Nokia 770 Internet Tablet review: Nokia 770 Internet Tablet

Your Web-browsing experience is robust, thanks to the fact that the Nokia 770 employs the excellent Opera 8 Mobile browser, which supports such amenities as JavaScript, plug-ins, and even Flash content. Go to the AccuWeather Web site, for instance, and you'll see animated satellite maps. We particularly liked the various view options; you can zoom in and out, and you can choose Optimized View to have pages rescaled to fit the screen width, with little to no loss of formatting. We just wish the 770 were more adept at saving pages for offline viewing. As it stands, you're limited to saving only the current page; you can't store an entire site.

The Nokia 770's e-mail client offers basic messaging functionality, including support for attachments, custom folders, and both POP3 and IMAP4 accounts. You also can set up scheduling so that the 770 automatically sends and receives mail at designated intervals. Of course, this works only if the unit is either on or in standby mode, and it lacks an LED indicator to alert you of newly arrived messages.

Fans of RSS newsfeeds will appreciate the fact that the Nokia 770 devotes nearly half of its home screen to new posts. You can configure the device to fetch updates at regular intervals or just tap the Refresh button at the bottom of the News box. Alas, adding new feeds is something of a hassle, as you have to copy links from the browser, then paste them into an Add Feed field in the News Reader applet. Admittedly, you can also enter the feed URL manually if you know it; however, we wish the 770 had a more streamlined method for adding feeds.

As much as we liked finding an Internet radio selector on the Nokia 770's home screen, we were disappointed that Nokia provided a link to only one station. It's up to you to find and add other stations, which can be a slow and often frustrating process. Assuming you can find a link to one that's compatible--and there's no way to know for sure if it is without trying it out--you then have to perform the same kind of copy/paste hoop jumping that's required for adding RSS feeds.

As for the audio player itself, it's a fairly basic applet with intuitive onscreen controls and support for playlists, both imported and on the fly. Yet because it doesn't play WMA files--protected or otherwise--you can't listen to tunes purchased or downloaded from most online stores. That's not too surprising, given the open-source nature of the OS, but it does limit the 770's appeal as a mobile jukebox.

On the video front, the Nokia 770 can play AVI, MPEG-1, MPEG-4, and RealVideo movies, but don't count on any software to help you convert your videos to a compatible format. If the device can't play a file natively, you're out of luck; actually, you may be out of luck anyway--see the Performance section for details. As for audio, the 770 plays MP3, nonprotected AAC, and WAV files, along with a handful of other, mostly obscure formats. Curiously, Ogg Vorbis isn't among them, despite the 770's Linux-based OS. But the tougher codec pill to swallow is the lack of support for Windows formats, namely WMA and WMV. That will undoubtedly limit the 770's appeal to some users. At any rate, if you want to listen or view any of these multimedia files, you'll definitely want to load up on those RS-MMC cards, as the Nokia 770 comes with only 128MB of flash memory, 64MB of which is user-accessible.

Inexplicably, Nokia chose not to include any calendar or contact-management features, which might have sealed the 770's place as a suitable PDA replacement. Although it does include basic tools such as a calculator, a world clock, and a sketch pad, productivity just isn't part of the mix. We're also disappointed by the 770's lack of VoIP and instant-messaging features, which Nokia attributes to limitations of the Internet Tablet 2005 operating system. The 2006 version will add these and other services; Nokia plans to offer an upgrade in the coming year, but the exact time frame is unknown.

Operating the Nokia 770 tends to be a painfully slow experience. Most applications, including the Web browser, took several seconds to load. Even something as simple as closing an application can cause the 770 to pause for a few beats. Things really came to a grinding halt when we loaded a 1MB PDF on the device and selected the Show Images option. The 770 appeared to lock up, but in reality, it was just taking a long time (several minutes) to render the images. If you plan to use the 770 as a PDF viewer, plan to do it with text only.

Similarly, though the browser supports it, don't expect to enjoy much Flash content. The sample animations we looked at ran like slide shows, and the Flash games we tried were just plain unplayable, running at about one frame per second. As for videos, the Ice Age 2 trailer that came preloaded on the 770 played smoothly, but other clips we tried, including low-resolution MPEG-1 files, were noticeably jerky. It's unfortunate that Nokia doesn't specify the optimal settings for video playback, as we could use third-party software to convert clips to the preferred size and format. As it stands, watching video on the 770 is very much a hit-or-miss proposition--mostly miss in our experience.

On a positive note, once a Web page has loaded, you can scroll up and down with almost no delay; the screen refreshes very quickly. Why can't the Nokia 770 be that snappy in other areas? Software could be part of the problem. After receiving our demo unit, we downloaded and installed a firmware update that made the 770 a bit faster overall, though it still wasn't nearly fast enough. With any luck, a future update will boost performance to the point where you don't constantly feel as if you're waiting for the device to respond. Nokia promises 3 hours of browsing time and seven days of standby time from the 770's removable battery.

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    Nokia 770 Internet Tablet

    Part Number: 0279324
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