Nokia N800. It’s an Internet tablet, about the size of a large PDA or a small thin paperback book; almost exactly the same size as a Nintendo DS Lite, in fact. It runs Linux. It connects via WiFi or Bluetooth.
I bought it because I spend a lot of time reading web pages, PDFs and other electronic documents. In particular, my “killer app” was to be able to read the electronic edition of The Guardian with my morning coffee—ideally, in bed.
Yes, there are laptops. However, if you’ve ever tried to casually read the newspaper in bed using a laptop, you’ll probably agree with me that a kilo or so of hardware gets tiring on the arms, and trackpads aren’t conveniently located for use when the computer is propped up.
The N800 is the first portable device I’ve used that has a decent web browser. It’s Opera, in fact. The Guardian’s web site works on it. So do Google Mail, Flickr, Slashdot, Google Maps, and Wikipedia. While the text starts off small in order to squeeze a whole web page on the screen, it’s crisp and readable, and buttons on the top of the device make it easy to zoom in and out. For web browsing it easily beats a Palm handheld, Sony Ericsson P9xx Smartphone, Windows Mobile device, or Blackberry. (I’ve tried ’em all.)
Note that the N800 is’s not a phone. The assumption is that you already have a mobile phone with Bluetooth; if you want to use expensive mobile data plans, you just pair your phone with the N800. This is an assumption I agree with; in general I want my mobile phone to be small enough to fit in the pocket of a pair of jeans, which precludes giving it a screen big enough to browse the web on.
Here are some other high points:
And in the interest of balance, the low points:
So the executive summary is: if you want something you can keep in your satchel and use to browse the web at the café, this is currently your best bet. If you like the idea of the iPhone but don’t fancy paying about $2k and being locked out of running your choice of applications, the N800 plus a tiny GSM phone in your pocket is a good alternative, and has more than double the pixels.
(And yes, LiveJournal works on it. If you must.)
© mathew 2017