MANILA, JULY 16, 2007
 (STAR) By Kathy Moran - Surely you recall the first Nokia Communicator that came out — the Nokia 9000 in 1997. At the time, people who wanted to have the gadget of choice got their hands on the Nokia 9000, no matter how bulky it was.

Those were the days. The Nokia 9000 was that cellphone which one had to turn to the backside to make a call, and the front side was when one needed to use the QWERTY keypad.

Since then, there have been nine other Communicators introduced in the market — the 9000i, 9110, 9110i, 9210, 9210i, 9290, 9500, 9300, and 9300i.

Now comes the Communicator of 2007. Meet the newest Nokia business phone in the Eseries phones — the Nokia E90.

Communicator users and fans alike know that the wait for a new development in the Communicator is not a short one. It seems that Nokia puts a lot of time and study in developing a Communicator, as it is the device that one must have if business and pleasure are what the cellphone is for.

The evolution of the Communicator seemed to have come in few and slow installments. There was the 9210 in 2001, which neither had GPRS nor Bluetooth, even if the other Nokia phones were already touting Bluetooth technology. The Nokia 9500 had Bluetooth and GPRS/EDGE but no camera. The 9300 and the 9300i came with WLAN connectivity. Yet, with each Communicator Nokia loyalists expected the company to come up with a device that had it all.

Here comes the E90. Although still with the same look and feel of the Communicators of old, it is a wonderfully new creation from the Finnish company. The E90 has almost everything one could wish for as it has the fastest processor currently used in Symbian OS smartphones and the largest operating memory (RAM) capacity ever used in a Symbian OS-based device.

The business of communication

The E90 was launched in the Philippines recently. Two businessmen who are long-time Communicator users sang praises to the E90. There was architect Felino “Jun” Palafox who has been credited for master-planning Ayala Heights, Greenbelt, SM Malls, Robinson’s and Rockwell — including Clark and Subic.

“I like that the Nokia E90 Communicator is easy to use. I don’t need to sit down and study the manual,” he says.

As a frequent traveler, Palafox also needs to bring his work with him to the 25 countries he visits for projects. “This mobile device allows me to do that,” he says. “I also like that I can e-mail using the Nokia E90 Communicator. Because of my hectic business trips abroad, I need to conveniently stay in touch with my associates at my local office and counterparts in other countries.”

E-mail is one of the most important features that a busy corporate individual needs so he can still stay in control wherever he is. For Alberto Villarosa, president and CEO of Security Bank Corp., the Nokia E90 Communicator serves as a convenient tool in keeping in touch with the entire bank wherever he might be.

“The Nokia E90 Communicator is an important device that defies geographic boundaries. It keeps me connected to our nationwide network of branches and it also saves me time because I can open important files, edit, and send them back with comments, instructions or approvals virtually from any point in the Philippines,” shares Villarosa. “I have been a long-time user of the Communicator and I am now amazed at the incredible speed of the Nokia E90 Communicator.”

“I have experienced the convenience that it brings. Managing the bank’s business gets easier and faster for me so we get to deliver our customers’ needs and requests faster, too. I can easily download files and transfer large amounts of data into my computer after business travels or executive conferences that take me out of the office,” he adds.

But don’t get the E90 wrong. This beauty of a device is not just for heads of companies. It is great for anyone who needs to stay connected all the time — whether that be through text, Internet or getting those important e-mails. Yuppies, entrepreneurs and the hipset included.

OK, so it’s not one of the sleekest, slimmest blings available. The Communicator weighs in at 210 grams. It its about the same size as its predecessor, the 9500. It’s large enough to provide space for its really huge screen and superb keyboard but small enough not to be called a brick. But it is rather weighty and that’s because it has all the functions that any cellphone techie lover will want.

Out of the box, the Nokia E90 Communicator comes with the BP-4L 1500 mAh battery, 512 MB microSD memory card with SD adapter, HS-47 stereo headset, DKE-2 USB cable, AC-4E charger, user’s guide, quick start guide, and a DVD disc with E90 presentation and PC Suite software.

We got a mocha brown unit. Professional and hardcore were the first words that came to mind when I held the cellphone. If you’re a gym junkie like me, those two words have very positive meanings.

I know that there are two color variants available: dark brown (almost black) or red with shiny silver frame surrounding the display and black keypad, silver rocker key and (chromium-plated) large and very solid metal hinges. No flimsy hinges or weak-feeling plastic with this unit. The E90 is well-built using high-quality materials.

It was impressive, too, that I could use all the functions of the phone on the cover screen, a first for the Communicator. The external screen’s resolution is QVGA (240x320 pixels, 16 million colors). Using the E90 with the cover closed or using the QWERTY keypad is the same. That’s really great when you are in a rush and don’t have time to open up the phone and grab a seat.

There is also a setting that lets you configure the device to always automatically switch to the Activity (standby) screen when you close the lid so that you can quickly dial a number without having to switch to the Activity screen manually. Switching between screens is almost instantaneous — one second or so. The screen is bright and clear. There is a 3.2-megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash, and two stereo speakers.

OK, so the E90 screen is not a touch-screen. Ahhh, but touch screens are a hassle to heavy texters who may not have light fingers and can easily poke the touch screen a bit too hard.

Communicators have always had large, wide displays optimized for Web browsing, messaging and word processing. The size and the lighting of the screen make it ideal to use under any condition — indoor or out.

Looks are not everything

The E90 might not be a great-looking device with its big screen and large keyboard. But it is precisely these two things, the big screen and great keyboard that make this device fantastic.

The E90 is, after all, one of the most advanced mobile devices ever made, providing high processing power and supporting almost all modern mobile technologies. The E90 works smoothly and switching between applications or menu screens is instant; finding a contact no longer takes 40 seconds; and data transfers are no longer limited to EDGE speeds. Powering the E90 is the modern TI OMAP2420 processor (ARM11 architecture) running at 330 MHz.

Connecting to the Internet or checking e-mail is really fast. I did some surfing, and it surprised me no end at how quick the phone was to find the websites I searched for. Now, if only Yahoo would develop the Y! Go for the E90. Last I checked it wasn’t available yet.

The E90 has more free RAM memory than any Symbian OS device. The total operating memory (RAM) capacity is 128 MB, of which almost 80 MB is free! Read: multitasking at its best, navigation with super-detailed maps, no problems with large PDF or Word documents, browsing the Web without virtually any restrictions... and even all of them at the same time if you only wish so, and with nice MP3 music playing in the background. E90 supports hot-swappable MicroSD cards.

The E90 not only supports GPRS/EDGE and UMTS but also HSDPA with transfer speed up to 3.6 Mbps, making the E90 a 3.5G device. UMTS/HSDPA support (and the secondary VGA camera) also mean that video calls and IP telephony are finally available for Communicator users. The E90 is a quad-band GSM (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) and WCDMA 2100 MHz device. It supports WLAN (Wi-Fi).

Even though the E90, which is part of Nokia’s business phone line, is targeted at business users, it provides very rich and powerful multimedia capabilities, making it an attractive choice for people looking for a device. It not only allows editing of documents or browsing the Web but also provides high-quality playback of movies and audio files.

There are the great stereo speakers (it even has the 3D Ringtones application), 2.5-mm jack connector for stereo headphones, and A2DP profile support for high-quality audio streaming over Bluetooth. It also features a loudspeaker mode, which activates automatically when you open the cover and switches audio back to the earpiece when you close it.

Loaded to the max, is what the Communicator is. But the little cute stuffs that cellphone users like me are accustomed to are still there. I loaded the unit with my fave ringtones and photos, which I use for the cover screen.

Go ahead, mind your business, surf, text and play those cool tones, too.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved