The Deliverator – Wannabee

So open minded, my thoughts fell out…

Introducing the Nokia N810 Internet Tablet!……meh

Posted by Deliverator on October 18th, 2007

Yesterday, Nokia soft-launched their 3rd internet tablet product, the N810.

Nokia N810

The device will be available for purchase in about a month for around $470. I have been an avid 770 and N800 user, but I am not at all convinced that I need one or that the changes made to this latest device are for the better. I am definitely going to have to hold it in my hands and spend some quality time with one before I consider buying. Here is some of the good and bad:

Good:

-An OS release that will bring IT OS closer to desktop Linux parity. This will hopefully make for easier porting of applications. Commitment to maintain OS parity on N800 for at least several revisions. Thinking in terms of “platforms” and not products is good.

-Somewhat smaller, making it more easily pocketed

-Supposedly a 20% brighter screen, which some have said is transflective. I have yet to hear this direct from someone who can speak with authority.

-Ambient light sensor might help more intelligently use battery by auto-dimming screen in darker environments. I hope this functionality is directly exposed so that I can overide it.

-Faster processor

-More formats listed for media support (although I will believe it when I see it)

-Integral GPS is nice, although the GPS on my N95 absolutely sucks, so a lot depends on the quality of implementation.

-They got rid of the pop-out camera in favor of one mounted on the screen bezel. Remains to be seen if the quality is as atrociously bad as the one on the N800 though.

-Keyboard will be nice for quick replies to emails, im’s, etc. For serious typing, I would still carry a bluetooth keyboard. Keyboard appears to be backlit.

-Dedicated hardware lock key. This will make the N810 insensate to accidental key presses and screen taps while in your pocket. Having the device come alive in your pocket all the time was a big battery waster on the N800. The 770 had the best solution, a magnetic switch as part of the hard case. Put the hard case on, device goes to sleep. Take it off, device wakes up. Simple genius. In many ways, Nokia seems to have forgotten many of the things it learned in designing the 770.

Bad:

-The new OS breaks compatibility with OS 2007 in a way that will require that basically all existing 3rd party apps will have to be rewritten. If they were going to force this break, I wish they would have given me a real window manager and let me use almost any Linux app without major modification to support the joke that is HILDON.

-Moving the D-PAD onto the slide out keyboard is a BAD BAD idea. On the N800 and 770 the D-pad and all other buttons were within easy reach of your left hand’s thumb and index finger. This made it possible to access most device and software functionality one handed. Now, some of the primary device control keys are on the screen and some are on the slider. This NIT is a two handed device. Not only that, but as a two handed device, the positioning of these keys is rather poor. It will be very difficult to use the D-PAD easily while holding it naturally. I hope you all have very flexible fingers.

-VERY high price at launch, much much higher than the n800 while only delivering two major feature upgrades. Keeping the device at a lower price point makes it much more attractive to many people and a lot of people will look at the price and say “if I am spending this much already, I might as well spend a little more and get a MID or an ultra mobile pc of some sort.

-Previous Nokia GPS solutions have been atrociously bad performing compared to even garden variety $30 bluetooth GPS units that are scarcely bigger than a box of matches these days. While the unit comes with GPS mapping software, it sounds like certain route guidance and POI features will cost extra. Nothing worse than getting nickeled and dimed especially when cheap alternatives exist.

-N800 had two SDHC storage card slots allowing for a staggering amount of storage in a portable device. The N810 has only one and it is a smaller type, meaning it is no longer useful for viewing photos from cameras. A lot of N800 users have invested significant $ in storage cards and to have to make further card purchased and not be able to get as large a card capacity is a real kick in the teeth.

-2 GB of internal flash ram is nice, but is no substitute for a swapable card. Flash is also know to go bad from time to time, which makes this unattractive. I am also willing to bet that the flash is not formatted with a linux FS, but rather FAT, making it useless for program storage.

-Nokia has moved the speaker from the user facing front to side emitting. I bet the perceived volume will have gone down significantly and it will be easy to cover the speakers with your fingers while holding it. I think Nokia has placed too much emphasis on making the device smaller by moving things off the screen bezel and has significantly compromised device usability in doing so. I would have much rather seen a slider of similar size to the N800 with the D-PAD and speakers left in place, which would have also provided more space on the sliding keyboard for larger keys. The keys are extremely chiclet sized and don’t appear to be convex. Top row of keys is right against the side of the screen, which will make them particularly difficult to hit. I hope those emails you have to write are short.

-N810 uses a micro-usb plug instead of the much more common mini-usb. Still no ability to charge the battery via USB or hostmode USB support for use of USB keyboards and low power flash drives. Gee, another cable to carry around. Thanks Nokia! :(

-N810 lacks a hard cover case, which was also one of the major, widespread complaints about the N800 compared to the N770. I know 770 users for whom this was a deal-breaker in upgrading to the N800. The N800 also had a lousy slip case and the long promised flip over screen protector took a long time to appear and then never really showed up at market. If I am going to spend $500 on a device, I want to know that it isn’t going to get broken in my pocket after a week or have the screen scratched by my keys.

-While they have increased the processor speed to 400mhz, from the sound of it, the N810 is internally almost exactly the same beast as the N800. This likely means that the video sub-system issues that lead to inferior video playback performance are likely still present. The 770 actually had a faster video sub-system than it’s sucessor, the N800, despite having a slower processor.

-No listing of A2DP Bluetooth stereo support

-There is no integrated WWAN and No Bluetooth PAN support. PAN is increasingly becoming the standard for phones to share their internet connectivity. Bluetooth DUN remains the only option for WWAN support.