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Interface:

E50 is a phone running on Symbian Operating System with Series 60 interface. The version of the interface is v.9.1, which is the latest one up to now – that's why it's similar with other phones by the manufacturer, like the E70 and N80 for example. S60 is the most used interface for Symbian, and Nokia has a lot of models using it, while it's also used by other manufacturers (Siemens, Samsung, Sendo). Unlike the UIQ interface, it still has no touch display support which makes it more similar to WM Smartphones than Pocket PCs.


The top part of the homescreen displays a clock and the date, as well as the usual signal strength and battery, while the name of the carrier or Offline can be seen in the middle. The Offline tag indicates that the E50 works only as an “organizer” with the phone function switched off (that's handy for using the device during a flight). Just below these is located a row of 6 shortcuts which can be personalized to suit you best. The rest of the display, below them, is used for “notifications” – this is where missed calls, upcoming tasks (or To-Do in the calendar), received messages are displayed, as well as the music player status (the song that's played at the moment). The various capabilities of this Active Desk can be set to serve you best. It resembles a well-personalized homescreen of a Pocket PC with Windows Mobile OS and is really useful and pleasant to use, and it saves a lot of time. Located at the bottom of the screen are the two software buttons which can also be personalized from the Settings menu.     

The main menu can be viewed as 3x4 grid of icons that can also be displayed as a list (it's chosen directly from the main menu) but the icons are not animated in both cases. The keypad buttons can be used as shortcuts – a function which is much better implemented than version 6 of the S60 interface but still a lot of things should be changed: as the menu not always holds 12 icons (they can be more or less), scrolling up/down shows you different ones that should be associated with the keypad – but they're not. If you press 3 while at the highest part of the grid, you'll select the icon located at the top right corner. But if you scroll down to reveal the other icons in this menu, pressing the 3 button will still open the afore-mentioned menu, not the one currently located at the top right of your screen; so these shortcuts only relate to the first 12 icons in a particular menu, while the rest (if there are any) remain without any shortcuts. If a button's function is dynamic and corresponds to the grid in the menu, you can click the button for a given menu without even thinking about it. Thus, you save the time you usually need to “walk around” the menus, using the joystick. 


The menu can be personalized by using themes, and if you combine various screensavers and personalized homescreens, two identical phones can look quite different. Definitely, the operating system provides many good personalization options, so it can be compared to the most advanced system, according to us – WM for Pocket PCs.

Phonebook:

The Contacts menu is almost the same as the one in the older version of the S60 interface. All the contacts are displayed as a list and if there's a picture ID, it can be seen in the top left corner of the screen as a thumbnail with a very small size (it's the same when you have an incoming call and that's why we find this feature useless) when you select the contact. If you want to search, you type in directly from the keypad and searching is done for the whole name (not only the first word), even if the name is saved in more than one field (first and last name for example). If you want to edit a contact , you can only change the already defined fields. For adding more information you need to select the Add Detail menu. When adding a new contact you are provided with the “basic” fields, but with the “Add Detail” function you have almost no restrictions on the fields and their number and you can add a lot of phone numbers.


The phone has a set of voice commands – they are speaker independent and you don't have to “train” every command, something that can save you a lot of precious time. By holding the voice key on the right side, the “recognizer” turns on and you can say a name (from the phonebook) to be dialed. Names like “Father”, “Brother”, “test”, “John” and “Neo” were no problem, but we had no success with others like “Amy” for example.

The voice-commands can activate various programs or perform different functions, like “New SMS” for example, but a list with different capabilities must be added to the menu - not all of them are added by default so that they're easier to recognize with any speaker – thus by adding only the ones you need you can achieve best possible accuracy without the annoying training – and it works, the voice commands were very accurate and we rarely experienced mistakes when launching applications.

Besides the Voice Control, the E50 can also save voice notes with the integrated Recorder, but this feature is oddly cut to maximum size of one minute (60 seconds) which is totally useless. Third party software could improve this functionality.

Organizer:

The Organizer is spread into different submenus – the calendar is one of the icons in the main menu and it can be viewed by month or week. Of course, you can easily add notes to a particular day with a few clicks; To-Do notes are also displayed on the homescreen if the corresponding option is turned on (see Interface). An alarm can be assigned to each entry in the calendar. Other options like Calculator, Notes, Converter and File Manager are located in the Office menu. Notes are just annotations with no option for adding an alarm like the To-Do notes. The Converter works with various quantities (Length, Weight, etc.) but the interface has not changed much, compared to older versions and working with various types is still inconvenient – entering different values requires a quite slow transition from one row to another, while choosing types is done from a drop-down list, which usually takes a lot of time. 

The integrated File Manager is not bad, but third party programs do much better – we would've liked it if Nokia had improved the navigation here too. Unlike the PPC phones, it does not resemble the explorer we know from PCs and working with files is not quite fast.  

The calculator has no scientific option, like the one in the 6131, which is a lower level phone. Alarms are located in a third menu – Clock. If fact, there's only one alarm, and it's set for a particular hour – Symbian S60 has no capability for duplication (unless you use 3rd party software). The World Clock is also located in this menu and you can add various cities that you like to view – that's very convenient and saves a lot of time compared to the standard way with “moving across the world map". We're glad to see the reinstalled Adobe PDF Reader and QuickOffice which also allows you to edit Word Documents.

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