Nokia Booklet 3G: High-End Netbook an Oxymoron?

Global mobile phone leader Nokia is announcing its first competitor in the hot netbook market: the Nokia Booklet 3G. But while most netbooks are busy battling it out for the title of cheapest PC (hitting around $300 or even for only $1, when paired with monthly 3G plans) , Nokia is playing to a high-end netbook market.

Wait--high-end netbook market? Is there such a thing?

Before I get into that issue, let me summarize the Nokia Booklet 3G's merits, and why you might want to consider one.

Slick and quiet. The Nokia Booklet 3G is smooth, beautiful, and very professional looking. With a design that lacks your typical fan (just has a little one in the side), it's supposedly very quiet. (Now, whether or not it will overheat if put through a 15-hour World of Warcraft stress test has yet to be explored.)

Slim. Weighing in at under 3 lbs, this is one mobile little PC. Which makes sense of course, since Nokia already has a corner on the mobility market.

Battery life. The Nokia Booklet 3G's pledged 12-hour battery life is a drastic improvement over the devices available today. The rumors of 20-hour battery life ARM devices are all abuzz, but they've been much ado about nothing thus far.

3G connectivity. Gee, I'm sure this one was hard to figure out, given the name. It's also supposed to be incredibly easy to sync with your mobile phone, though I haven't heard any additional details on this.

Great Device, But
OK, here's the kicker: the Nokia Booklet 3G will cost $600. Doesn't seem like that much? Well, then, consider this: during Best Buy's promotion a few months back, you could get a Toshiba Satellite L305-S5955 for $300. Even now, you can find one for under $350. And it's not a netbook--it's a full-featured laptop.

The Booklet 3G has 1 GB RAM; the Satellite has 2. The Booklet has a 120 GB hard drive; the Satellite has 160. And while the Satellite is a heavy (note sarcasm) 5.92 lbs, the 15" screen and full-size keyboard ensures a more pleasant user experience.

If you go into the $600 market for a direct price competitor, you should be able to find HP notebooks with 4 GB RAM and 320 GB hard drives. I'm not sure all of these will come packaged with Windows 7 (the Nokia Booklet 3G does), but still!

Are Netbooks Really that Mobile?
OK, so hear me out here. I know, I know, everyone says netbooks are the mobile PC of the future. But consider this: if you're always on the road, using your PC for prolonged usage, do you really want to deal with that tiny keyboard and screen all the time? Is a 5 lb laptop that heavy? Have we as a society become so weak that we can't handle that? Seriously, I still have a 12 lb Compaq clunker.

And if you're all about the light weight, and just want to use your netbook for basic email, web browsing, etc., then why not just get a $300 Acer or ASUS? Yes, the battery life is less, but you can get an add-on battery.

Searching for a Market
So, I'm left to believe that the Nokia Booklet 3G's market is people who don't mind blowing a few hundred extra bucks for something slick, shiny, and a little better. Call me crazy, but I'd rather have both a full-size laptop and a cute little netbook for the price of one Booklet 3G.

But, if you think I'm full of it and still want one, they're coming to Best Buy in the next month or so. You'll also be able to purchase the Booklet 3G for $300 with a carrier plan, or $600 without. But, with other netbooks available for $1 with a carrier plan, it's still an extra $300, any way you slice it.

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