I 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:
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 had 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.
Well as I write this it is a few days after Vista’s launch, and it has yet to set the software market alight. But this is nothing new, it happend with XP. How do you convince people the latest and greatest is worth the money? Microsoft is in a tough position due to stiff competition - old, working, fully-compatible windows machines don’t disappear into thin air. There has been a lot more FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt)abput Vista already from the Free and Open Source camp. Some of the harsh critiscims will be justified, others probably not. Regardless this will not hurt Microsofts marketing whatsoever, the average user doesn’t share concerns over digital restriction/rights management - yet. Microsoft say it will be on 100m PC’s by years end. I don’t think it will be as fast as Microsoft would like, due to: 1) People wait for service packs. 2) People don’t upgrade PC’s as fast now. Most things people identify their computer with is increasingly online, a worrying trend if I were Microsoft, this creates platform independence for the average user, granted not the gamers, or other highly specialised software vendors.
Ubuntu/Debian are working on a Windows installer. This is great news which I welcome 100%. I think Ubuntu could eclipse Firefox as the Free/Open Source poster child if it plays it’s hand correctly. Top of the list would be the best migration of settings from Windows possible- Language, Keyboard, Preferences, Address Book etc. Make this as seamless and as thoughtless as changing from Internet Explorer to Firefox, and it is nothing surer to be a huge way of increasing Linux installs. Picture this: no CD-Recordables to be burnt, no settings to set, 10 minute .exe click install just like any Windows application and you will see what I mean. Add to that no partitioning (Ubuntu uses a disk image in Windows), no modification of Windows file and an Add/Remove option to get rid of it, and instantaneously you see the appeal, I cannot wait for this project to be mature, and heres hoping Ubuntu use it for mass distribution. It can instantly be that cure all for viruses, spyware etc. we have all come to accept on the windows platform, but why?
I am embarking on a journey I believe everyone should: digitise as much photo, video and documents you can. It serves as a record of your existance, a guide to people of what your life was like. Why? is the most obvious question you might ask. Well I will tell you what prompted me, which is the culmination of a lot of different things.
This brings me to the first reason: Television. I find shows fascinating where people discover their ancestors were orphans, incredibly wealthy or died from exhaustion in a mine. It really makes you think what makes you the person you are, so to speak. David Attenborough says (although I have paraphrased) that if people look back at his 100-150 hours of television, they will get a snapshot of what the glaciers, mountains, desert and animals were like in the latter half of the twentieth century, not a complete picture, but one nonetheless of what Earth was like at that time.
If not for other people, do it for yourself is another reason. Memories are their to cherish and recall. As I try to quantify the future I feel that if I have any childeren, it will be incredibly weird they have been missing a whole segment of my life. But no better time has existed to preserve these memories, in an age where digital devices are commonplace and cheap. They also are disposable though, so I will have to be careful to keep my data in a medium that can be read, a challenge in itself. But I believe I am up to it, and I hope to have every photo, video and document I have in a digital format sometime in the near future.
BBC are putting together a Mac, Windows and Linux user, to debate the pros and cons of being a users for each operating system. While this in itself is good news (more airtime for alternatives), most of the comments are highly in favour of Linux, then Mac and lastly Windows. This is part of the BBC’s coverage of Windows Vista. My hope for the future is that Mac and Linux gain at least 10% each (20% total) over the next 5 years of the home desktop market, as this will push innovation forward, like AMD and Intel competition.
I am selling my first item on auction giant Ebay, my Nokia 770 Internet Tablet. It has served me well, but I recently got a mail the other day that prompted me to sell my 770. It was Nokia: they informed me since I was one of the first to purchase the 770 and I was an influential blogger, they are giving me a lot of money off, and are going to let me have the n800 for a token sum. Hopefully the auction will go well, I will get the n800 and have a bit of cash to spare. Not bad as one might say!
Just a quick blurb about some things Microsoft like to say: Don’t believe it, well at least not it all anyway. On the Irish “Get the Facts” page (on Windows Server vs. Linux), they make critical errors of judgement a person reasonably well versed in computing could deconstruct. First of all, Linux isn’t a server, its a kernel, like the Windows kernel. So comparing “Windows Server 2003” to “Linux” is misleading to say the least, and stupid to say the most. You could run any server software on Linux you wished, even Windows Server 2003 if Microsoft ported it! For the sake of argument, I think they are comparing themselves to Apache, which runs 60% of worldwide servers.
It gets better though! They use Case Studies to show companies who have switched. Now what they forget to mention, out of the case studies is that some of the companies still use and sell Linux solutions to customers (like Rackspace and GoDaddy)! It took me <15 seconds to search for these companies on Google and find that out. Please Microsoft, save some face and release actual independent verifiable data. Fact is I would not buy off a company who can’t even defend and sell its products properly.
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