Editor's Note: This article has been clarified to indicate the handwriting recognition capability of the Nokia tablet device.

File this article under "interesting, but questionable." Today, giant mobile phone manufacturer Nokia (NYSE:NOK) launched a $350 tablet device that can be used for Internet surfing, checking e-mail, limited music listening, and all sorts of other fun stuff -- except phone calls. (For those who are curious to see the full technical details on the device, check Nokia's website.)

The Nokia tablet has almost all the requisite features you'd expect from a device geared toward Web surfing and e-mail checking. I say almost all because an easy way to input text is noticeably lacking, and you'll probably want to do that eventually. Nokia's tablet has an on-screen keyboard that you can tap away at with a stylus, and handwriting recognition, but no tiny thumb-keyboard like you'll find on a palmOne (NASDAQ:PLMO) Treo or a Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry.

As you can probably tell, I'm not wild on this device from a technical perspective, but I will give Nokia a little rule-breaker credit. While Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and a handful of PC manufactures have been half-heartedly pushing tablets for well over a year now, those devices were essentially full-blown laptops with screens that swivel, handwriting recognition, and a new operating system. They're also not cheap or really all that different from a laptop.

To date, no one has attempted to push a scaled-down tablet device to supplement a PC instead of replacing it. I might be wrong, but I think there's a good reason for that. Laptops have become cheap. A stripped-down laptop from Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) isn't that much more expensive when you compare the flexibility it offers over Nokia's tablet device.

This is where Nokia kills me as an investor. For reasons that elude me, Nokia keeps trying to find another niche outside of its very profitable core handset business. The most notable attempt being the hybrid phone/gaming device dubbed the N-Gage, which is a catchy name, but still failed to draw people away from their Nintendo (NASDAQ:NTDOY) Game Boys and Sony (NYSE:SNE) Play Station Portables.

If I were a Nokia shareholder, I'd be scratching my head at these attempts. Yes, the line between computer, phone, PDA, and to a certain extent, MP3 player, continues to get more and more blurred, and that's a good thing. However, this tablet seems like a step backward. If you have a laptop and a phone, it offers nothing you can't do already.

For more on Nokia give the following articles a buzz:

Nathan Parmelee has no financial interest in any of the companies mentioned.