Nokia N810 – less is more in gadget design

Again I look at my table for worthy object to write design post about. And this time it’s not old proven mouse but new and shiny toy.

Nokia N810 is internet tablet (or whatever you call it) which is nothing like usual Nokia devices.

Specializing for Internet

Nokia likes referring to its N-series models as “multimedia computers”. For smartphones (that are bulk of series) this means stuffing with every single tech that can fit in limited casing space. They can do anything… and nothing properly, being inherently limited by trying to fill very big shoes of “computer” part.

N810 is nothing like that and only aims to provide one function – mobile and full Internet experience. It doesn’t even have mobile phone capabilities, relying on bluetooth and Wi-Fi (and WiMAX in latest version which I hadn’t seen or used yet) instead.

Simplifying form-factor

Form of internet tablet is defined by screen. While mobile browsing is on the rise in last years that experience is constrained by screen dimensions and low resolutions. In this case device is built around excellent 4.13” touch screen with solid 800×480 resolution.

nokia_n810_looks

Sliding hardware keyboard covers input part of online interaction and foldable stand makes device as usable sitting on the table as it is on the go. Additional hardware buttons are all browsing-related like Back or Zoom In and Zoom Out .

Unleashing the hardware

Modern Internet is heavy. It went long way from plain HTML pages to dynamic sites of today. N810 uses complex TI OMAP 2420 platform that combines 400MHz processor with additional co-processors and graphics accelerator.

It can play video without recompression – what are few scripts for such processing power? :)

Opening for software

Symbian which is main operating system Nokia uses for smartphones tries really hard to look like a phone interface. It became so good at it that it’s hardly good at things farther from making calls and closer to installing useful software.

In this case Symbian is nowhere in sight. N810 runs Maemo operating system – basically a specialized Linux distributive. Words that make geeks dream about tweaking and compiling. It is almost completely open (except proprietary parts of Nokia code), very customizable and allows porting of some software from PC with relative ease.

nokia_n810_home

Excellent work was done on touch screen support, there is rarely need to use a stylus. Out of the box it comes with IM-support (plus installable Pidgin ). Skype , Gizmo , email client and (most important) web-browser based on Gecko engine . Translating from geek speak latter means it basically has simple version of Firefox inside .

nokia_n810_browser nokia_n810_browsermax

It even supports ported versions of Adblock Plus and Flashblock for saving that precious mobile traffic.

Overall

Gadgets often aim to impress and overwhelm. Not the case here. Design of Nokia N810 completely shaped by its functions and excels at one thing – making Internet fit in the pocket .

This post was written for Design Group Writing Project for Charity .

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3 Comments

  • NOKIA N810 has the GPS facility, but the AGPS is one of the new application developed from Nokia Labs and this feature supports a lot in this phone.

  • @Mobile Broadband

    GPS in N810 sucks, it has terrible startup times (both cold and hot) and AGPS doesn’t rectify that much.

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