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Nokia 9210: Use of the 9210 Abroad

Use of the the Nokia 9210 Abroad by Arild Bergh

After having had a Nokia 9210 for more than 6 months I was going on 8 day holiday in Norway. This is a report on how it fared as a communications tool and entertainment gadget, after having used it mainly as a calendar and contacts database with mobile phone built in. I had firmware version 3.54 with Task Manager, SmallBase, PDF+, eBookReader, TimeTool and TomTom CityMaps installed. I also had the free digital camera that came with the 9210 and a 64mb MMC card.

[Entertainment] [E-mail] [Battery life] [Browsing] [International] [Various] [Overall]

Entertainment [top]

I was bringing along my daughter and I know from experience that the 2 hour flight can be veryyy long for a 7 year old, so I converted some audio books to the 9210 WAV format and brought 2 hours worth of reading. This was pretty neat, the only problem was that I only had a handsfree headset (one earplug) so one ear had to be covered from the noise of the plane.

For myself I downloaded some eBooks from to read with the Epocware E-BookReader. I never did believe that I would like to read books off a tiny computer screen, but it works really well. So far I've gone through 7 or 8 books. I copied across all files using a MMC card reader (USB) which makes life a lot easier (and faster). I would suggest that you spend 25 pounds on one of these if you ever upgrade the memory capacity.

I used the digital camera frequently, it is not great quality but for snaps it worked fine, and the infrared transfer to the 9210 is very cool. I sent a couple of "wish you were here" snaps to friends, no problems at all.

E-mail [top]

Previously I have lugged with me a 2 kilo Toshiba, modem adapter and powercable when I go abroad, to be able to check e-mails from my clients. This time I only needed to slip the 9210 inside my jacket, and it made life so much easier. No need to beg for a phoneline from friends, nothing heavy to carry. I also chose to set up an account with a local Norwegian ISP which worked like Freeserve, i.e. you pay only for a local call with no subscriptions. This saved me having to dial the UK to connect.

In general it was very smooth to check e-mail, but as we all know with the 9210, there are some idiosyncrasies and bugs that I came across.

The first major problem was that I had previously set the e-mail application to download headers only and stay online (this was done when I was in an area with very bad connection). In itself this wasn't a problem but although I had set the Internet connection to close down after 2 minutes with no activity it didn't... something I discovered after 3 hours! Eeek!!! Major problem and one to look out for.

The second problem, which I only realised when I came back is that although the 9210 will leave your e-mails on the server for you to pick up when you're back at your usual e-mail client it will delete them when you delete them from the 9210. This is not really obvious, and I feel it's not coherent with the overall "hands-off" approach of the program.

Two minor gripes: In the mail viewer you are not able to turn off fields you're not interested in (such as CC) and you can't change the font size on them, just the body of the message, so you always have to scroll down to read messages, even short ones. I feel that a "Message body only" mode for the viewer would make it easier.

Secondly, when I got back home I could not get the messages I had sent to copy across to my PC, and I could not convert them to PC Mail message to force them to be synchronised either. You can ask for copies to be mailed to your account, but that means you have to download them again on the communicator, which is a waste of online time. I feel that a facility to copy across all messages including sent mail and SMS messages would be useful.

Battery life [top]

This really was excellent. I had forgot to bring the adapter for charging and managed to get it to run for 4 full days (24 hours) with 3+ hours connected to the Internet, a few phonecalls and frequent use to play back sound or read books on it. (The renowned iPaq from Compaq using Windows CE can last about 10 hour with no backlight, or 1.5 hour if you use it to connect to the Internet... sad really)

Browsing [top]

This was the first time I've done any serious browsing on the 9210. The reason was that my website disappeared due to an error from the host providers, and I needed to edit some text files. The native programs on the 9210 does not allow text editing so I needed to buy and/or download YEdit to do it.

First of all, the 9210 felt FAST. Perhaps because I used it at a time of the year when there is less bottle nacks, but I really felt as if I was on a desktop with a 56k modem at times. However, the size of the screen does slow you down as there is a lot of scrolling and switching between pointer mode (Ctrl+Q) to click a link far down a page, and scrolling mode to move up and down a page. One minor gripe with the web browser itself is that when you select a link with the pointer it requires two clicks to jump using a link. The first time it displays the destination of the link and the second it actually jumps. But on buttons it will jump immediately. It should be on or the other and it caused some incorrect actions.

Another confusing thing was that the Ctrl+Spacebar shortcut key which is used by Task Manager by default is used in the browser to start selecting text when you use the pointer mode, and you can't switch. Not really Nokia's fault though.

The worst thing however was some of the websites themselves. I appreciate all the work that is being done for free, but if your website is about the 9210 I think some work should be put into an alternative navigation for the 9210 itself. Extra stars to who does exactly that. worked fine actually, although fairly busy on the 9210. would not let me buy software, it always failed when I came to the last page to confirm the purchase. Not so good if you sell software for the 9210. And, although a fantastic site for news about the 9210, is incredibly bad when trying to access via the 9210. The front page is a big graphic which you MUST download (I usually turn graphics off to save time) to see where to click to find the English pages. Then all downloads are linked to a central download page where you MUST select the relevant category and then wade through page after page to find the file (if you have guessed the right category which I never managed), and there's no way of searching directly for the files.

A final not on the browser is that although it will close down the other standard applications (Calendar, Contacts etc.) is it NOT closing down other programs, such as Smallbase. These you may have to close yourself to get enough memory available.

[Editor's note: Some of the problems mentioned in this section with the websites have been fixed. For example this site now has a Mobile Edition of the News]

International [top]

I switched the home town in the Clock application to Oslo when I arrived in Norway, and the time was automatically updated which was neat. And something I hadn't realised earlier was that you should always enter all telephone numbers in the format of + [countrycode][areacode without 0][telephone number] this way it works both in the UK and abroad.

Various [top]

After having used the 9210 to the full it is inevitable that there a number of problems were discovered. Some merely irritating, some real showstoppers. A big problem is that memory is not properly released when closing down applications, particularly the browser. I started with 3212 kb after reboot but after heavy use I would end up with only 1000 kb even when using the excellent Task Manager to compress the memory. And of course having only 4 mb free in the first place is ridiculous when you can buy 256 mb ram for less than 30 pounds.

I also found that a crash had corrupted two notes on the desktop, so text from one was found in the other.

Minor annoyances was that none of the Nokia supplied programs have the standard Ctrl+E to close it down (so used to it from other apps) and there is no sign showing that it's working (i.e. an hourglass) when you have lengthy operations that lock it up. I also found that the free space reported from the MMC card is incorrect until you reset the phone when removing it to copy files across. And worst of all, you can't save plain text in the Word application. Why not? It's hardly rocket science to save plain text rather than formatted text... as it is you need to buy YEdit to edit html files or other text files.

Overall [top]

There are definitely some sharp edges with the 9210's software, and some real bugs. But in a small, 285 gram package I was able to keep in touch with clients in the UK, sort out problems that happened in the US, entertain my daughter on the flight and call friends all over Norway. There really is nothing like it... and we all know this is why we put up with the problems. Would I recommend it? You bet!

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Copyright (©) Rafe Blandford 2000-2001    |     Last modified: November 01 2020.