Next Nokia minitablet to get Webcam, WiMax?

Company says next 770-style Linux device likely won't have cellular connectivity, but it's considering other features. Photos: Nokia's minitablet to go

After the success of its original Linux tablet, the 770, Nokia is looking at the next generation of Internet-only devices.

The original tablet device debuted last year and caught the attention of gadget fans wondering why Nokia was making a device that had no cellular connectivity. According to the handset maker, there are no plans for the next generation of 770-style devices to be able to connect to mobile networks.

Ari Virtanen, vice president of convergence products at Nokia, said going down the cellular-free route gave the company more freedom. "The biggest thing is that we don't want to be part of the cellular value chain," he said. "We want to be a little bit out of that world. Once you put a SIM card in, it's automatically controlled by the operator."

While the cell phone maker is taking a never-say-never stance on the issue of cellular connectivity, it maintains that there are no tablet devices that can connect to mobile networks in the pipeline.

However, the Finnish phone company is considering adding new features to the next generation of devices and is looking at a number of different form factors.

Among the possible additions are new interface methods. The device currently uses a touch screen with a stylus for text input, though thumb-happy typers can switch to a more clumsy digit input mode with the virtual keyboard expanded to almost the full screen size.

A Webcam could also be making its way onto the device. According to Virtanen, extra functionality will be added to the devices by studying how people behave with fixed Internet and then adding a mobile dimension--the philosophy that apparently inspired the inclusion of Google Talk instant-messaging and Internet telephony support in the latest software upgrade.

WiMax, too, isn't being ruled out. "WiMax is one potential (addition), but we're not committed to it," Virtanen said. "If WiMax takes off like wireless LAN has, then why not?"

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