The E61's pitched as a messaging device, so let's look at the Messaging app. As Reg Hardware's review of Nokia's E70 noted, Messaging has barely changed through the years - much like all the other S60 apps. Certainly, it didn't feel any different from the version running on my old Nokia 6600. The E61's large display makes working with email much easier than it is on the E70. You can't adjust or re-order the columns, but at least the list of emails is a darn sight easier to read than it is on Nokia's smaller-screened devices.
Incidentally, not every Nokia app works this way. Remember the 'Connect.' folder and 'Availab. WLAN' menu option I mentioned before? The full-stops indicate a truncated word. They're cut short because on older Series 60 displays they won't fit. Fine, but on the E61 there's plenty of space. Why didn't Nokia hasn't made full use of it? An S60 limitation, presumably - or it simply couldn't be bothered to recode the apps' strings for this device. Either way, it's a poor result.
Back to Access Point Groups. When you set up a mail account, you can specify a group to use, and the Messaging application will indeed run through each connection until it finds one available to access. This, like writing and receiving emails themselves, works fine. The trouble is, it takes an age to set up, and like as not you'll have defaulted to one connection for email and another for web use before you figure out you can group these connections together to ensure the E61 takes advantage of the best connection available in a given location.
And then you find Nokia's web browser, unlike Messaging, doesn't support Access Point Groups. You set it to operate on a specific Access Point, which means that you have to change it whenever you enter a new wireless network, if that's the method by which you're connecting. Or you can simply have it pop up a list of Access Points - not, you'll note, pre-crosschecked for availability in your location - and choose one.
Oh, and there are two copies of the browser on the phone, one called Web, the other branded Services and used by some apps to process URLs, like ones embedded in emails. They don't share settings files, so you'll have to do the set-up all over again...
Using Wi-Fi on the E61 isn't difficult but it could certainly be easier - this is one area where Nokia could learn a great deal from Windows Mobile 5.0. But maybe Nokia simply doesn't want you to use Wi-Fi. Don't blame the carriers - after going through the song and dance you need to perform to get connected, I found the E61's WLAN support to be largely not worth the effort.
At home, for example, I was frequently unable to get the E61 to talk to the internet. I tried it in a variety of locations all of which have proved connectable using a range of devices, including all the HTC-made Windows Mobile devices I've used. When double-checked, the E61's WLAN sniffer showed my network's presence with a full, three-bar signal strength, but the Messaging and Web apps couldn't or wouldn't connect. Often when I did manage to get a connection, it would be lost later, a victim, I think, of the systems power-saving system. Quite often the apps wouldn't reconnect correctly, at least not without shutting down and restarting the app. Sometime I had to restart the E61.
Hope that Nokia pays attention!
Thanks for telling it like it is. I have been demoing this phone for the last month and was wondering if the software engineers ever tried to setup or use WiFi outside of their office cubicle. This phone has great potential, but the software UI needs to take more than a few lessons from the good old Palm Treo, that actually lets you intuitively manage your network connections. After a recent trip cost me more than €100 Euro in roaming charges, since I couldn't figure out how to turn GPRS off if an installed application was asking for a network connection, I was glad to return to the security of a Palm Treo that I could actually control.
Nokia with citrus flavour
I have had a number of problems with my Nokia E61, including problems synching contacts: it won't take more than an thousand or so contacts: so can't compete with a Palm Zire 22. It won't play nicely with my Nokia Bluetooth headset. The browser falls over on a regular basis.
However the product design is gorgeous and you can keep it in your pocket rather than wearing a 'beat the crap out of me and rob my belongings' holster. And it doesn't have an antenna like the Treo that is designed to dig into your groin.
Nova Media do a great third party conduit for iSynch on the phone and the PC synch software is better than Palm's offering.
Much Better Than That!
I've been useing the E61 for a couple of weeks now and not having anything other than my non-smart phone to compare it to I think it's great.
The set-up of wireless is less than intuitive, but having RTFM its easy enough. I quite happily spent a couple of hours browsing the web without the need for restarts of the phone.
Like the previous comments I got around some initial awkwardness by getting the phone to ask me which connection to use each time. I'v just set-up a more comprehensive access point group and will be happy to let you know how it works in a few days.
I was dissapointed that I've been unable to synch directly with Exchange (we use a HTTPS gateway at my office) but Im receiving POP mail without any issues and my calender and contacts come across from Outlook like a dream.
Im using the phone on the 3 network and it comes with two browsers (or at least two configurations) One uses the mini-map system which is a little fiddly with very large pages, the other renders a page as a vertical column in a smilar way to Opera. Less fiddly but not as pretty.
Call quality is clear and crisp and the screen quality is amazing. I havent found an option for handling Windows DRMso I assume it's unsupported.
Document handling is reasonable. I've been able to read documents on the go without too much fuss.
On the whole a great phone, I'd have given it 8/10
But it fills the gaps in the Blackberry offering
I jumped on this handset as soon as it became available, keen to ditch my Blackberry 8700g handset. I don't regret it, either.
I think this review's a little harsh on the E61 seeing as it does so well to bring a device with push email capability up to the level one would expect with its inclusion of WIFI and 3G.
I am disappointed with its slightly spongy keyboard which misses my attempts at keystrokes from time to time, resulting in me being confused by its other annoying characteristic - some occasional hesitance in operation.
Having said that, it builds on any blackberry handset with; 3G & WIFI (just in case you missed their mention first time around), external memory, 'open' OS which makes a wide range of 3rd part apps available for it at much less than blackberry pricing and overall a more usable device - getting photos and text on and off it for example, ever tried that on a bloody blackberry?
Of course, the blackberry has to be acknowledged for its total ease of use. I was always very impressed that whatever you wanted to do at any point and in whatever app, the option would always be there, only a thumbwheel press away... Add to that the consistent responsiveness of the device and it's a joy to use - until you start thinking of it as a smartphone, which it clearly isn't - wanna use it as a modem for your Mac? Forget it. Wanna add some less than $30 dollar apps on it? Crank up your wallet some. Wanna copy a file or photo off it? No way..
I agree that the E61 is less than perfect, but at last, I have a device that;
does push email,
I can add apps to,
is open enough to make the data on it accessible,
I can use as a modem for my Mac/PC,
allows me to (finally) ditch the PDA-phone combo.
Incidentally, I cope with the rather strange Access point thingy issue by allowing the browser or other app to ask me each time, when it tries to connect. I know when I'm in range of a WIFI point, or whether I should use a GPRS/3G conneciton and it only adds a second or two to the experience.
I've seen this device summarised as a good first try. I wouldn't argue with that view too much, but I *am* impressed and so look forward to the subsequent iterations of it with some optimism!
Same problems as E60
I've just returned a Nokia E60 after 2 weeks. The wifi configuration options definately could do with more work and aren't up to Nokia's normal intuitive UI design. Being able to enter the full alphabet into a field accepting a hex WEP key seemed silly.
There was no mention of the excellent SIP support in the review which I successfully configured to operate (even over NAT which Nokia says is not supported) but it was everytime let down by the very poor wifi support. I found that the wifi would have disconnected in the background without informing me and would not reconnect without a power cycle.
I found that using the advanced wifi options I could turn off power saving mode and the wifi would work great - but the battery would then last less than a day.
Almost there but not quite. I bought this phone because of its wifi and SIP but had to return it because the wifi is SO BAD.