David Szpunar: Owner, Servant 42 and Servant Voice

David's Church Information Technology

January 17th, 2008 at 8:00 am

Nokia N800 Internet Tablet: On Its Way!

Quite a lot going on at the moment! I spent nearly all of yesterday (Wednesday) working on several helpdesk issues ranging from setting up two new Palm Centro cell phones to diagnosing a sound card issue on a laptop to stuff I can’t even remember at this point! It’s the longest I’ve spent away from my desk in one day in a while, and my brain is fried, so I sat down to crank out this post. Perfect time to write a blog post, right? :-) (I polished it a bit later before publishing.)

I have contemplated the HTC Shift in the past. It does not appear to be released in the US yet, however, and the price when it is will likely be $1200 to $1500. That’s not bad for a 7″ screen UMPC running Windows Vista (and Windows Mobile!), but I’m ready to compromise: The Nokia N800 Internet Tablet. It used to cost between $400 and $500, but Amazon.com carries it for about $230 right now because its big brother just came out, the N810. What do you get for the N810’s $440 that you don’t get for the N800’s $230? A slide-out thumb keyboard, an 8% smaller unit, and a built-in GPS receiver (that costs more to get full use out of).

But first things first…why get one of these things anyway? Well, I do have a laptop, a nice 12.1″ Core 2 Duo Lenovo 3000 V100 that I like very much. It’s small enough and light enough to carry from home to work and just about anywhere else, when it’s packed up. It’s my main PC at home; the desktop rarely gets used! However, my office is in a central-yet-distant location from nearly everyone else in the building at Lakeview, and since the middle of 2007 I’ve been using HelpSpot to track helpdesk requests. It is easy to work within HelpSpot when I’m at my computer, but I often must trek to the office of an individual user to help them with a problem (yes, remote control is an option sometimes, but hardware problems are another story and many times, demonstrating something to the user in person is much more powerful for training purposes). When I do this, I often get sidetracked by others needing assistance and, like today, may end up working on 4-6 different issues before I’m back at my own computer! By that time, I probably won’t remember half of the actual problems I worked on, much less all the details it would be useful to log for future reference.

My laptop is simply too heavy and bulky, even as small as it is, to carry around everywhere, especially if I’m carrying hardware as well. My Treo 650, on the other hand, never leaves my pocket unless I’m using it. However, while there is a mobile version of HelpSpot that is usable, I must log in repeatedly from my phone to use it, and the small keyboard and screen are not conducive to typing extensive notes. Enter the N800. It’s not a cell phone, but here are a few highlights that it does have:

  • WiFi access (with a better radio than most laptops from several reports)
  • Bluetooth
  • 4″ touchscreen
  • Gecko-based web browser supports nearly all sites that Firefox supports on the desktop (including JavaScript/AJAX) and has Flash 9 support
  • Built-in video camera along with Skype and Gizmo video chat ability
  • Google Talk (my favorite) and other IM services
  • IMAP, POP3 and web-based email
  • Multimedia playback in multiple formats
  • Expandable memory using up to two SD cards
  • On-screen keyboard with expandability using a Bluetooth keyboard for a real, touch-typing keyboard
  • Linux-based system using the Maemo platform for free add-on software

There’s more, which I know after reading nearly ever review ever written about it, but that’s the gist. Mine is coming from eBay with an iGo Stowaway Ultra-Slim Bluetooth Keyboard (it’s only $50 from Amazon right now) and an 8GB SCHC memory card for less than it would all cost from Amazon brand new. I am very, very excited to get my hands on this thing! It will let me do a lot, but it should also solve my helpdesk logging problem: I’ll carry my N800 and keyboard with me, using it to log helpdesk requests as I work on them, giving me more detailed and time-accurate logs. Everything else it can do? Really, really tasty icing on the tiny tablet cake! And the N810? I want touch-typing, so the keyboard on that is just a nicety (especially with the touch-typable Stowaway coming with the N800 for me). The smaller size would be nice, but it’s not that much smaller, and the screen is the same size (both 800×480 resolution). The GPS would be nice but I’ve read reports that it’s slow, and to get actual directions on it costs an additional $130 to $200 or something. All three come nowhere near being worth twice the price! And the N810 only supports miniSD and microSD cards, rather than standard SD. The standard cards are bigger and cheaper.

The Nokia Internet Tablets are getting popular, too. Over at Amazon.com they were in the top three hot sellers over Christmas in the PC category! You can be sure of seeing some N800 posts coming up right here, and count on them coming right from the N800 itself!

  • 1

    Hey, let me know how that works out for you (well post a follow up anyway). Maybe we should offer a checkbox option in the UserScape store to get a N800 with each HelpSpot license :-)

    And thanks for the mention in this post and the last.

    Ian on January 17th, 2008
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    There is a lot of value in a handy small internet device that is for sure. UMPCs are great and I have been waiting and waiting for the right one. I recently got a Fujitsu U810, and I’m still not sure if it is more of a Tablet PC or a UMPC. Regardless I love it and have been doing all of my notes and my toons on it for a while. You should at least take a look at it and other UMPCs before you take the plunge. I did a write up about my new “baby” on my blog. http://churchithelp.com/blog/?p=128

    Good luck and have fun! BarryB

    Barry Buchanan on January 18th, 2008
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    Ian – I’ll definitely post a follow-up! If it works well I expect to see (discounted) N800s available when I renew my HelpSpot support this year so I can grab an extra or two! Or if you can get me an N810 for the price of the N800, I’d be happy to test that for you as well! :-D

    Barry – That Fujitsu unit looks very nice! Unfortunately, the N800 is my only option from a budget standpoint right now, but I have looked at a few Windows-based units. Also, I just helped a coworker purchase and set up a Lenovo Tablet PC last month, which is an excellent device (although with a 12″ screen, it’s not a UMPC). The Lenovo tablets are even more salty than most, however, but you get what you pay for! I don’t care about handwriting recognition too much, however (which the N800 is supposed to be bad at), but touchscreen navigation rocks. For typing, a touch-typing keyboard is a must for me which is why I’m getting the Bluetooth keyboard.

    At this point, it’s a bit late to change my mind, as I’m just waiting on my N800 to arrive in the mail! I hope it arrives soon, as I’m having trouble concentrating on other stuff while my mind keeps wandering back to the N800 and getting excited again :-) I’m hoping it lives up to the hype, but I’ve read enough about it to be pretty comfortable with it already I think.

    The biggest downside I can see is the lack of an Office app like OpenOffice.org and the lack of OneNote, which would be nice to sync with my laptop and desktop. Neither are deal-killers but I do think those are the main unattainable things I will want on the Nokia device.

    David Szpunar on January 18th, 2008
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    It is hard to argue with the N800s price. I’ll be very interested in your experiences with your new toy/tool. I was mostly just bragging about my U810. :) Just kidding, but I am happy with it for a sub-$1000 PC it has more than met my expectations. Good luck and have fun. I Googled the N800 and I may have to pick one up for myself some day. I’m so glad to see a move away from trying to make a phone/PDA. Seems to be a hard balance between a functional PDA and a retro-cell phone sized device.
    Keep up the great blogs dude. Yours is the only one I read every time I see you post. Mostly because I don’t want to miss out on the latest toy…er I mean tool.

    Barry Buchanan on January 18th, 2008
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    Hey, what do you think this post was? I’m “bragging” before I even have the thing in-hand :-) No arguments there…geeks love their toys!

    Thanks for the high praise, I’m glad you find my posts interesting/useful! Perhaps I should end each post with a tagline, “–This post has been read by Barry Buchanan.” ;-)

    David Szpunar on January 18th, 2008
  • 6

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