Holiday Buyer's Guide 2006, Part 7: More Mobile Stuff

Nokia 770 Internet Tablet

Once you recover from the shock of learning that a device with the Nokia name doesn't include a built-in phone, there's a lot to like about the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet device. Sure, PDAs and smartphones can show you Web pages, but they'll constrict your view and force you to accept ultra-tiny type. Ultracompact notebooks like the Toshiba Libretto U100 or the Sony VAIO VGN-UX280P can do a better job of running a Web browser, but they cost and weigh much more as well.

In its own unique way, the Nokia 770 attempts to define a sweet spot somewhere between the PDA/smartphone world on the one side, and the ultracompact notebook PC world on the other. With dimensions of 5.5" x 3.1" x 0.7" (140mm x 79mm x 18mm) and a weight of only 8.1 oz, or 6.4 oz without the cover (230 g / 185 g), the Nokia 770 is certainly closer to a PDA in size and heft than it is to an ultracompact notebook PC. The display is bigger and more capable than that of any PDA or smartphone we know of, with a 4.1" diagonal width and 800x480 resolution with 16-bit color support.

To us, what makes the Nokia 770 even more interesting is that it runs Linux: a specially-tailored Debian-based distribution with a development runtime called Maemo. Among other things, this means that you can hook up a USB-based VoIP device (or Bluetooth receiver) and use Skype or other Linux-compatible software to add telephony to its bag of tricks.

It includes a wireless LAN card (802.11 b/g), and comes bundled with the Opera Web browser version 8, email, instant messaging, an audio/video player, games, and lots of other interesting stuff for you to use right out of the box. The Nokia 770 can handle all kinds of audio and video formats too, including AAC, AMR, MP2/3, Real Audio, WAV and WMA on the audio side; and 3GP, AVI, H.263, MPEG-1/4 and Real Video on the video side. It offers a single USB 2.0 port, RS-MMC, a 3.5 mm stereo headphone / audio out port, and a 2 mm power connector for an external AC adapter. Battery life is rated at 3 hours for browsing use, and 7 days on standby.

Prices for the Nokia 770 start at just under $300, and typically run between $350 and $400. This makes the device a little pricey, so Santa probably can't hand them out by the dozens. But for somebody who needs mobile Internet access, and who appreciates a slim, powerful collection of Linux apps, this could be just the right Christmas gift!

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