Feeds

Nokia revives media phone concept with pen mini-tablet

This time, we really mean it

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Nokia has unveiled its pen-based, mini-tablet smartphone platform once again. The 7710 media phone, announced today, is the second device to feature the Series 90 software, and Nokia hopes it will fare better than the first. A phone that showcased the software, the 7700, was announced exactly a year ago, but in June the company said it was being demoted to a prototype and wouldn't be released to the general public. Series 90 marks a departure for Nokia, which has for several years maintained that one-handed phones don't need any other input method, and two-handed phones really need a full keyboard. This had been the stance since it launched the QWERTY keyboard communicator eight years ago, and neither the success of Palm, nor Sony Ericsson's P900 could convince it otherwise.

The 7710 is fundamentally similar to its predecessor, but with a slightly redesigned case and no side-talking. It too has a 640x320 screen, an MMC expansion slot and slightly more memory: 90MB. It plays "Visual Radio" and, with an add-on, DVB-H video streams. It's to launch in Asia by the end of this year, and in Europe early next.

So who'd want one?

To date no company has successfully sold such a form factor - a landscape-orientated tablet - except to niche vertical markets. Nokia's consumer marketing people are clearly more ambitious than that, and want the 7710 to be pitched as a media device. However it's an attractive device on which to view real work too, with more than 60 per cent more pixels than Nokia's revived Series 80 communicator. As the platform will run RIM, Good and Visto software and there's a GPS add-on available, there's a chance that this will be a seriously useful lightweight version of what quaintly used to be called an "information appliance" (although you only need to think about this for a second to see that the person using the box is applying the information, not the box itself - but we digress).

The most serious limitation of the 7710 has only become apparent over the past year, with the runaway success of the iPod and the imminent introduction of Microsoft's Portable Media Center devices. As a "media phone", it doesn't do media as well as these other devices. Many MP3 players are also radios (although surprisingly, not Apple's own iPod). With 8 GB MMCs now available, the day when a solid state MP3 player can be folded into the phone at very low cost is drawing near. (Don't get your hopes up for using one in a 7710: it only supports cards up to 512 MB.) Will a phone ever be a better iPod than an iPod? That's doubtful, but it might be good enough for many people, especially given the price advantage. However there's more to a comparison than simply cost or capacity. Nokia hasn't announced the pieces of the software puzzle that are necessary to make this attractive to a mass market, such as synchronization.

Nokia and enlightened operators such as Orange are well aware, and have been for several years, that for appliances such as the media phone to become a truly essential part of people's lives, the fix required isn't technical, but industry politics. ®

Related Stories

Nokia to bring Good push email to business phones
Qualcomm builds video network
Psion mourners see hope in shrunken Communicator
Nokia's new Communicator - who needs it?
PalmSource looks beyond the phone to tablets, players and tools
Nokia's 7700 media device - first shot in the PDA wars?

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Same old iPad? NO. The new 'soft SIMs' are BIG NEWS
AppleSIM 'ware to allow quick switch of carriers
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Brits: Google, can you scrape 60k pages from web, pleeease
Hey, c'mon Choc Factory, it's our 'right to be forgotten'
Of COURSE Stephen Elop's to blame for Nokia woes, says author
'Google did have some unique propositions for Nokia'
It's even GRIMMER up North after MEGA SKY BROADBAND OUTAGE
By 'eck! Eccles cake production thrown into jeopardy
Mobile coverage on trains really is pants
You thought it was just *insert your provider here*, but now we have numbers
Don't mess with Texas ('cos it's getting Google Fiber and you're not)
A bit late, but company says 1Gbps Austin network almost ready to compete with AT&T
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.