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Nokia Booklet 3G review: Nokia Booklet 3G

Despite Nokia arriving at the netbook shindig a few years late, the 10.1-inch Booklet 3G is an impressive machine. Its performance is par for the netbook course, but its high-res screen, built-in 3G modem and excellent battery life make it a tempting, if expensive, proposition

Rory Reid
5 min read

The 10.1-inch Booklet 3G is mobile-phone maker Nokia's belated attempt to join the netbook party. Like its rivals, it's designed for casual Web-based tasks. Nokia has, however, used its experience of creating mobile devices to fit the Booklet 3G with additions that help it stand out from the crowd. The most significant of these include battery-friendly internal components and an integrated HSDPA modem, which allows users to surf the Web wherever they can find a 3G mobile signal. It's available to buy now for around £680.

8.3

Nokia Booklet 3G

The Good

Fantastic battery life; high-res display; integrated 3G modem.

The Bad

Fiddly keyboard and mouse; doesn't realise we're just out of a recession.

The Bottom Line

The Nokia Booklet 3G is a wonderful piece of engineering. We love its integrated 3G modem, its high-resolution screen, its exceptional battery life and its fan-free design. It's hard to ignore the fact, however, that most of its rivals manage to provide similar features for far less financial outlay

A mini MacBook
The Booklet 3G may be late to the party, but it's easy to see why -- Nokia's designers have spent plenty of time ensuring it's one of the best-looking netbooks on the market. Our review sample's lid is swathed in the usual glossy black plastic (a white version is also available), but the main body of the device is finished in aluminium and sports a contrasting black keyboard and glass-clad black screen bezel, all of which give it the look of a miniature Apple MacBook. The extra metal doesn't make the Booklet 3G very heavy, either -- it tips the scales at 1.2kg, and it's exceptionally thin, at just under 20mm thick.

Old school beats new school
While newer netbooks are making use of the latest Intel Atom N450 CPU, Nokia's effort pairs 1GB of RAM with an Atom Z530 -- a chip launched almost two years ago. Before you mentally cart Nokia's engineers off to the lunatic asylum, bear in mind that the Z530 was only less popular than the once-ubiquitous N270 because it had several enhancements that made it more expensive. Importantly, its thermal design power (TDP) of 2W is noticeably lower than the 2.5W TDP of the N270, meaning it uses less battery power and doesn't require a fan to keep cool.

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The Booklet 3G's SIM card slot lives under a flap on the right-hand side, together with an SD card slot

Nokia has been equally clever in the selection of the Booklet 3G's chipset. It uses the Intel SCH US15W, rather than the more traditional Intel 945GSE Express used in netbooks circa 2009, or the newer NM10 Express, used in most 2010 models. Again, this has power-saving benefits. The US15W itself has a maximum TDP of 2.3W, which compares favourably to the 6W consumed by the 945GSE. The US15W even compares favourably to the newer NM10 chipset's 2.1W TDP. All things considered, the Booklet 3G's components gives it a TDP of 4.3W, which is more impressive than the 8.5W TDP of an N270-based netbook, or the 7.1W TDP of a modern N450-based machine.

That's not a battery -- this is a battery
Nokia's choice of components makes the Booklet 3G less dependent on mains power, but that hasn't stopped the Finnish company installing a mammoth battery anyway. The supplied Nokia BC-1S battery has a 3,840mAh, 57Wh rating from a whopping 16 cells. Compare that to the 4-cell, 4,400mAh batteries that feature in the current crop of Atom N450 netbooks and you'll start to appreciate just how much juice this machine has at its disposal. The unit is pricey, however. If the BC-1S goes wrong, you'll have to pay a whopping £80 to replace it -- roughly twice the price of a standard battery in something like an Asus Eee PC.

Performance art
Most netbooks run at approximately the same speed. The Booklet 3G is no exception. Despite using a relatively old CPU and chipset, its PCMark05 score of 1,418 is on a par with just about every other Atom-based netbook we've come across.

Where the Booklet 3G excels, however, is in its battery life. Despite their age, the netbook's power-efficient CPU and chipset -- in conjunction with its enormous battery -- helped the Booklet 3G last an extremely impressive 6 hours and 45 minutes in the intensive Battery Eater Classic test. This test runs the CPU at 100 per cent until the battery is exhausted, and represents a worst-case scenario for battery life. With more frugal use, we fully expect the Booklet 3G to last somewhere in the region of Nokia's claimed 12 hours.

Put your life online
The Booklet 3G provides plenty of options for connecting to the Internet. It ships with 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, has an Ethernet port for hooking it up to the Web via cables, and is one of relatively few netbooks to have an integrated 3G modem.

Unlike most 3G netbooks, the SIM card slot isn't tucked inconveniently beneath the battery -- it lives under a flap on the right side of the netbook, meaning you can pop the 3G SIM card from your regular 3G mobile phone in and out of the Booklet 3G in seconds, without having to switch the computer off. The Booklet also has a built-in A-GPS unit and a copy of Nokia Maps, so you can use it as a sat-nav of sorts.

Handles like a dream
The Booklet 3G's keyboard takes a while to get used to, as, although its buttons are well spaced, each key is very small. The trackpad is certainly large enough, but it lacks multi-touch gesture support and its selector buttons have so little travel that, if it weren't for the loud click they make upon pressing them, you could be forgiven for thinking they were broken. Oddly, the netbook also has an accelerometer, although there are no supplied applications that make use of this.

Display of affection
We're pretty fond of the Booklet 3G's screen. It's not perfect -- look closely and you can see individual pixels -- but we must give credit to Nokia for supplying a 1,280x720-pixel panel, which offers more screen real estate than the 1,024x768-pixel panels on most 10.1-inch displays. We're also grateful for the HDMI video output port, although you may rue the lack of a more traditional analogue D-Sub video output if you're using an older display or projector.

Conclusion
Nokia is several years late to the netbook shindig, but its Booklet 3G is so fashionably attired and parties for so damn long -- without the need for a recharge -- that we'll happily let it inside. Bear in mind, though, that rivals like the Samsung N150 are considerably cheaper and have comparable battery life.

Edited by Charles Kloet