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'RogerSWhen I first encountered the Nokia Internet Tablet, I thought, “Gosh what a great e-reader!” I've

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used each NIT as an e-reader but I learned what it's great at is, well, doing the internet thing. As its name suggests.

I thought GPS was a natural win. The big screen made maps easier to read than on most dedicated devices. Still, I used my tablet for email more often than GPS.

The voip calls with visuals blew me away. Except no one with a tethered connection bought into cam-calling.

The 770, the N800, the N810 — these were all complete computers! They meant I didn't have to lug around a laptop just in case I had real work to do. But I did most of my real work on a real computer and my wife never got the hang of using a NIT. My son's friends found the iPod Touch easier for surfing and he never cottoned to it.

With its touch screen, I didn't need a keyboard, but I liked the N810 keyboard. The keyboard made apps easier to port anyway.

And Flash! Once it became clear that “internet” meant surfing without sideways scrolling, email, and videos on YouTube, the internet tablet excelled at giving me the internet.

Well, excelled in lots of circumstances. Without a cell-plan data connection the walkaround web had no impact on NIT users. The Apple iPhone has a minuscule segment of the smartphone market but generates 50 percent of mobile web use. Apple's genius wasn't in the interface but in browbeating AT&T into affordable web access.

Does the Nokia Internet Tablet have a real future? We have a $200 netbook and it's easier for conference notetaking than an N810. I have an Amazon Kindle 2 and I can get books for it that aren't available for FBReader on my NITs. Half the cars have GPS built-in now anyway. So what's the sweet spot for the Internet Tablet?

Doh!. The internet, same as it's always been.

Except these days, “the internet” means Twitter, too. With multi-tasking so I can tweet full-screen and use multiple screens to follow several hundred people (in more than one group). With keyboard and touch-screen and audio and photos too. And from anywhere I might be, um-m, walking around.

I can tweet from a phone now, thank you very much, but making sure it fits is no piece of cake. Tweeting means editing down to 140 characters without having to struggle. And reading (following), tweeting and surfing simultaneously? Hey, where's my computer again? At least Maemo was built for us to do more than one thing at a time.

I expect there will be lots of cellphones released this year that have keyboards and screens of a satisfactory size and cameras. Just having good specs won't draw much attention. But if the next NIT can ace the Twitter test and fly the Flash flag, it'll be very much in demand.

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For the last ten days I've been putting an Amazon Kindle 2 through its paces, wondering how desirable a dedicated e-reader is.

The resolution of the Nokia Internet Tablet screen is 225 pixels-per-inch; on the Kindle 2, it's 167 ppi. In a one-inch square, that means there are nearly twice as many pixels on the full-color NIT screen; too, video plays marvelously there. “White” on the 16-level-gray-scale K2 screen is, well, light gray; animation is not possible; and video doesn't even enter the realm of speculation.

Yet the K2's 6-inch-diagonal screen encompasses wonderfully more text than pocket-sized devices. And that is no small thing. In these electronic times I have re-subscribed to the print edition of the New York Times, added magazine subscriptions and now carry NYPL and Montclair library cards in my wallet; still, 90 percent of my reading is done on-screen. The pencil-thin K2 capitalizes on our need for reading to be mobile beyond any previous device.

As for portability, the K2 doesn't just talk the talk. Native-born to the walkaround web, its purchase enables you to browse all the non-moving-pixel parts of the internet from anywhere within reach of Sprint's 3G wireless network, for no cost whatsoever. And buy books at any hour, with immediate access.

In so many ways inferior to an Internet Tablet, but not without charm. However,

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that's not a Kindle 2 pictured below, but a prototype of the so-called CrunchPad, Michael Arrington's quest for a $200 “Macbook Air-thin touch-screen machine that runs Firefox and possibly Skype on top of a Linux kernel.”

'CrunchPad

The more you learn about the CrunchPad, the more it justifies the same label put on the K2, “monotasking hardware.” Continue reading ‘A device for every situation’

I've just had a crisis of convictions — returning my laptop to the publishing firm I've worked for since 2001 meant I needed to buy a computer quick.

And the deciding point came down to this: How much computing power did I need away from home?

You have to know that my friends expect me to separate from them when boarding the train to New York so I can sit in a laptop-friendly seat. They've also seen me skip a not-yet-full PATH (subway) train on the next leg into the city and wait five minutes for the next departure so I can open up the laptop for twelve more minutes of screen time.

Did I truly believe a weblet like the Nokia N810 Internet Tablet would suffice for my mobile computing?

Or has my fervent evangelism been tainted by way-cheap access to the Nokeys* I've used and by a top-of-the-line 17-inch laptop that my employer nefariously supplied me with, ensured its constant access by having me work at home two days a week?

Would I spend my suddenly scarce dollars for another laptop, intending to cart it most everywhere as I've been accustomed to for the last four years?

Or would I buy a sufficiently powerful desktop for less money and rely on my N810 for all my mobile computing?

This from someone who has written well over 90 percent of my ITT postings on a laptop. Who spends his free time looking at websites in Khmer (a script not supported by the Nokia weblets) and who works with multilingual texts every day. Whose eyes are aging and who consequently has a 14-point minimum font size set in his browser. Who installs on average one new program a week with a footprint of 30MB to 150MB.

Fabulous as the Nokia Internet Tablets are for spontaneous surfing, e-book reading, voip calls**, games, GPS geocaching, listening to music and watching video***, it's not a full-service device. I can't type 20 words per minutes on its keyboard, much less 100 wpm (as I do on a full keyboard). Can't run any topic map software (needs Java). No great XML and XSLT editors. And so on. How much would this lack hurt me away from my desktop? Could I manage to do what I had to do on the run with one or another weblet?**** The walkaround web is wonderful but what about trips? Could I go days without a full-powered computer?

Ah, who am I fooling?

I bought the desktop, which was half the price of equivalently powered laptops. For any kind of on-the-go now, I'm a weblet guy, body and soul.

__________
* I've paid 99 Euros each for the 770, N800 and N810 as they appeared over these last three years (roughly $115 to $140) as part of Nokia's seeding of the weblet development community. An N810 for $140 is a magnificent machine, there's no doubt about it.

** I use Gizmo for my second line permanently now. When I'm on one- and two-hour conference calls, it's really proved its usefulness by freeing up the main line for my wife's calls.

*** TV mostly, via the HAVA player, Today in the kitchen and Charley Rose in bed.

**** OK, at the moment I have five NITs. But some of them I bought to give to family. Really! I just haven't gotten around to it.

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itvcm.jpg

A new version of the Internet Tablet Video Converter has been released to fix bugs, add API support for Python, Perl, and Java, and now support for Mac OS X.

Victor Brilon, Sr. Product Manager, Home Networking Solutions, Convergence Products posted the following at the Nokia Beta Labs Blog:

Nokia Internet Tablet Video Converter has been updated and we’re thrilled to bring you this latest version. This latest release includes several major updates, including:

  • A version for OS X that’ll run on Tiger and Leopard on Intel and PPC platforms. This is our first release for the OS X platform, so we are eager to hear your feedback on how it could be improved
  • The codecs for the Windows version have been updated and hopefully we’ve fixed the bugs that the community has reported to us
  • The Developer API has been updated based on user feedback. It now supports Python, Perl, and Java as programming languages to access the API. We’re very interested in seeing what the community can cook up using this feature.

Download here.

Thanks to our great Internet Tablet community, we’ve made some really good changes to this software and we hope you like it as much as we do. Please report any bugs you find at https://bugs.maemo.org.

Thanks,
Victor

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hava.jpg

You must have all seen the video that I made of the HAVA Player for the Internet Tablet in action. If this is an Internet Tablet feature that interests you, you can then participate on Monsoon Multimedia's HAVA beta program to get an advance copy of the software as well as help better the software.

As a beta participant, you can avail of discounted HAVA hardware which you can purchase now. Monsoon is then releasing the first beta of the HAVA Player for the Internet Tablet to the beta participants on May 8.

See the full HAVA Beta Program details after the jump.

Continue reading ‘HAVA Player Beta Program’

Here's an exclusive at Internet Tablet Talk. We were able to get permission from Nokia to play the Nokia N810 WiMAX Edition launch video here at itT. Enjoy!

Please do not embed, copy, or distribute this video without proper permission from Nokia.

If you haven't seen the Nokia N810 WiMAX Edition in action and the side-by-side pics with the N810 Standard Edition, you can view them here.

[Thanks Satu & Tomas!]

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You've all seen the press release and the official product page. Below are some additional information I got at CTIA about the Nokia N810 WiMAX Edition:

  1. It will run Diablo. Update for N810 and N800 coming.
  2. The email client is now Modest.
  3. There are no finalized rates/plans yet for XOHM (WiMAX).
  4. Over-the-air update is now built-in.
  5. Bulge at the back for better XOHM reception. I didn't find the slight bulge to be an issue.
  6. Price will be $475 and should be out 2Q.
  7. No PIM planned yet.
  8. No one will confirm if this if the “4 of 5.”
  9. Connectivity has “Any Connection” option to switch automatically to WiMAX, WiFi, and Bluetooth. There is also an option for “WLAN and WiMAX.”
  10. Navigation software gets an upgrade.
  11. Still no video support for Skype.
  12. Color is black brushed metal, black keyboard, and goldish bezel.
  13. Case is pretty much the same but inside is carrot orange instead of sky blue.

Full demo video from Satu Sipola, Nokia N810 WiMAX Edition Product Manager after the jump.

Continue reading ‘CTIA Coverage: The Nokia N810 – WiMAX Edition’

'Nokia

In Las Vegas, where the CTIA Wireless 2008 show is going on, Nokia officially announced its N810 Internet Tablet WiMAX Edition today at 2:00 p.m. Eastern.

Because WiMAX signals extend 2-3 miles — as compared to a few hundred feet for WiFi — WiMAX networks enable broadband internet connections (2-4 Mbps, with peaks of up to 10 Mbps) for users on the move.

The device will be “available in the United States during the summer of 2008 in areas where WiMAX connectivity is available.”

Nokia also announced an

upgraded OS2008 [that] introduces useful new features to the platform, including an enhanced e-mail client, support for Chinese character rendering in the browser and RSS feeds and Seamless Software Update functionality to eliminate manual software updates, making periodic updates of the operating system quick and easy. While standard on the Nokia N810 WiMAX Edition, current owners of Nokia N810 and N800 Internet Tablets with earlier operating systems will be able to upgrade their device to the revised operating system for free during the second quarter of 2008.

I'm not sure if this adds anything to what we already knew about the next OS release, but since Reggie is having all the fun in Las Vegas, I'm reduced to reading and re-reading the press release.

Here's the obligatory statement of significance by an upper-level executive:

“By delivering the kind of open Internet experience that consumers previously only expected on a desktop PC, the Nokia N810 WiMAX Edition is a compelling example of how next generation broadband wireless technology will not only change the way people think about the Internet, it will change the very nature of the Internet itself,” said Ari Virtanen, Vice President of Convergence Products for Nokia.

“Much in the way that the evolution of the fixed Internet from dial-up to broadband enabled a host of new Internet services and changed people’s expectations of what an Internet experience should be, the transition to a broadband Internet experience set free from the constraints of a fixed network will spark the next wave of new mobile Internet services, and will forever change the perception of what the Internet can be.”

I think Ari means the walkaround web is a totally new experience and the new tablet will be the first to deliver it in this form. No argument there. (I guess if you're in one of those WiMAX locations, we're talking about the drive-around web, actually.)

Just so there's no confusion about this new tablet: When not in range of a WiMAX network, the Nokia N810 WE can also “access the Internet over Wi-Fi or via conventional cellular data networks by pairing to a compatible mobile phone via Bluetooth technology.”

Nokia's press release ambiguously notes that “a number of VoIP and IM clients are available, including Skype, Google Talk, and Gizmo5, which can also take advantage of the Nokia N810 WiMAX Edition’s built-in web cam for video calls.” Whether this statement includes Skype among the VoIP clients that can make cam calls depends upon how you parse the sentence. Clarification is already being sought on this.

Added later:

Where will you find WiMAX? Alex Vorn at World of Gadgets cites these locales in 2008: Baltimore, Washington DC and Chicago (with Boston “soon” and New York after that).

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itT was lucky enough to be among the first ones to try out the new HAVA Player for the Nokia Internet Tablet from Monsoon Multimedia, Inc.

Basically, the HAVA Player lets you take your TV anywhere and access your DVR, Cable, or Satellite boxes (standard and HD channels) connected to a HAVA appliance at home, via the Nokia Internet Tablet, as long as it is connected via WiFi or by any other high-speed connection.

From our initial tests, the Internet Tablet version of the HAVA Player even outperformed the PC version, with regards to video and sound quality. There were some minor sync problems that happen occasionally, especially when you keep switching from fullscreen to the remote control screen, but I never encountered the slow down nor the sound tone change that happens on the PC HAVA Player. The app is still on beta and should be released sometime the third quarter of this year.

We have been playing with the beta version for a week now but we weren't allowed to disclose anything about it since we were under NDA until CTIA (a press release is coming out from Monsoon in a while). We are releasing a 11 minute first look video that I took this weekend. I hope you all enjoy it!

As always, feel free to comment and suggest features. The Monsoon folks will surely be monitoring this thread.

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I have some computer smarts, but sometimes I'm baffled by the Nokia Internet Tablet.

There are some things I just don't understand about the tablets (or their OS or the pre-installed apps):

  • Why I can't construct a playlist in the Media player?

    You'd think this would be a no-brainer. I just want to grab 5 or 6 of the 80 songs on my N810 and play them together, even though they're by different artists on different albums.

  • Why isn't connecting to my PC via Bluetooth really easy?

    Sometimes I'm at my office, where WiFi is verboten. I want the tablet to use my PC's direct connection to the internet — I've done it plenty of times laptop-to-laptop in meetings where only one person was plugged into the wired network. Why isn't this a snap with the NIT?

  • Why is Linux made so hard?

    OK, it's clear that Nokia doesn't want to support unsophisticated users with all the things that can trip them up in Linux.

    But why doesn't File Manager have a simple switch (Show hidden) that lets me see the whole contents of my drive? Even with the trick of adding a symbolic link to root (or any directory), I still can't see hidden directories (eg, whose name begins with a dot).

    Which leads me to my next question:

  • Why can't I easily add fonts to my tablet and use them in the browser?

    Right. I had to make a /home/user/.fonts/ directory and mail myself a font and then jump through command-line hoops to put a simple font on my tablet. And go through contortions to tell the browser to use it. (Except I haven't succeeded in that yet. Emoticon with amazed look of disbelief here.)

    Might as well ask the real puzzler here:

  • Why can't OS2008 et al just let you be root when you need to?

    If us unsophisticates need so much protection against our careless actions, shouldn't we be wearing goalie gloves when we handle scissors? Why isn't there just a switch that says, “It's OK. I'll take the consequences. Just please let me make a directory or use apt-get without having to acquire developer-class knowledge.”

    Heck. That's the deep side. But what about the glam cam that arrived with the N800?

  • Why isn't there a face-to-face cam call capability yet?

    It's only the most amazing possible use of this walkaround-web device — unlimited cam calling via WiFi without having to sit in front of an anchored webcam.

    It's visual IM — just leave the call connected and talk when you want to talk. It's IM taken to the next dimension.

    Btw, don't tell me this is here. My wife has the N810 and I have an N800 loaner from Nokia, and we can't manage it. It needs to be click-simple and using Skype.

  • Why does upgrading the OS obliterate every manually installed app I've put on my tablet?

    I know, if I go from Windows XP to Vista (and I haven't), I'd have to re-install my apps. But every upgrade and patch in WinXP is managed without that requirement. Shouldn't it be possible in this marvelous Linux world?

  • Why can't the application memory be extended to one of the memory cards?

    Is swap the extent of this? You know, I'm willing to risk the possibility that my flash card will get the same spot written to 100,000 times and fail.

Yeah, there are more things I don't understand about my tablet's design. Just getting the answers to Why not a model with a keyboard? and How can you call it an internet tablet without handling Flash and YouTube? have really lowered my orneriness. I won't pick and pick and pick.

On the other hand, it's your turn. What behavior or aspect of the Internet Tablet makes no sense at all to you?

Added later:
_______________
* Tablet-to-tablet cam calls via Gizmo apparently arrived during my recent period of submersion. I'm happy, even if it isn't Skype. (I mean: even if the five friends I know with VOIP all use Skype instead of Gizmo.) Me-to-wife cam-IM is plenty great

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