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Review: Nokia N800 Internet Tablet is fascinating but incomplete

It's got faster, more powerful mobile Internet access

By David Haskin
January 25, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Nokia's N800 Internet Tablet is one of those devices that's fascinating and different enough to make a mobile geek's heart go pitter-patter with excitement but may not fit the needs of a lot of people.

More powerful and refined than its predecessor, Nokia's 770 Internet Tablet, the N800 is a reasonably small device that's finely tuned to give users access to the Web, POP3 and IMAP e-mail, RSS feeds and, to a limited extent, instant messaging and voice over IP. It also plays audio and video, and performs a handful of other tricks for tech-savvy mobile users.

However, while the N800 is a significant improvement over its predecessor and it performs many of its tasks quite well, it is as much defined by what it doesn't do as what it does. On the whole, most gadget lovers would do better with a more flexible, less expensive smart phone.

The Nokia N800 tablet
Nokia's N800 Internet Tablet
Courtesy of Nokia Corp.

Better browsing

A major improvement over the 770 is the N800's faster speed. It loads applications and Web pages much more quickly than before. It also has a slicker look and feel, with a silver faceplate and slightly less heft (it weighs 7.2 ounces and is about 5.7 inches by 3 inches in size and a half-inch thick). The N800 also has two slots for SD cards, making it useful as a media player, although one of the slots is hidden behind the battery cover and is a bit clumsy to get to.

As with the 770, the main form of connectivity with the N800 is Wi-Fi. In our tests, connecting to a Wi-Fi network with the N800 was as simple as connecting with a Windows XP laptop. Once connected, the N800 will automatically connect to the same network the next time. The device supports WEP, WPA 1 and WPA 2 wireless security. In addition to Wi-Fi, Nokia added dial-up networking support, enabling the use of a 3G-connected Bluetooth phone as a modem.

Like its predecessor, the N800 sports an extraordinarily beautiful and crisp 800-by-480-pixel, 65,000-color display. Combined with the highly competent Opera browser and the speedier performance, the display made surfing the Web a pleasure.

Besides browsing, we also found the built-in e-mail client easy to set up and use. It was about as simple to use as Outlook Express or Mozilla Thunderbird. In short, this little handheld provides the best Internet experience we've had with a small mobile device. True, it's bigger and slightly thicker than the newest generation of smart phones, but it still is highly portable and supports most -- though unfortunately not all -- of the tasks users would want to accomplish while they're mobile.

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