Wi-Fi is certainly the preferred connection mechanism for the device, which will happily connect to a network, download RSS feeds and email, and disconnect, all without the user being aware. Indeed, whilst wandering around London with the N800 in my pocket it had been downloading up-to-date information without my knowledge. In a mobile phone such behaviour would be annoying, as it would probably incur network charges, but on a Wi-Fi tablet it was pleasant to have this information close to hand when I wanted it, without having to think about when to connect or where.
The Wi-Fi capability of the N800 was generally impressive; it managed to find access points that were too distant for my (much larger) laptop. However, while it was frequently able to connect to hotspots with weak signals it would equally often refuse to connect to hotspots with good signals.
Reliability is a serious problem for the N800, and would certainly test the patience of most users. The device crashed on a daily basis, especially if disconnected from a Wi-Fi connection while downloading data, something more likely with a device of this kind. While no data was ever lost, the N800 did sometimes require removal of the battery to get started again. When it didn't crash the battery life was impressive: happily staying on standby - still regularly trying to connect and update over Wi-Fi - for days and allowing hours of usage without a problem.
Maintaining a connection in order to receive calls will seriously reduce the battery life and make wandering around impossible, but that must be weighed against the cost saving of not having a mobile phone. The fact that capabilities such as Skype are coming later is indicative of how Nokia sees the device; users are expected to add new software, and update what they have, so stability and functionality should improve over time.
Nokia N800 internet tablet
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.