However, the wisdom of this design is debatable, since the amount of surface area that can subsequently be devoted to the keyboard is small. What results is a three-row keyboard with tiny keys and some odd placement decisions. The spacebar is small and to the right of the M key, while the shift key is over on the left, just below the D-pad. So, some of the commonest characters, such as the comma, exclamation mark and dash, require a shift character. It's nuts.
We've seen worse keyboards, but not many
For navigating voice mail systems, and for telephone banking, you'll probably want to give it up altogether, and activate the virtual keypad. That's because numbers require the modifier key, which isn't 'sticky' - you need to keep it pressed down, or press twice rapidly - then twice again to turn it deactivate it. Many applications make use of the hash and asterisk keys on a standard phone keyboard, which also need the modifier.
If you're looking for speedy Qwerty input on the go, the E75, and even the E71 will do a far better job. Potential migrants from Nokia’s Communicator series – all of which boasted a five-row keyboard – must sacrifice a lot of the comfort factor. The E90, for example, had 60 keys plus the traditional eight application shortcuts. The N97 has just 33.
Comma and full stop share the same key, for example. The spacebar is small, and too far to the right. There's no
Ctrl key either. Hence, in this firmware build, at least, there’s no keyboard accelerator for cut and paste. Instead, you have to poke around the screen menu. Indeed, the lack of keyboard modifiers discourages software authors from building keyboard accelerators, one of the things that made Nokia's older Communicators so easy to use. Since the device is marketed as a vehicle for 'content creation', text composition is far harder than it need be.
Navigation and input are made even more onerous by the D-pad, which is over on the left, and very deeply recessed. Future designs should look at incorporating an optical D-pad, preferably on the screen portion of the device, thus making room for a larger keyboard.
As a content creation device, text input is awkward
The hair-trigger camera button was a nuisance. Manufacturers often make them too hard to activate quickly, and yet this one is the opposite. Also, for a media device, one major disappointment is the external speakers. They deliver little more than a 6230i's single, mono, loudspeaker and are a strange choice after the marvels built into the N95.
I have one and it's amazing!
I have an N97, after finally letting go of my N95. I have had NONE of the memory problems described and find the keyboard very easy to use! No, it's not a traditional QWERTY layout but who cares? The positioning of the space under your right thumb was inspired! I have read a lot of negative reviews which I can only ascribe to lazy reporters copying old pre release reviews! The N97 is amazing to use, feels really well made and is suprisingly light. It is not perfect but it is a very worthy upgrade from an N95! Claiming it is just a 5800 with a keyboard was, quite frankly, moronic!
Ho Ho Ho! Now I have an N97!
I can say my experience with the keyboard differs greatly from Andrew Orlowski in that I find it very useable and can bash out texts, facespace updates, emails etc... a lot faster than I can with, say, my iPod Touch.
I admit I'm still learning how to get the most out of it, coming straight from an N73 (it has a *lot* more that's customisable, for instance) but it's still very intuitive if you're already used to S60.
You won't be jacking in your iPhone to get one of these, the iPhone is much more of a mobile computing platform than a Smartphone, but it is an upgrade from just about any Smartphone out there and now I can point and laugh at anyone with a Blackberry Storm. Ah, sweet vengeance!
OK, fair enough. The iPhone has a couple of capabilities that the N97 can't even begin to compete with - it can change colour and you can fry an egg on it.