Nokia 7710 smart phone
Phone Digital Assistant?
Review More than two years after it was originally demo'd Nokia has finally got its 7710 media phone to market. Was it worth the wait? asks Ian Hughes.
"Whoa, big fella!" were my exact words on opening the box (read: 'trunk') that the 7710 arrived in, swiftly followed by, "what is it?"
The 7710 is a beast of a phone, but it has to be to accommodate the myriad bells, whistles and, let's face it, foghorns that Nokia has crammed into its latest smart phone. It weighs in at a pocket-busting 190g and sports dimensions to make a family car blush; you know almost immediately that you're holding something a bit different in your hand, sorry, hands. But, two hands is definitely the case here - one-handed operation is nigh-on impossible. Nokia even provides a cute little stand to rest it on, though it isn't very stable when you're charging the phone.
If you're used to a regular-sized smart phone, like Nokia's 6600 or 6630, you might first wonder where the keypad is. There isn't one. Nokia has done this before, notably on the 7280 Fashion model. There the lack of a keypad was a gimmick; here, you'll soon appreciate the break from tradition and more PDA-like interface.
This is definitely a PDA with a phone built in, rather than the other way round, and for once we have a manufacturer not apologising for it - both modes are equally functional. The screen is wide, touch-sensitive and as sharp as I've seen on a device of its type. It's a gamers dream - a word of warning: the casino set of games is horribly addictive.
Start-up, however, was disappointingly slow and to be honest the processor seems a little sluggish. The whopping 90MB of RAM helps, though, and with an MMC expansion slot hidden inside, we can't see memory ever being an issue.
The 7710 runs Symbian's Series 90 operating system, and third-party applications are widely available, but in my opinion hardly necessary with everything that comes preloaded. The To-Do, Calendar and Contacts apps are some of the best I've seen on a device like this. Nokia has also bundled a suite of Word, Excel and PowerPoint document viewers, and synchronising with your desktop is a breeze, if a little slow, with PC Suite. Virtual Private Networking is possible for the advanced user, and both file and device management are clear and easy to use.
The telephone function - I love the way it's listed separately - brings up a touch-screen dialler and this will probably be the first time you use the handy stowaway stylus. Simply tap in the number and hit call. Once you've figured out which end to speak into (it might take a while) you're in business. Call quality was excellent and despite its bulk the phone felt surprisingly comfortable to use. Mind you, the black leather case that came bundled will not see the light of day unless you want to be seen chatting into to your granny's purse.
There's the de rigueur 1.3-megapixel camera and video functions and they're both more than adequate. The photo editing app is a welcome inclusion for those serious about their phone photography. However, I thought the video playback was decidedly average.
As a general multimedia device, though, the 7710 performs well, even if it's only on a relatively basic level. There's Real Player installed as well as Nokia's own music player, though where this phone excels is in its FM radio capabilities.
The Visual Radio application links you straight into a directory of radio stations which you select according to your local area. Then simply select the stations you want and store them in any of the 20 preset channels. The bundled headset is the HS-3, which is a superior piece of kit to the bog-standard ones usually found in Nokia boxes.
Entering text into any application is achieved with the stylus and you have the choice of a size-selectable on-screen keyboard or the option of handwriting recognition. Once you've mastered it, entering text this way becomes a joy. The messaging suite has everything you could desire and configuring everything was probably the easiest I've found. The email was HTML-compatible which really brings the screen surprisingly low 65,000-colour screen to life, and multiple accounts are supported.
The screen is also a real advantage when using the web browser, which really suffers from the lack of connection speed. Despite lacking 3G the 7710 is a heavyweight in the data division too. The GPRS connections I used were quick to connect with no dropouts. Bluetooth reliability is vastly better than previous smart phones I've tried.
The 7710 is a positive early step by Nokia into a touch-screen interface smart phone and should appeal to anybody wanting a PDA with added phone features. Advanced users might be frustrated at its lack of speed, and a version with a faster processor and 3G would be a product to be reckoned with. Gamers will love it regardless.
|Pros||Sharp, wide 65,000-colour screen; FM radio; PIM applications.|
|Cons||Sumo-size and weight; design requires two handed usage most of the time; slow application speeds and no 3G.|
|Price||Around £500 (unlocked); less if bought on network contract.|
|More info||The Nokia 7710 site|