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It Does Little and Not Very Well 318

Posted by Hemos
from the unfortunante-path dept.
wiredog writes "A Washington Post (frryyy) review of the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet, a handheld Linux device. The reviewer complains about the lack of keyboard, poor WiFi implementation, outdated software, non-standard memory card, and almost as many crashes as an unpatched Win98 install."
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It Does Little and Not Very Well

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  • by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:24AM (#15142332)


    From TFA:
    Its biggest flaw is the keyboard that Nokia left out. You can enter text only by tapping a tightly packed on-screen keyboard, with help from an automatic word-completion option, or by taking your chances with handwriting recognition that's either ploddingly slow or wildly inaccurate. That alone should sink anything built for constant Web and e-mail use.
    This latest failure underscores once again the main problem with miniaturization...that while we can continue to make things smaller and smaller, their interfaces (input - keyboard/mouse, output - screen/speakers) must remain large enough to be useful, and the larger, the better. Even if you totally discount other problems like removable data storage, the main problem of user interfaces will continue to stand in the way of true miniaturization.

    I'm still wondering why we haven't seen a personal data device marketed with either a roll-up or projected keyboard, fingertip mouse, and VR glasses? Freed of these constraints, the device itself could easily be made small enough to be wearable.
    • by monoqlith (610041) on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:35AM (#15142433)
      Miniaturization is a problem, but it seems mostly for people trying to make many-purpose devices like these ones. It's not as difficult to build a very usable, very tiny interface on something that only performs one or a few specialized functions, such as the iPod or a cell phone. Trying to make a productivity tool, however, requires some ingenious compromise of size and functionality. Make it too small with two few buttons, it's too hard and not worthwhile for people to pick it up and learn. Make it too big with too many and it ceases to be truly portable.

      I've thought about this for awhile and for the life of me I can't seem to come up with a compelling way of making a small, multi-purpose interface with a dealable learning curve. For these devices to succeed they have to be amenable to absolute manipulation in the same way that standard, non-digital physical objects are, and that's a mighty challenge that I don't think anyone has been able to succeed at to date.
      • by jalefkowit (101585) <jason@jasonlefko ... net minus author> on Monday April 17, 2006 @12:24PM (#15142783) Homepage
        It's not as difficult to build a very usable, very tiny interface on something that only performs one or a few specialized functions, such as the iPod or a cell phone.

        I don't even know about that -- there's definitely a non-trivial market for cellphones with big, big buttons, for example, which implies that cellphones haven't exactly nailed the UI thing even for single task devices. Nokia has even started making this an explicit part of their marketing; see their new "Buttons for Humans" campaign [nokia.com] for an example.

      • what if we took a look at the design for a gameboy. The hand held videogame systems, although reasonably large, seem to be very comfortable for doing a variety of input commands. There's always the option of using the back of the device for input. Nobody seems to do that.
      • I'd be more than happy if someone constructed a Palm device the size of the Steno pad I carry around to all my meetings. It's an extreme upscale from the current crop of Palm or WinCE devices, and not sized right for a pocket, but right in line with the usability that people in an office are used to. The Palm OS has all the features the thing would need, and a battery the size of one you could get in a package that size would run the thing quite a while.

        For those of you not familiar with the common, top s
    • Inputs like this? Bluetooth Laser Virtual Keyboard [thinkgeek.com].

    • Easy to fix (Score:2, Insightful)

      by perdelucena (455667)
      Just plugin a thin USB or bluetooth keyboard and the problem is solved. Next question, please.
      • Re:Easy to fix (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MankyD (567984) on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:51AM (#15142556) Homepage
        Just plugin a thin USB or bluetooth keyboard and the problem is solved. Next question, please.
        That completely defeats the purpose of having a single portable device that you can carry with you. Next thing, you'll be telling me I have to carry a keyboard, mouse, printer, speakers, ethernet cable, portable optical drive, usb hard drive and a power cord. This is one of those things that is supposed to "just work".
          • People who use Palms use to carry keyboards like this on their wallets.
            http://www.the-gadgeteer.com/stowaway-xt-review.ht ml
            Wonderful but I don't buy products like this just so that I have to go buy something else to make it useful. That should be choice not a requirement.
    • The MS Origami devices coming out have a novel onscreen keyboard interface. Who knows how well it works, but at least it's a different appraoch than the traditional "picture of a keyboard" approach.

      Pix here:
      http://www.engadget.com/2006/03/08/cebit-web-site- shows-origami-ui/ [engadget.com]
    • You mean like this [virtual-la...yboard.com]?

      It's useable, barely. A nightmare for a touch typist as there's nothing to tell you whether you're finger is on a key or smack in the middle of 3 keys.

      I predict you won't see real miniturization until implants are available. Wait til you see what your grandkids can do!

    • What I want to know is why nobody has made a 1-2lb, 8-12" screen, convertible tablet with the power of a PDA instead of a laptop (and the cost to match). Not everyone who wants a portable tablet needs it to be fast too, or has $3000 to spend on it!
      • What I want to know is why nobody has made a 1-2lb, 8-12" screen, convertible tablet with the power of a PDA instead of a laptop (and the cost to match).

        We did.

        The Pepper Pad [pepper.com] has an 8.4", 800x600 screen, a 624Mhz Xscale CPU, a 20GB disk, Wi-Fi, bluetooth, USB, and a full keyboard for about $800. It runs Linux and includes both Firefox 1.5 and Flash 7.

        • Let me clarify my previous statement: all that stuff I said, but with a 1024x768 (or higher) screen and a real QWERTY keyboard, like on a laptop.

          In other words, this [sharpsystems.com] except with a swiveling digitizer screen.
      • I'd want one of these things too. The "portable screen" idea microsoft had was a start (several years ago they briefly marketed a concept [pcworld.com] that was basically an underpowered tablet running nothing but a glorified VNC client showing the display on your real computer) but I need something standalone. Don't need to store my mp3 collection on it, so 4GB flash (harddrive=movingparts=bad) should be enough to load the OS and basic apps. Wireless, a good screen, USB for an optional keyboard, and I'd be set.
    • by kurt555gs (309278) <kurt555gsNO@SPAMovi.com> on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:58AM (#15142606) Homepage
      I have a Nokia 770, and I love it. Yes, wiFi drops out, but I have installed ssh, telnet, gaim, gnumeric, joe, and a whole bunch of other things. It will axtually work as a remote X terminal, (gnome proggies, not kde ( it crashes)).

      Despite the shortcommings, it is a great way to ssh into my server(s) and fix things.

      The browser also works with my online banking, which is rare in portable devices.

      It may not be the best consumer device, but if you know what you are doing, then it has a lot more usefullness than many, if not all of the other micro-portables.

      It is well worth the $359.00 it takes to buy one.

      Cheers
      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday April 17, 2006 @12:47PM (#15142946) Journal
        My 770 was effectively free, and was well worth what I paid for it. The good:
        • The browser. I like Opera, but the UI sucks. The 770 has Opera, but a much nicer UI than the desktop version.
        • The battery. It lasts 3 hours of active browsing. Using the device as an eBook reader I've got around 10 hours out of it; great for travelling.
        • Bluetooth and WiFi both Just Work(TM).
        • Full set of development tools available.
        The bad:
        • The mail client is appalling. The UI is dreadful and it refuses to work with SMTPS.
        • The browser doesn't seem to be able to remember passwords. Very irritating when I was visiting somewhere that needed a username and password entered to connect to the WiFi, especially since the 770 turns off WiFi to conserve battery after a short while if there are no open connections.
        • The handwriting recognition is the worst I've seen. Someone wrote a handwriting recognition engine in under a hundred lines of Smalltalk, and it was better than the 770's version.
        • No bluetooth file transfer protocol server (there is a command-line one available, but with zero documentation I was unable to get it working). This makes moving files between it and a full sized machine cumbersome.
        • Dev tools are Linux only and don't really work nicely with anything that's not Debian.
        • It runs Linux. This means you get the braindead Linux out-of-memory handling. Opera just asked for a bit more memory to render a web page? Pop! The text file you were editing has just been lost because the kernel picked the text editor app to kill.
        • The text editor can only have a single document open at once.

        I don't know what version of the firmware the author had, but I haven't had any crashes with the latest one, and I only had one with the version my preview copy shipped with. He also seems to be grasping at straws claiming it has a non-standard memory card. RS-MMC is as close to a standard as anything else I've used; I have more devices that take RS-MMC than anything else, and it works fine with my cheap USB card reader.

      • It is well worth the $359.00 it takes to buy one.

        The price point is actually decent. If Sharp had only priced their newest Zauruses (the C1000/C3xxx series) at the same price point and actually sold them in the US, they'd sell like hotcakes. Pretty much every complaint about the Nokia is gone with the newest Zaurus series. Sharp missed the boat on that one.

        Kudos to Nokia for actually selling and supporting such a device to the Western market.

      • Thank you. And I hope you have a long and prosperous career with Nokia.
    • Thanks, TMM! Another thing to note, however, is that there are *MANY* interfaces that can be used in-place of a keyboard. We have buttons, microphones, and other devices. We have accelerometers, infrared, ultrasound, and frickin lasers.

      Devices designed by committee are generally stupid. If Apple had an iPhone that worked properly, I'd be all over that. As it is, I haven't found a phone I like better than my old Nokia 3650, and it's of poor design!
    • This is why Google wants to do voice recognition. Imagine having a phone-sized device that could understand the spoken word. It might not be great for composing an essay, but it would kick ass for getting directions, running IM, making notes and pretty much anything else Google is good at. I've been waiting for my GooglePhone for years now; but companies keep making crap like this instead (I'm also very disappointed with my Nokia 6101 -- I think they've lost me as a customer).

      Get the voice recognition

    • VUI (Score:4, Insightful)

      by zogger (617870) on Monday April 17, 2006 @01:12PM (#15143139) Homepage Journal
      It would about have to come from a voice interface then. One that worked. A bluetooth or wired headset and just...talk to the machine. Then it could be small.

      I so much agree on the tiny, I detest having to go get new cell phones, it has gotten to the point I can barely use them they have gotten so small. All this new really small stuff is designed with young humans with tiny fingers and great eyes in mind it appears. It doesn't matter how tiny the device is if you just can't use the thing, doesn't matter how many features it has if you can't see the screen or manipulate the buttons.

      Note to hardware companies-look around the western world, the population with a lot of disposable income is neither real young nor do they have great eyes. Stiff fingers/arthritis and bifocals are *common*. You want those folks business, keep that in mind when you are designing stuff. These companies are telling folks who think nothing of dropping 100 grand on an RV that their market segment isn't worth releasing products designed with them in mind. Pretty much a huge missed business opportunity there near as I can see..with my bifocals. Keep saying FU to that market and it will reply in kind. Cater to it, you *might* get some bizznezz...
  • by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:25AM (#15142337) Homepage Journal
    For those who were wondering - yes, the summary is a troll. For those who missed it:
    and almost as many crashes as an unpatched Win98 install.
    1) Since when was their a patch for Win98 that stopped it from crashing? (apart from this patch) [ubuntu.com]

    2) And - the review did not mention the O/S crashing - just applications crashing. Linux is not the problem here.

    Anyway, on to the meat:

    Nokia's 770 platform is only just starting. [newsforge.com] The 770 is available for retail sale, but not really intended for the general public.

    There's an upcoming release [nokia.com] of the linux derived O/S it runs (in 2006) and Nokia are actively courting developers. (including discounts for gnome hackers) [linuxdevices.com]

    I say kudos to nokia - they're (as the review shows) releasing a cool bit of hardware kit and they're going to let the software developement community (both free, open & proprietary) fill in lots of gaps. I hope it works out.

    Oh - and rereading the review - it appears the reviewer's "biggest complaint" was the lack of keyboard. That's what seperates a tablet from a tiny laptop retard
    • by garcia (6573) on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:34AM (#15142423) Homepage
      Oh - and rereading the review - it appears the reviewer's "biggest complaint" was the lack of keyboard.

      I'll tell you what -- I use a fairly excellent mobile device for my daily needs (it has basically replaced my need for a laptop and I rarely use my desktop). The biggest draw is that it has a full Qwerty keyboard that, while being very small, I can easily use to communicate easily.

      If I'm going to move to a device like the Nokia 770, I would *expect* that it have a hidden/retractable keyboard that I could easily use when I wasn't just pointing and clicking on links or scribbling a quick note.

      If no keyboard is what seperates a tablet from the rest of the exceptional mobile devices out there these days (including my Sidekick) then I'll stick with what I have and wait for EDGE/wifi support.
      • FWIW, the keyboard on the 770 is an order of magnitude better than any onscreen keyboard I've ever used. It's not as fast as a thumbboard, but it's faster than t9, at least for me. And MUCH better than PocketPC/CE/Palm/Newton keyboards.
      • I'll tell you what -- I use a fairly excellent mobile device for my daily needs (it has basically replaced my need for a laptop and I rarely use my desktop). The biggest draw is that it has a full Qwerty keyboard that, while being very small, I can easily use to communicate easily.


        Which mobile would that be? You have my interest.
        • If no keyboard is what seperates a tablet from the rest of the exceptional mobile devices out there these days (including my Sidekick) then I'll stick with what I have and wait for EDGE/wifi support.
    • by spiritraveller (641174) on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:35AM (#15142431)
      The 770 is available for retail sale, but not really intended for the general public.

      If you sell it to the general public, then you are intending that they will buy it.

      The fact that it is open source should NEVER be an excuse for putting out a buggy retail product.
    • It also seems he was switching it on and off every time he wanted to use it, rather than using the rather nifty built-in power management. Either leave it alone (or give it a clue by sliding its cover on) and it'll slow the processor, shut down devices and the screen and save battery.

      In this "close to standby" it awakes instantly and lasts a week or so between recharges.
    • by Otter (3800) on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:42AM (#15142488) Journal
      And - the review did not mention the O/S crashing - just applications crashing. Linux is not the problem here.

      Read down to:

      The Nokia 770 takes longer to boot up than some desktop computers (nearly a minute) and offers battery life no longer than that of many laptops (4 1/4 hours of nearly continuous browsing). In two weeks of testing, it locked up and spontaneously rebooted more often than any computer I've used in that time.
      Admittedly, that comes after multiple problems of applications crashing separately, which is why you may have missed it.

      I say kudos to nokia - they're (as the review shows) releasing a cool bit of hardware kit and they're going to let the software developement community (both free, open & proprietary) fill in lots of gaps. I hope it works out.

      Oh, yeah -- this is fantastic! It may be buggy and useless as it's currently sold, but the important thing is that they're giving discounts to GNOME developers who will hopefully then fix it for them! I'd better buy one right now!

    • Oh - and rereading the review - it appears the reviewer's "biggest complaint" was the lack of keyboard. That's what seperates a tablet from a tiny laptop retard

      No, the digitizer screen that you can write on is what separates a tablet from a tiny laptop. It can still have a keyboard and be a tablet!

      And believe me, the difference matters -- there's many "tiny laptops" around, but almost zero tiny tablets, especially ones with keyboards!

    • I have to agree (Score:3, Interesting)

      by porkThreeWays (895269)
      I agree. I have one and hack on it all day. It's a fun little beast. It's basically the only device of its kind available in the states. It's a next gen Zaurus, except Nokia is sponsoring development of lot's of 3rd party apps. However, I wouldn't buy one for my mom right now. A lot of apps are still being ported and are buggy. I think the first generation of the 770 will probably fail. But once maemo has lot's of apps ported (actually, it already has a shitload, but not so much "business apps" and many are
      • There are some hardware issues to address (battery life, gprs, storage),

        Oh, is that all? Well, sign me up. But add the wi-fi drops to that list.

        Hmm. Not too compelling. Maybe v3 will be a great product - if they allow it to get that far. But I fear that the problems with v1 leave them wide open to even a slightly better (if much less expandable) product shutting them down.
        • Re:I have to agree (Score:4, Informative)

          by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday April 17, 2006 @12:58PM (#15143035) Journal
          I am not sure what the grandparent meant by listing those features. Mine gets at least 3 hours of active browsing (WiFi) on a single charge and went for about 10 hours of eBook reading on a long trip recently (low CPU usage, no WiFi / BT).

          GPRS is not an issue for me, since it connects happily to the 'phone in my pocket for that. Since my 'phone has its own battery, the drain on the 770 is quite small connecting to the Internet like that.

          Storage is expandable by just plugging in a bigger RS-MMC. Currently this limits you to 1GB.

          I also don't know what you (the reviewer?) are talking about with the WiFi drops. I have used mine on WiFi for hours at a time with no issues. Perhaps this means the power saving feature that drops the WiFi connection when there are no active connections for a short period. If you are reading a long web page then you don't want WiFi on draining the battery all that time, for example.

          The three biggest things (I think) they need to fix for the next generation are, in order:

          1. Handwriting recognition. The 770's handwriting recognition is worse than other devices had 10 years ago with CPUs a fraction of the speed. Fix it.
          2. Add another 64MB of RAM. 64MB is not quite enough. Adding 32MB of swap on Flash makes the entire device a lot more useable. RAM is cheap, don't skimp on it.
          3. Replace the mail client with one that isn't a complete waste of space. Ideally completely re-work the UI; this is a device that people will look at mail that's stored online with using IMAP, not something they will download their mail to. Design the UI around that. Oh, and make the underlying libraries actually work (e.g. actually support SMTPS, instead of having configuration boxes to set it up and then suggesting disabling SSL as soon as I try to use it. SMTPS is essential for a device that is going to be used in a variety of locations, since open SMTP relays are not that common anymore).
    • Hopefully Nokia execs will read this.

      Bundle the 770 with that E61 [nokia.com], and you will have a dynamic duo.
    • You are blind (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Shohat (959481)
      It did reboot and crash . The whole piece . Not just the Apps . You are blindly defending it just because it's Linux . The product is not something of quality any of us would actually pay for.
      Not everyone that says MS products are good or Linux sucks are posting flamebait/trolling . Plenty of people actually hold this opinion .
      "unpatched win 98" . Oh no ! He said MS doesnt suck enough ! OMG ! Kill him !111!!!!11!!one!
    • 2) And - the review did not mention the O/S crashing - just applications crashing. Linux is not the problem here.

      Here is what the article did say: "In two weeks of testing, it locked up and spontaneously rebooted more often than any computer I've used in that time."

      In my opinion, if a computer locks up, or spontaneously reboots, or crashes, it is indeed the fault of the operating system.

      Saying that it is not the fault of the O/S is like Microsoft saying that bluescreens aren't the fault of the O/S, they ar

      • If its' hardware is wonky, is it still OS's fault?

        That said, I don't see where the OP got that anyone blamed Linux in the first place. Poorly written kernel-level drivers or unreliable hardware will destabalize any OS.

    • Everyone also needs to remember that this is a first-gen device. Its not going to work perfectly, and it is going to have its little quirks and bugs that will get worked out as it is revised. Many of the problems, like battery life and the Wi-fi troubles, will be worked out, and the software and UI will improve.
    • Nokia's 770 platform is only just starting. [newsforge.com] The 770 is available for retail sale, but not really intended for the general public.

      There's an upcoming release of the linux derived O/S it runs (in 2006) and Nokia are actively courting developers. (including discounts for gnome hackers)

      I say kudos to nokia - they're (as the review shows) releasing a cool bit of hardware kit and they're going to let the software developement community (both free, open & proprietary) fill in lots of gaps. I ho
    • Since when was their a patch for Win98 that stopped it from crashing?

      Not to nit pick or to even suggest a defense of Win98, but it was fairly stable for the OS it was, not having a kernel like NT.

      Win98 and mainstream applications is pretty crash free. The problem with Win98 is that it, even more than Win2k or WinXP lets third party software screw with the system, and due to the nature of the Win9X kernel technology, there is no protect from bad applications, from protecting system files to not fully contro
  • More uses for 770 (Score:3, Informative)

    by dotslasher_sri (762515) on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:30AM (#15142386)
    Someone has ported GPS over to 770 and now combined with a bluetooth GPS receiver it acts as a gps decive showing maps etc. There are plans for VOIP support soon. Combine this with FON router and you are on online at many places and make free calls, check email etc. I was thinking on the lines of hacking this into a car. There is already GPS available, so why not hook it up with car stereo and double it as an mp3 player. And if you have a FON account every time you drive by a FON location it downloads your email.. missed calls etc. This can be pretty interesting. Any thoughts ?
    • by un1xl0ser (575642)
      This is really cool, but to quote one of your links -- "Until a vector map solution is available, GPS use on the Nokia 770 tablet will be recreatonal at best." That about sums it up. The size is right for that, the on-screen keyboard can be changed, lots of things can be fixed ... but until there is either a free or non-free vector based GPS solution, it will just be a toy.

      This is worth looking at:
      http://linuxadvocate.org/projects/roadster [linuxadvocate.org]
    • Yeah, less functionnalities than actual mobile phones.
  • by xshader (201678) <(jaecob) (at) (gmail.com)> on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:34AM (#15142419) Homepage
    keyboard? get a bluetooth keyboard.

    crashing? dont load mega-websites on a machine with sixty-four megs of ram. lots of sites work fine.

    does little? there are tons of emerging third party apps emerging... did that guy even check the maemo wiki page?

    most useful third party app on the seven-seventy is fbreader. lets you read any txt files rotated or not, large/small fonts and so on. most of your standard ebook features are there.

    another useful app is the xterminal. if you ever use ssh to connect to remote sites to do stuff, you'll find this xterm-in-your-pocket highly useful.
    • dont load mega-websites on a machine with sixty-four megs of ram. lots of sites work fine.
      If it crashes, it must be user error, right?
    • crashing? dont load mega-websites on a machine with sixty-four megs of ram. lots of sites work fine.

      Still, it shouldn't crash the application or cause the kernel to want to kill the application. The application should refuse to do the operation requested when malloc() fails -- and malloc() should fail (I hate overcommit).
  • by N7DR (536428) on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:35AM (#15142429) Homepage
    I have seen several reviews of the N770 that for the most part come down "this device is no goo because it doesn't do X", for some value of X that the reviewer seemed to think vital.

    All I can say is that I finally saw one of these about three weeks ago, and immediately (as in, next day) went to CompUSA and bought one. I love it. It does exactly what I want, and the only complaint I have is the lack of software -- but that will be quickly solved as the community ports apps to it. www.maemo.org is very active.

    So it does what I want, and I think it's great. Obviously, if it doesn't do what you want, you'll think it's awful/pointless/a waste of money.

    It has replaced my Zaurus (and has the added benefit that the form factor is almost identical to the Zaurus, so I can even use the same case for the N770).

    • Of course, one of the ironies is that it *does* do X (including acting as an X server for remote apps ;-))
  • Could have as many crashes as an unpatched Win95 install....
  • I have to agree (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mehip2001 (600856) on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:41AM (#15142480)
    Excited, I picked one of these up about two months ago. But, I found it extremely lacking and returned it for an ipaq. Why didn't I like it? The email app almost always crashed when accessing my imap accounts. The browser (opera if I remember correctly) had real issues with moderately complex websites. The wifi seemed very slow when using encryption. In general, it wasn't much of a pda. On a positive note, the screen was beautiful and the movie playback was fantastic.
    • "On a positive note, the screen was beautiful and the movie playback was fantastic."

      Question: Does it playback xvid or divx movies? Right now I have a library of stuff I've ripped to my desktop machine. Sometimes I like to lay down with my TabletPC and watch movies over the network. Just curious if the Nokia tablet would more or less do the same job or if I'd find myself frustrated with it.
      • Yes it does, I've got three "Wallace & Gromit" movies and "Reservoir Dogs" on my device right now.

        The bad news is that the device is not powerful enough to play anything close to the native resolution of the screen... You'll have to downsample to something like 256*144 (as 16:9) or 320*192 (as native 15:9) if you want to look at 25 frames per second. The good news is that movies looks surprisingly good even at those resolutions and the screen is really good.

  • I think this would be a wonderful replacement for the search computers at the local Borders store. Every now and then, a computer would either be stuck on the Windows 98 logo screen or a blue screen. Of course, they would have to chain them to the wall so no one walks out with one or shelved them in the "when technology goes bad" section.
  • It is just baaaaad (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MikeRT (947531) on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:44AM (#15142509) Homepage
    I bought one and had to return it after a week of various things. First it was the flaky battery, then the flaky software that ended up becoming all but unusable. To put it nicely, the software is crap. Not only that, but it's incredibly slow. I would gladly have paid an extra $150 for a system based on embedded Qt with 128MB of RAM, a better processor and a real, fast SD card system. Basically, it is a short cut looking for a quality product. They cut so many corners that's nearly a perfect circle.
  • Nokia is very new at this and it will take the organization several years until they get the hang of it; that's the same whenever a new platform is introduced into an organization and has nothing to do with Linux. Look at Motorola's iTunes phone to see how even adding a single new capability to a phone is non-trivial. Thousands of highly reliable embedded Linux devices show that embedded Linux itself is very much up to the task.

    As for the 770, the hardware is nice, kind of like a big Palm; it's the UI that
    • Nokia is very new at this and it will take the organization several years until they get the hang of it;

      The bad thing is that Nokia had access to a perfectly fine platform: Familiar Handhelds.org Linux. The good thing is that Nokia has hired the team that did Familiar in the first place, so hopefully there will be a merge between Familiar and Maemo in the future.
    • the Palm T|X software platform is beyond obsolete, and Palm is in deep trouble since they still haven't figured out what to replace it with.

      What makes Palm OS obsolete, in your opinion?

      It is still the device that I turn to for portable information-management with long battery-life. I would buy a Treo if they worked with Grafitti.

      I think Palm's biggest problem is software development tools -- I haven't tried their Eclipse-based studio yet, but I would like to know the comments of people who have used it.

  • Seems to me the big makers don't always listen, so here goes:

    Keyboard and IBM-style nipple-mouse instead of a wand and touchscreen.
    Foldover format like a Psion 5 - should fit inside a suit inner pocket
    Inbuilt Bluetooth and WiFi
    Proper POP/IMAP client that handles SSL and StarTLS
    office-style apps that read either MS formats or Opendocument
    web browser than handles AJAX properly
    ability to either add a SD card or similar for storage

    O/S irrelevant. I just need the features, I don't think anyone offers
  • I just got one a week or so ago, and it does everything I expected it to do and it does it well. It even serves as a nice walkman type device for when I'm mowing the lawn...

  • by Dynamoo (527749) * on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:48AM (#15142536) Homepage
    My Nokia 770 is great - it does exactly what it's designed to do. It's a great, portable way to access the web via WiFi or Bluetooth, *much* more convenient to carry around than a laptop and the great thing is that it's really an accessory to your phone, so you don't have to have a cellphone as big as a housebrick.

    What the Nokia 770 *is* - it's an internet tablet with an very high-resolution 800 pixel wide display, with a basic email client, RSS reader, multimedia support and some apps thrown in. It does come with expandable memory, and there are other apps you can load onto it for free.

    It *isn't* a laptop replacement, nor a PDA, nor a phone, nor is it a games machine or a personal multimedia player although it can do all of these to an extent. Primarily, it's designed to give you a much better web experience than you would get from a cellphone while it fits in your pocket. If you choose to extend it with keyboards, new applications and even things like GPS then it's up to you.

    Two words of warning - I bought mine directly from Nokia (I had one of the first) and the first unit was faulty, at which point I discovered that Nokia's customer service is not great. And to get the best out of the N770, some work is required in terms of patching and loading on apps.

    One last thing - it's great value. In the UK it works out as £250 including tax and shipping which is cheaper than many mobile phones.

    • I'm not sure I fully understand the logic of "laptop replacements" or even "desktop replacements" (referring to laptops) for that matter. Since technology continues to progress exponentially, there will - at any given time - always be things a desktop can do that cannot be 'replaced' by a concurrent laptop. And similarly, there are always things a laptop can do that cannot be 'replaced' by a concurrent handheld device.

      The only exception to this fairly self-evident situation is one of marketing: an older,

  • by mikeee (137160) on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:53AM (#15142572)
    It's not a PDA or a teeny laptop. It's a handheld webbrowser.

    I can read news sites, RSS feeds, check my Gmail, all works just fine. It's also servicable as a MP3 or video player - certainly not as good as an ipod, and reformatting videos to appropriate resolutions/framerates/formats can be a PITA...

    I think of it as more a compact second (ok, in my house it would be 4th) computer that I can pick up and check my mail and a few news sites without wandering off to another room to log in. I don't generally respond to mails on it - it's bad at that, but that's not the point.
  • This little device changed my perspective on the mobile web. As the owner of a SE P910, I think that the device is trying to do too much. Imagine a small mobile that simply makes calls, but now add a tablet such as this. I can call, access network apps like gmail or the new calendar. Does it play flash slow as hell? Yep! Device makers totally under-estimate the needs of tablets...

    I have to admit that the thing is a gimmick today. But real soon, a platform like this will be indespensable. The hundred dollar
    • Flash is developed to be slow as hell on everything. Actually people that use flash for their websites should be sued because they eat the time (=money) away of people that have better things to do than to look at fancy moving menus, "loading..." status meters, etc. etc. for half a minute when they just quickly want to check something on the interweb. What good is a 20 mbit dsl connection and a 3 Ghz processor, when the website interface is deliberately slowed down???
  • by n6mod (17734) on Monday April 17, 2006 @12:08PM (#15142669) Homepage
    I got one a few months ago, spurred on by the port of Einstein. If *something* could finally replace the Newton, this might be it. The truth is that Einstein is too slow for normal use, but I fell in love with the 770.

    I use it *constantly*, because it's has a real web browser (Opera w/Flash) and is pretty easy to connect over WiFi. It fits nicely in my coat pocket, and has a glorious, bright display. And it's an open and well-supported platform for development.

    The reviewer makes some good points for his world. It doesn't play well with Microsoft. That's not a factor in my world. Sure, it doesn't play WMV9. But it does play MPEG-4.
    It could use some additional memory. I moved the root fs onto a card to deal with that, and it's much more stable now.
    The network messages are a little obtuse. Basically if any connection has reached a timeout (why there's a timeout for WiFi I'll never know), it says "Network Connection Error" when you try to send a packet. So you click 'Connect', pick a network, and you're off.
    It uses RS-MMC because that's what the rest of Nokia's products use now.
    It works flawlessly with my RAZR on Cingular, and the thought of EV-DO has me looking at the Sprint/Samsung RAZR clone.

    Make no mistake, this is a 1.0 product, and not really ready for prime time. But it *is* ready for the /. crowd, IMO.
  • Wifi (Score:2, Funny)

    by kryten_nl (863119)
    From TFA:
    WiFi on the 770, however, may not work much better. The review model I tested frequently failed to log on to my home network's wireless signal for no apparent reason; uselessly vague error messages such as "network problem" left me guessing about the cause.

    Now, don't go blaiming his home wifi setup. There's nothing wrong with it, I haven't had any problems over the last two months, and I'm two miles away using a Pringles box as an antenna.
  • by jpellino (202698) on Monday April 17, 2006 @12:33PM (#15142841)
    Ooh Ohh I know this one!

    What is "Apple ///"?
    What is "Karl Rove"?
    What is "Windows 1.0"?
    What is "Windows ME"?
    What is "Microsoft Bob"?
    What is "Moeller SkyCar"?
    What is "3DO"?
    What is "Buran"?
    And the Daily Double,
    What is "FEMA"?
  • There's a few things where Nokia missed the boat on this one. First:

    MEMORY

    64 MB is a paltry set of memory for Linux. Would have been much better with 128 MB of ram. There's also not enough rootfs space either. Notice ye hackers doing things like Swap on the RS-MMC....I don't have to do that on my Pocket PC!

    RS-MMC

    RS-MMC??? I can't really bitch that it's not standard because it is (follows MMC) but SD or even transflash would have been a way better choice. IN fact, here's what to do in the next iteration
  • I've had one of these since just about Christmas. It's a great gadget for what it is: a wireless web browser on a Linux platform. The screen is crystal clear, the web browsing works and I've had no issue with network connectivity. To the extent there is a problem it is that Nokia seems to be marketing this as a consumer-ready device. It isn't. Mail is flaky, the PIM functions are missing, etc, etc. If it was only sold to its target audience (alpha geeks) everything would be cool.

    All that said - I love it
  • Does little my butt. (Score:3, Informative)

    by DemonWeeping (849974) on Monday April 17, 2006 @01:54PM (#15143422) Homepage
    Same as previous N770 posts... I've been blogging howto's like mad. Firmware/Software Hacks Connectivity Ideas and Ruminations: Other fun:
  • Citrix? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 222 (551054) * <stormseeker@@@gmail...com> on Monday April 17, 2006 @01:57PM (#15143436) Homepage
    I remember looking at these things and seeing a somewhat functional citrix client...

    Has anyone tried to get something like this up and running?
    I've been deploying tablet PC's in an industrial enviornment that are essentially expensive thin clients, it would be nice to find a replacement at almost a 10th of the price.
  • Good for tinkerers (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jfenwick (961674)
    This guy [blogspot.com] seems to like his a lot. It's a blog dedicated to his experiences with the Nokia 770. He's used at as part of a robot, as a GPS in his car, and even managed to connect to the internet through his cellphone with bluetooth, despite the fact that some people think you can't. It's all a matter of it you have the time to spend messing with it to get it to do what you want. Unfortunately, I really don't think it suits my needs out of the box, since what I really need is a pda that has a calendar, wifi, a
  • In other words ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LaughingCoder (914424) on Monday April 17, 2006 @02:58PM (#15143860)
    it's yet another poorly conceived, badly implemented device from Nokia - a company that has proven time and time again that they make good phones, but haven't got a clue when it comes to making anything else. Seriously, in a former life I wrote applications for cell phones, and the Nokia devices were THE WORST. Everything was non-standard; every model had a unique twist. They touted their Symbian operating system as an "open and standardized" platform, but our sourcecode was riddled with #ifdef NOKIA3650, #ifdef NOKIA6600, #ifdef NOKIAinsertmodelnumberhere ... blah blah blah. Nothing they do surprises me anymore and I wouldn't carry anything with a Nokia name on it other than a cheapo bottom-of-the-line phone (which they do a pretty good job on).
  • by dspyder (563303) on Monday April 17, 2006 @03:28PM (#15144071)
    All you bashers (reviewer included), please tell me what $400 alternative is out there that has WiFi and Bluetooth and some kind of mass-storage device? Battery life has to be greater than a laptop, so let's say 4-5 hours. Keyboard preferred, but if there's a workable alternative that would be fine. Screen must be landscape for viewing web pages (so rule out your ipaq's and palms and most cellphones). I think Nokia got the concept, design, and price right... they just missed on the keyboard and the application & connectivity reliability. If they come out with an attachable thumboard (bluetooth or otherwise) and they provide patches for the OS and the apps, I'll definitely buy one. --D

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