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Reviewers converge on new Nokia Internet tablet

Jan 31, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

The reviews are streaming are in. Three weeks after shipping, Nokia's second generation Linux-based Internet tablet, the N800, is being characterized as a flawed jewel by dozens of reviews in publications as diverse as BusinessWeek, OSNews, and MobileBurn.

The N800 shipped Jan. 6 without a peep — let alone a press release — from Nokia. Nonetheless, the device seems to be attracting more interest, at least from the fourth estate, than did the arguably more revolutionary 770 Internet tablet from which it evolved.

Perhaps the N800 owes a debt gratitude to Microsoft, for launching its high-profile “Origami” and “Ultra Mobile PC” (UMPC) efforts last spring. Or, perhaps the rise of VoIP and Skype, and increasingly ubiquitous WiFi access, have simply added appeal. Regardless, interest in the tiny 'Net tablets appears to be converging from all quarters, including business, computing, and mobile phone journalists and bloggers.


BusinessWeek devotes more than 1,000 words to the device, but only three stars (out of five). Yet, reviewer Olga Kharif's tone is praising, by and large, but for obvious bitterness over Bluetooth incompatibility with her particular Razr phone (the N800 works with some Razrs, Nokia reportedly said).

Kharif's review is part of a series devoted to UMPCs, among which she classifies the N800 as being “at the smaller and less expensive end.” In terms of Web access, though, she mainly compares the device to available mobile phones, concluding that the N800 is quite a bit better “for now.”

Kharif reports being “thrown” at first by the N800's non-Windows interface, but says she mastered the device's complex capabilities quickly. She praises the level of application integration and polish, writing, “All of the applications boast thoughtful details that make using them a pleasure, and a superior experience to what's available on mainstream computers.” That certainly reflects well upon Nokia, as well as on Linux and its open source software community.

Kharif's quibbles include poor handwriting recognition — atoned for by a great keyboard — a small screen and, amazingly, poor battery life. Perhaps she left the LCD on full brightness the whole time.

“The N800 is a feature-packed and mostly easy-to-use device,” Kharif ultimately concludes. Her review is here.


OSNews reviewer Eugenia Loli-Queru, meanwhile, imparts her characteristic level of expert detail in crafting a densely rich, specification-heavy paean to the device. Loli-Queru leaves no angle unmeasured, judging details as seeming trivial — yet all-important — as how comfortable the stylus is to hold.

Overall, Loli-Queru calls the N800 an evolutionary rather than revolutionary upgrade to the first-generation 770. Amazingly, the screen has improved, she says. She joins the chorus of reviewers praising the N800's built-in kickstand. And, she likes the device's greater power, storage card format support, exceptional WiFi sensitivity and range, wide dynamic headroom with headphones, polyglottal interface capabilities, and clever touch-activated finger keyboard.

Loli-Queru deems battery life “pretty good,” estimating 10 days of standby time, or five with WiFi enabled (for example, to receive VoIP calls). She reckons that five days on standby could be an all-time record for a WiFi device (she would know, if anyone would), deeming it “better than the second best such device, the Nokia E61.”

On the downside, the N800 lacks a hardware suspend switch, won't recharge via USB, lacks support for several somewhat esoteric Bluetooth profiles, lacks the CPU oomph for YouTubing, has fewer community-contributed apps (for now) than the 770, can't playback MP4-Basic videos such as those taken by mobile phones, and has a poorly located webcam.

Still, she concludes, “Get the N800 if you can, and only opt for the N770 if you find it in a very low price.” She rates the device eight out of ten stars.

Her review is here.

Other reviews

Two additional reviews seem worth noting, particularly for their completeness and earnestness. The first comprises a 7,000-word series of MobileBurn forum postings, many bearing with screenshots and photos, here. Ironically, the review — by user “Jose_R.A.M.” — entitles the opus “First Impressions” of the N800. The review lives here.

The other appears to be a potentially fascinating dissection of the N800's user interface by a self-described “Newton developer.” Also better than 7,500 words, this epic might interest developers working on user interfaces for small devices. It can be found here.

Additional details about the N800 can be found in our earlier coverage, here.

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