Nokia n810 £130 Bargain

It’s been a few years since i first looked at the n810. Back then I really wanted to pick up one of these fantastic tablets but i simply couldn’t justify the then steep £280 price tag.

A lot has happened since then, namely such things as the iPhone 3g and HTC Touch phones which have brought tablet computing, in the guise of smartphones, to the masses. The result is that the Nokia n810s successor is, in fact, a smartphone semantically speaking even though it inherits several of the traits that made the n800 and n810 so excellent.

This causes my interest in the n900 to wane somewhat, however, as I’m sick and tired of paying for lock-in contracts just to cover the exhorbitant prices of modern smartphones, which are only so expensive because the aforementioned lock-in contracts allow enough people to “afford” them with what amounts to a payment plan. Therefore there’s absolutely no incentive to make them cheaper.

The n810 itself has hit the end of what Nokia would consider its lifespan and is now clearing for a paltry and affordable £130. This re-review, therefore, is not only written on the n810 itself but written on one that i have bought. it’s also written entirely out of passion for the device, the community and the truly excellent range of free software available that can transform the n810, adapting it for a variety of uses and rendering it a long-lived and indespensible addition to any gadget lovers armada.

The community developed and ported software has extended the life of the Nokia n810 far beyond what I imagine were Nokia’s intensions or expectations, if you think this little tablet is nifty out of the box you’ve got a lot to look forward too.

£130 isn’t the lowest the n810 price tag has been, with store clearance seeing it below £100, but now the high-street stores are out of stock, this web clearance price is the best you’re likely to get, and it’s surely an absolute bargain for a tablet this functional. If you buy second hand, then bear in mind that replacement batteries are a synch to come by with the Nokia n810 simply using a generic Nokia brand battery – the BP-4L which can be had for £19.99 at MobileFun.co.uk.

I find myself using the Nokia n810 more than my iPhone. FBReader, combined with RTF-format ebooks, makes for a fantastic on-the-go ebook reader which can be placed into portrait mode on the n810, allowing you to turn pages with the conveniently located rocker switch. The stand on the back of the n810 also makes for a great lanyard-like hand-hold when you’re using it as a book, and the ability to customise the FBReader colours to your liking (bright yellow on dark blue for me) makes it a better ebook reader than most specialist ones. It also turns pages a damned sight faster, too.

Canloa makes for a stunning media player on the n810, supporting podcasts amongst other things. MPlayer is handy for quickly and easily watching downloaded videos, which you can literally torrent right to an SD card via Transmission (not to be confused with OSX’s Transmit). Xournal makes for an excellent note-taking application, supporting doodling too, and PIM applications are also readily available.

If you can tolerate a bit of slowdown the n810 will also run Debian Linux on top of its Maemo operating system. In this you can run OpenOffice, albeit slowly, with its full compliment of features. Not bad!

GPXView is great for budding Geocachers, Garnet VM for PalmOS migrants and MilkyTracker for would-be chip-tunes musicians. And this isn’t even touching upon the vast library of software available.

Finally, and also deserving of a mention, are the VNC Viewer and, more importantly, pyRDesktop clients. Remote desktop (yes the Windows flavour) works beautifully on the n810 and, if you set your target machine to 800*480 resolution, pretty much gives you all the power of a desktop in the palm of your hand. VNC is, as always, disappointingly slower but still quite usable for checking up on your machine.

Overall, I’m thoroughly enjoying my revisit to the n810 and it’ll surely tide me over until the Pandora arrives or I fold in desperation to the heavenly delights of the Nokia n900.

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