Thursday, April 03, 2008

Nokia N800 Internet Tablet – WOW!

I was looking for a book/Bible reader that could also do basic computing skills. I didn't want to have to lug two devices around—a reader and a palmtop computer.

In the past I have tried an eBookMan. No computing abilities. Then I went to a Palm Zire 31. It allowed book reading and computing, but the screen was a pain to read from—small and not the greatest resolution.

So, I began looking and came upon the 2.95” x 5.67” Nokia N800 Internet Tablet which has a 4.1" screen. Along with book reading and basic computing it offers wireless internet connectivity. Because Nokia has a new version out (the N810), the price has dropped on the N800 to less than $230 including shipping.

The N800 has everything the N810 has except a larger internal memory, built in mini keyboard and operational GPS (though you can buy the software and service for GPS on the N800).

Both units have the same hardware specs, and the N800 operating system can be upgraded to the N810's OS2008 operating system. All this at about half the selling price of the N810.

Besides price, the main factors for me were:

1. Though the N810 has a tiny 5” wide pullout keyboard, it would not be useful to me. If I want to do real typing I want something that allows for touch typing. So, for me a Stowaway fold up keyboard is the keyboard of choice, and it works just as well with the N800 as the N810.

2. I already have a portable GPS unit.

3. The N810 has an internal memory of 2 GB built in and one external memory slot. The N800 has 1 internal and 1 external memory slot. Both of them can take SD cards. Though the N810 comes with 2 GB built in, it doesn’t allow for upgrading the 2 GB capacity. By contrast, the N800's open internal memory slot allows for SD cards with much more than 2 GB capacity. Further, the N800 can take standard SD cards--the N810 only mini or micro SD cards.

4. The pop out video camera on the N810 cannot swivel as the one on the N800 can. So, taking videos of anything but the person looking at the screen is difficult on the N810 and easy on the N800.

So, I bought the N800. It is an engineering marvel and just keeps getting more and more useful.

You can find the technical specs here and here.

Its operating system is based on Linux. So, it can do real computing. Right now it has a good spreadsheet program available—Gnumeric.

The N800's major application limitation is lack of a good word processor. There are applications to read Word documents and pdf files. It has bluetooth capability so you can use a Stowaway fold up full size keyboard. But, it only has a notepad that allows basic text processing--though with bolding and italics. At present there’s nothing to do even basic word processing.

Web browsing generally works well though there is sometimes a lag in switching between sites and once in awhile it gags and freezes up in loading a screen. But the fix is easy. Exit the browser and restart. For such a small unit online pages are mostly readable in standard screen size. You can zoom in if you need a closer look.

On the multi-media side, this internet tablet is phenomenal.

Its screen resolution (800 x 480) is so good that you can watch a dvd on it—and it's not a painful experience. It has stereo speakers so you don't have to use earphones (though your surrounding environment has to be reasonably quiet to get full benefit). Photos also show up great.

It has an FM radio application that uses the earphone cord as a receiving antenna. It plays mp3 and wav files among others.

What about my original reason for getting the N800 as a Bible/book reader? There's Bible and book reading software available—as well as audio book capabilities. The Rapier application has a number of Bible versions available including Greek.

There’s a Strong's word guide.

In other words, it is really nice for reading and light study. At present I have an 8 GB SD card and a 4 GB SD card installed. So, there are lots of books, music files and photos installed as well as some audio file books and a couple of movies.

Added to this it does sound recordings (with the maemo-recorder application), snapshots as well as video with sound in avi format (with the video camera application).

And there are lots more apps being developed. The N800 is not only useful but fun. It’s a serious version of the IPod Touch with more flexibility at a lower price.

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