools included have replaced my need for a PDA and mobile phone, which is great because who needs that extra bulk anyways?
- Nokia E61
- User manual
- AC power adapter
- 64mb Mini-SD transflash card
- CD-Rom with Office Tools Suite
- Earbud/mic headset
As a multimedia phone, it disappoints a little. Mainly because of limited software options, not because of performance issues.
The built in wireless-G with VOIP support makes this phone very accessible, however, I myself am a power user and still felt a little uncomfortable at first when setting up the networking options. Business users will also notice IP-telephony, and IM networking options that they can plug into at their office.
The main problem with the E61 is that Nokia needs to take a better look at how they have the options and settings menus setup. It is not as intuitive as most would hope. Many options have to be centrally configured from the Tools folder, even though most of the applications you access are outside of it. The average user might find it a little frustrating, BUT, the manual included is very clear and easy to follow. In addition, the in-phone help and tutorial guides provide much support to the new/average user. Certainly these issues can be cleaned up with a simple firmware update from Nokia.
Others users that have complained about the menu system, I agree with for the most part, except some things are much more simple than they lead on. For instance, deleting messages does not require you to go through menus and submenus as some complain. Simply press the backspace/delete key and select 'Yes'.
The screen, in a word, is amazing. Colours are vibrant, crisp and most importantly, text is easy to read. Digital photos I've stored on mine look great in the viewer.
Web-browsing is functional, and compatible with all websited I frequent. Unfortunately, it is a barebones browser, with little options for adjusting layout views and navigating.
Audio quality is top notch, given that it's made by Nokia after all. Volume goes very high, and the speakerphone module included is strong as well. Music also sounds good through the speakerphone as well. Users can even select their favourite mp3's from the 64MB mini-SD card included as their ringtones. There is also a voice-recorder application that can be activated on the side button below the volume toggle.
I can't really say much about video at the moment because the included RealPlayer media player is very limited in terms of the types of files it can play. Nokia should invest some time into creating their own in-house application that uses a wide range of formats.
The keyboard has a good tactile feel and is a breeze to use when writing e-mails and text messages. Unfortunately, those with larger hands and fingers may find it difficult to use at times.
Battery life is good but not great, it can handle a little over two days without charging with phone calls here and there and wi-fi internet browsing. Obviously, use of the wi-fi card is going to be a great battery drain.
Nokia has decided to keep the E61 as a business phone and opted out to include a digital camera component. Although in the future perhaps it would be wise to at least include a video-calling lens in the front for 3G calling, which the symbian OS already supports.
As a side note, I should warn users that for the most part, most camera phones before adequately and genuinely below the standard expected of regular point-and-shoot digital cameras. For example, the new Nokia N80 touts a powerful lens (for a cell phone) but I can still take better pictures with my handy Pentax Optio S6 under any conditions. Camera phone technology has simply not been perfected yet, and one day I hope it will but for now, I would not consider the E61 not having a camera a great loss. Users who want a good camera in their phone should wait for the Sony Ericsson K790i or K800i( /w 3G video call support) to come out later this Summer.
Other than that, to reiterate my earlier point, the E61 works fantastic as a business phone. Some users may balk at the shortcomings in terms of multimedia options at play, but when it's time to work the E61 truly shines and gets the job done in style.
"Great design, super keyboard, great range of features . . but bad software and no touchscreen"on by timgollin
Pros Sleek, great keyboard, good voice quality, nice materials, good coolness factor
Cons Terrible software, sluggish response, system hangs
Summary You can check all the boxes with this unit's huge feature set and great connectivity options. The keyboard is great, and there are many clever features built in. WiFi works acceptably, the browser is a good one, and
However, practical operations are terrible. For people used to the Treo's one-handed, event-driven software, plowing through the E61's hierarchical menus is a miserable experience.
Email is very non-intuitive, and the software is buggy and occasionally illogical. SIP doesn't work at all for me (maybe T-Mobile blocks the port ?) but who cares ? Setting it up is such a misery that no one would actually realy want to try; you have to configure multiple settings in multiple menus.
On-line help or support beyond the manual doesn't exist. And since this is the latest and greatest Symbian version, a lot of Symbian Series 60 software won't run on it.
All of this is a pity, because voice quality is great, the keyboard is really wonderful - I'm a Treo lover who's had Blackberry intervals, but this is really a good one - and the form factor is really nice. The shell is titanium, and the unit is really solid.
But, at the end of the day, who cares ? The contacts software is painful, the calendar is difficult, and there's nothing about any of the PIM apps which appears at all modern. With a modest size address book, drilling down to a single contact can take 3 - 5 seconds, and it requires 5 - 6 clicks of the joystick actually to dial a number. These things Palm figured out a long time ago.
A few things about the phone are really cool. It seamlessly hands off packet data connections from network to network as you move around. Since I live in the USA, I can't test it on a real 3G network, but just moving between WiFi and EDGE on an email connection is pretty neat. The screen is bright and the backlighting is good.
If the interface and set-up don't drive you nuts, however, the pokey performance, the kludgy software, and the frequent hangs in the system may. I really can't recommend it. Too bad . . . I had hoped to upgrade my Treo 600 to the E61, but instead I will have to 'sidegrade' to the Treo 650.
Pros It's a Nokia. It's a great phone. It's a great push email provider. And you can surf the web. Bluetooth makes car use easy. Screen is a generous size with stunning color.
Cons Keyboard may not be to everyone's taste. Battery life may be an issue.
Summary Having finally seen the E61, I can confidently predict that this will be the must-have executive gadget for 2006. If it works as well as Nokia promises, and the signs are good, then our friends from Finland will have a hit on their hands as big as Motorola's RAZR. Moreover, with all the ho ha about Blackberry's patent dispute case, quite a few companies have started to consider alternative systems, such as the brick-like Nokia's 9300i, loosening Blackberry's hold on the market. (Big mistake by RIM not to reach an agreement faster.) Most notably, Nokia's E61 supports multiple push email software systems - in addition to Blackberry's own software. The E61 comes with the latest edition Symbian mobile operating system, which is reliable and has an attractive, intuitive user interface. As a result of Nokia's co-operation with Microsoft during 2005, the E61 will also sync with Outlook seamlessly - a big plus for corporate users.
The really impressive thing about the E61 is that it is an excellent mobile phone as well as a great mobile email platform. It finally means that one gadget will finally perform both functions brilliantly, avoiding the need to carry around both a Blackberry and a phone. You'll also be able to surf the web and the E61 will support other 3G applications depending on local market availability.
Nokia has clearly designed this phone with business users in mind. Materials and build quality are second to none. The screen is gorgeous with 16 million colors and an ambiant light sensor that adjusts brightness automatically. The key board is well laid-out and has a slighty better feel the Blackberry 8700. Using the E61's phone or email functions is simple and intuitive, with Nokia's traditional call buttons placed exactly where you would expect to find them. It has been very well thought-out by designers who clearly know what they're doing.
Bluetooth makes in-car use a no-brainer. Emails are easy to read and attachments can be readily accessed. The delay in Nokia announcing this model and its market launch is because greater functionality has been added in this area. In short, it is difficult to criticse the E61. Battery life could be an issue. Some people may prefer the key board of the Nokia 9300i. But all things considered, the E61 does everything corporate users could wish for. The functionality and form factor make it intensely desirable. Nokia may have been late to market with such a device, but boy oh boy, is it making up for lost time with a slick, beautifully designed pice of hardware that shouts: gotta have it!
Form an orderly queue, please!
Pros Screen, connections, keyboard, solid design, VOIP, battery life
Cons Menu layout, no camera, price (although it's worth it)
Summary If you're like me, you are surfing the Internet to find out as much info as possible on the E61 especially user generated comments. After doing my research I decided the E61 was for me and it's one of the best technology investments I've ever made.
First, let's set the record straight. Most of the people that left negative opinions just didn't take the time to learn how to use the phone. For example, comments like "10 steps to delete an email" (only take 2 steps - highlight it and press backspace key), not being able to select WIFI (select "always ask" in the setup and you can choose WIFI or any other connection anytime you go online), Applications running in the background using battery power (hold down the menu button and all active apps display and can be exited out of by pressing the backspace key). Issues like hanging and freezing just haven't happened to me. I suspect it's because people have downloaded incompatible software or they just got a bad apple.
Positives of the phone include the most flexible connections available in any phone today. For business users, it's good to know that you can always be in touch. Additionally, if you lose connectivity, the phone will automatically switch from one connection to the next available connection (ex. WIFI to GPRS).
The screen may be the best available in any phone today. With 16 million colors the screen is vibrant, bright, and text is easy to read. You will be amazed at how great your pictures and video look.
The keyboard is the best available in a blackberry style phone. The size of the phone makes it possible to have larger keys (Other phones like the Treo have keys that are too small for me to type comfortably). The keys also have a good tactile feel. Unless you have huge fingers typing won't be a problem on this phone.
Nokia is known for quality and this phone is no exception. Audio quality is excellent, the speakerphone is great and the volume can be turned up loud, battery life is incredible (I've gone up to three days without having to recharge even when using WIFI and numerous applications). Also, the design is solid with metal parts instead of plastic. The phone just feels good in your hand.
I believe that web browsing on any phone today is functional at best and not a truly satisfying experience. However, the E61 has one of the better browsers available. It's compatible with all the sites I have been to and the thumbnail viewer and history functions make it easy to find what you're looking for on a particular web page.
All the usual suspects are available and good on this phone: bluetooth, upgradable memory (hot swappable 2GB), and media playback. Music playback is very good. Video playback is good but can be enhanced with third party apps.
An added benefit is VOIP. I love this app which lets me make free or discounted calls over WIFI (must have a third party VOIP provider) but it may not be useful to everyone. It's also highly useful for business users if you have IP Telephony in the office. Setup can be confusing.
Also important to me is the ability to download popular window documents (word, excel, powerpoint) and adobe attachments. However, the E61 goes a step further letting me edit the document as well (not adobe). For the business user, this can be critical. You will lose some of the formatting but this makes the phone unique and very powerful. You can also do presentations from the phone with a cable connection or bluetooth.
Getting to the "meat" of the phone is the email capability. After you setup the email function (which can be confusing) the E61 is one of the most powerful units available. I have several accounts that I easily access daily. The phone supports POP3/IMAP and supports multiple push email solutions. The phone is second to none in this category.
One of the great pluses for the phone that no one has talked about is the ability to get advice, info, etc. Although it's true that US providers will not give you support for the phone (true of all international unlocked phones), it's easy to get help from other E61 users. People love the phone so much it's has an almost cult like following. There are 17 blogs that I know of (go to www.e-series.org first) where you can get everything you need to know about the phone.
The setup issues that others have had I didn't go through because of this resource. For example, I found out that Nokia has a configuration resource online. So I just went to the website from the hyperlink on one of the blog sites, input my phone type, carrier and number, and I received a text message which I simply downloaded and it automatically set my internet, email and SMS settings. These blogs also give excellent advice about tips and tricks, third party apps and accessories.
Now the negative. The menu and setups can be confusing. As others have stated, it's not intuitive and it will require some reading and experimenting to get a full understanding of everything. The phone has so many features it takes a bit of work to become versed on the phone functions, menu layout, keyboard shortcut, etc. However, the manual, phone help, and online resource like the above mentioned one do come to the rescue. Take my word for it, once you take the time to learn it, the phone will reward you.
Some people complain about the Calendar and To Do apps not being able to give the same level of detail as Outlook and other Palm devices. Also, you lose some Outlook info when syncing to your phone. This is true but there is are a few third party apps that handle this problem (check out Payprus).
Another ding is the price ($360 and up). Although, I think the phone is worth it, it could be cheaper. I believe the reasons are: the phone is not available in the US at retail (ex. E62 is much cheaper thanks to Cingular - but no WIFI), and it's an unlocked international phone that's in demand.
Last is the lack of a camera. This is not a big issue for me but it would be helpful for Nokia to at least offer it in this device. Instead they offer the camera in other E-series phones. The one perplexing thing is the phone has a video call feature but no camera. Someone has to explain that one to me.
Overall, it's an excellent phone and I highly recommend it to anyone.
Pros Excellent connectivity and lots of features
Cons Need to improve file storing structure and Adobe / Office applications
Summary I have to admit that when I bought my Nokia E61, I didn't do as much research as I should have. It was Father's Day and I needed to get something for the kids to give me. My old phone was an LG, on its last legs. Never a good phone, I only bought it because of the neat way the flip cover rotated and doubled as a camera view finder.
Well I wanted to see if I could get a WiFi enabled phone. It would be useful to be able to check my e-mail without having to switch on my laptop. The Nokia E61 was about half the price of the other WiFi phones that I saw, so I got it. I decided not to get the E60 because I preferred the complete keyboard. Something I would later find useful would be the bigger screen. When you're surfing the web, you can't expect to 'fit' what is normally shown on a 15 inch monitor into the much smaller displays that you get on mobile phones. Bigger the better. Although the E61 seems wide, it fits nicely in your pocket because it's so thin. However, I suspect as a result of its different geometry, it doesn't do as well getting my attention when it's on vibrate.
Once I got the phone home I started checking the reviews on C-Net and was pleasantly surprised that it seemed I made a good buy. C-Net was instrumental when I decided which video camera to buy, so I thought I'd take the time, write a review, and give something back. I'm taking my new Nokia E61 on a 'road trip' as I'm presently on business in Madrid. And I'm writing this review on the Office application, included on my phone.
My advice to anyone wanting to buy anything, is that they start reading the negative reviews and then work towards the good reviews. I think bad reviews are frequently more honest. Often the better reviews will coroborate any valid criticisms in the bad reviews. Speaking of the bad E61 reviews, I have some comments.
At least with this size /style phone, I think it is unrealistic to expect it to be able to run complicated Office applications. When these phones make PCs and laptops obsolete, then I think this will become a realistic expectation. I did expect that I'd be able to at least see Excel, Word, Adobe files though. I have, however had a fair amount of difficulties. There are two 'office' type applications included. The Nokia version opened most spreadsheets, but with much of the formatting missing. It was still readable, which was all I needed in my meetings. I have only managed to open one spreadsheet in Quickoffice. This operated much better. Please note that these files were quite basic, very few formulas, they were really glorified lists. Only 400-600 kB, the phone complained that it had insufficient memory. Also, I tried opening an Acrobat file (approx 3.5 MB), again insufficient memory. All I can say, as a reference tool in meetings, you can make these applications work.
I found the file storing structure over complicated. I get the impression that the phone is programmed to maintain particular folder names, and in places the structure/names are duplicated. Things like Quickoffice are designed only to look in certain folders for files, so it wouldn't see some files when I knew they were there. The miniSD card slot is a good feature. It essentially gives you a memory stick facility. I replaced the 64 MB card with 512 MB, I got a gift voucher from the phone shop, so I was able to upgrade the memory almost free.
So having this extra miniSD memory available, the phone can double as an mp3 player as well as a memory stick. The sound is surprisingly good, although it distorts when the volume is too high. Equalizers are also provided. I haven't tried it with headphones. I don't even know if using headphones is possible.
I have tried to convert some home movies and play them on the phone. It hasn't worked for me yet, but I think this is because of me.
I don't understand why anyone would want to fully utilise the included e-mail application. The last thing I want is my e-mails spread across several locations. Maybe this is because I don't fully understand how synchronisation works. I would, however, see the necesity in being able to check for new e-mails and respond to important ones. As a properly organised 'businessman', you should not be reliant on this application while travelling, when you can have full e-mail access as soon as you get opportunity to get your laptop running/connected (which is never that difficult to do these days). For me, being able to access my web mail on Yahoo! was good enough. Yahoo! does not support POPS, etc. My work e-mail is Lotus based with sophisticated security, encryption, passwords, so I haven't been able to aceess these e-mails from the phone. I have trouble sometimes from my laptop.
Some things I have found extremely useful. When I arrived in Madrid and got to my self-catered apartment, I couldn't make contact with my landlady's mother. I was able to get on the web, find the web page and contact details for my landlady, who was living in Edinburgh. This saved me from spending the afternoon standing with my luggage in the middle of the street.
The WorldMate application is amazing. A three year free subscription. Weather forecasts for nearly anywhere in the world. Exchange rates for just about every currency going.
I was utterly stunned to find I could get Google Earth for my phone. This has been extremely useful in giving taxi drivers directions. Imagine a detailed map (or satellite view) of the world that is available for downloading to your phone, for free! You can't get lost, especially when you're also supposed to be able to get GPS navigation.
Now some criticisms. The first one isn't really fare. Web browsing is surprisingly easy. But if you're not already familiar with the content of the web page, you can get lost. Not much can be done about this. It's a question of fitting the content of a 15 inch screen to a much smaller mobile phone screen. When you do make 'big' movements around a web page, you are provided with a 'ghost' thumbnail image of the entire page content. This is useful. Also, the forward and backward navigation controls are good, with thumbnails of the web pages appearing as a stack of sheets of paper.
I read a lot of complaints about getting web access set up. I haven't had any difficulty. I went to a Nokia web page, told it where I lived, and my phone number, and it texted me what the phone needed in order to connect to the web via my mobile phone service provider. It did it automatically. In fact I think I deleted the settings, but it still manages to connect, even in Madrid.
However, I have found it annoying how the phone tends to prefer to connect to the mobile phone service providers instead of asking me to choose. Typically, I'll go on the web via WAP (or similar) and then have to change to WiFi after my home page has fully downloaded. You can't try alternate connections until the page is fully loaded because the phone will not give you the 'advanced options' menu choices until the page is loaded completely. So make sure you choose a simple homepage like Google, which will load quickly. Also, I find the WiFi much slower than the other web connections. I prefer to connect to the internet via WLAN because it doesn't cost me anything from home.
The phone has a lock function, additional to the PIN request, which will allow incoming calls. It is very effective, be aware that when it is locked, you can't even re-charge the battery. I think this is a neat feature because if the phone is stollen, the thief won't be able to use it.
The PC software which came with the phone, I found was more useful than the latest version, available from the web. I wanted to store family photos, but they could only be kept in their original file sizes. The original PC software had a wallpaper program, which could crop and resize the files to fit the screen and save memory. Only trouble is that I have to modify each photo idividually.
The display is quite good. The thumbnails of my family photos, for example, are very surprisingly clear.
One complaint about Nokia phones, the alarm. It has to be reset everyday. Why can't it work like a normal alarm clock, it goes off everyday unless you switch it off. Also, it would have been good to set multiple alarms. Instead you have to set fictitious meetings through the organiser application. My old LG phone allowed me to set upto 6-7 alarms and choose when and whether to repeat them (and which days to repeat them), this was asside from the organiser application which was also available. At least, the alarm sound is considerate enough to start quietly and gradually get louder. Thus much more pleasant when waking up in the mornings.
I read some reviews complaining about navigating the menus. I haven't had any trouble. The menus were quite similar to the usual Nokia menus. You can set several short-cuts. So I thought this aspect was okay.
I can agree about the audio recording buttons, I've set this off a few times by accident. However, if you were sneaky and wanted to record something in a meeting, these buttons would be exactly where you would want them.
On the whole I think this is a very good phone, and I am pleased with my purchase. It is 05:05 in the morning, and I'm sat in Madrid Spanair business lounge, waiting to board my first flight towards home. I can recommend a Nokia E61, if you want a WiFi enabled mobile phone. And at this price, I think this is about the best value you can get for your money. I think this entire package is just about right. But there is still some scope for improvements in the file storing structure and the 'Office' type applications.
Hope this is of some use to you. The Madrid airport wireless LAN access wasn't free and neither was it in Frankfurt, so I am now home and will now attempt to connect to the internet, and load this review, from my phone, onto C-Net using my home wireless LAN.....