Thursday, August 27, 2009

Nokia Booklet 3G Refines the Netbook Design

While the original intention of the netbook form factor may have been to have a small, cheap computer for Web surfing, the Nokia Booklet 3G appears to be geared more for the worker on the go than the cash strapped student. It also is poised to create a new class of mobile worker who eschews smartphones and uses a basic phone in tandem with a netbook instead.

While Nokia isn't yet giving us the full details of its Booklet 3G computer, we do know that it's a Windows PC inside an aluminum chassis weighing 2.75lbs, with a 10-inch screen, 12 hour battery life and a scant 2cm thickness. It has your typical netbook features, such as a webcam, Atom processer, and SD card reader. It also includes a number of premium features, including 3G/HSPA networking, a GPS, an HD display, and HDMI.

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Given that it's likely to be more expensive than your typical netbook, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Booklet 3G ship with either Windows 7 Home Premium or Professional instead of the stripped starter edition. If this is the case, then this Nokia might surpass the typical 1GB memory and 160GB hard disk limitations that manufacturers using Windows 7 Starter are stuck with.

The HSPA-equipped Booklet 3G likely be packaged with a mobile data plan and subsidized accordingly. Business travelers who are frustrated with trying to use an iPhone or other smartphone as a GPS in a foreign city are likely to have a better experience on the Booklet's 10-inch screen.

Netbooks like this could create a market shift away from smartphones in general. Rather than pay for a separate data plan for both a smartphone and a netbook, it may make sense for some mobile professionals to carry a simpler phone and pull something like the Booklet 3G from their briefcases or purses when it comes time to check a map, search the Net, or write an e-mail. Certainly this would help alleviate the frustration that many experience with their smartphone's battery life.

Since Nokia's intention is to bundle its Ovi services with its netbook, I think we can expect to see some tie-ins with Nokia mobile phones. I'm sure Nokia would like to see mobile professionals carrying a Nokia phone to accompany the Booklet 3G

Nokia's netbook certainly isn't revolutionary, but its unique combination of features will meet the needs of the mobile professional better than the inexpensive plastic netbooks that are currently flooding the market.

More details will be announced at the Nokia World conference on September 2.

Michael Scalisi is an IT manager based in Alameda, California.

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