Outside of GPS Possibilities, Skype’s the Best Thing Available for the Nokia N800 Internet Tablet

I’ve had my hands on a Nokia N800 Internet Tablet since Saturday, and I’m trying to find good way to describe it. By now you should know I’m a fan of Nokia products. Nevertheless, every now and again any company you like is bound to cause you to scratch your head. Such is the case with the N800.

After using the N800 for a bit, I find myself constantly asking, “Why? Why did they create this thing?” Maybe I’m missing something. After all, I’m a person who never did understand all the excitement surrounding “Twitter”. But I can’t even grasp the N800’s raison d’être. Surely by now everyone who knows anything about Nokia can’t be surprised they could make such a device as this. They have the talent. They have talent aplenty. However, why they wanted to escapes me.

The N800 is pretty much as its name states, an Internet Tablet. When I connected it to my ADSL connection (24 Mbps. Hey, I live in Sweden!) via WiFi, the connection worked like a charm. While I couldn’t find anything on Nokia’s UK site’s tech specs page for the N800 regarding the encryption protocols it uses, it obviously supports WPA or it wouldn’t have been able to join my network.

Connecting itself was a piece of cake. I simply clicked on the globe icon in the upper menu bar, and the “Select connection” option appeared. Once I clicked that, a list of networks (Oh my! Some of my neighbors never learn) was available. I then selected my network, typed in the appropriate password, the connection was established, and the globe icon turned into an icon of an active beacon/transmitter. Disconnecting was even easier. I simply clicked on the active beacon/transmitter icon, selected the “Disconnect” choice, confirmed by clicking “OK”, and that was that.

The Opera 8 web browser with Flash player 7 was just as good as I’d heard about. Suffice it to say, the Opera folks know what they’re doing when it comes to making web browsers for mobile devices. They haven’t survived this long for nothing.

The sound on the N800 is really impressive. I mean impressive to the point where I was a bit stunned. Nokia definitely earned the right to call the speakers “high quality speakers”. Even my wife commented on just how good the sound was. Seeing as it has space for a 2Gb micro SD card, using it as a portable mp3 player is more than possible; nevertheless, it’s by no means a threat to my much-preferred iPod Video with 80Gb of room.

From time-to-time Nokia seems, at least to me, to have a sense of humor regarding where they place the power buttons and how they actually function. For example, I remember having to hold down the power button on the 3510i no less than 10 seconds to turn the phone on. Then there are the occasional devices like the N800 where you have to search high and low simply to find the power button. It’s tiny, and I mean teeny-tiny. Now, I understand those clever engineers are probably trying to avoid users accidentally turning it off during mid-surf, but they have to bear in mind a lot of folks first have to turn it on! And, yes, I know there’s a user’s manual, but how many folks do you know who actually read the manual first before cranking up a new Nokia? I didn’t think so. 😉

Initially, I was going to complain about the stylus pen that’s offered. But after using the touch screen without it rather successfully, I have nothing to complain about. The on-screen full keyboard is a bit small for my fingers, but I’m going to see how things go the rest of the week.

The absolute best part of my N800 experience was the chance to use Skype on a mobile device. I often wondered what the experience would be like, and this was my chance. Seeing as Skype was already installed on the device, I only had a chance to go to Nokia’s site to review what the process would be like. It seemed just as cut and dry as most install processes:

  • download the app to the device either by first downloading the package to your computer and then transferring the package to the device via cable
  • or connect the device to a WiFi network and then download the device directly to it
  • double-click the .sisx file for install

Since I’ve been a member of Skype for over half a year now, all I needed to do was login to access my “Contacts” information, including, of course, phone numbers so I could make a couple of Skype calls. It was just as easy as I was accustomed to when I make calls using Skype on my MacBook Pro:

  • I select the contact I want to call by giving the name on the screen one tap with the stylus pen
  • Tap on on either “Call” or “Chat” depending on what I want to communicate with whoever I’m contacting

It was literally that simple.

The Skype package made for the N800 is as very intuitive, as it should be. Once you’re logged in, three main tabs are offered in the top left portion of the screen: 1) Contacts 2) Call phones – for calling numbers not listed in your Contacts list 3) History – for a history of the calls you’ve made.

Under the default N800 menu in the top right of the screen there are also the staple tabs for “Change Status”, “Edit Mood Msg”, as well as a listing of how much Skype credit you have left on your account, although you can’t click on this one as you can in the full Skype package that’s also a link to Skype Services.

I read no instructions at all, and was, as you can imagine, able to login and make phone calls immediately. Seeing as my Skype contact info was already online waiting for me, it was just a matter of selecting someone and giving them a call. I gave one friend a quick call, failing to remember he was at work of course [sorry Micke, but I am on vacation at the moment ;)]. I then decided to go outside of my list and make a call to our intern in the office, KenJo. As interns go, this kid’s top shelf. He’s smart, a quick learn, with a great sense of humor. His only down fault is he’s a Boston Red Sox fan (can you tell I’m a New York Yankees fan? lol). I told KenJo what I was up to and he let me know I was coming in crystal clear. We spoke for about two or three minutes about work and, you guessed it, baseball, and I was satisfied that I had made a pretty much normal phone call.

All that said, I can’t help but wonder why Skype hasn’t come out with a mobile version of its app for the N95 yet?!? Playing with the N800 has confirmed my suspicion that they have the know-how to create a mobile package that more than does the job. If I had a mobile version of Skype app on my N95, I’d be one happy telephone technician! In the meantime, I’m stuck with having to activate “Call Forwarding” in Skype before leaving home each time. Quite honestly, that’s only about three clicks, but it’s the times I forget that are a bit annoying. So if one of you brilliant creative Skype types are reading this out there, throw us N95 users a bone by offering us an N95 version of Skype. 🙂

I’ve rambled on enough for now. It’s a beautiful day in Stockholm and I hear the bad weather from the UK is headed our way this weekend. That means it’s time to make way back to the Italian Restaurant that Da Minx is anxious to return to.

May God bless and keep you all. Laterz.

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