Nokia
By Columnist
msnbc.com
updated 4/14/2004 6:36:49 PM ET 2004-04-14T22:36:49
REVIEW

At first glance it looks like any other modern-day cellular phone.

It’s small and lightweight (4.2 by 1.8 by 0.75 inches and 3.2 ounces) has a high-resolution color screen and most importantly, it makes and receives phone calls.

You can browse the Internet with its XHTML browser and send e-mail and SMS messages. The phone's address book, calendar and to-do list can be synchronized with those on a PDA or a PC. The phone also lets you listen to your favorite FM station either through a headset or an optional music stand (basically a phone cradle with stereo speakers inside). There’s no built-in camera but you can purchase a combination headset/camera to plug in. 

So why do I like the Nokia 6200 so much? Simple. As the first cell phone on the market that uses a new higher-speed data network, the 6200 has a big EDGE over the competition.

I’ve always been disappointed with the speed of cellular data networks. GPRS, the current standard data protocol, can provide up to 56K — providing you have a strong wind at your back.

EDGE, which stands for Enhanced Data Rates for Global Evolution, is faster. Much faster.

In theory, according to a white paper on the AT&T Wireless Web site, “EDGE networks triple the throughput rates of GPRS with download rates of 110 to 130 Kbps and upload rates of 50 to 80 Kbps.” They boast that burst speeds can reach 200Kbps. 

AT&T's new EDGE system is currently up and running in a few major markets and is being rolled out across the country. (If it's not operational where you live, don't worry -- the Nokia 6200 also works with GPRS. For phone calls, it uses the GSM standard.)

I tested the 6200 in the New York City area. While I didn’t measure the ultimate speed numbers I was able to achieve, I was impressed by what the Nokia phone could do.

Surfing the Web with this phone was faster than any other cellular with which I’ve played. I also tried using the 6200 as a modem for my laptop via both devices’ IR ports. After installing the Nokia software to do this, I found that my laptop was nearly usable as a wireless device when I’m not near a WiFi network. It’s still not anywhere near the speeds I fondly remember from the old Ricochet wireless system, but it's quite respectable.

So, if you’re looking for a cellular phone that makes and receives phone calls fine — and allows you to pass data through it at speeds something like 2 to 3 times as fast as the fastest modem, the Nokia 6200 should be at the top of your short list.

And don’t forget that the 6200 is the first to make it to the marketplace.  Expect other phones from Nokia and others to follow soon. I can’t wait.

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