Sunday, September 30, 2007

My alternative laptop

There it is - my alternative laptop. The Nokia N800 Internet Tablet, with a foldable Freedom Universal bluetooth keyboard (folds to half it's length). I've added a pen to give an idea of scale (it's a one-meter long pen, though - naaah, just kidding).

I spent an entire weekend trying to follow instructions on how to install the driver for the keyboard, but they are now working nicely together.

The screen has a terrific resolution which makes a big difference in terms of usability. There are dedicated buttons to toggle in and out of fullscreen mode, and to zoom in and out as well. The habit of reaching for a mouse is unlearned quickly thanks to the combination of the fullsize keyboard (with important shortcuts) and the touch screen. There is also a choice of two styles of on-screen keyboard: my favourite is the larger of the two - it takes up nearly all the screen and allows you to thumb the keys easily, or even quasi-touch type.

The built-in browser is Opera, but it's possible to replace the rendering engine with a Mozilla one. I've done this, and now I can use Ajax-based websites very easily, including Google Documents - an important part of out planned travel software solution. And of course it works well for blogging too. The next blog entry I write here will be from the N800.

As for memory, I plan to spend some money on MicroSDs. My camera takes Memorystick Pro Duo and the N800 takes SD. So the most convenient way of transferring from one to the other (for the purpose of viewing, blogging, or uploading to Google Pictures) is to transfer MicroSD cards from one to the other by means of MicroSD-to-SD and MicroSD-to-ProDuo converters. I guess it beats hauling a hard disk around with me. I'll have to keep an eye out for a convenient microSD container to hold a large number of them together. They seem particularly fragile and easy to lose.

It's not a laptop, and there's no point in pretending otherwise. It'll seem slow and hard to read compared to the normal laptop experience. But it comes in at less that 500 euros including the keyboard, can (and will!) be carried in a jacket pocket, and also runs skype. An excellent travel communication and journaling kit, all in all.

Speaking of communication, I've just bought a SIM from a new Irish service called MaxRoam which will keep the phone bill way down both for ourselves and anyone who wants to contact us. I'll blog on this later this week.

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Andrew said...

Nice kit!
Are you bringing spares with you, rechargeable batteries etc...

Conor O'Neill said...

Looks like an awesome setup! N800 is a big improvement over my N770 but I still love the N770. You don't realise what a killer product line it is until you have one.

Agree about the thumb-keyboard, it works really well.

Just spotted leaked info on N800 upgrade. Rumours of slide out keyboard and built-in GPS.

Should be getting my hands on N95 in next few weeks as a loaner. Despite having harddrive and GPS, I think the lack of a touch-screen will drive me nuts.

Brendan Lawlor said...

@Andrew - the only spares I'm bringing are memory cards. I will assume that recharging over 8 months is reliable enough? What do you reckon?

@Conor - I'm pleased with it alright. Thanks for your help. BTW: Installing chinese fonts gets rid of the big keyboard and uninstalling it again doesn't undo the damage :-(

When you say upgrade, do you mean software upgrade for the n800, or the next hardware in the n-series?

Conor O'Neill said...

Next version of the hardware. N900 or somesuch.

dathai said...

Yup, no sooner does one buy a piece of hardware than the next generation arrives. All hail the N810

Paolo Redaelli said...

I just bought a keyboard of the same model, but I had some problems linking it to the Nokia N800...
Which kind of link did you use for the keyboard? HID or serial (adding kbdb)?

Brendan Lawlor said...

Hi Paolo,
I didn't use HID. Flip the switch to the left to SPP. Good luck!

Brendan Lawlor said...

Or should I say "In bocca al lupo".

Paolo Redaelli said...

Oh, grazie!

I'm able to use it with SPP and the additional keyboard daemon. I was wondering whenever you have been able to connect it without additional software, i.e. in the bluetooth settings of the control panel.

Happy blogging

Brendan Lawlor said...

I'm not sure I understand the question, Paolo.

I too, needed to install the driver that you mentioned. And when I connect with the keyboard, I need to use the shortcut that comes as part of those drivers.