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Nokia N810

Editor's rating (1-5):
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Reviewed April 2008 by Lisa Gade, Editor in Chief

In the first half of 2007, Nokia released the N800 Internet Tablet, a distinct hardware step up from the original Nokia Internet Tablet, the Nokia 770. It sported a new OS, though original tablet owners could upgrade if they wished. At the end of 2007, Nokia announced the N810, which is quite similar to the N800 in terms of specs-- but there are two important additions: a slide out QWERTY keyboard and GPS. Also, while both share the same TI OMAP processor, the N810 is clocked 80 MHz faster at 400MHz.

Nokia N810 and N800

The Nokia N810 top and the N800 below.

Surprisingly, Nokia added these two features while making the device smaller. That's impressive given the amount of space a hardware keyboard requires. Weighing in a nearly 8 ounces, the N810 is better in a bag than a baggy pants pocket, though at 0.55" thin, it won't take up much room in that bag. The handheld looks absolutely stunning with modern lines and an attractive metal casing. It looks like an expensive gadget and at $479, it is more expensive than the two budget priced models that precdeded it.

For those considering upgrading from the Nokia 770 or N800, it's an easy decision if you're coming from the 770-- the N810 is faster, more polished and adds the keyboard (which most everyone finds useful) and the GPS (for those of you who get lost-- you know who you are). If you're an N810 owner, the decision is harder since the N810 can be upgraded to OS2008 (we've done that with ours) and not everyone wants a GPS. If the one thing you wish the N800 had was a keyboard, then the N810 is a tempting upgrade.

Nokia N810 and N800

Like the N800, the N810 has a built-in swing-out stand, a large 4.1" display and a VGA web cam. But the web cam no longer pops out like a party favor-- it's integrated into the display bezel. The single MiniSD card slot lives under a cover on the bottom edge (that's right, the N810 doesn't have dual slots like the N800), and the battery lives under the back cover. It's the same battery as the N800's-- the Nokia BP-5L rated at 1500 mAh. The d-pad has moved to the slide-out keyboard and there are ports on the side for the 3.5mm stereo headset, USB and charging.

 

 

 

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Since the N810 is so similar to the N800, we won't re-review all the devices features. Please read our N800 review if you're unfamiliar with the Nokia Internet Tablet family of devices. To the point, the N810 is neither a PDA or a cell phone. The N810 is meant to be an "MID", mobile Internet device, and a GPS. It doesn't sync PIM data with the desktop, in fact it doesn't have a full PIM suite, and it has no mobile phone radio inside. Instead it has WiFi 802.11b/g for Internet access, including we browsing, email and YouTube viewing. The browser is new-- Opera is gone and the N810 comes with a Mozilla-based browser that's 90% of a full desktop browser. Impressive. It's fast and supports full desktop layout, dHTML, Javascript, AJAX and FLV flash video such as those used on YouTube (we're talking full YouTube here, not the mobile version). Scrolling isn't excessive thanks to the 800 x 480 pixel display and the screen is sharp and well-matched to that resolution (you won't get a bad case of the squints).

Nokia N810 and N800

Nokia N810 and N800

Above: The N810 top and the N800 below.

The email client is similar to that found on Nokia S60 smartphones like the N95 and it handles POP3 and IMAP email and renders HTML email nicely. Flash playback on YouTube is OK over WiFi, but the frames do drop and stutter intermittently. Should you wish to use a Bluetooth phone as a wireless modem with the N810, expect more stuttering. The Nokia N810 has Bluetooth 2.0 +EDR which is a good match for high speed 3G connections using AT&T HSDPA phones. This is handy when you're not near a WiFi access point or HotSpot and is more than adequate for email downloads and web browsing.

The N810 runs OS2008, Nokia's port of Debian Linux with the Gnome deskop manager and Nokia's UI on top. It's friendly and easy to use-- no need to be a Linux guru, though Linux heads do have a great deal of fun tinkering with the N810's underpinnings and writing applications for it. The Nokia Internet family is supported by the Maemo development platform, and there's quite a wide selection of free apps available. They haven't all been ported to the 2008 OS yet, but no doubt most will be.

Nokia N810 and N800

The N810's keyboard is pleasant to use, and easier overall than the Nokia E90's in terms of key travel. The top row of keys is awkwardly close to the display, but then we wouldn't want the trade off of a larger device either. The touch screen is a bit brighter than the N800's and works with the included stylus or a finger.

Nokia N810 and N800

GPS

The N810 has an internal GPS, but unforuntately this isn't the powerful SiRF III. It's similar to the integrated GPS used in Nokia phones like the N95-4 and the E90 and that means you'll need to be outdoors or very close to a window to get a 3D fix. Fix times aren't the quickest and it took 2 minutes to get a cold fix and 30 seconds for a warm fix. But once it did get a fix, the N810 maintained a steady connection with GPS satellites and was accurate for location. The device ships with "Map" for maps, POIs, and location info. If you want turn-by-turn directions and voice guidance, you'll have to fork out an additional $122/year or $15/month for the full version from Wayfinder with N. American maps (other countries are also available at an additional cost). The N810 comes with a car mount so you can use it more easily for driving directions, though the display does wash out a bit in direct sunlight.

Nokia N810 and N800

The iPhone and Nokia N810.

And Beyond

The Nokia N810 is good for a little fun too. The N810 has a music player that supports most popular formats including MP3, AAC, WAV, Real Audio (RA) and WMA. It can play content from internal memory, storage cards, streaming sites and from UPnP devices. The media player also handles video playback with support for 3GP, AVI, H.233, WMV, MPEG1, MPEG4 and Real Video. It has playlists and can handle M3U and PLS lists, and it also acts as an image viewer for BMP, JPG, GIF, PNG, TIFF and SVG-tiny files. Keep the video files under 500kbps and the N810 is a handy way to take ripped videos on the plane or train. The Rhapsody client is there for you Rhapsody users and it's been updated for the 2008 OS.

There's Skype support for VoIP calls (no Skype Video though) and it works quite well with the built-in speaker and mic as well as the included headset.

Conclusion

If you're looking for the perfect couch or bedside companion that boots instantly and won't attract virii like Windows, but has a desktop-like web browser, email, PDF viewer, music player and more, then the N810 is attractive. It sells for significantly less than list price (often under $400) and for that price it has a lot to offer then Internet-addicted set. The keyboard is a wonderful addition, though the GPS excites us less thanks to the subscription fee for navigation and slow fix times.

List price: $479

Web Site: www.nseries.com

Shopping: Where to Buy

 

Specs:

Display: 65K color transflective TFT color LCD. Screen size diagonally: 4.13 ". Resolution: 800 x 480, landscape orientation.

Battery: 1500 mAh Lithium Ion rechargeable (Nokia BP-5L). Battery is user replaceable.

Performance: 400 MHz Texas Instruments OMAP 2420 processor. 128MB built-in RAM, 256 MB Flash ROM.

Size: 5.04 x 2.83 x 0.51- 0.55inches. Weight: 7.97 ounces.

Camera: VGA webcam.

Audio: Built in stereo speakers, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack. Media player for MP3 and other music formats. Stereo earbud headset with inline mic included.

Networking: Integrated WiFi 802.11b/g and Bluetooth 2.0 +EDR. Bluetooth profiles: Dial-Up Networking, File Transfer/Object Push, Generic Access, SIM Access, HID (human interface device) and Serial Port.

Software: OS: Internet Tablet OS 2008 software edition (Debian for ARM, BusyBox, GNOME window manager and Nokia's user interface running on top, Maemo platform). Mozilla-based Web Browser (with AJAX and Flash support), Flash Player version 9, Email Client, Internet Radio, RSS News Reader, Media players, Image viewer, PDF viewer, File Manager, Search, Calculator, World Clock, Notes, Sketch, Games, Nokia Map and GPS utility.

Expansion: 1 MiniSD card slot that accept MiniSD and MicroSD cards (requires microSD to MiniSD adapter). Compatible with high capacity SDHC gig cards.

In the Box: Nokia N810, battery, car mount, slip case, manual, charger, stereo headset, USB cable for data transfers and installing OS upgrades using Windows (no syncing software).

 

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