Product review: Nokia N800 internet tablet

3 Jul 2007

Boasting a handheld Wi-Fi device and a high-standard MP3 and camera, the Nokia N800 is a new step in mobile internet use.

With a half-decent Wi-Fi signal from your bed, your kitchen or your garden, the future that the mobile industry promised but never delivered is here at last, with real internet browsing, no walled gardens, vivid images and videos with no delays. But this is by no means a breakthrough device.

It’s not a mobile phone, and beyond Wi-Fi, if you’re outside the only way to get connected is to link up with a separate mobile device via Bluetooth, and possibly pay exorbitant charges to a mobile operator. Other than that, it’s a very good MP3 and video player.

Anyone interested in mobile devices will be aware of the hype and frenzy that came with last week’s launch of the Apple iPhone; a full touchscreen device that gives you voice calls, internet, music and videos. If Nokia had combined a mobile phone radio inside the N800 it might have stolen a strategic march on the iPhone.

This year every mobile phone manufacturer on the planet will start putting Wi-Fi radios into their phones, allowing users to get real internet browsing and make lower-cost calls through services like Skype when near a wireless hotspot.

The N800 is a brilliantly engineered and attractive product that, unfortunately, might be too late in its current form. The full-screen touchscreen and Wi-Fi radio are indicative of what’s coming and the keyboard-driven mobile world will be consigned to history.

Future incarnations of the Nokia N800 will have to include a mobile phone and it will definitely have to come down in size from its present 75mm length. But as a media device it is capable of showing vivid high-resolution imagery of up to 65,536 colours and can be configured to store up to 4GB of music and videos.

This is a concept rather than mass market device that shows us what the future will bring in mobile devices. For example, it boasts an integrated camera to support web calling. But rather than it being a breakthrough, it’s a mid-way product that will need to be streamlined and turned into a fully-fledged mobile device for any real chance of success.

The device is available locally from O2 and Vodafone for €450.

Pros: Real internet experience in the palm of your hand

Cons: Likely to be made obsolete by iPhone

By John Kennedy