All entries for Tuesday 08 January 2008

January 08, 2008

More handheld musings

Follow-up to Handheld dilema from Steve's blog

Since I wrote the original entry over a year ago, I’ve ended up doing absolutely nothing about getting a new PDA because I still haven’t found my ideal device. I did actually get a replacement battery for my m505, at a cost of about £10, plus another £5 for the teeny-tiny Torx driver to get the back cover off. In the end, though, I’ve not used it much. Too much of what I do is web-based these days, and the m505 just isn’t useful enough.

So I’m still looking for something that will let me surf modern (Web 2.0, AJAX, whatever you want to call them) web sites, specifically the Google suite (gmail and reader being the two most important), but also Warwick Blogs (obviously), Facebook, YouTube, etc.

It also needs to have some offline capabilities. What exactly, though, I’m not sure now. Back in Sept 06 I was sure I wanted PIM functionality (calendar, todo, etc.), but I’ve lived without it, or with it just on my phone, for so long that I’m not sure that’s so important anymore. I certainly need to take notes on it. I miss that a lot.

As for hardware, well I think it needs a relatively large screen. QVGA just doesn’t display web stuff as well as I need it to. My test of the Nokia N82 proved that to me. That was a physically small screen (2.4”) too. I’d want something larger, as well as higher resolution. 3” or bigger, and VGA is, I suspect, the minimum I’d be happy with. Such things do exist…

Does the device need a keyboard? Well, I managed very happily using graffiti on Palm devices for many years, doing a fair amount of text input, and I got quite quick at it. So a keyboard isn’t essential. I don’t know how well handwriting recognition works in modern devices, though. The stuff built into Windows XP Tablet & Windows Vista is surprisingly good. Something like that in a handheld would be great. Something as good as Palm’s Graffiti would be fine. Otherwise, a keyboard would be needed. And I don’t see the point in anything less that a proper QWERTY keyboard, but maybe I need to try alternatives.

Back in September I was wondering about the Nokia Internet Tablet – then the N770. There are newer versions now, the N800 and N810. They still don’t have PIM applications, which put me off at the time but maybe doesn’t put me off so much now. And the N810 has a keyboard. I really need to get my hands on one to try it out.

As if by magic, one has just appeared on my desk from those very kind people at WOM World (again). So, over the next few weeks I’ll be trying this out to see if it is a device I can live with, or not.

A quick summary of the device:
  • It has a 800×480 screen with a 4” diagonal.
  • It runs a version of Linux which has a seemingly active developer community, so filling in gaps in functionality should be possible with 3rd party (and mostly free) applications. I could even write my own – Python and Ruby have been ported to the device already
  • The N810 has GPS and mapping built-in. I guess this is much the same as that in the N82. I’m not looking for this in a handheld.
  • It comes with a version of Opera built-in
  • It has 2GB storage and an expansion slot for mini- or micro-SD
  • It has a slide out keyboard, as you can seen in the picture to the right
  • It is a little smaller than shirt-pocket sized, and probably just a little too heavy to keep in there permanently

So, a fun couple of weeks ahead…

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