The various review features in did on the Nokia E90 a few weeks ago were all very well, but how does the new Communicator perform in daily life? To try to put this to the test, I took the E90 on the road with me for almost 12 hours out travelling and with family. There were quite a few bits of downtime within the day, where I could experiment more with the device, plus the obligatory demos of all the device could do to interested family members.... How did the E90 and its battery cope?
7am: With the aim being to use the E90 for all the things I'd use a PC for if I'd been at home, the first step of the day was to tour the sites I visit every morning:
Checking my eBay auctions, with these two finishing today... then checking my GMail mailbox and browsing through Google News... in each case, it's wonderful having such a large, wide screen - in most cases I didn't need to scroll sideways at all
Total web browsing time was about an hour, all over Wi-Fi in this case. So far so good, and the E90's battery still has all bars showing.
10am. Now 30 miles away in Farnborough, I had some free time while the ladies shopped(!) An hour of Hendrix, played over A2DP to my Nokia Bluetooth stereo headset. The A2DP implementation is pretty good, though with Wi-Fi scanning turned on in the background, there were occasional dropouts. Interestingly, if I stopped and tried to browse the Web using Wi-Fi while listening over A2DP, the music occasionally dropped in pitch, as if the musician's had dropped out of tune, presumably the wireless transmission buffering struggling and trying to stretch things out in order to keep playback going? Cutting the E90 some slack, though, this still isn't final sales firmware, and I'm sure there are still bugs to be quoshed.
Although it was quite cool to play with A2DP and I loved not having any wires, I still prefer having a proper wired headset (thinking about smartphones in general now), assuring me of absolutely no interruptions, using quite a bit less power, not having to worry about charging the headset itself and (probably) irradiating me just a little less with radio energy!..... 8-)
Checking my email several times during the day, one particular one made me impatient, my band mate had emailed a link to the latest rehearsal MP3 and I wanted to hear it as soon as possible. Vodafone's data rates are still pricey for me (at least until 1st June), but the E90 told me that there were three open Wi-Fi hotspots in the centre of Farnborough town centre and I couldn't resist using one of them to grab the 5MB MP3 file via Web, playing it directly and saving to the huge E90 internal disk.
(And yes, I know piggybacking on someone else's Wi-Fi is technically illegal, but in this case it was in the middle of a town centre and it's entirely possible that the line owners had deliberately left the connections open, as a public service, for anyone to use...)
3pm. After a family swim, I again had free time, so I spent 20 minutes trying to get to grips with the E90's Global Race game (I don't think my 40 year-old reflexes are up to it) and then hearing another 30 mins of music.
5pm. On the way home, I used the E90's built-in GPS and voice-guided navigation to guide us. I ran the device win closed mode, in a phone holder, running purely on the E90's battery (which by now was down to 4 bars), with the backlight on all the time, of course. GPS lock-on time was around a minute, a little slow but good enough as long as you remember to start up Nokia Maps as the first thing you do before starting the engine, strapping kids in, maneouvring out of the car park, etc. By the time I was actually on the main road, the system was locked on, although Smart2Go's design does mean that you can't select a destination until you're locked, meaning a little menu fiddling while driving, which isn't terribly safe - something to fix, Nokia? Just because you don't have a satellite fix yet shouldn't preclude you from saying where you want to navigate to....
In addition to the activity above, I took ten photos, two videos, received three phone calls, totalling ten minutes, and had about 30 mins of general PIM app and email reading use. When I arrived home, the E90 was showing two bars of battery life left. Granted, some corporate push email systems may make a more constant strain on the E90's processor and power source, but I still gave the new Communicator a pretty good hammering. And it came through unscathed, although obviously a nightly charge will still be necessary for all other power users of the device.
Steve Litchfield, AllAboutSymbian, 27 May 2007