Archive for the ‘Nokia 770’ Category
As I write this I’m rocketing across Belgium shortly to transit under the channel on the Eurostar train. I’m crossing a continent rich in history and conflict. But to be honest, it’s an antiseptic journey. Unfortunately, my laptop isn’t on-line, and without a connection it won’t relieve the boredom. Luckily my phone is online. It’s my phone that I’m using to stay connected to the Internet, making sure I’m not missing anything important and keeping me amused during the journey. With it I’m reading e-mail and RSS along with communicating through instant messaging.
As we move towards a world that is mobile and connected the phone is much closer to the type of computing experience I want than the traditional PC. Perhaps without realising it phones are becoming a very significant computing platform. We’re using an increasing number of them – billions of phones ship a year, millions of computers by contrast. And as you know emerging areas of the world are very big on phones! Finally, smart phones are becoming very powerful, Moores law and all that.
So if you talk about pervasive computing, the incarnation we have of that today is the smart phone: it performs some set of computing tasks and it’s always available to me since I always carry it. Consequently, if you’re interested in what the future of computing looks like then it’s going to have a lot of the characteristics of the phone.
I recently got a Nokia n900 which has a lot of the characteristics that I think are important in a pervasive computing platform. First, for all that we love touch you need data entry and that means a keyboard of some form. Second, if it’s pervasive then it better be well connected, because I move around a lot. If it’s an always-available computer then it has to be able to do more than one thing at a time, because I’m doing more than one thing at a time. Clearly, it has to have a wide range of applications and that includes full Web capability since lots of “applications” I access like Facebook are on the Web. And it has to be configurable, it’s my device and while it may be managed, I want to customise it.
So having set out my strawman it’s easy for me to conclude that the n900 ticks all those boxes. And it does, the N900 really is a good personal computing platform, it has a lot of the elements I listed. On the other hand, it’s not a very good phone!
OK, so I set the punch line up. Seriously though, if you just want a phone then you’re missing the point of the n900. Yes, the voice quality is good, and the integration with contacts and conversations is very nice, the embedded usage of Skype and ability to use VOIP/Skype is very interesting. But it has quirks as a pure phone, and anyway it’s noticeably large, heavy and the battery life borders on terrible.
As a mobile computing platform though it’s very cool. The more I use n900 the more impressed I am with the software package. Maemo feels very well put together to me, it’s fast, looks good and the UI has some interesting innovations. Maemo is Open Source and Nokia have been working to develop a community around it for a few years. It’s still raw in parts but if it keeps on maturing and benefits from Open Source innovation then it’s going to be great.
If you’re in the market for a new smart phone and you want something a little different, or you’re looking for something a bit more powerful and hackable than the other options out there then check out the N900.
Samsung have launched their Q1 ultra-mobile PC which will compete against the Nokia 770 Internet tablet. This is one of the first of the Origami machines that Microsoft designed to make the PC more mobile. Like the Nokia 770 Internet tablet it's a small (pocket sized) handheld with a touch screen and no inbuilt keyboard.
"[T]he new PC proved to be too revolutionary, enough to baffle the three firms' executive officers who publicly tried to demonstrate how to use it."
Interestingly they quote Kim Hun-soo, Vice President of Samsungs PC division who says that the battery life will be short:
"Kim later admitted that Q1 has three hours of battery life and two hours when watching a DVD, which is comparably short to other laptops."
The unit will cost about 1.2 million won in Korea, which converts to 673 GBP. Aside from a quick chuckle at a failed demo it's great that machines based on the Origami concept are getting to market. Bob Young the co-founder of RedHat used to say that he didn't want all of a small pie, but a small piece of a big pie. More Origami PC's can only help to increase the popularity of the mobile Internet and hopefully will bring new users and applications to the party.
Has anyone played with a UMPC yet? And, what do you think the Nokia 770 developers can learn from the Origami?
The Nokia 770 device needs work, but it’s indispensable to my daily routine! Nokia developed the Internet tablet as a new category for mobile use of the Internet. Viewing web pages, reading e-mail and news (RSS) through Wi-Fi. It competes against the Origami, UMPC concept, but is cheaper and available. Yesterday, they pre-announced that the next release will include Google Talk providing instant messaging and VOIP.
Plenty of reviews cover the device, so I’ll focus on how I’m using it. As with any new platform it has warts but overall I find the device useful and usable. It’s designed for mobile usage of the Internet, whether from the sofa or at a wifi hotspot. Think of it as a portable TV for the Internet.
I don’t use most of the applications. The e-mail client is poor, it’s unusable for monitoring lists. And I’m not really into media. So I don’t use the Internet radio, because I haven’t bothered to find any stations: there should be a default list like Apple’s iTunes radio section.
But, I use the device every morning to catch-up with RSS. You can read news feeds off-line so I can take advantage of it on my commute or sitting in the local coffee shop. If I see anything interesting I can e-mail it to myself for further investigation. This completely transforms dead travel time enabling me to do something useful. Automatic podcasts downloads might be a nice addition but I’m not sure I’d use it.
I also use it to access Webmail, particularly if I’m on holiday so that I don’t need my laptop. The notepad application is limited but usable for quickly jotting stuff down: I’ve often carried around a notepad for this so perhaps I’m just addicted to notes. Hopefully, a new full screen keyboard will make this easier.
The biggest challenge to Nokia’s ubiquitous Internet vision is the unreasonable prices of Wi-Fi and mobile phone data packages. Most wifi providers charge about 12 GBP per month and you often can’t roam networks. I would probably have to sign-up for more than one package if I wanted to use wifi at Cafe Nero and Starbucks! As for mobile data-plans, these are even more expensive and have limited data transfer. Perhaps IM and VOIP will improve the value proposition, but at the moment it isn’t compelling.
What do you think, will the Internet tablet concept catch-on? How do you use your Nokia 770? And do you think VOIP/IM will increase Wi-Fi take-up?