May 18, 2006, 6:18 PM by Eric Lin
On-the-scene report from the JavaOne conference in San Francisco. Hands-on with the Nokia 5500 Sport and SavaJe Jasper S20.
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I have always wished that there was a "rugged prosumer" category for personal electronics. Some of us are just harder on our gear than the average user who rarely uses his gadgets or always uses the included cases when he does. The new Apple MacBook might fit this category, and the same can be said for the Nokia 5500. With S60 3rd Edition, a screen bigger than most S60 V2 handsets and a 2 megapixel camera, no one will doubt that this smartphone has solid features. But the rubberized body and keyboard, small size and durable materials make this phone solid physically as well.
The 5500 is much smaller than you might think; it's barely larger than the average candybar phone, and certainly smaller than the average ruggedized handset (other than the 5140, which was about the same size). It has an hourglass shape like the 3220 that allows you to hold on to phone firmly. On each of the bulges along the side are buttons buried below the surface of the rubber, like the side buttons on the Sidekick II. On the left are volume keys and a Push To Talk button, which are clustered close enough together that it's easy to press the wrong key by accident. On the right are the pencil (text options) key, which is nicely tucked away from the keypad until you need it, and the "quick mode" key.
The quick mode key instantly switches you from the standard smartphone mode to the music player and the fitness application; and when we say instantly, we mean it. There is no noticeable delay when changing modes. The music player is the same one as on all S60 V3 phones, including the N80 we previewed recently. The fitness app will track the distance and time you've traveled (presumably exercising) using a pedometer linked to a timer. It can track and store your progress over months.
All of the keys on the keypad are protected by a rubber surface except for the send and end keys, which are two hard nubs that are raised higher than the rest of the keys. The keys are easy to use, and texting was fast.
Our only complaint about the 5500 was that the screen was small and dim, a bit like old Series 40 square screens. Although the screen may be transflective so it works outdoors, it was a bit disappointing when shown next to the (admittedly much more fragile) brilliant screens of the new Eseries and Nseries phones.
Still it was easy to see the 5500 being the right smartphone for a number of people. It is small, durable, fast and has a good camera and media player - and it doesn't feel overwhelmingly complicated like smartphones, even most S60 smartphones.
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question about the nokia's durbility (for the mods)
has there been any bumps bruise or drop demonstrations you can tell us about?