Jason Jenkins, Editor of CNET UK, here to announce a brand-new addition to the site called 'You Review'. We know you all love to share your opinions on the latest gadgets with us, and we've long offered the ability to post comments on a Crave story, post in our forum and offer user opinions in our product reviews.
But for those of you who wanted to write in much more depth, including pictures and video, this is for you. The very first person to submit an article is David Gilson, but before we get to his in-depth Nokia E55 test, if you have a review of a product you would like to appear on these pages and you are prepared to put the same care, time and attention into it that David has, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will publish the best. Now, over to Mr Gilson:
It would be hard to introduce the Nokia E55 without mentioning its sister model the E52 and their predecessor, the E51. While the E-series heritage is clear to see, you'd be blind to miss the quirk which sets the E55 apart -- its 'half-Qwerty' keyboard.
This is a first for Nokia, but we've seen this sort of thing before in the Sony Ericsson P1i, and more recently in the BlackBerry Pearl range. This form factor is ideal for those who want a phone with a Qwerty keyboard, but aren't willing to carry something with the extra width associated with the likes of the E71 or the iPhone.
The E55's text input is multi-tap, using predictive text and auto-word completion, either of which you can switch off. Once you become accustomed to the keyboard's layout and soft response, you begin to have a far more natural typing experience than you would with a T9-style numeric keyboard. Accessing some of the punctuation marks can be confusing, however, and the auto-word completion can sometimes get in the way. You can expect this to improve with time as the E55 learns your most common words.
The E55 is slightly wider than a normal candybar phone. At 61mm (2.4 inches), the screen feels expansive for a non-touch device. On the front of the phone, along with the keyboard, are the usual soft keys, d-pad, accept and reject keys. There are also four application keys flanking the d-pad. From left to right these are Home, Calendar, Email and Delete. The Calendar and Email keys can have user-defined actions for short and long presses.
Going clockwise from the top of the phone, we find the power key and a 3.5mm headphone socket. On the right side there are buttons for volume up, voice commands, volume down and the camera. On the base, there's just the microphone and a lanyard hole. On the left side is an inconspicuous micro-USB socket. Once you pick up the E55, you realise just how thin it is -- just 10mm.
The back of the the E55 has a loud speaker, placed beside its 3.2-megapixel camera and its single LED flash. The battery cover is a textured black anodised aluminium panel. This texturing provides a non-slip surface, and almost feels like paper.
Supplied with the phone are all the usual accessories, although you'd be forgiven for asking, "Where's my CD?" The standard software is supplied on a 2GB microSD card, inside the E55's memory card slot. All you have to do is connect the E55 (in 'mass storage' mode) to your computer, and run the software installer.
E-series phones now have much the same multimedia software as their N-series cousins, although Nokia has bizarrely omitted its podcasting and Internet radio applications from the E55. The 6210 Navigator version of Internet radio will install on the E55 and you'll find it in your radio application alongside FM radio.
The 3.2-megapixel camera does not have auto-focus, but instead uses a new technology called 'Extended Depth of Field' (EDoF). EDoF works by having different focal points for red, green and blue light. Once an image is taken, regions of the photos are analysed to see which colour provides the sharpest image, which means both near and far objects can be in focus. There's also a panorama mode, along with various manual settings. Video can be recorded at upto VGA resolution (640x480 pixels) at 15 frames per second.
Once you take a photo you can use the 'Share Online' application to upload to services such as Ovi, Flickr, Vox and more. You can even tag your photos with keywords and GPS location, all of which are preserved when you upload them.
The E55 has an accelerometer, which allows auto-switching of the screen's orientation. For the more lazy among you, this also allows you to reject calls or alarms by simply flipping the phone over.
The E55 has a 1,500mAh battery -- running it for 48 hours with Wi-Fi constantly checking email and Twitter is a realistic prospect.
The E55 runs on Series 60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 2. One very useful feature of FP2 is over-the-air firmware updates. The E55 can download a firmware update from the internet, and update itself, all without the need of a desktop computer. On a less helpful note, Nokia has made a faux pas with its icon designs -- folder icons now have no indication that they're folders. This leaves a new user feeling somewhat lost in the user interface.
The email application has been improved and now feels more like a desktop client. If you use one of the most popular email services, simply giving the E55 your address allows it to auto-complete the account setup for you. You can also move messages on an IMAP server into sub-folders.
If you're worried about security, the E55 has you covered. You can encrypt both the internal memory and the memory card. You can even set up a secret word that you text to the phone, which will lock it in the event of loss or theft.
The E55 includes Ovi Maps, which has free walking directions, but road directions require a subscription. Not only does Maps make use of the Assisted GPS, but it also uses the E55's digital compass, which dynamically aligns the map with magnetic north.
With a novel keyboard and outstanding battery life, the E55 is a light and compact smart phone with better than average text input. It's hoped that issues such as confusing icons, text input and the omission of podcasting and Internet radio will be addressed in future firmware updates.