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Should you buy Nokia N810 Internet Tablet?

I had been using a tablet pc for more than 2yrs and it is from Averatec. So, when I was deciding on buying the Nokia N810 Internet Tablet, I already know some aspects of tablet pcs. I never figured out a way to properly use the stylus and type in the words fluently, so that’s definitely not the reason why I bought it. But there are plenty of other good reasons to buy it and they are listed below

* The form factor. It’s weight is half-a-pound! Anything more would make it painful especially if you want to sleep and browse the web relaxedly.
* It has WPA support so that you can connect it to the internet using my existing Wireless Lan.
* It has a built-in GPS receiver. Yes, it can serve as a GPS unit! So, if you don’t have a standalone GPS unit, then you will get two things in one gadget, albeit at a bit higher price. More about GPS is mentioned below.
* It has a built-in keyboard making it possible to type text rather than using the stylus to do free-form writing or tapping the onscreen keyboard. While the keyboard is not as convenient as your typical full-size keyboard, it is reasonable enough. The keyboard is backlit so when you are typing in the night with lights off when everyone is sleeping, this option comes handy.
* It has a built-in camera and possible to do chatting using Google Talk or Skype (I didn’t get it to install Skype, but it’s possible). Built-in speakers and microphone are there for playing songs and chatting.
* It is based on the maemo linux distribution and comes with Mozilla browser that allows accessing any Web 2.0 websites possible. Possible to watch YouTube videos using the 4.1″ screen which is a bit bigger than an iPhone (it’s everything the iPhone offers less the phone but support for VOIP reduces this gap a bit).
* While the number of apps available to this are limited, if you have several Palm apps already, there is a Palm emulator that makes it possible to run all those 30K+ Palm applications on this device. Heck, it comes with an xterm and you can ssh to rest of your network as well. Depending on how geekish you are, you can run a few linux commands from the xterm and feel good about :). And there is an SDK which makes it possible to satisfy your developer desire if you so wish by writing a few apps.

GPS support with Nokia N810 By default it comes with an application called Map. This doesn’t provide directions and navigation instructions but possible to buy that service for $100+/3yrs price. However, there is a “Maemo Mapper” application that provides the ability to create routes and also voice announcements. What’s best, using the maemo mapper, you can overlay the map with Google Satellite images! For voice announcements to work, you need to also install a library called flite. Few issues I have with GPS are, sometimes it takes a while to get the GPS service to work (There are three options for GPS information within maemo mapper. A bluetooth option which allows to use an external GPS reciever, a /dev/gpsd internal device or a gps server on the network. I initially used the 2nd option but based on reading, it’s possible to use the bluetooth option without specifying any value to it). So, perhaps it’s not as fast as using a dedicated GPS unit (this is not exactly a great concern for me). Also, it tries to do what’s called “Establishing gps fix” which again seems to take a lot of time but didn’t interfere with the ability to start using the map while that is happening. So, overall it seems like an acceptable choice to use it as a GPS device.

Power The N810 battery is BP-4L which comes for about 7hrs of normal usage like listening to songs and web surfing. As I have been running multiple apps at the same time, I never got it to go for 7hrs. If you want to use the device as a GPS unit on a long trip, the battery life becomes critical so having a mobile charger with car adapter is an option. If you are going to the city and want to use the GPS while walking, there is an extra power pack as well.

I think overall, N810 is a good choice at about $400 for those who want a light-weight internet connectivity product which also serves as a GPS unit and is more than your typical PDA.

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