So, here's the dilemma. You like your Nokia phone, but have recently found yourself leering at your colleague's BlackBerry. (Those unfamiliar with the phenomenon, see the box below.) You want to do the BlackBerry email thing, but don't want to desert your familiar Nokia. Well, the new Nokia E61 could be a solution.
This "smartphone" is aimed at users who want their phone to double as a proper email and messaging device. It is aimed at the "business" user but, with everyone emailing or texting these days, its appeal is bound to be wider.
The E61's Qwerty keypad takes a little getting used to for those who spent the last few years perfecting "predictive text" on normal phone keypads but after a few days this keypad can actually be more productive, especially for sending emails.
The E61's email functionality is superb, offering connections to many email services – internet mail, Gmail, Hotmail – and corporate systems like Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes.
The E61 also supports BlackBerry Connect, allowing it to function as a BlackBerry. It works perfectly with Vodafone's BlackBerry service, which gives you unlimited real-time email for roughly €30 a month. It was set up in about 15 minutes after a quick call to Vodafone customer support.
The E61 has two other innovative features – support for Wi-Fi and internet telephone support. The Wi-Fi support works well, allowing you to surf the web and send emails at high speed using any Wi-Fi hotspot as an alternative to 3G – reducing phone bills. The E61's web browser is impressive, loading whole web pages onto the deceptively large screen. It also allows VoIP subscribers to make calls over the internet, eg on Voiptalk.org a 20 minute call to New York costs about 25c and the reception was perfect. Irish VoIP provider bluface.ie did not work with the E61.
The phone has enough other features to fill a book. Some of the highlights are support for Vodafone Mobile TV, full 3G Video, Mp3 player, calendar sync with Mac/PC and tons of good applications you can download from the internet.
So, are the any downsides? Well, yes, one major one – there is no camera! Another small complaint is the charger – smaller than the classic Nokia charger, it is a bit of a pain for those with a box of spares at home. And, although the phone is light (144g), it may be too big for some people.
Finally, for the moment Vodafone are the only mobile operators in Ireland to take up the Nokia E61 so subscribers to O2, Meteor and Three looking for the Blackberry experience will have to abandon their allegiance to Nokia.
More: Phone available on Vodafone Pay Monthly upgrade for €149, subject to the usual terms and conditions