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First Impressions Of The N810

This Monday, my new Nokia N810 arrived! I'm played a bit with its features now, installed some additional software, tried browsing a number of websites, and all in all, I really like it.

Image No. 18917

You (as a geek yourself, probably) might notice that on the picture, its UI has a lot of similarity to Star Trek TNG's mobile tablets (PADDs), that's not the default look - one of the first things I installed was the LCARS PADD theme package, when I tried how well free WLAN hotspots work in Vienna - and I was satisfied (both with freewave and the theme).

Image No. 18918 Image No. 18919

Of course, for people like us, the web browser is quite important - and the device running on Linux and having a Gecko-based browser were among my main reasons for buying the N810. And, despite not being SeaMonkey ;-) , I like the microB browser a lot. It works like a real browser and displays web pages like they should look, not garbling a number of them like the Opera mobile version on my Nokia 7710 phone (which performs well enough for the N810's GPRS internet connection where no WLAN is in reach). I even did write a paragraph on the last weekly status update on this blog from the microB browser, when my desktop locked up and I had to reboot it - something that I haven't seen with the N810 yet.
The system feels very stable and comfortable, and you wouldn't realize it's actually Linux unless you e.g. open up an X terminal on it or connect to the device via ssh (after installing OpenSSH, that is). Oh, and as a regular long-time Linux user, I just like being able to look into top or ps to see what the system's doing/running and just ssh'ing into all my computers from all my computers.
Now I finally got a device I can take with me to take notes, look into the web and such stuff without needing to bring with me and unfold a fully laptop computer. Yay!

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One further reason why I finally decided to get me an N810 is its GPS and mapping capability. Especially when I was in the US in April, but eventually also when on my way somewhere here in Vienna, I often felt it would be nice to have a good map handy, ideally along with some indicator pointing out my position. The N810 promised to be able to do both, with software being able to use free OpenStreetMap data (maemo-mapper), and even GPS positioning and tracking capability. I already read in advance to buying the device that its internal GPS takes a very long time to find a satellite fix, but then work quite well even where signal quality is not that good - and I can confirm both, though esp. the former. When turning on display of GPS details in maemo-mapper, it's quite common for the device to have 2-5 satellites in view but being unable to establish a fix - at least in the central area of Vienna that is covered with 6-7 story buildings. Once the miracle happens and an initial fix can be established, the position isn't always accurate due to heavy signal reflection between those buildings, but it hardly loses the fix and can re-establish it fast when it gets lost, at least when not being in a building for a longer period of time.
I'm looking forward to trying this outside the city (in my home town) this weekend and see hoe well things work there. If anybody knows a good trick to ease the device getting an initial GPS fix, please tell me, I'll happily try out your suggestions.

All in all, I'm positively impressed by this device, it works very well and perfectly shows off how well Linux and Gecko 1.9 are suited for mobile use already - but then, I barely scratched the surface of what it can do in those two days I have it now. I'm looking forward to the N810 supporting my work and perhaps even some fun activities in the future. Well done, Nokia!

Entry written by KaiRo and posted on May 28th, 2008 18:24 | Tags: Mozilla, N810, OSM | 4 comments | TrackBack



Joshua Cranmer

I haven't done any studies to find out the strength of this effect, but I find that just standing still with a GPS unit until it gets its initial fix makes it go faster. The distance you've traveled before turning it on, though, makes a huge difference: it's a lot faster to grab the satellites when I'm 10 miles from home than when I'm on the other side of the Equator...
2008-05-28 23:26


Re Initial fix
For an improved GPS initial fix, you might look into integration and caching of orbit ephemeris files. Afaik, these files contain very precise satellite orbit information for the next few days, and act as "hints" to get the fix faster. On HTC devices, the program handling these files is provided with the device and is called QuickGPS (google for quickgps htc) and it is scheduled to start on a weekly schedule for example to download the updates. No idea if there's an equivalent on Nokia, but more information on the orbit survey internals and files are available on http://www.ngs.noaa.gov/orbits/ or http://www.geod.nrcan.gc.ca/products-produits/eph_e.php for example...
Oh, and yes, as already said, most GPS assume they restart where they were last turned off, so if you move in between, initial fix time will be much worse.
Happy gps'ing !
2008-05-29 10:19

Fernando Cassia

from Buenos Aires, Argentina

Battery Life
Nice to see you like the N810. I have a Nokia N800 and found it very exciting (specially after they released their Mozilla Minimo browser ... I hated Opera).

HOWEVER, how do you manage with Battery Life on the N810?. Is there an easy way to shut off the GPS receiver (which, I imagine, drains battery fast) ?.

2008-06-03 19:37



The GPS receiver is only on when some software is accessing it, so it only drains battery when mapping software or such is running.
2008-06-06 23:02

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