The Nokia N800 has been introduced at CES and all of the talk on the Linux based device websites has been about this new device. While I don’t have a N800 yet, I do have a Nokia 770 Internet Tablet and Judie has asked me to write my thoughts about it for Gear Diary. I want to thank Judie for the opportunity to share what is so great about this platform.
The Nokia 770 Internet Tablet is the one that started it all for Nokia in a space that has all but dried up for Pocket PC and Palm based devices. First introduced at Linux World Summit in may of 2005, the Nokia 770 is touted not as a PDA, but as a Internet Appliance. So that means that it does not have your standard PDA device applications such as calendaring, to do lists and more. However, since the 770 runs Linux, you can install anything your heart desires on it.
The 770 runs a Linux distribution called Maemo. Maemo is based on the Debian Linux distribution and therefore supports a lot of the things that make Debian a great distribution. The best thing is Nokia has hidden a lot of this from the user. By default, there is no terminal and if all you wanted to do with the device is use what’s built in, you could do just that and not have to know a lick of Linux.
Included in the package is a cover that slides over the LCD when not in use, a pouch for carrying the 770 in, a pair of cheapo headphones, a stand and a 64 MB RS-MMC card. Let’s cover what hardware is inside the Nokia 770. The specifications from Nokia’s website:
Weight: 8.1 ounces
Dimensions: 5.5 inches x 3.1 inches x 0.70 inch
Black and matte silver
High-resolution (800×480) touch screen with up to 65,536 colors
Range: +14?F to 131?F
128MB Flash builtin
Memory card: 64MB RS-MMC (Reduced Size – MultiMediaCard)
Option for extended virtual memory (RS-MMC up to 1 GB)
Internet Tablet OS 2006 Edition
Internet Tablet OS 2006 Edition Key Applications
Web Browser ( Opera 8 ) with Flash player
RSS Feed Reader
Media, Utilities and Games
Notes and Sketch
Games (Chess, Mahjong, Marbles)
Supported File Formats
Audio: AAC, AMR, MP2, MP3, RA (Real Audio), WAV, WMA
Image: BMP, GIF, ICO, JPEG, PNG, TIFF, SVG-tiny
Video: 3GP, AVI, H.263, MPEG-1, MPEG-4, RV (Real Video)
Internet radio playlists; M3U, PLS
Bluetooth specification: 1.2
For Internet connection and file transfer via phone
Profiles supported: Dial-up Networking, File Transfer, Generic Access, SIM Access and Serial Port profiles
USB 2.0 device mode for PC connectivity
RS-MMC (Dual Voltage)
3.5 mm stereo audio out
Power connector (2mm)
User Interface: British English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, American English, Brazilian Portuguese, Canadian French, Latin American Spanish
User’s Guide: British English, French, Dutch, German, Spanish, Italian, Finnish, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, American English, Canadian French, Mexican Spanish
Sales Package Content
Nokia 770 Internet Tablet
2 stylus pens
Travel charger (AC-4)
64 MB RS-MMC memory card
Connectivity cable DKE-2 (USB)
Desk stand DT-7
Quick start guide
Mobile charger (DC-4)
Charger adapter (CA-44)
3-in-1 stylus pack
Battery Life – Standard Li-ion Battery 1500 mAh
Browse Time up to 3 hours,
Standby Time up to 7 days
Nokia does not include the clock speed of the chip nor what chip it is, but according to nokia770.com, a 770 fansite, it is a 220 Mhz ARM9 based Texas Instruments OMAP 1710. This is the same chip that has been used by HP and others who make Windows Mobile devices.
The included browser is a port of Opera and it does a commendable job for a small device. Thanks to the large screen, surfing websites very doable on this device. In fact, this device has by far the best web experience of any device with a screen this small of any I have used thus far. Flash is even included, but it is Flash 6 so you cannot use it to browse YouTube. The N800 may be fixing this as they are including Flash 7. Also, sites that use Java are also problematic for this device as there are no Java Virtual Machines for the 770 (yet). With those caveats, you can pretty much browse most blogs and I have even been able to use it to post to a WordPress blog. You will be able to view almost any but the most complex websites on the 770’s screen.
The browser will also go full screen as will almost any application you use on the 770. To do that, you simply hit the full screen button on the top of the device. At that point, you have only the web page and the address bar. Can’t read the page? Hit the + side of the rocker that’s next to the fullscreen button and the text gets bigger. When you enter an address into the bar, you can enter it via a onscreen keyboard, or via handwriting recognition. After your done browsing fullscreen, hit the fullscreen button again and it will shrink down and the menu’s well become available again. When you want to scroll, you can do as you always would on any PDA and tap on the onscreen scroll bar, or you can tap and drag your stylus up or down to scroll up or down. Tapping and dragging works like this on almost all of the 770’s built in apps.
The PDF reader included in the 770 is also very nice to have and is the best PDF reader I have ever used on a mobile device. I have downloaded many PDF’s and been able to read them on screen. The PDF reader also supports the fullscreen button and the +/- rocker as well.
The 770 also has a few built in games like Majong, Chess and Marbles. Strangely, there’s no solitare on this device out of the box.
The audio player supports MP3 and many other formats. It will also let you create playlists on the fly just like any other mobile MP3 player. It also supports icecast/shoutcast MP3 streams as well. On the main home page of the 770, by default, it has a streaming applet. Adding streams to this applet is not as clear as it might seam. The best way to do that is to click on the link for the stream in the web browser, and it will open the audio player up and start streaming. After that, you can add what is currently playing to your favorites. Then you will be able to see it in the streaming applet on the Home Page.
The video player supports many well known formats and it will also play videos that you captured on your cellphone if you can get it on your RS-MMC card, or if you download it from the Internet. Quality of the clip that ships on it is very good. The video player also supports full screen viewing but just pressing that full screen button.
I mentioned the homepage, the home page will let you read RSS feeds, search Google or Wikipedia, stream audio, store quick links, and tell the time on it by default. The RSS Reader will be automatically launched after a news story has been first expanded and then tapped on again in the applet. Then you can read the whole story. You can arrange the home page anyway you’d like. The only thing you must follow is no applet may over lay another applet.
The e-mail client is nothing to write home about, but it supports POP3 and IMAP4. It’s ok for grabbing your e-mail, but in this day and age where lots of people used web based e-mail, a specific e-mail client is not needed as much as it used to be. With that said, it’s nice that it’s included.
The clock that included and supports multiple time zones. It’s in the clock application that you select what type of clock you want in the home applet….analog or digital. Just tap on the clocks in this application and it switches back and forth. To select another time zone on the right hand clock, you tap anywhere on the map. Not all locations are in there. For example, I bet you won’t find San Angelo, TX on it!
There’s a nice notes app and a sketch application.
Ok that’s enough of the built in applications. There’s more but I think you get the idea. You can also chat on this device via Google Talk and you can also use the VoIP features of google talk. One recommendation, if you are using any VoIP app on this device, then use the included headphones.
If the built in apps are not enough, then your in luck! As this is Linux, you can install a whole swath of applications and most of these are free. You want to keep your calendar on the device? Just install GPE Calendar.
One of the best apps there is is the nice, but a little unstable Canola. I have found Canola to be ok if your just using it to play MP3’s but the video features and the photocasting feature needs work. Photocasts are essentially flickr or other picture websites RSS feeds. It will let you browser your entire flickr feed.
The best thing about Canola is it’s full screen and designed to be entirely used with your finger vs the stylus.
And it would not be Linux if you could not get at the command line. You can also install a X terminal on the 770.
Installing other apps is not as easy as running a EXE on your desktop, but it’s not too hard. You basically will add the catalog information for the app or apps in question to the Application Manager. It will then download the catalog in the background and then you just navigate through the app manager to find the app you want. Since it’s Debian based, Application Manager uses apt in the background. If you tap on a app and it needs other things installed to satisfy dependencies, it will automatically install them like any Debian distribution will.
To find applications, just visit the Maemo website at http://maemo.org/.
Nokia has built a very good device for their first shot at something that is more similar to a PDA. The thing to remember is the 770 is not a PDA. It’s a Internet Appliance and a very hackable one at that. It’s very geeky and very open. You can do almost anything you can do on Linux with this device. With that said, the limitations that plagued the 770 have almost all been fixed by the OS updates that Nokia and other Open Source developers have solved. Nokia has also done a great job with the N800 by adding features like a web cam, more memory and a faster CPU. I am looking forward to getting the N800, but for now I will have fun with the Nokia 770.
The Nokia 770 Internet Tablet is available directly from the manufacturer as well as from other retailers.
What I like: Based on Linux and other Open Source Software, best portable browsing experience yet, screen cover
What needs improvement: Not enough memory, RS-MMC memory is hard to find, no PIM apps by default.