Nokia N800 internet tablet
It's a phone... but not as we know it...
Review The original Nokia tablet, the N770, was something of a departure for the Finnish phone maker: here was a device without cellular connectivity, running a Linux-based OS, and generally unlike anything Nokia had produced before. So here we have an updated version, the N800. But is it a phone or not, that is the question?
The N770 was widely considered an aberration: a skunkworks - officially non-existent - project that had reached fruition and might provide an interesting platform for development or demonstration. Some technical staff convinced their bosses to buy them an N770 on that basis, and some bought one for themselves, but sales were minimal and the whole thing generally had nothing to do with the mobile phone business.
The N800 still feels like a skunkworks project: it lacks the finesse of a typical Nokia product in both usability and stability, and it's unclear quite who the product is being aimed at. But it does offer some real new usage models and a glimpse to a future where handset manufacturers are no longer beholden to network operators to get their products to consumers.
Larger than all but the most unwieldy mobile phones, the front of the N800 is filled with an exceptionally clear screen, offering 800 x 480 resolution. The screen is touch-sensitive, usable with a finger, but easier with the stylus that slides out from the back of the device. The screen lacks the surface film visible on most touch-screen devices - and thus the reflection that goes with it, making N800 clearer and brighter than similar devices.
The interface is driven from a Home screen comprised of applets that can display data as well as providing shortcuts to applications. Examples include an RSS display, an internet radio player, a contacts list and a clock. Clearly Nokia is hoping that third-party developers will create new applets, as well as other applications for the platform. Installation of additional applications is automated, and though there is currently only one available - a streaming media client, which works well - the process is simple and intuitive. Installed applications can be accessed through the menu system, using either on-screen controls or buttons.
Your review wasn't so bad, once I had read the whole thing, but the first page had me incensed. Is it a phone or not!?! Bloody hell, just because it's a Nokia product doesn't mean that the issue of a phone ever has to come up!
It's not a phone, it was never meant to be a phone, and nobody who's looking for a small but not miniscule internet tablet for browsing and handling e-mail while traveling would ever need it to be a phone. My tiny cell phone works just fine for phone calls, but I would never use that damn small screen for either internet browsing or e-mail. (Yes, I'm over fifty, so what?)
To get back to the point, it's called an internet tablet for a reason. It's aimed at people who travel a lot but don't necessarily need their laptop with them. I want to be able to browse and check my e-mail, but that's about it. I need a reliable connection, and my cell phone with bluetooth provides that, because I am often in places with cell phone coverage but not broadband. I also need a larger, more crisp screen than I get on my cell phone. I am a developer, so a platform that I can develop on, that doesn't make Bill Gates any richer and that doesn't devote more than half its cost to the OS is fine with me. Finally, I need a little speed, and enough memory to handle large numbers of e-mail messages and rss feeds. The Nokia has all these things. (And by the way, did you notice that the N800 has TWO slots for memory cards, not one?)
So stop trying to treat it like a phone. Cell phones as now configured will soon be obsolete anyway, when people figure out that they can carry their computer in their pocket or purse, and talk on the "phone" as much as they want on their bluetooth headset.
I hope that when Nokia comes out with the next product in this line, you won't still be trying to compare it to a cell phone. I also hope that you'll check around before you call this line unreliable. I've been trying mine out for weeks now, and it's never crashed.
Here's a video of it that I found http://www.personalumpc.com/nokia-n800/
The reviewer responds
I did like the N800, and had one with me 24 hours a day for a week. I wasn't able to test every aspect of it; it's a very capable platform which can do a whole lot of things.
We spend quite a bit of time judging the appropriate length of reviews, and perhaps this one was a little too short to include everything the device could do. I hoped I had mentioned that the screen is top; really clear and high resolution. I've used the web on hundreds of different mobile devices, and this was certainly the best experience, though the competition wasn't always up to much.
I certainly should have mentioned that the device comes with a free month's use of The Cloud and it's those hot spots I was connecting to around London.
Paul is right though: I couldn't find the right audience for the N800, if it came across that I struggled to understand what this device would replace or what problem it solves then that's as it should be. It's fun, I liked it, but I don't really understand what it's for.
re: Hotspots in London?
It would be nice if there were some free hotspots about the place. There are quite a few pay hotspots here in Glasgow, the only free one I can think of in the city centre is in the public library. Even the ones in the dreaded franchise coffee places are all £5 for 10 minute jobbies - that's no good to me.
It seems like pure greed to me to charge someone so much for something that costs so little. I'm astonished how many people are prepared to pay for the "convenience" of using a public wifi hotspot
Handheld Linux Multimedia Computer
The perfect UMPC replacement. The e-mail client supports multiple accounts but not multiple inboxes. Otherwise, this device stands above almost all other mobile gadgets. Pair it with a bluetooth phone and build on Linux instead of a weak, proprietary phone operating system. My Nokia smartphones crash but this Maemo device never has more than an application glitch. Would be nice to see a port of Firefox and Thunderbird but it's hard to see how even the iPhone or any phone will provide a higher resolution internet browsing experience than this device. Still difficult to find in the shops, though.