Nokia N800 Review

N800I have one of those new Nokia N800 Internet Tablet, as many of you know I was one of the first to buy its predecessor, the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet. What do I think? Well I have put of writing this for 4 days, as I wanted to really test it out. Before I start, I should say I was part of the Nokia Developer Device program, and I got the Nokia N800 at a big discount, €300 off the €399 retail price in fact. Under headings below I will take about the N800, and compare it to the 770:

Battery Life:
This sees an improvement in the N800 alright, as it is meant for standby. The N770 hadn’t got great battery life really at all, so it seems Nokia payed more attention to the fact it is a communications device, and like phones it needs the juice for use! I guess part of this is that they cut out lots of unesscessary stuff from the Linux kernels boot up, as the device also boots way faster, and has more of a touch a button and your in business type-of-feel.

Ergonomics & Design:
This is a dissapointment on the N800. It looks nice, all the buttons on the front are okay, but the ones on top are disastrous. I bet a marketing person, or a designer who knows nothing (but should) about ergonomics got a hold of it. It feels like buttons on a phone at the top of the N800, hunched together as they have no room. I wouldn’t complain if I didn’t use these so often, but they are used by almost every program you want to use on the N800! The N770 had much better idea, spaced out the Zoom (+ & -), fullscreen (on/off) and the power button.

Still relatively the same as the N770, yet Nokia have modified software so that it will accept Bluetooth keyboards, headsets(? Haven’t tried) and other devices officially through the control panel on the device. This marks a push by Nokia to sell all of these when you are buying the N800, which is an improvement in my eyes.

Big improvement here, the N800 not only accepts paltry RS-MMC cards, but SD amongst others. Not only that but the device has two memory card slots, each capable of 2GB cards. The N770 recieved critiscism for using a format not widely in distribution (RS-MMC), so they listened to what the feedback was. Now its a snap for me to swap in my camera’s SD card and look at those photos on the move!

Also a huge improvement. The N800 comes with 128mb RAM, and it shows. Since I have hNokia N800 with
Headphonesad the device, I had as much as ten windows open (Browser, RSS Reader, Maemo Mapper, Media Streamer etc) and it ran like as smooth as any device I have ever used. I guess they are really optimising the software for the platform, which shows, like in the boot time above. The N770 had 64mb, a slower processor and you felt it. It did what it was supposed to, but under 4-5 windows it would screech to a halt, not good for a tablet. You had to resort to memory swapping applications (basically using the memory card as RAM).

Web Browsing & Messaging:
Web Browsing seems the same as the N770, it mighty be faster, but that could be due to RAM. A huge dissapointment is no Flash 9, which means no Youtube or other flash content. Did I mention this is a huge mistake? People who buy these devices expect their favourite websites to just work, so a big thumbs down on that front, but hopefully it will be fixed. Messaging is superb on the N800, and its touchscreen thumb keyboard is a joy to use. I feel I could type faster on it given enough time compared to a real keyboard, so this is definately good. I am a big fan of Google Talk and open standards jabber, so I love the voice calling part of it. It seems crisp, clear and almost as good as normal phone. I have tried a video call, and well it is not as good as I expected. The camera doesn’t seem good quality, but it serves ita purpose. I tried Nokia Video call feature, and well it was also not good. It dropped voice, video was grainy and the software not on the N800 was for PC only, not Linux or Mac. I guess this is because Nokia don’t own a messaging service, but I have one piece of advice: don’t bother. Better leave the messaging to people in the know, like Skype. Although Skype is against everything I believe in (open standards) its inclusion in the N800 gives better choice, and should be welcomed.

Personal Information Management:
A big let down I am afraid. Being a Mac user, I expect seamless integration of contacts and syncing. Maybe Nokia’s PC suite works with the N800, I have’t tried. But that said, why doesn’t it sync with my Nokia 6234 phone? With GoogleTalk set to include SIP calling, and Skype has SkypeOut, I need an easy way to reach all my numbers, to avoid my mobile phone networks high prices! I don’t think they worked on PIM features since the 770, and it shows. This is fundamental to a communications device!

Overall, the N800 is a nice device and a definate improvement on the 770, but I have a few software and device design issues. I understand their is limitations in price (what market will accept) and that maybe Nokia were on a deadline, release something after Christmas to boost sales which I imagine level off. That said the N800 is not a PDA, or a phone, so what is it? A tiny laptop? This one I think even confuses Nokia, but I like it. It makes the Internet Tablet range stand out, and they mean different things to different people. I give it 7.5/10 which can rise to a nine if Nokia fix some issues!

Read another great review by Luis Villa on Planet Gnome.