After months of mounting curiosity, I finally got to see the Booklet 3G, Nokia’s flagship netbook, up close. A few questions remain– we still don’t know exactly when it will go on sale at Best Buy, how much it will cost, or whether users can insert AT&T and/or T-Mobile SIM cards– but at least now, I know how it looks and feels (spoiler alert: it’s pretty, but heavier than you’d think).
The Booklet 3G has a glossy lid, available in white and this aquamarine blue. It picks up fingerprints easily, but so do lots of glossy lids. It doesn’t mean they’re not pretty and sleek-looking. What really made an impression on me, though, was the aluminum body. As with Apple’s MacBook line, Nokia says it’s constructed from a single piece of metal. The result is a chassis that’s gorgeous, but surprisingly heavy (2.6 pounds) for its slim, 19.9mm shape.
Nokia also promises the 16-cell battery [Ed. note: wowza] can last up to 12 hours on a charge. We’re excited to test this claim for ourselves, but if this is true it would justify the heavier shape, especially since the battery itself doesn’t jut out of the system awkwardly.
Another design element the Booklet 3G pulls from higher-end notebooks (Macs included) is the seamless, edge-to-edge glass display. The flat 10-inch screen is beautiful, not least because of the 720p resolution, but given the size of the rest of the chassis, I’m pretty sure Nokia could have squeezed out more screen real estate by making the bezel narrower.
Keyboard and Trackpad
I won’t mince words: I don’t love the Booklet 3G’s keyboard. I dig the island layout, the black colorblocking against the aluminum chassis, and its generally sturdy feel. But it just felt more cramped than other 10-inch netbooks. While the right Shift key is amply sized, the left one is shrunken. The arrow keys are also arranged in a peculiar way, and shoved into the lower right edge of the keyboard. Not deal-breakers, just things a late-comer to the netbook game should have learned after watching the pioneers make (and correct) these same shortcomings.
Here’s the other thing: there’s plenty of room left over on the keyboard deck, so Nokia could have used that space more efficiently to craft a larger keyboard. Or even a larger touchpad. The touchpad itself is large enough for scrolling (this isn’t a gesture-enabled touchpad so the fact that it’s not supersized isn’t a big deal) and it has low friction. The buttons, whose aluminum color matches the chassis, are easy to press, although the noise they make is a bit chintzy.
Ports and Webcam
The most important opening of all is the SIM card slot. Again, we don’t know yet if it’ll support AT&T, T-Mobile, or both, just that you can easily pop a SIM in, right next to the memory card reader. Other ports include HDMI output (nice), 3 USB ports, and a headphone port. It also has a 1.3-MP webcam.
Stay tuned for more coverage on the Booklet 3G as we learn its price, the extent of its 3G offerings, and its availability. In the meantime, check out our hands-on video and photo gallery.