Wed 02.10.10 – In the last two weeks of trialing the Nokia Booklet 3G that WOM World/Nokia sent to me, I have had a range of great to ok to just bad experiences with the Booklet, but all of them have been predicated on the Operating System (OS) and not necessarily the Booklet itself. I am of the opinion that the Booklet is a great little mini-laptop that is beautifully designed but hampered with a crappy OS in Windows 7 Starter. It would be great if Nokia were to install an OS that had the same level of polish, attention, and design that the Booklet itself has.
Here are my thoughts after two weeks of testing, installing, uninstalling, and reinstalling alternative Linux based Operating Systems in the form of a Pro & Con comparison of the hardware, and the various potential OSs of Windows 7 Starter, Ubuntu, and Jolicloud:
Pros for the Nokia Booklet Hardware:
Beautiful hardware design
3G with a sim chip port in a netbook is excellent and frees one up to be able to work on a computer anywhere
I like the chicklet style keyboard, even if a bit narrow
Truly long long long battery time: 10-12 hours. I have yet to run it all the way down.
Cons for the Nokia Booklet Hardware:
I don’t like the touchpad, rough surface, works poorly in Win7
Overall: The Nokia Booklet 3G is a lovely, little mini-laptop. The only thing cuter is Jackie’s pink Eee PC. The Booklet would be cuter than the Eee PC if it came in hot pink or deep purple.
Pros for Windows 7 Starter:
Native 1280×768 screen resolution
Cons for Windows 7 Starter:
Wow! Win7 Starter sucks.
AT&T Sim chip does not *just* work for the 3G side, Al and I had to add our own settings & it still didn’t work. It finally did about 3 days later.
Multitouch on the touchpad does not work or works very badly and intermittently.
Win 7 on the Booklet is slow. Sometimes molasses in a blizzard slow. Unexceptably slow.
Can be quirky on start up and starts in Airplane Mode with wifi/3G turned off. Odd but true.
Windows 7 Starter does not let the user do a lot of normal tasks like change the background, so I had to download a specious 3rd party app to rid the desktop of the Win7 logo.
Overall: Windows 7 does NOT live up to the hype. While it may appear to be an improvement over XP or Vista, any OS is an improvement over those two, so it is not saying much. Windows 7 Starter is a bad little OS. Nokia’s biggest mistake is not the 1 GB of RAM or Intel Atom chip speed on the Booklet, but the inclusion of Windows 7 Starter as the OS as the Windows Bloat slows down the hardware. If Nokia wants to be in bed and having relations with Windows (each to their own), then for the price of the Booklet, they should have Windows 7 Ultimate as the shipped OS, as it is more polished and for the $600 price unlocked the Booklet does deserve a polished OS.
Did I mention how damned slow Windows 7 Starter is to do any task? Ugh.
Pros for Ubuntu via Wubi:
Super fast install of Ubuntu via Wubi which uses bit torrent.
Wow! Ubuntu is much nicer than Win7 Starter! Can I say that again?!
AT&T sim chip 3 G data *just* works in Ubuntu after you answer 3 questions, no fiddling with properties & preferences.
Multitouch does work on the touchpad and it is *fast* (it worked on the first two times I installed Ubuntu through Wubi, but not the last two times)
Ubuntu is fast on the Booklet, none of the hesitating or slow loading of Win7.
Ubuntu comes shipped with over 25 applications that provide a wide range of office, graphics, web, and developer tools and programs, including Nokia’s QT.
Cons For Ubuntu:
800×600 screen resolution. As of Jan 29, 2010, don’t try the kernel mod fix to make the res 1280×768 as recommended on the Ubuntu wiki, it makes for a very unstable install, wait for the Ubuntu dev folks to make a stable fix.
Sometimes the multitouch works great, sometimes it runs too fast.
Overall: Ubuntu is my favorite OS for the Nokia Booklet 3G hands down and miles ahead of Windows 7. While at the time of writing this, I could not get the native screen resolution to work with the Ubuntu fix, the Jolicloud folks did, so the Ubuntu folk should not be far behind with a workable fix.
The best part of Ubuntu on the Nokia Booklet is that the OS has a light footprint which makes for a fast Booklet and even though light & fast, Ubuntu is powerful and comes with or one is able to download easily any and all developer tools to really work on the Booklet with Ubuntu. I can code and deploy Django, Google App Engine, and Nokia’s QT with Ubuntu, which I would not be able to do fast or easily with Windows 7 Starter or Jolicloud on the Booklet.
I really do think that Nokia should do a co-promote with Ubuntu’s Canonical and ship a version or a dual boot of Ubuntu customized / polished up for the Booklet, as it is provides much more programs and functionality than Windows. For all the naysayers that don’t think Ubuntu is polished enough, if Nokia were to work with Canonical, much of the polish problems could be solved within a few weeks with a team of devs & designers on the project. The main points are to make sure the native screen resolution and multitouch always work, as well as the syncing with one’s mobiles. If one really wants Windows, then provide a dual boot. Many folks would be happier with Ubuntu after 30 minutes of using it, not just a geek like me.
Pros for Jolicloud:
Native Screen Resolution of 1280×768 out of the box (or install as the case may be)
Different User Interface desktop layout
Apple/Mac style keyboard shortcuts work to close windows (ctrl+w) & exit programs (ctrl+q). Ubuntu & Windows do not do this.
Touchpad is fast for moving the cursor.
I like the black background & the colors & icons are easy on the eyes.
Cons for Jolicloud:
First time I tried to install last week, it kept quitting. It worked tonight, but it was very slow.
Slow start up load
Froze completely the 1st time I asked it to use the AT&T sim chip for data connection, had to force re-start.
2nd time I tried to use the AT&T data, it froze again. Not working.
Different User Interface desktop layout
Multitouch does not work, two fingers won’t scroll
While Jolicloud is built on Ubuntu, it does not have as many programs & applications available without downloading or using the package manager
Jolicloud takes over any install of Ubuntu on the Booklet and I had to uninstall both to reinstall Ubuntu to get it to load again.
Overall: Jolicloud has a great deal of potential, esp. as a netbook OS for non-power/non-geek users. The User Interface has quite a bit of polish, the native screen resolution of the Nokia Booklet works on startup on Jolicloud, and I love that some Mac/Apple gestures & keyboard shortcuts just work. The downsides to Jolicloud of non-working 3G, missing programs & tools that Ubuntu ships with, slow load time, and the lack of multitouch on the touchpad make Jolicloud unworkable for me as a geek user who would like to use the Booklet as a mini-laptop that is a mini-dev box. But I will not discount Jolicloud as their developers are ambitious & very responsive and many of these issues may be solved within the month or two.
I may expire waiting for Apple to deliver a cute, tiny, light, fully powered 10 inch MacBook Pro. Nokia has done the next best thing by making a cute, tiny, light, well designed 10 inch Nokia Booklet 3G. But… it is under powered with a bad operating system in Windows 7 Starter that slows the machine down and makes for a bad user experience. Sorry, but the Windows 7 experience does not cut it, even in the upgraded $80+ Ultimate version.
As with many Nokia products the hardware is beautiful, but the OS is either lacking or the wrong fit for the beautiful hardware. In the case of the Booklet, Windows is a wrong fit, but there are options out there and Nokia should give the customer a choice of a great user experience with the Booklet.
Nokia needs to step up their game and either develop a kick ass version of the Maemo OS for the Booklet, which would be delicious, or work with Ubuntu to make a Nokia branded version of Ubuntu that would make the Booklet experience a delight to use and worth the $600 unlocked asking price.
At this point, I would love to buy a Nokia Booklet 3G if it had a great OS, but not if it comes shipped with a bad OS at $600 when I could get a pink Eee PC at $275 and install Ubuntu on it for free.