A Nokia N800, yesterday
I was able to cruise around London for press events and interviews, typing stuff up as I went along and filing it to my employers by email. It might sound trivially ordinary now, but at the time very few people were doing this; certainly not many of my colleagues in journalism.
Eventually I changed jobs and didn’t need to file copy from anywhere or anytime anymore. The Ericsson got upgraded for something less like an industrial stapler, and the Palm got archived away in a drawer.
But I miss that portable set up to this day. Now, I carry around a 15 inch PowerBook, a great machine in its own right; but I wish I had something a little smaller, and a little lighter, to carry around instead.
In recent years I’ve considered various options. Perhaps another, more up-to-date Palm device. Maybe an Alphasmart Neo, or a Dana. But nothing has yet been so appealing that I seriously considered buying it.
Not until this week, when I stopped to have a really close look at the Nokia N800.
This little internet tablet looks perfect for my needs. It has certain built-in basics, the most important of which is Wi-Fi, a browser (Opera, since you ask) and an email client. But it also includes Bluetooth and USB, so adding a keyboard (a proper keyboard, with full-size buttons; something like this, but bigger) shouldn’t be a problem. Toting the N800 and a keyboard around would be light work in comparison to carrying a PowerBook, and there’d be much less need to worry about battery life.
John Tokash has some informative blog posts about his recent purchase of an N800, including a guided tour video. There’s also a decent review at OSNews.com. Most of what I’ve been reading has filled me with excitement at the possibilities: not just writing-on-the-move, but also portable internet radio, and maybe VoIP calls. My only slight concerns are the boot up time (see John Tokash’s video - is it just me, or does the machine take an age to get started?) and the camera is video-only - it can’t be used to take photos. Maybe that’ll be fixable with software upgrades.
But my PowerBook is a perfectly decent portable computer. Why should I bother buying an N800? Good question. These days, there’s less need for me to be travelling around very much for my work. But having worked from home for the last six years, I’m certain that being able to escape the home environment does wonders for creativity. I might spend hours staring at the screen while sitting at home; but a 10-minute walk into town, followed by an hour or two in a cafe, can be the most productive part of the day. The PowerBook can do it, but only for a few hours. And it needs a decent sized bag to lug it around. The N800 offers more freedom to move, and less weight to carry while doing so.
That’s why I’m very interested in getting hold of an N800. It might not offer everything I’d want from a portable internet device, but it offers a good deal more than most, and (unlike the iPhone) is on sale right now at a very reasonable price.