Instead of trying to shoehorn every conceivable feature you can think of into one small, slim and usually overcomplicated device, Nokia ( NOK), is taking a smarter route.


You can, of course, use Nokia's E61i smart phone and its N810 Internet tablet separately. Both devices can (and do) stand alone. But together they make for one terrifically synergistic package.

First the smart phone half of the equation.

Nokia's Blackberry Killers

Nokia E61i smart phone

Nokia's E61i is a complete update of the E60 series. The E61 was a great device that never officially made it into the U.S. cellular market. AT&T ( T) asked Nokia to make a few changes and sold an E62 for a while. The new E61i is currently available as an unlocked phone, for $500 via Nokia's Web site .

What you get is a quad-band GSM/EDGE world phone (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) with super-high-speed WCDMA (2100MHz) support. There's Bluetooth (1.2), WLAN (802.11b/g) and USB (2.0) connectivity too. There's a slot for a micro SD memory card -- but my 8 GB test card doesn't work properly.

There's a nifty 2.8-inch QVGA color matrix display, a two-megapixel camera, full QWERTY keyboard, MP3 music player, audio and video streaming capabilities, a cool Web browser and even VoIP Internet telephone software inside.

Battery life offers up to nine hours' talk time GSM, up to five hours' WCDMA or four hours' VoIP. Standby times run 10 to 19 days depending on use. In real life, I only have to charge my test E61i every three days. That's pretty good, considering.

One of the E61's special features is the fact that there are small software programs available on the Nokia site that let you use your phone to do other tasks -- like sending and receiving BlackBerry mail. I can tell you from personal experience that using the E61 as a BlackBerry phone is simple and easy. It works flawlessly.

It's also a pretty good Web-browsing device. Now nothing, and I mean nothing else on the planet, compares with Apple's ( AAPL) iPhone when it comes to a smart phone Web-browsing device. But the Nokia is pretty good at it. My only complaint is that you have to restart the data connection if you don't use it for a while. Nokia does that to save battery life. I prefer Apple's Wi-Fi connection scheme -- it connects when it sees a wireless network it knows.

All in all, my time with the E61i has been worry-free. The smart phone is a pleasure to use -- and seems to connect and to stay connected to both GSM networks I tried it on (AT&T and T-Mobile, part of Deutsche Telekom ( DT). It's highly recommended.

Nokia N810 tablet

The N810 tablet is a third-generation model -- but the first one with a slide-out keyboard. Actually, it's the first with any kind of hardware keyboard.

The first thing you should know is that the N810 is not a phone and does not need any sort of monthly service contract. It is actually a mini-tablet computer that runs on the Linux operating system (maemo OS2008), which connects to the Web wirelessly (802.11b/g and Bluetooth).

The device itself measures approximately five inches by three inches by 0.5 inches and weighs less than eight ounces. There's 2GB of built-in storage and room for a mini SD or micro SD memory card. Expect four to 10 hours of battery life per charge, depending on how you use it, or up to two weeks of standby time.

I could bore you with all the rest of the minute details and specifications, but what you need to know is that you can use your N810 to browse the Web, listen to your favorite Internet radio stations, stream audio and video and find where you are via the built-in GPS receiver.

I recently took the N810 with me to Las Vegas to help cover the Consumer Electronics Show. I used the N810 instead of a laptop to report directly from the show floor. At every turn, the N810 bore up under the strain and never failed me. I was able to handle all my email plus easily write and then send hot breaking-news dispatches from the show back to eagerly waiting editors.

Best of all, I was using an eight-ounce, hand-held device. In the press room, all the other journalists were tied (literally, by Ethernet cables) to their work. Not me. My testing of the N810 was a complete success.

As for price, the N810 retails for $480 on the Nokia Web site. As for ease of use and portability, it can't be beat.

Together, these two devices create powerful portable-office hardware.

Separately and together, they are highly recommended.
With 34 years experience as a journalist -- the last 27 with NBC -- Gary Krakow has seen all the best and worst technology that's come along. Gary joined before it actually went online in July 1996. He produced and anchored the first live Webcast of a presidential election in November 1996. With a background as a gadget freak, audiophile and ham radio operator, Krakow started writing reviews for both Audio and Stereophile Magazines in the 80s. Once at, Krakow started writing a column to help feed his personal passion for playing with gadgets of all types, shapes and sizes. Within a short time, that column became a major force in many electronics industries -- audio, video, photography, GPS and cell phones. Readership soared, and manufacturers told him they had actual proof that a positive review in his column sold thousands of their products. Many electronics manufacturers have used quotes from his reviews in their sales literature as well as on their Web sites. There have also been a few awards too, including Emmys in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

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