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Mirroring Nick’s post, I thought I would write about my experience with a Nokia N800.

A Nokia N800

I’ve had my N800 for over a year now, seen 3 major software revisions (Bora, Chinook, and Diablo), and two new models (the N810 and N810 WiMax).  Overall, I am quite satisfied.

What is it?

The Nokia Internet Tablets are weird beasts.  Though they obviously draw their lineage from devices like the Palm Pilot and Apple Newton, they are explicitly NOT PDAs. They come with no PIM software, and they lack the simplicity of those two previous devices. It fills an odd gap, somewhere between smart phone and subnotebook.  What they do come with, however, is a beautiful 4″ 800×480 screen, a (crappy) VGA camera, oodles of connectivity (802.11g, bluetooth, USB host), and a fantastic Debian-based OS.

What is it good for?

The N800 is primarily intended to be, as it’s class of device is named, an “internet tablet”.  As such, it has an excellent Mozilla-based browser (With Flash 9!), and plenty of options for getting online.  I use the browser quite frequently, usually to do quick google searches and to read blogs.  However, this is not my primary application.  The two things I use the N800 for most is reading ebooks and listening to podcasts.

The ebook reader I use is the fantastic FBreader, which I might add also runs on the Iliad.  It has support for a wide variety of ebook formats (I mostly use plucker), and quite a large feature set.  I’ve been using FBreader since my Zaurus C3100 (something I will post about in the future).  I generally read with 13pt font, with a green on black colour scheme.  I find that this is font size small enough to fit a decent page on the screen, but combined with the dark colour scheme, easy enough on the eyes.

For podcasts, I originally used Video Center to catch and the default media player to play, but the bugginess of Video Center and the lack of OGG support pushed me to switch to Canola2.  Canola is a cool app, generally trying to be a complete media front end for the Tablet, with features for audio, video, and pictures.  It features a generally neat, although occasionally annoying kinetic scroll, and handles podcasts like a champ.

In addition to those two main features, I also use the GPE PIM utilities for keeping track of classes and assignments.  There is also a nice xterm app included in the default install, which is very handy for sshing around.

What sucks about it?

I have a few complaints about the N800.  Firstly, the battery life leaves a bit to be desired.  It tails off at about a day and a half of moderate use (not often using the radios).  My Palm T5 used to last a good week before needing a charge.  An extended battery would be a welcome accessory.  The second major gripe is the lack of a keyboard.  Even compared to the little thumbboard on the clamshell Zaurus.

I can haz keeboard?

I can haz keeboard?

Final Thoughts

Though it may be far from perfect, the N800 is by far the most useful (and the most used) piece of gadgetry I have used.  It’s lack of polish in some areas is more than made up for by the excellent applications available for it, as well as its ridiculous versatility.  As the old saying goes, ack of all trades, master of none, is ofttimes better than master of one.