The Nokia 9000 and 9110 mobile phone / PDA devices. Looking like largish mobile phones, they reveal an entire little computer complete with QWERTY keyboard and a nice little screen when flipped open. They flip indeed open like a waffle iron. These beasties can fax, e-mail and manage addresses and appointments for you.

At IT shops (e.g. where I work at the moment) you can find Real Men walking around with Nokia Communicators on their belts. Don't believe they use it to fax dirty jokes to each other or manage any personal information. They use them as dumb terminals to log into VMS or Unix machines via infrared or such.

Nokia's cell phone/PDA hybrid series, aimed for bu$ine$$p€opl€. They look mostly like a largish, normal Nokia cellphones but they can be opened up. Inside is screen and the keyboard.

First in the series were Nokia 9000 and Nokia 9110/Nokia 9110i, and the series has since been continued with the Nokia 9210. Main difference is that while the 9000 and 9110 were based on GEOS running on embedded version of DOS, 9210 runs Symbian's EPOC operating system (much better suited for mobile applications, IMHO) and has a color screen.

Anyway...

I have a Nokia 9110 Communicator (the package says 9110i, even though the phone itself doesn't have the 9110i extra features - namely, the WAP support - but I don't care because I don't do WAP anyway). Here are some of the features in it:

  • PDA inside the phone, with half-VGA (640x240) display and full keyboard. Out of box, it has 2 megabytes of memory/storage space.
  • Can fax stuff. Cool, except that I'm not a businessman. =)
  • SMSing is much easier than on other phones, due to keyboard. However, my previous 9110 eventually had a memory corruption due to fact that the OS uses FAT, storing 160-character messages to 512-byte clusters is lossy and FAT got corrupted when memory was full and it did something weird. I've yet to figure out a way to move all stored SMS messages to PC and preserving the file dates...
  • Internet support (over GSM Data, 9600 bps, with some centers (none of mine) 14400 bps): built-in web browser and E-mail applications, and, of course, a terminal emulator that supports full 80x25 screens. Telnet also comes as an optional application on CD-ROM, but regrettably there's no ssh client...
  • Contact manager (normal phone book + zillion other fields for flexible data storage). Doesn't cooperate with my Palm. =(
  • Notepad (miniature text editor / word processor).
  • Calendar and to-do list.
  • Extra tools: user information storing, IR connections, digital camera connections, network calendar synchronization, memory management tools and... fax modem! This is cool. I just point my Palm's IR port to the phone, tell the phone to think it's a fax modem, and sync Palm's AvantGo stuff. (Also works over cable, so to get to the intttter net from a laptop, I don't necessarily need a typical Nokia "data suite" PCMCIA card...)
  • Extras: clock, calculator, recorder, ringtone editor... also the CD-ROM had some games like Reversi.

So, what do I use it for? Why do I like it?

  • It's cool. (Not as cool as some phones - like 9210 - are now, but hey, it was infinitely cool at the time I got it.
  • IR stuff works.
  • The terminal emulator really rocks. By connecting to my university's shell dialup, I've IRCed from it, I've read Usenet from it... read E-mail with it using mutt. UNIX inna pocket!

Why I don't like it?

  • DOS-based OS. The FAT filesystem sucks, especially if the idea is to store tons of SMS messages.
  • Instability and critical loss of data when the memory fills up. (Well, my current phone seems to stand this a bit better than the previous specimen...)
  • The PC side software only runs on Windows or MacOS. Linux software is clumsy, not "blessed" and very incomplete. Furthermore, back in the day I couldn't get it to make complete backups (bombed with transmission errors all the time) - not sure if my new phone can do any better. (Especially with those time stamps.)
  • Closed OS, no "open" development tools, and not many 3rd-party applications out there.
  • Calendar isn't as cool as Palm's. (Not as intuitive, anyway. It took me 2 years to figure out how to create events with no starting and ending time. Just removed the start time. Duh. Palm had "no time" button for us morons.)

Nokia used to be (as everyone remembers) a huge conglomerate that used to be famous for rubber products. Since then, they've tried to keep Nokian Tires and Nokia Electronics & Nokia Mobile Phones separate.

Alivaltiosihteeri, of course, joked about Nokia's "Internet Rubber Boot", a great way to get connected in the middle of the swamps! The old model (9000) was size 45, but newer model (9110) is size 38...

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