Hands on with the Nokia N810

  [intro]I've managed to get hands on with Nokia's brand new Linux-powered web-tablet, now with Qwerty keyboard[/intro]   Apologies fo


[intro]I've managed to get hands on with Nokia's brand new Linux-powered web-tablet, now with Qwerty keyboard[/intro]


Apologies for my rather brief previous post. The joy of typing on the N810's keyboard quickly faded, especially as fellow journalists formed an increasingly irritated queue to get to the device while I used it to blog. So I switched to mu ultraportable laptop, only for its weedy battery to fail... in short, I've been struggling with the sort of issues that face anyone who's keen on truly mobile computing.

And Nokia certainly seems keen on mobile computing - as their multimedia guru pointed out during today's press conference, while Apple is busy dropping 'computer' from its name, Nokia is desperately trying to make people realise that it's not just making mobiles these days - it's making multimedia computers, in the shape of the N series and its web tablets.

Let me pause to declare an interest: I was quite a fan of the Nokia 770 and N800 . While most people were asking what you'd want a pocket sized Wi-Fi web browser for when you can just use a smartphone or laptop, I was busily using the devices to read the news over breakfast and Google trivia while watching TV.

By taking the high ground. What are the biggest criticisms of the iPhone as a browser? Well, firstly there's the lack of a decent keyboard - something Nokia has address with a very useable slide out thumb-board that doesn't add to too much to the N810's thickness. Then there's the iPhone's missing Flash support - which is present and correct in the N810. It's Flash 9, too, so YouTube and Stuff.tv videos are no problem.

That means the N810's target market is still small (although the inclusion of sat-nav and videoconferencing will help attract newbies). But Nokia is clearly committed to its odd little Linux browser, with two future generations of the device already roadmapped. And I think it's on to something - particularly if they developer community embraces the N810's openness and produces some stand-out software.

If the user interface keeps evolving - the N810 is much nicer to use than the N800 - then this tablet really could turn out to be an iPhone rival in the future. But, dear Nokia, one request - ditch the stylus and become more finger friendly. Sometimes imitation is as important as innovation.