06:58 PM

Review: Nokia 770 Internet Tablet

What Nokia’s 770 Internet tablet does, namely web browsing and a number of Internet applications, it does very well. But Nokia blew it by failing to include basic PDA functionality. The device also falls down on battery life.

The $359 Nokia 770 Internet Tablet is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a table form-factor device optimized for using the Internet. The 800x480 screen makes surfing the Web feel like driving a desktop, not a handheld. Dedicated keys for zooming and making an application go full screen make viewing easier. While browsing websites, it became almost second nature to go full screen as soon as the browser application loaded.

Unlike Nokia’s other communication devices, the 770 includes only Wi-Fi or Bluetooth adapters. In order to access the Internet on the tablet, you need either to access a wireless hotspot or use a data connection from a Bluetooth-equipped cell phone. While setting up a Wi-Fi connection was painless, setting up a dial-up connection via Bluetooth proved more challenging.

Once connected to the network, I started going through the pre-installed programs. Bundled applications include a Web browser, e-mail client, audio and video players, file manager, news reader, PDF viewer, and a couple of games. Conspicuously and needlessly missing are calendar and contact applications. Nokia makes it clear that the 770 is not a PDA, but a device designed for quick and portable Internet access. Our question is: If you can use a mobile phone as a PDA, why not an “Internet tablet”?

The 770 connects to a PC via a mini-USB connection on the bottom of the device, mounting the Reduced Sized Multimedia Card (rs-MMC) as a mass storage device. This connection is designed solely to transfer files -- such as music, photos, videos, or PDF documents -- to an installed memory card. It was disappointing to see that, unlike most current portable devices, the 770 was unable to charge over the USB connection. This means that there will be one more AC adapter to carry when traveling.

While testing the pre-production model, a reviewer on another CMP Pipeline site noticed quite a bit of lag and overall poor responsiveness. It appears that Nokia took action on that, because I experienced none of those issues on the production model. Applications opened pretty quickly, comparable to loading applications on a PC.

One glaring problem with usability is battery life. I left the 770 in standby over a long weekend, only to find the battery completely drained by Monday morning. While only slightly less than Nokia’s seven-day estimate, it is still a bit disconcerting for the power to be tapped so quickly while not even being used.

In the end, the 770 Internet Tablet left me wanting more. Out of the box, the 770 does an amazing job surfing the web, as well as a reasonable job as an audio player or an e-mail reader. Unfortunately, it is hard to make this a device you would use everyday without the core information applications such as a calendar or a full address book -- additions that would be trivially easy for Nokia to add, and would make this device worth buying.

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