Gadget Overload?

There is nothing better than the joy of new gadgets. However, this week I have been overdosing. Last Sunday was a first for me - I bought a new device before it was even announced. Normally I faff about for months deciding if I really need it, then convincing myself that it is crap, then too expensive, then that the new ones will be out soon. Finally I end up buying it just before it goes obsolete. This time was slightly different. I had been doing the above with the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet and was at the point of ‘the new one will be better’ - when out of nowhere came a rumour that CompUSA had the not-yet-announced Nokia N800 (the update!) Within 45 minutes I had bought it - without even looking at the box.

The main complaint of the 770 was that nobody could work out exactly what it was for - after all it is not a phone. Instead it is a screen on crack - with WiFi and bluetooth for connecting to whatever internet or phones you can find. Modularity it seems is the goal of Nokia - quite the opposite of the subsequently announced iPhone - which attempts to do everything (as pointed out by a Conan Spoof). I’m sure for the average person the iPhone might be a dream come true (ignoring the battery and size issues) - but for me the N800 is genius. It runs Linux for starters, so I can geek away to my hearts content installing random open source junk, writing python programs for it and the like. Then you have the screen - 800x480 or something crazy - allows you to browse websites without zooming or faffing about with rotating the screen. Then you have the complete lack of phone charges or plans - the iPhone is about $960 for the obligatory 2 year contract.

Weighing in at 210 grams it fits in my pocket nicely and has been used several times already in anger. LA is probably not typical of most cities - but so far I have been able to get onto an open WiFi network and start surfing in most urban areas. This includes being in REI where comparison shopping and product research in the wild becomes makes buying things a new experience. I predict that soon regular shops will be faced with hordes of people with internet enabled devices - browsing their goods then ordering them online at a 30% discount.

I will continue to waffle about this machine despite anyone listening or caring - mostly because it gives me an excuse to play with the associated gadget: the ThinkOutside Bluetooth Sierra keyboard. Obviously typing on a tiny screen isn’t easy - even if Jobs would have you believe it is - so the addition of a 300 gram folding keyboard suddently turns the package into an almost workable ‘laptop’.

Other addons that are very tempting include an I-blue bluetooth GPS dongle thingy that provides GPS coordinates to the tablet over air. A very nifty open source program called Maemo Mapper then allows you to stream google maps to the device (with cacheing) for super snazzy navigation.

As you can tell I am quite pleased with this new setup and would highly recommend it to fellow geeks who have not turned to the dark (iDark) side – you know who you are.

Having said that – I also got a 30G iPod – which I will try not to use as a phone.

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