Nokia 770 - initial impressions
Yesterday, I took delivery of the Nokia 770 I ordered from play.com on Friday. I opened the box to find that the power supply had a US plug on it and so before I could do anything at all, I had to go to Maplin and buy a socket converter. I brought it home and tried to plug the charger into it, only to find that the plastic lip was preventing me plugging it in. After attacking the converter with a kitchen knife, this problem was removed and I was able to plug the device in and power it up for the first time.
I had a brief play with it yesterday, during which time, I got root and installed xterm and an ssh client. My brother's band were playing at the Hope and Anchor that evening, and as I was driving my brother and his keyboards up there, I didn't get that long to explore.
As you, might expect, I'm writing this entry on the 770 and using this as an excuse to try out the various input methods. I wrote the first paragraph using the small on-screen keyboard with both styli and am writing this on the finger keyboard with the nails of my index fingers. This is certainly faster, but after a sentence or so, your hands start to hurt a bit.
I've tried using the handwriting system already and it sucks. It's nowhere near as good as Graffiti on the Palm. It is keen to make lowercase letters capitals and because it's interpretting as you type, the spacing changes and screws up what you're writing.
Having now discovered a shortcoming of the finger keyboard - that it duplicates text already written when you come out of it and go back in - I have switched to editing the entry on my Mac Mini. Fundamentally, a device that small is always going to have text input problems. When you're just entering a web address, it's OK, but you're not going to want to do much more than that. I might invest in one of those bluetooth laser keyboards - if it works well, that's really the only sensible solution. Clearly, typing with two fingers is going to be slower than normal typing.
Software-wise, the system is rather unstable. Several times, I've had an issue with the web browser whereby clicking anywhere on a web page caused the browser to immediately close. Rebooting the device resolved this. Visiting web pages with SWF files embedded in them also appears to cause the browser to crash. The audio player can apparently play Real Media streams, yet the browser can't, which seems rather silly - and prevents the use of BBC Radio's Listen Again service.
In a number of ways, the UI for several of the applications leaves a certain amount to be desired. The browser, in particular, falls down in that the arrow buttons to the left of the screen can't be used to directly scroll the web page but instead hop from one link to the next. This makes reading a long document in the browser more of a pain, because you have to keep using the stylus to scroll down.
I'm rather surprised that there are no software updates available for the device and that the range of software available in the Application manager is so small (even after having added the maemo repositories).
Having said all this, the display is good and I can see the device having the potential to be useful to me - particularly, for example, during a stay in hospital. The PDF reader is good (and the arrow keys do scroll the page in this), so it would be very good for reading ebooks, for example. I think I will probably buy the GPS add-on and use it as a sat nav device. Of course, the fact that it runs linux and so many people have been buying them recently (what with the price having suddenly dropped to £70-80) will hopefully mean that there will soon be a lot more software available for the platform.
[ Entry posted at: Wed Aug 8 15:35:38 2007 | 2 comment(s)... | Cat: Geeky ]