Nokia 770 Internet Tablet
You can pull down Web pages on most PDAs, smart phones, and BlackBerrys, but let's be honest: The Web wasn't meant to be shoehorned into a 3-inch screen. Enter the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet, a PDA-like communicator with a wide, Web-friendly screen and loads of multimedia features. Priced at $359.99, it's an affordable solution for anyone who prizes Web accessibility but doesn't want the weight, the bulk, or the expense of a full-blown laptop. Unfortunately, it won't be long before you're pining for a notebook's speed and versatility--the Nokia 770 runs like molasses and lacks key features such as VoIP and instant messaging. Although Nokia plans to add them in 2006, you'll still be left with a painfully slow device that requires either a Wi-Fi hot spot or a Bluetooth-enabled phone to get online. Ultimately, the 770's only real advantage over a PDA is its dazzling high-resolution screen, but on those merits alone, it's hard to recommend. The Nokia 770 Internet Tablet bears more than a passing resemblance to a PDA, except that it's designed with a landscape orientation and has the wide screen to match. The unit measures 5.5 by 3.1 by 0.7 inches and weighs 8.2 ounces with its sliding-metal screen cover in place. It's a bit too long to fit comfortably into a pants pocket and a bit too heavy for the inside breast pocket of a sport coat, which otherwise seems like a natural fit, given the 770's slim, checkbooklike design. Ultimately, you may find the 770 difficult to carry anywhere.
The aforementioned cover might seem like an annoyance at first, especially when you realize that it adds extra bulk to the Nokia 770. It's reversible, however, so you can slide it over the backside of the device without worrying about misplacing it. What's more, when you slide it over the screen while the 770 is still on, it automatically puts the unit in standby mode. Slide it off again, and the 770 wakes up instantly--nice. Unfortunately, when you reverse the cover, it blocks access to the stylus silo--a silly and annoying design flaw. Equally irksome, the flat plastic stylus fits only one way into the silo.
The Nokia 770 is almost all screen--touch screen, that is. Its TFT LCD measures 4.1 inches diagonally; by contrast, the display on the Dell Axim X51v PDA measures 3.7 inches. That extra 11 percent may not seem like much, but it's enough to make Web pages easier on the eyes. The real news, however, is resolution: At 800x480 pixels, the 770 can display most Web pages with little or no horizontal scrolling required. The screen renders bright, colorful, and incredibly crisp images, making browsing a much more pleasant experience than you'd expect.
To the left of the Nokia 770's screen, a four-way navigation pad enables one-handed operation--you can use it to hop between links, scroll through lists, and make selections. Below the navigator, Back, Menu, and Home buttons also assist in stylus-free operation. Along the top of the 770, you'll find a full-screen toggle button, which removes all but the nav bar from Web pages; an incredibly handy zoom rocker; and the power button. The 770's USB port, 3.5mm headphone jack, AC connector, and media slot can all be found on the bottom edge.
The Nokia 770's expansion slot is disappointing. Although the 770 seems like it could easily accommodate popular SD media, it instead forces you to use a Reduced Size MMC card. These are not only harder to come by and pricier than SD media but also top out at 1GB. On the plus side, Nokia does supply a 64MB card and an adapter, so you can access it via a standard MMC reader on your PC.
To enter data on the Nokia 770, you can tap-type using an onscreen keyboard or try the handwriting-recognition software. We found the latter fairly awkward, especially compared with the more accommodating systems on most PDAs. Although we could enter standard alphanumeric characters, the engine frequently recognized letters as spaces and gave us uppercase letters when we wanted lowercase.
Nokia's printed manual is terse but comprehensive, covering all topics in very brief detail. Fortunately, we found we could figure out most of the Nokia 770's operations via guesswork. The interface is clean, attractive, and fairly intuitive, though it can be difficult to remember when to press the actual Menu button and when to click its onscreen counterpart; the two buttons launch different sets of menus.The Nokia 770 may look like a PDA, but it has a decidedly Web-oriented feature set. The device connects to the Web via Wi-Fi hot spots or your Bluetooth- and data-enabled cell phone. This being a Nokia product, the 770 should incorporate some kind of CDMA or GPRS connectivity, but alas, that's not the case. Thankfully, we had an easy time ferreting out hot spots in our area; the 770's internal antenna has excellent range, and the onscreen-connection selector shows signal strength for each discovered network and whether or not it's locked.