Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Technology

The NOKIA N810 Internet Tablet

November 2009

The Nokia N810 is an impressive kitchen sink kind of device that has something for just about everyone. It is billed as an "internet tablet" but oddly, that's one of its weakest points. It is a lot of fun to work with otherwise.

Picture of the Nokia N810

On the hardware side, it is categorized as a MID computer (that would be a "Mobile Internet Device"), having a screen size of 4 inches. It is larger and thicker than an iPhone but smaller than a netbook.

Physically, the quality is very high: metal body, slide-out keyboard that lights up, microphone, camera and best of all, a slide out stand which also works as a hand grip when you are working with it. The screen is touch sensitive.

There is built-in Bluetooth so you can use a headset, speakers, external keyboard and such. It will also talk to your Bluetooth phone for contact information. I have paired it with a Mac and wirelessly moved files back and forth with it. There is also built-in 802.11 Wireless and GPS. You can also connect it to your PC or Mac via USB.

On the software side, it runs the Maemo OS which is a flavor of Linux, the open-source system. It's as different as the Mac and Windows operating systems are from each other. It takes some getting used to but on the plus side, if you are at home with using the terminal, this is as fully functional as a laptop.

A Baker's Dozen Things that it's Good For

  1. Internet Radio
    You can use the built in stand to set it on your desk and use it as a radio.
  2. Voice over IP
    It comes with a headset so you can make calls on the internet using Skype.
  3. Palm Emulation
    Oddly, you can turn it into a classic Palm Pilot if you are so inclined
  4. Ereader
    The screen resolution is 800x480. Text is crisper than any other small device. There are hardware buttons for navigating your book
  5. Media
    You can play music, audiobooks, videos. It works really well with TED videos
  6. Word processing
    It has a slide out (lighted) keyboard plus an on-screen keyboard. There is handwriting recognition so you can write with a stylus
  7. Twitter
  8. Email
  9. GPS
    You can keep a running map of where you've been
  10. Contact List
  11. Camera, but ...
    ... at .3 megapixels (yes, less than one third of a megapixel), it's useless for picture taking but good for Chat
  12. VNC
    Connect to your Mac or PC remotely and control it
  13. Games
    Not as many as the iPod but the standards are here: Chess, Doom, Tetris, Breakout, Mahjong, etc.

Conclusion

Time has unfortunately passed this device by. Although well made and feature laden, it suffers from an extremely slow web browser. You can get to where you want to go but might take some time. Five years ago it was a wonder, now it is a curiosity with enough usefulness left in it to make it fun. It will live out its years in Mark's Computer Museum.

As of this writing (November 2009), there is a newer Nokia N900 tablet about to ship. It should be a lot better in just about every category -- let's wait and see!

If you're curious to try out the Nokia N810, contact Ken Davignon and he'll take you for a tour.

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