Yesterday’s outing to Yeovil was fun and served to take my mind off the vexed question of mobile phones for a few hours. Even so, when we arrived home in the evening, I couldn’t resist getting out the Nokia E75 and trying it again.
The Communicator 9300 has a splendid set of applications comprising document editor, spreadsheets and presentation. These are not exactly the same as their Microsoft analogues but they come pretty close, considering that they have to be cut down to fit into a mobile phone. I use this software extensively, particularly the document editor and the spreadsheets. For example, as I have mentioned several times before, my accounts of our travels and trips are written on the Communicator as we go. I use the spreadsheets for keeping the domestic accounts, keeping track of daily expenses and anything else that can be conveniently dealt with in the spreadsheet format. In a word, the Communicator plays an essential part in my life.
Instead of this splendid suite of software, modern Nokias have something called Quick Office. It contains the three functions I mentioned above and I therefore assumed (quite wrongly, as it turned out) that it would be as good as the applications on the Communicator. It isn’t. In fact, I would describe it as a joke in bad taste. It is an extremely poor piece of software missing many vital functions. It is not intuitive to use but the manual and the help are both virtually useless, seeming to have been written by someone with his mind on something else. I really cannot imagine how Nokia has the gall to launch this software on its machines and call them “business” machines.
After spending a couple of days grappling with this software and continually being frustrated by the lack of quite common functions that I am used to, I have finally given up on it. I am a pretty patient person but enough is enough.
One of the attractions of the Communicator is the QWERTY keyboard. When you open the phone like opening a box with a hinged lid, this reveals a keyboard roughly as complete as the average laptop keyboard. All the essential functions are there and you can do everything from this keyboard. The keys are a good size too, avoiding the fumbling and mis-typing common to the use of smaller format machines.
In contrast, the E75’s keyboard is small. Most keys provide up to 3 symbols through the use of 2 shift keys. It is what is missing that causes the trouble. Would you believe that there isn’t even an equals sign? You have to go through the special symbols table to find it. This is just one indication of how badly thought out this design is. Even when you are working with spreadsheets you have to use the Insert function and scroll through the available options to find ‘=’. How ridiculous is that?
I use a lot of short-cut key-presses and the Communicator has all the common ones such as Ctrl+A for “Select all”, Ctrl+C for “Copy” and Ctrl+S for “Save”. What about the E75? It doesn’t have these at all. Every time you want a common function, you have to scroll through a hierarchy of option menus. Quite mad.
If you want to know how this phone deals with the Internet, with music and blah blah blah, I can’t tell you. If it can’t deal with what are my essential acitivities, then it’s no damn use to me. This wretched excuse for a “business phone” goes back tomorrow.
For now, I will continue using the Communicator. In the meantime I am looking at the market to see what is on offer. So far I am not impressed. There is a handful of machines with the larger QWERTY keyboard like the Communicator, but none has received completely positive reviews. I can only hope that something will turn up eventually.
Until now, I have had great faith in Nokia, considering their machines to be the best designed and best built. This episode has severely dented that confidence. They have obviously succumbed to the fashion for gee-whizzery that so characterises today’s handsets. But if they can’t understand the difference between a Facebook-enabled MP3-playing toy for teenagers and a serious working machine for grownups, then they have obviously lost their grip on the market. Time to dump Nokia along with the E75.