Nokia N800 Internet Tablet

  • Editors' rating
    6.2 Good
  • $399.00
  • Average user rating

Pros

  • Compact tablet-style device
  • 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0
  • Built-in webcam for internet video calls
  • When internet-connected, functions well as a mobile web tablet

Cons

  • Poor built-in PIM functionality
  • Disappointing battery life
  • Limited add-on software availability

When Nokia announced the 770 Internet Tablet towards the end of 2005, eyebrows were raised. It was certainly a novelty for the mobile phone specialist: the Linux-based 770 was small enough for a (voluminous) pocket, had a wide-aspect-ratio screen, and lacked both a keyboard a SIM slot. We weren’t overly impressed with the Nokia 770, largely on account of its sluggish performance. Even so, it proved popular among Linux enthusiasts.

Nokia has stuck with the Linux-based internet tablet format, bringing out an update and taking the product into the ‘N-series’ fold — the stream of high-end devices that includes other experiments such as the camera-centric N90. The N800 is certainly a slicker device than its predecessor, but it that enough to impress us this time around?

Design

The N800 is a tablet-style device with a look and feel somewhere between a landscape-mode Windows Mobile Pocket PC on the one hand and a games console like Sony’s PlayStation Portable on the other. However, the N800 lacks the plethora of buttons you'd find on a games console and is significantly larger than most of today's Pocket PCs. It's a bit too bulky and heavy to carry comfortably in a pocket, measuring 75mm wide by 114mm deep by 13-18mm deep, and weighing 206g.

The N800's front panel is silver-coloured, with twin speakers hidden behind a grilled area that covers more than half of the fascia. The touch-sensitive screen measures 4.13in. from corner to corner, has a resolution of 800 by 480 pixels and delivers 16-bit colour (65,536 colours).

To the left of the screen is a set of control buttons, most of which have dual functions depending on whether they are tapped or held down.

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The upper set of controls is a navigation pad with a central select key that can be used as a scroller when web browsing. Beneath this is a collection of three buttons. One of these calls up on-screen menus relevant to the current application or activity; another is a 'back' key, while the third is a ‘switcher’ key that allows you to quickly move between and close any running applications or, if held down, returns you to the main screen.

The remaining controls are on the edges. On the top is the main power switch, keys for zooming and a key for turning off the various side menus on the screen when you want to use the device in ‘full screen’ mode. There's also a microphone here.

The right-hand side houses the headphone socket and mains power connector, as well as the slot for the touch-screen's stylus (generally, we found a fingertip to be faster and just as ergonomic). Nokia has not eliminated one of our gripes with the Nokia 770, though: the stylus still only fits into its slot one way round.

There's a clever pull-out stand at the back for propping the N800 up on a desk. This stand hides two further connectors: a mini-USB port to the right and an SD card slot on the bottom edge. There's a second SD card slot under the battery cover (although not under the battery itself), giving you plenty of scope for memory expansion. With a suitable adapter, you can use card formats down to microSD in size in both of these hot-swappable slots.

The left edge initially looks completely clear, but if you depress a small circular area near the top, a tiny VGA-resolution webcam pops out. You can use this for making video calls over the internet.

The N800 comes with a protective slip case, a 128MB miniSD card, stereo headphones, a PC connection cable and a quick-start guide. If you want a full manual, you'll have to download this from Nokia's web site.

Features

The Nokia 770 was criticised for its sluggish performance, so it's heartening to note that the N800 uses a faster processor (although CPU details are not forthcoming on Nokia's web site) and more memory — 128MB of RAM (compared to 64MB on the 770) plus 256MB of flash (compared to 128MB on the 770). You also get a 128MB miniSD card with an adapter for the SD card slots. The operating system, as on the 770, is a version of Linux, now dubbed 'Internet Tablet OS 2007 edition'.

Although it lacks a SIM card slot, the N800 has both 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0 built in. The latter can be used to connect the device to a mobile phone for wide-area connectivity, while the former connects to local wireless networks.

Once the N800 has an internet connection, you can browse the web (via the superb Opera 8), check the RSS reader (feeds are shown on the home screen), use instant messaging and email or listen to internet radio and make internet calls (including video calls with the integrated webcam). Jabber and Google Talk are pre-installed, but there's no Skype client at the time of writing.

Without internet access, the N800 becomes a standalone mini-tablet of limited functionality. Bundled applications include a contact manager, PDF viewer, image viewer (BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, TIFF), notes maker, media player (AAC, MP3, WAV and WMA), clock with alarms and several games.

The touch-sensitive screen has two soft keyboards associated with it: a small affair that requires stylus input and a larger one, occupying most of the screen area, that you can tap with the fingertips (although it's too small for accurate touch-typing). Handwriting recognition is also supported.

The N800 functions as a mass storage device, up to a point. Once it's connected to a PC using the supplied USB cable, you can transfer files to and from media in either of the two SD card slots, but not to the 128MB of internal memory. You can also use the cable connection to update the device's Linux operating system. However, there's no way of synchronising the N800's contact list with a PC; and since it has neither calendar nor to-do list applications built in, the N800 lacks the PIM functionality that's routinely provided by smartphones and handhelds.

Performance & battery life

Our review sample was somewhat slow to boot up, but it was sprightly enough thereafter — even with several applications opened at once. Clearly Nokia has made an effort to address the issue of the 770's sluggish performance.

We tested the N800 with a 1MB PDF, as we did with the 770 model. Each page of the document took a couple of seconds to load and zooming could be quicker. However, moving around within a page was quick enough. By comparison, the 770 took several minutes to render an image-heavy PDF.

The N800 is generally a pleasure to use: the 4.13in. screen is clear and sharp, and the ability to switch into full-screen mode is useful for certain activities — especially web browsing.

Battery life was disappointing. In our standard handheld test, we played music continuously from an SD card with the screen forced to stay on, and got 5 hours 16 minutes of uptime. For a mobile device this is less than adequate, and if you keep the device internet-connected via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, you're unlikely to get a day's-worth of charge from the BP-5L lithium-polymer battery. For the record, Nokia claims up to 3.5 hours of 'browsing time' and up to 12 days on standby.

We can’t help liking the N800, and it's certainly a significant step forward from its predecessor. However, liking a device and seeing a market for it are two different things. Out of the box, the N800 has relatively little allure for the professional user: there's no way to view, edit or create business documents, no real PIM functionality and no PC synchronisation. Even the VoIP capability is hampered by the current lack of a Skype client — although this is expected by the middle of the year.

For a wider audience, the N800’s appeal is limited by its reliance on Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for internet connectivity, and by its disappointing battery life.

Specifications

Cellular
Technology WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM
Software Platforms Supported CLDC 1.1, J2ME, Java, Java MIDP 2.1
Application Software ActiveSync
Type smartphone
Integrated Components FM radio, FM transmitter, front-facing camera, navigation, rear-facing camera, voice recorder
Navigation A-GPS
Band WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM 850/900/1800/1900
Mobile Broadband Generation 3G
Phone Form Factor touch
Service Provider not specified
Operating System Family Symbian OS
Operating System Symbian^3
Input Device Touch screen , capacitive
Phone Features
Polyphonic Ringer Yes
Ring Tone Formats AAC, AMR, MP3, WMA
Voice Dialing Yes
Phone Functions Speakerphone, voice control, call timer, conference call, flight mode, voice dialing, vibrating alert
Sensors Accelerometer, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, digital compass
Additional Features Radio Data Service (RDS), software updates FOTA (Firmware Over The Air), software updates FOTI (Firmware Over The Internet), OpenGL 2.0 support
General
Integrated Components Rear-facing camera, front-facing camera, FM radio, voice recorder, FM transmitter, navigation
Miscellaneous
Sensors accelerometer, ambient light sensor, digital compass, proximity sensor
Features Expandable storage, Full USB
Color Silver/Matte black
Image Color Disclaimer the image of the product displayed may be of a different color
Microsoft Certifications Compatible with Windows 7
Included Phone Accessories HDMI cable, USB cable, power adapter, stereo headset
Messaging & Internet
Cellular Messaging Services MMS, SMS
WAP Protocol Supported WAP 2.0
Messaging & Data Features Macromedia Flash support, Microsoft Excel support, Microsoft PowerPoint support, Microsoft Word support, PDF support, RSS feeds, XHTML Browser, Zip Manager support
Mobile Services Ovi Files, Ovi Maps 3.0, Ovi Music, Ovi Store, Video Call, YouTube
Messaging Services AOL Instant Messenger Service (AIM), Google Talk, MMS, OVI Chat, SMS, Windows Live Messenger (MSN Messenger), Yahoo! Messenger
Supported Email Protocols IMAP4, POP3, SMTP
Supported Social Networks and Blogs Facebook, Twitter
Display
Multi-language Menu Yes
Technology AMOLED
Display Resolution 640 x 360 pixels
Color Depth 24-bit (16.7 million colors)
Diagonal Size 3.5 in
Diagonal Size (metric) 8.9 cm
Smartphone Diagonal Size 3.5 in
Color Support color
Features screensaver, wallpaper
Native Resolution 800 x 480
Processor
Clock Speed 680 MHz
Type ARM ARM11
Manufacturer ARM
Communications
Communication Features Internet browser, mobile Email client
Data Transmission EDGE, GPRS, HSDPA, HSUPA
Wireless Interface Bluetooth 3.0, IEEE 802.11b/g/n
Bluetooth Profiles Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP), Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP), Object Push Profile (OPP), Phonebook Access Profile (PBAP), SIM Access Profile (SAP), Serial Port Profile (SPP), Basic Imaging Profile (BIP), Dial-up Networking Profile (DUN), File Transfer Profile (FTP), General Audio/Video Distribution Profile (GAVDP), Generic Access Profile (GAP), Generic Object Exchange Profile (GOEP), Hands Free Profile (HFP), Headset Profile (HSP)
Audio
Type Sound card
Organizer
Personal Information Management alarm clock, calculator, calendar, reminder, synchronization with PC
Alarm Clock Yes
Camera
Optical Sensor Type CMOS
Digital Zoom 3
Focus Adjustment automatic
Camera Light Source flash
Still Image Resolutions 4000 x 3000
Features Carl Zeiss optic, Geo-tagging, PictBridge support, Red-Eye Reduction, video recording
Media Player
Supported Digital Video Standards MPEG-4, H.264
Supported Digital Audio Standards WMA, AAC, AMR, MP3, protected WMA (DRM), eAAC+
Memory
Supported Flash Memory Cards microSDHC - up to 32 GB
Multimedia
Graphics Accelerator Broadcom BCM2727
Location
Navigation Software & Services Ovi Maps 3.0
Input Device
Type Keyboard, Touchpad
Battery
Installed Qty 1
Run Time Details Talk ( GSM ) - up to 720 min
Talk ( WCDMA ) - up to 350 min
Standby ( GSM ) - up to 390 hrs
Standby ( WCDMA ) - up to 400 hrs
Playback ( video ) - up to 6 hrs
Recording ( video ) - up to 3.3 hrs
Capacity 1200 mAh
Digital Camera
Optical Sensor Type CMOS
Still Image Formats EXIF, JPEG
Exposure Modes automatic
Digital Video Formats H.263, H.264, MPEG-4
Digital Zoom 3
Lens Aperture f/2.8
Focus Adjustment automatic
Self Timer Delay Yes
Camera Light Source flash
Still Image Resolutions 4000 x 3000
Video Recorder Resolutions 1280 x 720 (720p)
Features Carl Zeiss optic, Geo-tagging, PictBridge support, Red-Eye Reduction, video recording
Navigation System
Navigation Software & Services Ovi Maps 3.0
Header
Brand Nokia
Product Line Nokia
Model N8-00
Packaged Quantity 1
Software
Type Drivers & Utilities
CE Input Device
Type touch sensitive screen
Touchscreen Technology capacitive
Features
Sensors accelerometer, ambient light sensor, digital compass, proximity sensor
Phone Functions call timer, conference call, flight mode, speakerphone, vibrating alert, voice control, voice dialing
Additional Features OpenGL 2.0 support, Radio Data Service (RDS), software updates FOTA (Firmware Over The Air), software updates FOTI (Firmware Over The Internet)
Digital Player (Recorder)
Supported Digital Audio Standards AAC, AMR, MP3, WMA, eAAC+, protected WMA (DRM)
Supported Digital Video Standards H.264, MPEG-4
Power Adapter
Type power adapter
RAM
Installed Size 256 MB
Flash Memory
Internal Memory Capacity 16 GB
Max Supported Size 32 GB
Supported Flash Memory Cards microSDHC
Dimensions & Weight
Width 2.3 in
Depth 0.5 in
Height 4.5 in
Weight 4.76 oz
Graphics System
Graphics Accelerator Broadcom BCM2727
Optical Sensor
Sensor Resolution 12 pixels
Phone Connections
Type HDMI, Micro-USB, headset / AV composite out
Qty 1
Connector Type mini-phone 3.5 mm
Run Time Details
Usage Mode playback, recording, standby, talk
Usage Details GSM, WCDMA, video
Run Time (Up To) 3.3, 350 min, 390, 400, 6, 720 min
OS Provided
Type Internet Tablet OS 2007

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Reviews

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