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Nokia 5140 First Impressions
My old phone (Nokia 6190) is a trusty work horse and with the Lithium
Ion battery back gives excellent standby and talk times. It's also very
rugged, which I have tested on various trips camping/hiking as well as
bouncing around in my car, etc.. After 4 years of abuse, the battery
holder started getting lose and I used a tie wrap to hold it on tightly
for the last year or so. Well, OK, this is not a review of the 6190.
I had been looking for a phone to replace my 6190 for years with
specific features. It should be multi-band, so that I can use it in
other GSM countries. It needs to be water/dust resistant and rugged; I
actually use my phone and do a lot of outdoor activities. After some
research, it looks like Nokia 5140 seems to fit the bill. Well, there
are some Nextel phones which are "contractor grade", but I didn't want
to switch to Nextel.
Since I have an upcoming trip to Germany, I decided it was time to
order one. I ordered my Nokia 5140 directly from NokiaUSA.com and it
arrived three days later. I was surprised to find out that I could
order it directly, since this option was not available 6mos ago when I
first started looking into this phone. From Nokiusa.com, the phone
comes planless and unlocked. It is one the few phones that you can
order that way from their webstore.
As soon as I got the phone, I opened it swapped in my SIM card installed
the battery and it was up and running. My initial impressions were that
it feels like a solid little phone. It's lighter than the 6190 (not
saying much). The display is very readable and the user interface
hadn't changed much.
The phone has a lot of features. It sports a FM radio, thermometer, an
electronic compass, VGA camera and IrDA port. In addition, it has a
fitness program and can interface to heart rate monitors. Since I
originally just wanted a rugged world GSM phone, these features didn't
impress me very much.
However, the VGA camera takes nice pictures, the IrDA port software
works seamlessly with my Windows 2000 notebook (no special drivers) and
I was able to download the pictures no trouble at all. The FM radio is
mediocre, as it does not pull in stations as well as my car radio or in
my office. I may try it outdoors were the limited sensitivity would not
be a problem. It seems like they should have they could have included a
weather radio receiver, but I think that would only be relevant to the
US market. I haven't used the compass, since I tend to rely on a
mechanical compass when I hike or the fitness software. At first I
thought the thermometer was silly, but you can make it display
contiously, and it's kind of nice to have now.
The RF performance seem about the same as the 6190, which is a step
above some of the newer phones I have tried. It does not have an
external RF connector, which I have actually used on my 6190 to boost
the range in more rural settings, but GSM coverage is _much_ better in
the US than it was 4-5 years ago, so this may not be as necessary now.
One of the things that I probably do not like on this phone, is that
that the keypad is much too small for my fingers. They would have done
better having less keys (i.e. simpler pad) with bigger keys.
Especially, the navigation buttons (up/down/left/right) are too small
and I often hit the bigger select button in the center. I do like that
the send/end keys are real keys and not function keys. I have big
fingers and have to use full size keyboards on my notebooks, so this
is not surprising, since many products are too small for my fingers.
I think this phone was definitely designed for active younger adults
demographics and not older engineers who normally sit in cubicles all
day. I do suspect this phone will catch on with contractors and many
outdoor active individuals who don't care to be protective with their
phones. And, hey, it doesn't hurt to be "hip" with a colorful new
phone...;-) (My wife mocks the ad for the phone, which calls it
"sporty".). Well, certainly my fellow co-workers in my department
(marketing/sales) tend to go for the more stylish business models...
I can't really speak for the ruggedness yet (I'll have to wait 4-5
years to see how it compares to the 6190). It's first trial will be a
trip to the Mojave this weekend, which will involve 4-wheeling, some
hiking and camping with the dogs, if it survives I'll keep it ;-)
/* Ingo Cyliax, , Tel: 812-391-0895 */
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