Nokia 3210

When I worked in LA a few years ago I was V.P. of a Wilshire Boulevard public relations and marketing firm. Along with the position came the hardware so others could remain in touch with me. Regrettably I had a text capable pager and mobile phone.

I absolutely hated being accessible at all times and much to the chagrin and heated reprimands of my boss I left my pager in the dark confines of my desk drawer, unopened in its original box. My mobile was eternally plugged into my car cigarette lighter.

But not being able to stop the future and seeing that keeping in touch is where it’s at in Europe, I have cast aside my old inhibitions and am setting out to find the perfect handy to drag me into the new millennium and beyond. The first mobile under the microscope is the 3210; Nokia’s latest feature-filled mid-level entrant to its vast and expanding stable of wireless gadgets.

Two things about the 3210 that caught my attention right from the start are its lightweight (151 grams) and the fact that its integrated antenna makes it much easier to carry. So much so that I was even stashing the phone in the front pocket of my Levi’s with having only a slightly bigger bulge than normal (ah, the side benefits of owning a mobile).

The overall size is a compact 124x51x21mm with the case flaring out a bit above the keypad to accept the easy-to-read monochrome display screen. The operating menu can be displayed in a host of languages including Czech, English, German, French, Polish, and Slovak, Russian and even Hungarian.

Depending upon your SIM card, the phone can hold up 250 names with numbers and searching can be done by inputting the name via the keypad with the phone pulling up the name and number even after the partial name has been written into the “Search” screen function. The keypad was easy to manipulate while sober or drunk because the push buttons, while flush against the case, are nice, fat and brightly illuminated.

In noisy restaurants and bars I had no problem recognizing the distinct ring of my phone because, and hard to believe, it seems nobody except me has chosen “Brave Scotland” as the ringer for their mobile. There are an additional 39 pre-programmed tunes on offer, and budding Beethoven’s can even compose their own original melody.

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Calls can be automatically diverted to another number either whilst the phone is on but without having it ring, when you are talking, when a call goes unanswered or when the phone is off or there is no coverage. Fairly long text messages can be sent or received with ease. The 3210 also has the feature of sending one of three built-in “pictures” that are really more of interest to my 14 year-old cousin Sarah: a heart with wings, two stick figures frozen in dance motion or a celebratory birthday cake complete with burning candles.

This is one function that already needs a serious upgrade, something that Peter Hosek, Nokia’s Prague-based product manager, says is on the way. “Club Nokia will soon be available via Nokia’s Czech website (www. nokia. cz),” said Hosek. “From this website members will be able to choose from a host of images and download one directly into their mobile. “

The call register handles your missed calls, received calls and dialed numbers. Within this feature you can also see a call’s duration and how much it cost you. Other less important standard features in the 3210 are a clock, calculator, an alarm and three games. Of the games I found “Rotation” to kick my ass the most often.

Nokia is proud of the 3210’s long-lasting battery, and well they should be as it had plenty of power (for you technoheads it’s their 1250NiMh with prismatic technology). Depending upon how much of a chatterbox you are, the phone can go for up to three days without a recharge. I found this to be a great feature especially while I was on the road and did not have to worry about my mobile being DOA.

Nokia’s 3210 is also dual band capable with even the frequency transferring automatically from system to system if this is something offered by your chosen service provider. “Imagine that you are traveling in Germany,” explained Hosek. “If you have your mobile set up to automatically switch between the 900 or 1800 systems, the phone will do the switching for you to provide the best available service without you even noticing it. ” This is really one feature that will become more important as the mobile phone infrastructure and choice of providers expands in the Czech Republic, but why not be ready for it now?

About the biggest drawback about the 3210 was that when I went into this mobile’s nine internal features (phone book, for example) and was given an up and down list on the screen for Search, Add Entry, Erase, Edit, Tone, Send Entry, Speed Dials, etc. , upon pushing the up/down button to get to the Add Entry function, the phone would automatically jump to the very last item on the list. Trust me, if you are in a hurry or doing a couple of things at once while on the 3210, it’s very frustrating to have to click your way through the myriad of choices to find the one you originally wanted.

Overall I was most impressed with the 3210’s compact size, its power and the lightweight. Although Nokia’s 3210 lacks fax and Internet accessibility, you are able to send and receive quite lengthy text messages. For those looking to upgrade from their ancient and clunky Ericsson, or if you are looking to join the wireless ranks with a feature-packed, solid, powerful and technologically sophisticated wireless phone in the upper end of the mid-level category, at under Kc 9,000 the Nokia 3210 is worth a serious look.