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I kind of understood when way back in 2005 Nokia launched the 770. Then early last year I came out broadly in favour of the N800, though with some reservations.
Both were earlier versions of the N810, a mobile device designed with communications, entertainment and information storage in mind. The N810 mirrors that aim and adds new features. It is nicely designed as far as the hardware goes, and it offers a reasonable range of software capability.
But in today's world, I think the N810 misses a crucial element. It is a device from Nokia without a SIM card slot. With UMPCs and notebooks starting to sport SIM connectivity, and more smartphones around than you can shake a stick at, who's going to pay £330 for a pocket-sized device that needs a wireless network nearby or a Bluetooth enabled mobile phone to get onto the Internet, especially when they'll still need a SIM-toting device of some kind for bog standard network based voice calls?
Nokia clearly thinks my concerns are misplaced, and I have to say that for all the negativity above there is a lot to like about the N810. I'm just not sure if there's enough to justify a purchase.
So, what's it all about, this N810 Internet Tablet?
Essentially it's a Linux-based device with an army of built-in software for all manner of activities, a QWERTY keyboard, the aforementioned Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and GPS. Stereo speakers sit on either side of the wide format screen.
The keyboard is nicely hidden away when not needed, sliding out from the side of the device when required. The keys themselves are a bit bigger than those you'll find on many handhelds with sliding keyboards, simply because the N810 is a bit larger than your average handheld at 128mm wide, 72mm tall and 14mm thick. It's pretty heavy too at 226g. Put it into the provided sleeve and you're going to be well aware you are carrying it around.
When you don't want to use the keyboard the 800 x 480 pixel, 4.13-inch screen is touch-sensitive. Fingertips do for prodding the screen most of the time, but occasionally you need to resort to the stylus; a sadly lightweight piece of plastic which doesn't quite belong with the metal-looks of the N810 itself. Handwriting recognition is included and there's a tappable QWERTY keyboard for the touchscreen too, so you really are spoilt for choice when it comes to data entry.