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Old 09-13-2008, 07:03 PM   #1
bbusybookworm
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Learning to Live With the Nokia N800

Well, I've been seeing some discussion recently over getting the iPod Touch or a Nokia N800/810 and while my personal opinion is that it very depends upon your usage and temperament, I made my decision couple of weeks ago.

I was out to replace my Archos Gmini 402 (May it rest in peace or pieces in the great recycling bin in the sky ) and wanted something i could use to surf the net without having to lug my laptop along. Mobileread is addictive you know (Should really come with a Hazard warning ).

Anyway I narrowed my choice down to the Touch or the N800. I decided that I really didn't need the keyboard or the GPS of the N810. In the end, being a geek and wanting something I could tinker with (coming from the guy who likes to test out and tweak ROM's on his WM phone) I decided to get the N800. Figured that it would allow me to get a little used to linux as well, as I've been meaning to but have been putting of playing around with it for any length of time.

Anyway, after burning a hole in my budget, I had a N800, a Spare battery and 2 8GB SD cards. After booting it up to check it worked and getting a feel for it, on to the Nokia Site to get the updater and reflash it to Pristine OS2008. I've learnt from my previous PC experience, its better to start off with a clean install.

Well, With it installed I decided to test out the default media player capabilities, and I have to say its don't ever just copy over videos from your computer unless they're compressed the for a smaller screen. The processor is not able to handle it. Still, it was decent and I knew there were many more better players around.

Anyway to the next priority, to get e-books on to it, and the choice was pretty obvious. Go into the installable applications and install FBReader. and I have to say, kudos to the FBreader team, they've made a great reading program, one which is pretty easy to use while being more then powerful enough for power users.

Now came the time to play around with installable apps, ans I've installed and uninstalled quiet a few of them to come down on the few I've been using more or less for the last week or so.

* Canola - By far IMHO the best integrated media player available for the N series. It is logical and easy to use and offers gret support for most video formats. Also, it has excellent support for Internet radio streams, making it easy to add and manage multiple streams.

I have to admit i've become a little addicted to Net radio, pulling in streams from my favourite radio stations around the country and around the world. I probably always have it running in the background, sometime for music, sometimes for video and usually for Radio.

My only complaint is that it doesn't appear to handle streaming video.

*FBReader - I've grown to depend upon this at times, as while I usually have my Gen3 with me most of the time, I do at time not carry it, if i'm just going out for a bit. I do usually have the N800 with me as I like using it as a media player, so if I've got a few minutes, out it comes for a quick read.

*Browser - I have to say that the browser is excellent, miles better then most mobile browsers (expect perhaps Opera mobile 9.5 or Safari), With most sites being easily rendered, including sites with flash, etc. Best of all for me, it opens OWA easily, so I can easily read and answer work related emails when I need to.

*Evince - An excellent reader which supports PDF, CBZ, CBR so serves as my default comic reader. While it does slow down with really big files, it does work, and quiet well.

*Pidgn - An excellent IM client which allows me to have all my IM accounts in one place. I do admit that IM is nowhere as much fun without a keyboard, but then again, I don't do that much text chat nowadays any way. This brings me to

*Skype - the ultimate communication solution, especially if you have family spread over 4 continents. Free to call to skype users, cheap enough to call landlines, it's helped our family really cut down on phone bills. And while it does not have Video (yet), it does have everything else I need.

Now installing those basic apps was pretty easy, not requiring much more then a click on a distribution package on a website, but if you want to do more, you really need to get into the guts of it.

To my shame, I have to admit to have forgotten all my command line knowledge, meagre as it was, and zero experience with Unix. The best source of information I found were the Internet Tablet Talk very helpful if you take the time to look around before posting, and following their instructions I've been able to play around with some really interesting stuff.

I've to say that there is a lot of interesting stuff, and while the basic stuff is easy to setup and use, trying anything more does require a certain degree of knowledge and persistence.

The main problem I've usually run into when looking for information is that a certain amount of familiarity with Linux and command line is often assumed by the people posting solutions. and while I have to admit that most novices should not be going anywhere near those settings,it does leave people like me, who while reasonably technical, have zero knowledge of the environment. While I'm was able to muddle along (more or less) at times I did run into a Wall

Still It's a learning experience, and while I would probably not recommend it to a complete novice or non technical person, it's a surprisingly powerful system, and very, very configurable.

What I Hope is that my experience will help someone else looking to make such a decision in the future.
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Old 09-14-2008, 02:56 PM   #2
fredhughes
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fbreader

I too find the N800 the most convenient to carry with me whilst away from home. Being able to download programs with any knowledge of Linux or other programming languages is a bonus.

I do have one problem with FBreader. When I downloaded it on the first occasion I could move to the next page by pressing on one of the buttons. I can no longer do this after losing it (Diablo upgrade) and reinstalling it. Has anyone an explantion for this?

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Old 09-14-2008, 03:10 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fredhughes View Post
I do have one problem with FBreader. When I downloaded it on the first occasion I could move to the next page by pressing on one of the buttons. I can no longer do this after losing it (Diablo upgrade) and reinstalling it. Has anyone an explantion for this?
There are two possiblities: a) the key is no longer bound to the action "Large Scroll Forward" or b) Large Scroll Forward isn't a full page. To check this go to the Keys tab under "Settings" (tools icon). If you press the key in question this will show you what it is bound to. Change it to "Large Scroll Forward" if necessary. If this does not help, go to the Scrolling tab under "Settings" and check the definition of Large Scrollings.
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Old 12-07-2008, 02:32 AM   #4
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An Update

Thought I should update how I'm doing with the N800, after a couple of months, especially as it now has a rival for my attention

Yes I finally went out and bought an iPhone when my old KJam conked out completely, and the SE Xperia's delivery date kept on being pushed back.

Once I got it (About 3 weeks ago) I do admit that I did ignore the N800 for a while, as I tried to get used to the in's and out's of the iPhone, especially as almost everything has to be managed through iTunes, and I've personally never used an iPod for a longer time then it would take to Load something for a family member.

First the Comparison

Browser - Have to admit that except for a few sites, Mobile Safari is quiet a bit better then the N800's browser being faster and easier to use, and the ability to sync bookmarks is a joy (Especially when you have over 2000 of them). The Pinch and Zoom works really well, and with many major portals having iPhone specific portals the experience is nice.

Having said that, I have to say that Safari at times is incredibly unstable, often crashing constantly. The update to 2.2 appears to have stabilised it somewhat but will have to see.

One of the Major pains is that the iPhone doesn't support Flash, and it can be a pain especially with sites with streaming content, both audio and video.

Also you can't save any files except photos which is a pain.

Email - the iPhone is incredible good at this, especially at handling multiple accounts, which I found to be pain on the N800.

Organiser - The N800's archiles heel. The iPhone's Exchange sync, though missing Tasks and Notes handles Contacts, calender and Email really well, and keeps them well in sync.

Media - Its a bit of mixed bag really. While the iPod facility is good and easy to use, it is limited in some ways and I find I miss Canola.

First I miss the Multiple format support from Canola, which could handle most codecs for audio and video. The iPhone is limited to mp3, aac, m4a and MP4 and m4v for video and that too no more then 640x480.

While the N800 can struggle to ply higher resolutions, it at least allow you to load what you want. I've had to convert a lot of my Videos to MP4 to MP4 for the iPhone, with the advantage that I can also easily play them on the N800.

What I really miss is folder navigation in Music, as the iPhone sorts only based on Metadata and a lot of my library has incomplete or incorrect metadata, so its a bit of pain to have to edit all the metadata before loading. While its good in the Long run, its still a bit of a pain.

Podcasts - I listen to and watch a lot of Podcasts so this is really important to me. One of the Major PITA's of iTunes is that it will not allow you to add files to certain categories like Podcasts and TV Shows directly. You can only add to those categorises if you download it through iTunes.

So That meant that I could not use my down loader of choice Miro to download and organise my library, as it add too many steps to the process. So I ended up using iTunes to manage them and while it works, it does bring something else to the forefront of my mind.

iTunes is a SYSTEM HOG. I've known this in the past, but its really hit me the last few weeks as I usually have in running in the background, downloading and it really hits system performance, not to mention the lack of some critical features.

Documents - the N800 is miles better, being much easier to get stuff on and off. With the way apple's got the iPhone locked down, the only way to get documents onto the iPhone is through the Wifi, which can be very slow, especially as you can't run it in the background on the phone.

Reading - FBReader and Evince ar still great, and coming back to them after a few days of using just the iPhone really makes you appreciate them.

Having said that, Stanza and the eReader app are great for reading on the iPhone, but the hard part is getting your own content onto them.

So i've currently got a large part of my library loaded on the n800 while I use the iPhone to read the newly purchased stuff, as I've recently been buying in eReader, and then converting it to Mobi for my Cybook.

Comics - Definitely sticking to the N800 for this as Evince is great for reading CBR and CBZ file, the format in which I have most of my comics. While there is a comic reading app for the iPhone, it still requires you to convert the files before loading it slowly over Wifi, I couldn't justify paying for it. Having said that you can read Jpg's and PDF's in the Files and Air Share app's, though they do choke on larger PDF's.


So what has this meant?

Well, it has meant that I no longer use the N800 as my out and about Music player and Net Access appliance as the iPhone handles it reasonably well.

This doesn't not however mean that the N800 has been relegated to a drawer as I use it constantly at home for Streaming Music and Video, as well as a Skype appliance. As the iPhone can't handle WMV streams, and some of the stations I watch and listen to only use that, the N800 is a lifesaver.

I'm also using the N800 for reading comics and referring to PDF's as it is easier to handle and manage the media on it.

In the end both have their strong points and I'm enjoying using both.

The main problem I run into when switching between them is the different ways in which the screens work and it takes a few momennts to get used to the difference each time
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