I purchased my third hand-held device on Friday. My first was a Newton MessagePad 2000 (which I later upgraded to the MP2100). The second was a Handspring Visor Platinum. The new device is a Nokia N800 Internet tablet.
The N800 is a WiFi device with an 800×480 (!) touchscreen strapped on, and can support up to 16GB of SD flash memory. It runs a light/mobile flavor of Debian GNU/Linux. This means that developers can readily tap into a large library of open source tools. The user interface could use some help. As Sean Luke points out, my old Newton is still superior in many areas.
The N800 has some great things going for it. I particularly enjoy:
- The huge screen on a small device, allowing me to view Web pages as they’re intended to be viewed
- WordPy, a competent offline WordPress editor (one wish: it needs a means to upload/incorporate images from the N800)
- The option of using a Gecko/Mozilla or a Opera-based browser
- The community-supported Claws mail
- Having a mobile device with an option to use a proper command line interface!
The N800 is not marketed to be used as a m-learning device, but I cannot help myself from comparing it to the Ozing and Noah m-learning devices reviewed last May. Where the Chinese devices fell short on application quality and developer accessibility (at least the Noah NP890+ runs a Linux variant), the N800 has an active, open source development community. Perhaps the Chinese companies will learn from Nokia and open their software to more developers and platforms? Or, perhaps others will leapfrog the Chinese to exploit the m-learning potential of the N800…