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Nokia's E62 Upstart

While the E62 does bog down occasionally when fielding a lot of requests, it's never as bad as the fall-down, freeze-up performance that users of Windows Mobile 5 smartphones have endured on many occasions.

But for the business class, Nokia's BlackBerry replacement will be seen as a big improvement from some of the fat, squat units from RIM it's been tethered to.

In another shrewd move by Nokia and Cingular, the E62 comes preloaded with Golf Pro 2. The three-dimensional video game is very challenging and clever, and the rich-colored, depth-emulating screen makes for a thoroughly engaging experience. The BlackBerry crowd finally can have something a little more fun than BrickBreaker.

Consumers, however, may find the absence of a camera or fast Internet a deal killer.

How slow is it? In the New York City area, a region not particularly light on wireless infrastructure, the phone had surprisingly frequent Internet connection timeouts.

Overall, Net speed is painfully slow. Where other phones like the Q and the Treo manage to deliver Web sites in 15 seconds or better, the Cingular network can take more than a minute to load some of the same pages.

But while the network isn't so hot, the screen is scorching.

The E62's black screen background is the sweetest visual improvement since color displays. White letters and color graphics appear in clear, almost soothing, contrast. The viewing is good indoors, and surprisingly easy to read in direct sunlight. Unlike conventional white backgrounds that resemble computer screens and suck up lots of power, the dark background saves some juice.

Speaking of juice, the E62 goes for about two days before it conks out. One ridiculous annoyance -- the USB cable that syncs with a PC doesn't recharge your battery, unlike other smartphones.

New Cingular customers who sign on for two years will pay $100 for this phone. That's about the same offer BlackBerry shoppers will get, but below some of the hipper wonder-phones arriving on the scene.

The E62 is Nokia's best BlackBerry imitation; no doubt the next one will be even better.

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