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Nokia Takes Third Swing at Internet Tablet 275

Posted by Zonk
from the it-dices-it-slices-look-at-that-tomato dept.
DeviceGuru writes "It looks like Nokia is intent on scoring success with a Linux-powered Internet tablet. The company has unveiled the N810, its third attempt at hitting a home run with the concept. The new model adds a slide-out hardware keyboard, and also a built-in GPS receiver and FM transmitter (for in-car listening), among a number of other enhancements (such as a faster CPU and more memory). At this point, the device is positioned as an email and browsing tool, a social networking aid, a GPS, a VoIP phone, and a multimedia player (and streamer, thanks to built-in WiFi). Will this prove any more successful than the two previous iterations of this offering?"
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Nokia Takes Third Swing at Internet Tablet

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  • Re:Simple Question (Score:3, Informative)

    by Wordplay (54438) <geo@snarksoft.com> on Thursday October 18, 2007 @02:49PM (#21029335)
    Unless it's radically changed from the N800, it has slots for 2 more SD cards. 256MB is pretty much the minimum to run the system, but you'll slap a 1GB+ card in it as soon as you buy it, and configure the onboard to be swap instead.
  • by DingerX (847589) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @03:00PM (#21029527) Journal
    I have an n800, and I'll speak to its attractions:

    It's not about web browsing while traveling. Sure, it does come in handy there (or any number of places around the house).
    It's not about a lot of things.

    At home, I have more Core 2 Duo with two big LCD screens and all kinds of fun and power. At work, I have a desktop computer that gets the job done. But these are all computers where you have to be seated, paying attention to the device. Even laptops are that way: they're designed for you to be sitting in front of them, looking at the screen.

    There's plenty of things I do that involve using a computer, but in a secondary way:
    VoIP is one. If I can hook up a headset and drop the unit in my pocket (something the 810 will be better at), that's far better than sitting in front of the computer to take calls, and it's cheaper than a cellphone.
    Another is when I'm working with other people on a project. It's useful to have the internet, and a host of stored documents, on hand. If I want to show someone something, I hand them the tablet.
    Or yeah, checking slashdot from bed helps.
    GPS and the internet in a portable package means I can download Google Maps and Google Satellite tiles, and, when I'm out hiking, call up a satellite photograph of the area, which provides far more information than a standard GPS navigation unit.
    For me, the 800 and a keyboard is a good laptop replacement. When I'm traveling, most of my tasks don't require more of a computer now than what I had ten years ago. My last laptop weighed over 10 pounds (with power brick), so every time I go on the road, I am a happy man.

    And the 810 supports a bunch of video formats on that 800x480 screen, so I'm sure it's a great porn device as well.
  • by Thomasje (709120) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @03:01PM (#21029549)

    I love the concept -- being able to surf the web while lying on the couch is really awkward with a laptop, and much nicer with a little tablet. Also, it's nice to take along and use at WiFi hotspots in airports and whatnot.

    However, I soured on the N770 pretty quickly because it would crash all the time. The thing may run Linux, but it's a stripped-down version, with a completely new user interface, and thus there is plenty of room for Nokia to introduce bugs. I downloaded their system software update, but the crashes kept on coming. I'd say I had at least one crash a day; about half my sessions would end with a crash instead of a normal shutdown. In the end, I got so frustrated I threw it in the trash. I couldn't even in good conscience sell the thing on eBay.

    I still like the concept, and I specifically do not consider the iPhone an alternative because I don't want a cell phone, but Nokia isn't getting any more of my money unless these later tablets (N800 and N810) are much better in the stability department.

  • Re:Best Spin Ever (Score:5, Informative)

    by dougr650 (1115217) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @03:06PM (#21029633)
    Unfortunately, that's not just spin you're noticing there, it's a pervasive marketing gimmick in the consumer electronics world. It's a widely-held belief (regretfully based on factual sales data) that "perceived value" increases with the weight and size of virtually any piece of consumer technology. If it's tiny and light, most people think they're paying too much for it, never mind that you can get more use out of things that are tiny and light and it's much more costly to produce such items. If you open up just about any DVD player or other device from certain companies that subscribe to this belief (hello Philips, I'm talking to you!), you'll often find a thick, heavy metal plate that serves no function other than to add mass, which magically transforms into a psychological notion of value and supports a wider profit margin.
  • Re:Simple Question (Score:4, Informative)

    by DingerX (847589) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @03:06PM (#21029651) Journal
    That's 256MB of "Application Memory". The N810 comes with 2MB of storage flash onboard, and a miniSD slot. (The N800 had no onboard flash -- no GPS = no Maps to preload, and two full SD slots) That means that you can put up to 256 MB of (mostly aptget repositoried) programs on there; anything more requires a little modification (you know, it's an open Linux device, so you can run the OS off the MMC, it just takes some doing).

    iPhone/iPod Touch have similar application memory quantities.
  • Re:Simple Question (Score:3, Informative)

    by fr4nk (1077037) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @03:13PM (#21029757)
    Unfortunately, they changed the two SDHC-Slots to a single miniSD slot. It has 2GB of internal flash, though.
  • by WebCowboy (196209) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @03:14PM (#21029769)
    Get an iPhone, people.

    An iPhone to me is as good as a paperweight, as I am not an American nor does AT&T offer its service to Canadians. In order for it to even function at all I would need to subscribe to Rogers wireless (the only service in the country with an iPhone-compatible network) then hack the iPhone to get *most* of the functionality--the kind of thing Apple likes to litigate over.

    I already HAVE a phone and don't WANT another phone. I don't need a fancy GPS and don't want one. I don't really care if someone thinks I "look like a clown" if I can actually visit web pages and SEE them properly (not on some tiny low-res screen). It isn't supposed to replace a phone and a phone will never replace what it does.

    And you also seem to mention that it runs Linux as if that is a bad thing. Who cares if it is Linux? My girlfriend's cellphone is Linux powered and she doesn't even care and didn't even know it was until I told her. what matters more is how it acutally functions, and the iPhone seems to be much more about form than function (it has not buttons with tactile feedback, is locked into one carrier's system, severely restricts third-party apps, is over-priced...not much that seems appealing to me).

    There is no way this device will sell as big as a popular cellphone because it isn't filling that need. There is a substantial-enough market, however, for a device equipped with a REAL browser and readable display and a vendor that isn't a control freak. Users from warehouse order selectors and couriers to gadget-crazy hobbyists and hackers could appreciate this thing.
  • by iserlohn (49556) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @03:31PM (#21030075) Homepage
    Um.. the specs say that the N810 has a TI OMAP 2420 at 400mhz as compared to the slower 330mhz cpu on the N800.. So it's the same CPU, but clocked faster.

    http://www.nseries.com/nseries/v3/media/sections/products/tech_specs/en-R1/tech_specs_n810_en_R1.html [nseries.com]

  • Re:My prediction (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sparr0 (451780) <sparr0@gmail.com> on Thursday October 18, 2007 @04:05PM (#21030607) Homepage Journal
    Until there is a UPnP media player for the iPod, so that I can listen to my 500GB+ of music from anywhere near my house, the n800 is a superior music device. Just stick a 4GB SD card in it and its got as much storage as the smaller iPod touch, or you can do two 8GB cards if you're crazy for on the go music.
  • Re:Simple Question (Score:5, Informative)

    by Richard Steiner (1585) <rsteiner@visi.com> on Thursday October 18, 2007 @04:10PM (#21030695) Homepage Journal

    Right now it takes too much fiddling to make it work really well.

    I installed Gaim on my wife's 770 (which came bundled with OS2006), and she's been off and running with the thing for the past three months. She doesn't even know or care how to install software on it, but it works well for her. Chatting with a stylus isn't as nice as with a keyboard, but it beats the heck out of having no IM access at all in many situations.

    Me, I fiddled more. :-) I think it's fun running Firefox on my Warp 4 box via VNC from my web tablet while sitting in my living room. :-)

    People don't want to fiddle with a product. They want it to just work.

    These tablets don't need that much fiddling to be useful. My wife is happy with the bundled Opera browser in hers. I've installed a few more out of curiousity (Minimo 0.2, MicroB, and Links 1.x), but still use Opera for most stuff as well. It isn't bad, and it's lightweight.

  • Re:My prediction (Score:3, Informative)

    by sootman (158191) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @04:15PM (#21030797) Homepage Journal
    Two little things--

    1) check the link in my .sig for a possible streaming solution. (Actually, in case someone reads this in the future and I change my .sig, here it is: http://pixelcity.com/iphone-streaming-music/ [pixelcity.com] ) Not sure what your UPnP requirement is, but if you want to listen to music outside your house (i.e., outside your network), all you need to do is open port 80. It's not a perfect solution--believe me, I'd *love* to have a native music player that let me listen to playlists, etc., rather clicking on one song at a time*--but it comes in handy for me when I feel like listening to a song I don't have on my iPod. (Now that I have that system, I actually have very little music on my phone--I use what little space I have for movies.)

    2) Actaully, the iPod touch comes in 8 and 16 GB flavors. It's the iPhone that is (was) 4 GB and 8 GB.

    * limited playlist support coming in November, thanks to an incredibly crude workaround I thought of. :-)
  • Re:Simple Question (Score:3, Informative)

    by megabyte405 (608258) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @04:16PM (#21030813)
    Actually, the 256 is for root - same as the N800. It also comes with an "integrated memory card" (2gb, non-removable), so it's actually like 2gb storage, which is way more than the N800, from the factory, at least. N800 takes two full-size SDHC (up to 8gb each), N810 takes one MiniSD HC
  • Re:Hiking and Wi-Fi (Score:3, Informative)

    by DingerX (847589) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @04:43PM (#21031285) Journal
    Maemomapper lets you preload entire geographic sections from your favorite online map repositories; someone even slapped together a windows tool to grab tiles and dump them onto an SD card. So you don't need to be connected to the net while hiking, and you can download max resolution for an entire country if need be.
  • by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Thursday October 18, 2007 @04:44PM (#21031287) Homepage
    It's not a cellphone and it isn't tied to being your cellphone. It's an Internet tablet. If you want to use the Internet over your cellphone, great! Just pair with your cellphone's bluetooth and use it as a modem.

  • by jilles (20976) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @04:46PM (#21031325) Homepage
    It used to be that whenever somebody posted something about a device to slashdot people would jokingly ask if it ran linux. Well, the N770 and N800 were a huge hit with that type of people and the N810 is a very nice upgrade for them. It basically builds on what made those devices so popular in the first place. It's the ultimate hackable linux mobile device. It ships with a big enough touch screen, slidable keyboard, GPS and plenty of juice to run a very wide and growing variety of linux software.

    I work at Nokia and although I cannot speak on behalf of my employer (i.e. disclaimer applies) I can say that n770 and n800 have been a huge success in the market. These devices have literally been flying from the shelves since we started shipping them. The thing went absolutely viral despite us not spending that much effort on marketing them initially. The people buying these devices are a mixed bag of people but a substantial amount of them appear to be linux enthusiasts who get from Nokia something that they cannot really get from anyone else currently: a hackable, mobile linux based device with a well supported and really broad development community. Sure there's lots of other mobile linux devices on the market but they pretty much all suck because they've been locked down or because they are unstable or because they have very mediocre hardware. This sounds like it is a handful of people but actually world wide we are talking about a quite large group of people.

    For example I interact a lot with researchers in the academic world and for them this series of internet tablets is hugely popular due to fact that it so damn easy for them to implement their research prototypes on them (e.g. ubiquitous computing related research). They're ordering them by the dozens. Of course there are also lots of people who are just pretty happy with the included features and don't actually bother to install extra software. And of course, with the right applications installed, it's also a pretty good enterprise device. Installing those is easy, just use apt-get install or the nice packagemanager or just click on the package in the browser.

    As for quality and battery life. I've been using this N800 for several months now. If you use it non stop, it will last you only 4 hours or so. On the other hand unless you use it to watch a movie, you are more likely to just occasionally use it for a few minutes at the time. In that case it can actually last a few days easily. For example, I routinely leave the device on my desk with an open shh connection to it and come back in the morning to find that it is still running fine and has plenty of juice left to make it through another day of testing my software on it. Bottom line is that power management works pretty well on the device. Quality of the software is also pretty good. Major improvements were made to the WLAN in subsequent firmware releases and it is now a lot more stable and power efficient than with earlier releases. Developing on it means I install lots of experimental stuff on the device. Despite this, I can't actually recall the thing resetting or kernel panicking.

    To get back to why this niche is important. I can't say why but obviously a lot of companies besides Nokia have become interested in developing n800 like tablets. For example intel seems to bet on this with their maemo derived linux platform. Also the openmoko people are sharing a lot of code with maemo. Apple seems interested in pushing this formfactor a bit further and MS has been pushing pda like phones for years now. There's plenty of tablet like products headed for the market and N810 is some of the better ones currently available.
  • by chill (34294) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @05:12PM (#21031767) Journal
    Actually...it is the other way around. The N800 is underclocked because of battery life. The software running on the N810 will be available for the N800 in mid-November. Improvements in it allow the N800 to be clocked back to 400 MHz, which will supposedly happen with the update.
  • by chill (34294) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @05:15PM (#21031801) Journal
    Sorry, no. Both use the 400 MHz version, but on the N800 it is underclocked to 330 MHz to save battery life. Improvements to the software in the updated OS will allow the N800 to be clocked back to 400 MHz. Supposedly, this will happen when the software is released as an update in mid-November.
  • Almost perfect. (Score:3, Informative)

    by OgGreeb (35588) <og@digimark.net> on Friday October 19, 2007 @09:16AM (#21040165) Homepage
    I have an N700 that I bought on Woot -- so I can't offer a fair comment on the N810's price.

    I can say this about mine though:

    1. It's small enough to fit in my car's glove box (title & registration box...)
    2. I can use it to check news, email, SSH into my servers in an emergency...
    3. It's quite easy to read web pages on the screen.
    4. The on-screen keyboard is relatively easy to use for what it is.

    and

    5. It's almost perfect for leaving in my car or throwing into my backpack for the times
    when I *must* get back online, when I don't really want to lug a notebook computer.

    Presumably the new model is faster ans more capable, and it supports Flash video, so I'll buy
    one when the current one finally fails. (So far, it's been pretty rugged.)

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