After a few weeks as an N800 owner I have to say I'm stunned at what a good job Nokia have done, producing what feels like a properly designed and well-rounded product. Compared to the shabby job that HTC and Palm have been doing with Windows Mobile and Palm OS devices recently its a real eye-opener to find something that does exactly what it sets out to do. Of course some of that may come down to the latest release firmware which I flashed onto the N800 straight out of the box. With the availability of the new N810 imminent Nokia will also be releasing the next version of Tablet OS:2008, with a whole slew of new features.
Without too much time spent on customising the installed software I'm happy to report that this is a real joy to use. The Opera web browser is as the desktop version and renders pages beautifully - this is the crowning glory of the machine. Flash works well - its possible to view Youtube videos (although its best to allow the stream to complete its download before playing) and the PDF reader is as good as anything on the desktop. Sites using Ajax aren't supported but in the new OS release Nokia have addressed this issue with a new browser. I've added third party PIM software, Skype for internet calling and the Video Center Vodcast client - all worthy pieces of software and as good as you'll find on any other mobile platform. Synchronisation remains an issue - if you're planning on using it as a PDA. I found the best way around this was to use Yahoo's online calendar and sync that with my exchange calendar via Outlook. Messy, but reliable. When (if?) I can get Outlook and Google Calendar to sync I will try out the different methods for syncing to my Gmail account.
Battery life is amazing, I achieved a day and a half of fairly heavy use before the N800 decided that it was going to take an enforced rest until I fed it some juice. With the same usage patterns my previous devices, Windows Mobile smartphones of one sort or another, have failed to last a full day.
Its interesting to see that two dedicated devices, shorn of the compromises required to create a single device produce a much more complete user experience - something that seems to have been lost in the mad rush to squeeze a phone into everything out there.
I shall continue to prod and poke this most accessible of beasts to see if I can find any other gems hidden away beneath the Hildon GUI...