Nokia N810 Internet Tablet

Nokia N810 Internet Tablet

Summary: Nokia's Internet Tablet is getting better, adding a GPS receiver and a QWERTY keyboard. It's still difficult to recommend as a business tool, though, as it lacks integrated 3G/HSDPA connectivity.

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Pros

  • Neat hardware design
  • Built-in keyboard
  • Integrated GPS receiver
  • Mobile email and VoIP over Wi-Fi
  • Wide range of bundled applications

Cons

  • Lacks integrated wide-area wireless connectivity
  • Relatively limited third-party software available
  • Point-to-point navigation is an optional extra

The N810 is the third version of Nokia's diminutive 'Internet Tablet', updating the N800, which we reviewed a year ago. In terms of form factor, the N810 sits somewhere between a large handheld and a small Ultra Mobile PC — it's basically what Intel has taken to calling a Mobile Internet Device.

Design
Nokia has made improvements to the physical design with every version of this device, and the N810 is now a neat and tidy piece of kit. It's designed to be used in wide-screen format, and has a pop-out stand at the back for resting it at an angle on the desk.

As noted above, the N810 is slightly larger than your average handheld, measuring 128mm wide by 72mm tall. Its thickness (14mm) is comparable with many handhelds and mobile phones, but at 226g it's noticeably heavier.

The N810's screen measures 4.13in. from corner to corner and has a native resolution of 800 by 480 pixels. This is considerably more viewing area than any conventional handheld we're aware of: Toshiba’s Portégé G900 is the only device that can match it for screen resolution, but its display measures just 3in. across the diagonal.

The screen is touch sensitive and can be used with a fingertip or the stylus, which lives in a housing on the right-hand edge. Text is entered via the built-in QWERTY keyboard, which is revealed by sliding the screen upwards.

The keyboard is nicely designed, with relatively large and responsive keys compared to those found on other handhelds. Audio feedback can be configured if you need it; the keyboard area also houses a navigation pad and a menu key.

You can't use the keyboard when the N810 is propped up on its stand because the whole device slides around. To type on this device, you need to either pick it up and use the keyboard with your thumbs, or lay it flat on the desk. Both options can become frustrating, and there may be times when you resort to the on-screen keyboard instead.

Elsewhere on the sparsely populated fascia, there's a VGA-resolution camera designed primarily for video calling, a light sensor for auto-dimming the screen and two tiny keys. One of the keys is a back button, while the other is a ‘swap’ key that lets you move between or close applications that are running.

The sides of the device carry several connectors and buttons, including a volume rocker and a lock key that disables the touch screen and buttons.

The N810 comes with a PC connectivity cable that has a standard USB connector at the PC end, but a micro-USB connector at the device end. This means you won't be able to use a generic mini-USB cable if you mislay the Nokia one. It's a similar story with the AC adapter, which uses one of Nokia’s tiny power connectors. The N810 also comes with a cleaning cloth for the screen, a travel pouch, stereo headset and a vehicle mount.

Unfortunately, despite its many features, the only printed guide you get is a rather flimsy 'getting started' sheet. As the software and usage mode will be unfamiliar to most people except upgraders, we feel Nokia should have included more detailed printed guidance.

Features
The N810 runs an operating system called Internet Tablet OS 2008, which is based on the Maemo Linux platform. Although there are fewer third-party applications available for this OS than for, say, a Windows-based UMPC or a handheld running Windows Mobile, Symbian or Palm OS, there is a fairly active development community and downloads are available from maemo.org.

The processor is a Texas Instruments OMAP 2420 running at 400MHz and there is 128MB of RAM and 256MB of flash ROM. In addition there is 2GB of solid state storage and support for additional memory cards via an SDHC-compatible SD card slot on the lower edge.

We found the N810 to be reasonably responsive during our tests: although we often had a short wait for applications to load, it performed well enough.

There's no SIM card slot for wide-area wireless connectivity, but the N810 does include Wi-Fi (802.11b/g), Bluetooth (2.0+EDR) and a GPS receiver. You can use a mobile phone to access the internet via Bluetooth, although Wi-Fi is likely to be the first choice for this. In our view, Nokia needs to revise its 'no-SIM' policy for the Internet Tablet series and provide support for 3G/HSDPA: as it stands, the device sits in a connectivity black hole compared to most of today's handhelds and increasing numbers of notebooks.

The GPS receiver and vehicle mount can be used with a bundled mapping application covering the UK and Ireland. This successfully pinpointed our position even while we were sitting at a desk by a window with a partial view of the sky. The map application can track your progress, find locations (including by postcode with four-digit accuracy) and has a range of preinstalled Points of Interest. What it doesn't do is provide point-to-point navigation services — the Wayfinder navigation application is an optional extra.

Other bundled applications include an email client with POP3, IMAP and SMTP support, a web browser, an RSS reader, Gizmo and Skype software for instant messaging and VoIP using the VGA webcam, a media player, an image viewer, a contacts manager, a PDF reader, a note-taker and several games.

When an application is running, its icon appears in a column down the left-hand side of the screen. You can use the 'swap' key to call up a full scrolling list if you have more applications than the screen can accommodate.

Conclusion
We found the N810 Internet Tablet to be a pretty solid performer. The GPS receiver takes a while to get its first fix, but then holds it well. When the screen becomes a little cramped with side icons, it's handy to be able to press a top-mounted button that maximises the current application view — this is useful, for example, when web browsing or processing email.

Battery life is rated at up to 4 hours with continuous WLAN activity. This is less than ideal, as users are likely to want to have Wi-Fi fired up all day. Seven — or even eight — hours of usage in this mode should be the target.

Although Nokia's Internet Tablet is getting better, it's still difficult to recommend as a business tool. If it included 3G/HSDPA connectivity, then as a mobile email/internet/navigation device it could compete with the iPhone and its ilk for space in the trendier executive's briefcase.

However, as it stands, the N810 relies on Wi-Fi or a Bluetooth link to a mobile phone for data connections, which is less than ideal.

 

Specifications

General
Dimensions (W x H x D) 128x14x72 mm
Weight 226 g
OS & software
Software included Internet Tablet OS 2008, browser, media player, Skype, Gizmo, map application, email client, RSS reader, file manager, PDF reader, clock, games, backup & restore, contacts, notes
Synchronisation software yes
Processor & memory
Processor model Texas Instruments OMAP 2420
Clock speed 400 MHz
RAM 128 MB
Storage
Internal 256 MB
Display
Display technology TFT
Display size 4.13 in
Native resolution 800x400 pixels
Connections
Ports USB 2.0
Slots SD/MMC
Wireless
Wi-Fi 802.11b, 802.11g
Short range Bluetooth 2.0+EDR
GPS technology
GPS receiver yes
Input devices
Keyboard Yes
Navigation button/wheel Yes
Stylus Yes
Touchscreen Yes
Power
Battery type Li-ion
Removable battery yes
Claimed battery life 4 h
Number of batteries 1
Miscellaneous
Accessories stereo headset, AC adapter, car mount, carry pouch, getting-started guide
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Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Reviews

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