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Advice needed: Nokia n810 or Ipod Touch - Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness

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August 1st, 2008


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03:21 pm - Advice needed: Nokia n810 or Ipod Touch
Since making this post, I've done more thinking and looking and have decided that (as several of you suggested) there isn't a device that does everything I want. The iphone 3G is the closest, but unlocking it will perpetually remain troublesome and its camera is distinctly substandard. So, my thought is to purchase (in a couple of months, when my finances recover from the move) a mid-range phone with a high quality camera and GPS, with the leading contenders being the Nokia N82 & the Sony Ericsson C702, with the Nokia N82 being by far the most likely choice. That covers having a good portable camera, GPS, and a phone all in one convenient package.

However, I still need an ebook reader, a pda, a convenient media player, and a mobile internet terminal that will fit in my pocket. Given how my Sony Clie is doing, I also need one fairly soon. There are really only two options that I've seen, the ipod Touch and the Nokia n810. I remain undecided. The physical form factor of the n810 wins hands-down. I love the large high-resolution screen, the keyboard looks slightly easier and faster than the ipod Touch on-screen keyboard (although according to all reports, speed and ease of typing for both devices are effectively identical). However, I've tried keyboards similar in size and design to the n810 and I've also tried the keyboard on the ipod Touch, and while neither is anything I'd call good (and both would obviously improve with practice) I still prefer a dubious hardware keyboard to a screen keyboard.

The problem is that both devices also have serious limitations. Moving files between my computer (a Windows XP machine) and the Nokia n810 would be as easy as moving files from my computer to a plug-in flash drive. However, even with the new software and apps, moving files from a Windows computer and an ipod Touch looks to be troublesome. If I can't easily move PDF, RTFs, HTML, and most standard ebook files easily to the device, then I don't want it, since this will be a major use of the device. New ipod Touch apps are coming out daily, and this problem looks to be fixable, but I'm not certain it will ever be easy to move RTFs and PDFs from a PC to an ipod Touch. Also, while I'm not a hacker or a tinkerer, even I have found using Mac computers to be odd, because my ability to look at what's actually going on with the machine is far more limited than with a Windows PC. It's clear that this is even more true when comparing and ipod Touch to the Nokia n810. Combined with the lack of even a mediocre hard keyboard and I'm a bit dubious.

Unfortunately, from everything I've read, the Nokia n810 also has its share of significant problems. According to all reports, the software is considerably more erratic and error-prone than the fairly rock-solid performance of the ipod Touch, the best media player for the n810 (Canola) by all reports delivers performance almost equal to the ipod Touch, but is still in a beta version, and the best PDA software is on a Palm emulator that is problematic, but should have a final and vastly improved version in a couple of months. According to all reports, the ebook reader (FBReader) and the Firefox-based web browser on the n810 are very good indeed, but those are the only functions that seem unproblematic.

The fact remains that the OS for the n810 is (from everything I've read) one of the more exotic and less user-friendly versions of Linux, and I know next to nothing about any sort of Linux. Mostly, this would be an issue with configuring the device, installing all of the apps I want, and getting them all running (which all seems to be a significantly more complex process than doing the same thing with the ipod Touch, but I'm willing to deal with setting up hassles.

My primary concern and the reason that I'm strongly considering getting an ipod Touch, despite its limitations, is that I'm not willing to put up with having to fix bugs and tinker with the device in the course of daily use, and I've heard from several people that this can happen, with programs crashing randomly or simply vanishing and having to be reinstalled. I'd be willing to put up with that sort of thing if it happened every 6 months or so, but not if it occurs more often. Also, the ipod Touch is an elegant device that (from playing around with it for 10 minutes at the Apple store) is easy to use and exceptionally intuitive, which does not seem true about the n810.

However, after saying all that, there is one crucial issue that makes me lean back towards the Nokia n810. The most common feature I use on my current PDA are the Palm memo app, which allows me to write memos on either my Windows PC or my PDA and sync them at the push of a button. I use this for shopping lists, to do lists, notes when I go shopping for presents, and for a host of other purposes, and I find this function to be fairly essential.

The ipod Touch has a lovely notes application, but it won't sync with anything, and all of the hacks and official notes and to do apps that people have created are either exceptionally limited or only work on Macs (unless I've missed some). Since I don't own and won't be buying a Mac, those do me no good at all. OTOH, while slightly cludgy, with Nokia n810 allows me to use the same Palm memos app as I am currently using and sync it with my PC. Failing that, I could simply write short .txt or .rtf notes on my PC and drag them into a folder on the n810, which is another option that is difficult on the ipod Touch. I could find a way to manually sync notes between my PC and an ipod Touch, but doing so is clearly far from easy, and doesn't look to be getting any better anytime soon. There's a Palm emulator coming to the iphone/ipod Touch, but for all I know it will only sync with Macs. In terms of elegance and functionality, the ipod Touch wins hands down, but having to give up features I use everyday &/or wait for months for an update to add them does not appeal to me all that much.

However, I know that some of you have vastly more experience with both devices that I do, and so I await your advice.
Current Mood: confusedconfused

(13 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:bruceb
Date:August 1st, 2008 10:48 pm (UTC)
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I'd recommend the iPod Touch. Good coverage it at daringfireball.net , btw.

[User Picture]
From:mindstalk
Date:August 1st, 2008 10:59 pm (UTC)
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I have no actual experience, but I've been looking for a lighter weight and cheap thing to take to Japan (and possibly lose on returning through customs); I've been looking at Noki Nseries vs. Asus eee and similar subnotebook/netbook clones (MCI Wind, Acer Aspire One) which of course don't fit in a pocket.

I hadn't heard of the n810 media problems, which is depressing. (Though I did see persistent cries for someone to port Open Office.) Linux is key for me (partly because I check e-mail via ssh), so for a pocket I'm stuck with a Nokia. (Or the Neo Freerunner, but while out, those seem to be immature, e.g. no power management software yet! and a tiny software keyboard).

You might also consider the N800 and N770. No physical keyboard I think, which is a - for you, but cheaper, and the N800 has more expandability. (Also a bit bigger, check dimensions for pocketability.)
[User Picture]
From:autopope
Date:August 1st, 2008 11:15 pm (UTC)
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Forget OOo on the N810. Period. (It relies on ia32 architecture quirks, I gather.)

There's a port of AbiWord,but it's still wobbly.

I installed KDE 3.5.8 on my N810 and it ran, and even ran KOffice ... but you wouldn't want to write anything on it; the hardware is simply too gutless.

To reiterate, the N810 is a big disappointment (although software developments in the pipeline might fix this). Ditto the iPod Touch (although it's a great media player and pocket web browser). If you can carry something the size and weight of a hardback book, go for a netbook like the Eee (I have an HP MiniNote and it's much nicer and gives me a full-powered Ubuntu experience).
[User Picture]
From:mindstalk
Date:August 1st, 2008 11:24 pm (UTC)
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I honestly don't care myself about Open Office; I'd want ssh and basic web browsing and instant messaging (Pidgin), and music playing via headphones would be nice. eee could do that and I'd have a backpack probably, but there's something to be said for something you can pull out of a pocket and use standing up, and leave on long term standby where it supposedly keeps track of local wireless connections, which supposedly the Nokia can. So it's still pretty tempting... thoughts?
[User Picture]
From:autopope
Date:August 1st, 2008 11:28 pm (UTC)
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A jailbroken iTouch will do all of that. (OS 1.1.4 for now, but I gather a 2.0 crack is imminent.)
[User Picture]
From:autopope
Date:August 1st, 2008 11:06 pm (UTC)
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You seem to have a good handle on both machines -- I have both, and they both suck differently and shine in their own ways.

Note that iPhone OS 2.1 (which works on the iTouch as well) is rumoured to include cut and paste support, and there are additional rumours that QuickOffice or Documents to Go are being ported. Also, the iTouch syncs beautifully with OS/X -- which is the whole idea, isn't it? (Now you're getting a taste of how Mac users feel when confronted with WinMobile PDAs and SmartPhones that expect you to use MS OutHouse and nothing else.)

In the final analysis, the iTouch is a better MP3 player and media device, the web browser is actually better to use (multitouch does indeed make a difference), but it's more limited in other respects. Which one you want really depends on how fast the software you need comes out. I'd be startled if Mark/Space aren't looking into iTouch/Vista sync support, for example -- but they haven't made any official noises yet.

Your best bet is probably to stick with a Palm TX for the time being. It's clunky but it does everything you want except web browsing, and with SDHC support just around the corner, it's expandable. And, best of all, you can get them cheap on eBay from all the bleeding-edge addicts who're buying N810s and iTouches.
[User Picture]
From:siderea
Date:August 2nd, 2008 02:42 am (UTC)
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Your best bet is probably to stick with a Palm TX for the time being. It's clunky but it does everything you want except web browsing

*brainwedge* Am reading-- er, commenting on, now -- this here on my Palm TX. I sure hope it does web browsing, cause things got really inexplicable otherwise.

At least in this hallucination, it ships with the Blazer browser, somewhat irrelevant and feeble WiFi, and Bluetooth, via which I commune with my Razr and its unlimited data plan.

I would like to believe there is a superior handheld to the Palm TX, and that I was just unlucky enough to be suckered onto the platform. Alas I fear the TX may be best in class. A special ed. class.
[User Picture]
From:autopope
Date:August 2nd, 2008 05:45 pm (UTC)
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You call Blazer a web browser?
[User Picture]
From:siderea
Date:August 2nd, 2008 06:52 pm (UTC)
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Only for lack of a better term.
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From:beetiger
Date:August 2nd, 2008 03:56 am (UTC)
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If you are still in the early exploration stage of this, I'll be bringing my 810 with me to portland at the end of the month and you are welcome to play with it.
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:August 2nd, 2008 04:09 am (UTC)
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That would be very cool indeed. If it looks like (as I suspect) the new edition of the ipod Touch will come out in early September, I'll definitely be waiting until then to make a final decision.

In any case, what's your experience been with the day-to-day reliability of your n810? Does it sound like it would meet my needs?

Also, please remind me when are you going to be in Portland, IIRC it was somewhere around the 23rd or so.
[User Picture]
From:heronheart
Date:August 8th, 2008 06:25 pm (UTC)
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There's a really nice article about the Touch on LifeHacker. http://lifehacker.com/399619/forget-the-iphone++the-ipod-touch-is-good-enough
From:joshi_pooja82
Date:February 12th, 2009 07:53 am (UTC)
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Comparing to iPod Touch and Nokia N810. i will prefer the Nokia mobile.
From the beginning, i love nokia mobiles. Nokia provide great service and it includes all great feature in their latest nokia mobiles.

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