Nokia developing next-gen Linux tablet

The next tablet from Nokia may offer WiMax connectivity and a Webcam, but don't expect it to connect to a mobile network

After the success of its original Linux tablet, the 770, Nokia is already looking at the next generation of internet-only devices.

The original tablet device launched last year (see our review here) and caught the attention of gadget fans wondering why Nokia was making a device that had no cellular connectivity.

But, according to the handset maker, there are no plans for the next generation of 770-style devices to be able to connect to mobile networks.

Ari Virtanen, vice-president of convergence products at Nokia, said going down the mobile-free route allowed the company more freedom.

He said: "The biggest thing is that we don't want to be part of the cellular value chain... we want to be a little bit out of that world. Once you put a SIM card in, it's automatically controlled by the operator."

While the mobile maker is taking a 'never say never' stance on the issue of cellular connectivity, it maintains there are no tablet devices that can connect to mobile networks in the pipeline.

However, the Finnish phone firm is considering adding new features to the next generation of devices and is looking at a number of different form factors.

Among the possible new additions are new interface methods. The device currently uses a touch screen with a stylus for text input - although thumb-happy typers can switch to a more clumsy digit input mode with the virtual keyboard expanded to almost full screen size.

A webcam could also be making its way onto the device. According to Virtanen, extra functionality will be added to the devices by studying how people behave with fixed internet and then adding a mobile dimension - the philosophy that apparently inspired the inclusion of Google IM and VoIP support in the latest software upgrade.

WiMax too isn't being ruled out. Virtanen said: "WiMax is one potential radio but we're not committed to it. The thing about WiMax is that it has to happen first but if WiMax takes off like wireless LAN has, then why not?"

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