My attitude towards smart phones, or mobile PDAs, began to change when I met RIM's BlackBerry Pearl this summer. I could suddenly see a long-term commitment to this device: it was slim and phone-shaped, easy to use but smart enough to bear the BlackBerry name. (With a T-Mobile monthly plan of around $60, it was also surprisingly low maintenance.) Since then, I've been on the prowl for other mobile PDAs that appeal to people who don't need mobile e-mail, but would go for it provided it wasn't an inconvenience. Nokia's new E62 isn't perfect, but out of the box it has many user-friendly traits for ordinary people those who haven't been joined at the hip to a BlackBerry, Treo or Windows Mobile device for years.
It's not going to beat the Pearl in a beauty contest, but the 5-oz. E62 fits into jacket pockets or purses just fineit's definitely thinner than a Palm Treo. It's got a bright 3-in. screen of decent resolution, a wide, well planned QWERTY keyboard and a sturdy body backed by a nice aluminum plate. It takes MiniSD cards, and although you need to remove the back plate to insert them, you do not need to remove the battery - that's a step in the right direction for Nokia. There's no camera, but you probably already have a camera.
When you power up the E62, you see a screen like many other smart devices: a row of icons indicating e-mail, calendar, web browser, media player and note pad. There's a hot button for your Address Book at the bottom right.
E-mail setup is fairly straightforward as long as you know the correct names of your incoming and outgoing mail servers (example: pop.mail.yahoo.com and smtp.mail.yahoo.com). T-Mobile's setup is easier, but like the BlackBerry Pearl, the E62 won't download Hotmail. Unlike many business PDAs, the E62 doesn't "push" mail to you automatically. Instead, you set it to check for mail, as frequently as every five minutes.