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Nokia 770: Not As Bad As It Seems

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Nokia 770, the new Internet tablet has elicited a very mixed reaction from those who care for such things. Before I get ahead of myself, Nokia 770 is like a mini-tablet PC, which has no cellular connectivity, runs on a TI processor, and uses Linux OS. It has a nice screen that can display 800 X 480 web pages on an Opera browser, can do email via a digital pen, instant messaging, and even perhaps streaming audio and video. It connects to the Internet using a WiFi connection and also has bluetooth connectivity.

The most common reaction to Nokia 770 is that of slight confusion, as expressed by Russell Beattie. Beattie, is known for his Nokia bias, as I am for my preference for iPod. So his comments cannot be taken lightly. Admittedly, my initial reaction was: people have we not learnt from the colossal disasters like Audrey and SmartTablet? Then thinking over it, and reading a lot about the device, and going back and reading Russell’s free-flowing piece, it became clear that he was looking at these device from a mobile phone perspective.

This thing sure looks like a PDA. I mean, a pen!?!? You’ve got to be kidding me. The most popular devices lately are those with little keyboards. Pens are so mid-90s. Why no cellular connectivity?

A couple of observations: read-write web and the tiny keyboards he talks about, are a North American phenomenon. Blackberry, Treo and other stuff put together still doesn’t add-up to 5 million units total. Most countries outside of NA region tend to have a lot more “pen” based computing. Secondly, from what I understand, this is a device that is more of a peripheral of a PC than a laptop replacement or a mobile phone. It is targeted at broadband enabled, wifi homes. Its primary job is to provide instant-on access to do four or five basic Internet related tasks anywhere inside the house.

It is a device which has the right idea at the right moment. Research shows that WiFi usage inside homes is only going to increase. There will be 160 million broadband enabled, networked homes by 2010, according to The Diffusion Group. This trend offers opportunities to sell devices specially designed for this type of environment.

Russell, and others have bemoaned that Nokia is going to have to support yet another OS. Given the track record, you could put me in that camp. However, the linux under pinnings make it more extensible. I think there will be more hacks for this device very quickly. With WiFi becoming common place, at least on school and college campuses, this one has a potential with the next generation.

28 Responses to “Nokia 770: Not As Bad As It Seems”

  1. Nokia 770 was smaller than I thought it would be. The nicest part is that it found my wireless network just fine and the browser works. Downside is that performance is generally sluggish for a memory based device. Displays web pages nicely but not very quickly. Email app looks nice but also is sluggish and is missing some key functionality to really use it. Instant on is really instantaneous. I see this as a web browser to keep near the couch. Newsfeed feature is pretty good also. Some games are in progress from outside vendors but only buy this for an instant on browser. There is functionality to make it work with your bluetooth phone but I have not tried it. A faster processor and a little more memory (64mb vs 128 mb) would create a much better feel to the product.

  2. I have just bought an N70 today. BUT I have a problem that the Nokia website is not able to sort out for me today, how do I change the language of the phone? At the moment it is all in Flemmish (I live in Belgium) and I need to have it in English! Unfortunately the instruction manuals are in either French or Flemmish, I don’t speak Flemmish so I can’t go through the manual to find the equivalent in French! Please, is there anyone out there who can help a poor pathetic creature who really wants to enjoy her new phone?!!!P.S. I have tried searching for the manual in English on Google. Thank you!

  3. Every one has missed the point of this device. IT WILL TAKE OVER THE WORLD. Why.

    In a world where IP telephony and instant messging will dominate, why not have an always on device that allows me to make and receive calls through my broadband. Why do I need a mobile or even a landline.

    I already talk frequently using Skype at home. My kids use Instant Messaging and Text in preference to talking. For the first time I have a device that is easily accessable, has a decent resolution which happens to co incide with widscreen video formats and I can leave powered on and not worry about killing the environment.

    If and When the telcos sort out WIFI roaming pricing ( and it will happen)….

    Nokia should be congratulated in Seeing the near future

    Think about it.

    Mike C

  4. En Kerro

    >> most countries outside of NA region tend to have a lot more “penâ€? based computing.

    Pen based PDA’s and data-centric converged devices are much bigger phenomenon in NA then in the rest of the world. I live in Europe, our office is filled with Nokia Communicators and smartphones, I haven’t seen a single pen based device here.

  5. I’ve been waiting for this puppy to come out for awhile. I don’t mind the $350 as I can now lay in bed and do my nightly 30-minute surfing without wife getting cranky. I would expect there is a section of the population like me…come home from work, eat dinner, play with the kids, watch a bit of TV, look around in the garage, GET ON THE INTERNET, etc. For some reason, when I’m doing the internet thing, wife is yelling orders from the other room. Now, having this little gizmo in my pocket means I can have my 30-minute internet fix while obeying wife’s direction around the house. Hurry up and release Nokia!

  6. Just how tweakable will it be? If this is really a baby Linux tablet, it’ll be a charm and it will fly off the shelves into the arms of happy geeks. Can I slap new software up onto it – and if so, will it be easy-to-get Debian-friendly goodness? Good lord, GIMP and a console on a three-hundred-buck tablet? How cool would that be?

  7. Bill Hope

    Personally, I’m tired of the ‘Try to be everything’ cellphones. Too hard to use. I only use it to make phone calls (can you imagine!)

    I just want a simple phone and a seperate PDA type device. My Visor is getting on in age and I just started looking for a replacement. This is it! I can also access my web-based home entertainment system.

    I might have to buy two if my wife gets a good look at it. Then she won’t have to wait for our daughter to get off the computer…

  8. At Redmonk what struck both me and Stephen is that this device is not targeted at end users so much at end users as grassroots developers–uber geeks and o’reilly types. attract them and cool apps will come. attract cool apps and consumers will come. this is a web services meets Skype meets REST meets Firefox meets Google access device. designed for “remix developers”.

    This device is for what happens after Walled Gardens. Nokia has never appealed to this type of developer (outside the carrier) before. now it starts.

  9. Many are missing the point here, I think given the Linux underpinnings, this is a device which can be morphed into many different things. Skype over Linux is already there – cheap phone service anyone? This in my mind is the ultimate de-centralized content display device. Imagine what the chinese can do with this device? They use pen-computing, they use linux, and they are buying broadband faster than anyone else.

  10. Personally, I really like this device for around-the-home use. It’s not as big as the average laptop, and it has a good screen resolution for reading web pages and RSS feeds — which I have to do at my desktop, because I never had the cash to switch to a laptop.

    This will let me read feeds from the sofa, look up recipes in the kitchen, send quick emails out to friends from the backyard, etc. Put MediaTuner in the browser, and it can play podcasts. Plus, it will let me do all those things and more without forcing me to put up with that annoying hum from my PC’s fan.

    I wouldn’t buy it in place of the Treo, but at $350, I see a lot of value in this…