Try as we might, we just can’t see the point of this so-called smartbook.
Sure, Nokia’s Booklet 3G is cute and quaint. It’s got Mac-like svelteness and would look equally at home on the desk of a CEO or graphic designer. But why would either of them bother to put it there?
The smartbook, as near as anyone at Nokia has been able to explain, is a device that melds a smartphone with netbook. I’ve long imagined such a beast would perhaps look like the handheld HP computers of yore — a monstrous phone you could edit a spreadsheet on. But in 2009’s reality, the smartbook is emerging as something quite different, and far more boring: Basically, it’s a netbook outfitted with a wireless network card.
Sure enough, that’s exactly what Nokia’s Booklet 3G is: A netbook with a 10.1-inch screen (1028 x 720 pixels), a 1.6-GHz Atom processor, a paltry 1 GB of RAM, and a 120-GB hard drive. It comes with Wi-Fi and a WCDMA 3G wireless card, with service courtesy of AT&T. Our test unit had Windows 7 Starter Edition is preinstalled.
And for that measly configuration, Nokia wants you to fork over 600 bucks. Sign up for two years of data service with AT&T and you can have it for a mere $300, a touch less than other netbooks of this general size and shape.
And that’s the head-scratcher. You can pick up a USB 3G adapter from the carrier of your choice for next to nothing and use it on every computer you own. Or you can pay $300 for this single-purpose machine with a minuscule keyboard, dim screen and downright awful performance, while paying a monthly fee for the thing every month for the next two years. Rest assured, that’s all you’re getting: There’s no phone in the Booklet 3G by any stretch of the imagination; it can’t even make voice calls.
Overall, the Booklet 3G (and, to be fair, all smartbooks that follow) is really a back-to-the-drawing-board proposition. As sexy and long-lived, battery-wise, as it might be, it’s simply too slow and far too expensive for anyone to seriously consider buying when far more credible alternatives (like, say, any netbook on the market) are available. Turn this into a free-with-service gimmick and maybe we could see getting behind it. Maybe.