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> What Are Your N770 Experiences Compared To Zaurus?
dhns
post Dec 20 2005, 02:57 AM
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Dear early adopters of the N770,
as a potential platform for some of my Zaurus applications I consider to add Nokia 770 versions.

Since I am still waiting to get one and have to learn the (different) SDK first, I would like to use the time to hear about your experiences compared to a Zaurus.

Some questions coming to my mind:
* how does the display compare (brightness)?
* is the screen resolution of 400x800px a recognizable improvement?
* how good can it be used without a built-in (clamshell) keyboard?
* what about operation time?
* device handling (thicker, thinner, larger, smaller)?
* how stable and complete is the software compared to a Zaurus Sharp/Qtopia ROM?
* how is performance compared to a Zaurus?

Many thanks,

-- hns
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lardman
post Dec 20 2005, 07:06 AM
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A quick response

QUOTE
* how does the display compare (brightness)?


Brighter (from memory, Zaurus is at home), clearer and bigger!

QUOTE
* is the screen resolution of 400x800px a recognizable improvement?


I think so, but for me the main thing is that the screen is physically larger.

QUOTE
* how good can it be used without a built-in (clamshell) keyboard?


The prediction stuff works pretty well, it's still a bit annoying not having a keyboard, but I understand from the mailing list that kbdd should work so just about any BT keyboard should be supported.

QUOTE
* what about operation time?


Seems fine to me, certainly as good as my C750, but I've not run exhaustive tests, nor do I tend to sit around surfing the net for more than 30min or so.

QUOTE
* device handling (thicker, thinner, larger, smaller)?


Larger, thinner, lighter are my impressions.

QUOTE
* how stable and complete is the software compared to a Zaurus Sharp/Qtopia ROM?


Haven't used a Sharp 'ROM' in ages. The software is okay, still some niggles but things are being worked out and the Nokia people are active on the mailing list.

QUOTE
* how is performance compared to a Zaurus?


In what way - need something to compare. I'm running a GPE image at the moment on both my C750 and Nokia 770 and the two feel similar in performance. I need to do some hacking to enable the DSP so I can try watching films.

The Maemo stuff felt a bit slow at times, but was okay for the most-part (felt like a Psion 3/5). It was a bit of a memory hog though afair (couldn't run many apps at once, though that may just be an issue with the Opera browser which is included).


Si
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fpp
post Dec 20 2005, 09:35 AM
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QUOTE
* how does the display compare (brightness)?

When I bought my SLC760 the Zaurus had the only full VGA display on a PDA at the time. That, the keyboard and Linux were my main selling points, and I was (and still am) blown away by the device.
Now the screen on the 770 is another step up. It is *very* bright but also *incredibly* sharp and high-definition. It is physically larger than that on the Zaurus but actually "feels" even larger than it actually is.
QUOTE
* is the screen resolution of 400x800px a recognizable improvement?

For Web browsing in particular (its main function) the difference is unbelievable until you see it. I did not expect it to be that drastic beforehand, but those extra 160 pixels of width are incredibly effective. On the Z you definitely feel you are browsing on a PDA (albeit a very good one), and many sites are simply not usable unless they have a specific "mobile" version. On the 770 it feels more like browsing on an old PC or laptop with a small screen, and it's easy to forget it's actually such a small and limited device.
QUOTE
* how good can it be used without a built-in (clamshell) keyboard?

As a former Psion user, and still using my Z, I am biased keyboard-wise of course, and I miss it on the 770. I don't much like the virtual keyboard (although it's one of the most usable I've seen) and haven't even tried the HWR. As I use the 770 mostly for browsing and reading, data entry is reduced to the absolute minimum and it is not too much of a problem. But if I were to switch over completely I would definitely add an external keyboard (BT or USB through powered hub) when needed (just imagine using the CLI in an xterm without it... :-)
QUOTE
* what about operation time?

You mean battery life ? As usual that depends on what you do. Reported autonomy is 3 hours with continuous use of BT or Wifi (I haven't verified this, I tend to use it for shorter periods). There is a nifty button that switches off BT and Wifi when you're not connected to conserve power. Screen usage is probably determinant too (some have reported that playing videos or mp3 with display on eats battery quite fast). Reading e-books (another popular use) is probably easier on the machine.
All in all, I'd say that with a typical mixed usage (connected/unconnected, on-and-off) the device should easily last most users through a regular business day. I've certainly gone much longer between charges. A long train or plane trip, or intensive surfing sessions, are probably something else though.
The small cell-phone-type battery certainly doesn't match the capacity of the bigger one on my 760 ; then again it's probably easier and cheaper to carry a second one if needed.
QUOTE
* device handling (thicker, thinner, larger, smaller)?

The form factor is very nice and natural to handle. It is wider but thinner than the Z and fits the hand well. All buttons are on one side and can be pressed with thumb and index of the hand holding the device, with the stylus in the other hand.
QUOTE
* how stable and complete is the software compared to a Zaurus Sharp/Qtopia ROM?

I use Cacko 1.23, not Sharp, but still this is definitely the weak point of the 770 right now. I consider Maemo (the Gnome/Gtk platform) as beta quality at best, with a lot of work to be done, which is not so surprising.
The version of Opera that comes with the 770 is more recent than Sharp's and is definitely better at handling a majority of sites. But it also has the same habit of crashing and disappearing suddenly altogether, only worse smile.gif
The Mail app (which I don't use, Gmail works fine) is said to be very buggy too.
The rest of the software (RSS reader, photo, mp3 and video players and a few games) seem to be OK. Chess players say the chess game is quite good.
This is not supposed to be a PDA though, so there is nothing comparable to Ko/Pi and no synch with desktop apps. I still use my Z for this.
On the bright side, the important thing to me is that the platform seems very open, much more so anyway than Sharp's. Nokia sound keen on involving the community, and ported software (text-mode or from Gnome apps) is coming in at a good rate, probably faster than when the Zs came out if you consider the number of devices actually in the hands of developers. Games (Doom, ScummmVM, Tetris etc.) look incredibly good on this screen ; xterm, mc, ssh, vnc and such are available. It should turn out to be a pretty lively platform if hackers enhance it with Nokia's help and benediction instead of swimming upstream like Z hackers did with Sharp.
QUOTE
* how is performance compared to a Zaurus?

If you use it as an Internet Tablet as it's called, ie for web browsing and a few other things, it's actually quite good, given the small CPU and memory size. Abuse it just a little though, and you really hit that 64MB wall.
On my Z I have a complete Python distribution with a web app framework running as a daemon that I use daily with Opera. I certainly couldn't do this with the 770 as it is now (even if it had Python, which it doesn't - yet).
In a way, the first 770 is like the first clamshell Zaurus, the 700 : a great and innovative device, but still a prototype with limitations you had to live with. The 750, then the 760, improved on that. I hope Nokia similarly persists and gives us the 780, 790 etc. with the same core qualities but less limited by hardware and thus more versatile.
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mk500
post Dec 20 2005, 11:41 AM
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QUOTE
* how does the display compare (brightness)?

I think they are very comparable in brightness. The size of the Nokia screen is really nice. The Nokia has a slight "sparkle" to the screen; especially on whites. I don't know if the screen is slightly transflective or what. It's hard to explain without seeing it, and doesn't show up on photographs I've taken. It's kind of like the "sparkle" of metallic car paint. Also, you can see a slight curtaining effect where the backlights project onto the screen. None of these things really take away from the screen though. The Nokia screen is extremely pleasing on the eyes.

QUOTE
* is the screen resolution of 400x800px a recognizable improvement?

It's actually 480x800px. So, it's the same height as the Zaurus, but 160px wider. Yes, the screen resolution is really nice.

QUOTE
* how good can it be used without a built-in (clamshell) keyboard?

This is definitely a weakness of the Nokia. I often use the Zaurus on-screen keyboard because I'm in tablet mode and don't feel like opening up the keyboard, so am used to tap-typing. Unfortunately, tap-typing on the Nokia is a much worse experience than the Zaurus for me. For one thing, the keyboard takes up the entire width of the device, so the keys are really spread out. This means you have to make large movements to get from one key to another, and this really slows me down. Also, they left out the right shift key, so you have to go all the way to the left side of the keyboard to hit shift even when you are capitalizing a letter that is on the right side. Another problem is that it seems to not always catch every letter if you are going really fast. The auto-complete feature just slowed me down, so I finally turned it off.

I think the Nokia on-screen keyboard is designed for very casual tap-typing.

QUOTE
* what about operation time?

The battery on the 770 is a bit smaller than the Zaurus, but the processor is also less power-hungry. Overall, I think run-time is pretty similar. I'd say 5-10 hours depending on what you are doing.

QUOTE
* device handling (thicker, thinner, larger, smaller)?

I really like the form factor of the Nokia. It is very thin, and bulges less in a shirt pocket than the Zaurus. Once the Nokia's metalic slip case is attached, the Nokia seems very sturdy -- I've heard a Nokia rep flung one across a room to demonstrate this at a press conference. The build quality is top notch.

QUOTE
* how stable and complete is the software compared to a Zaurus Sharp/Qtopia ROM?

The Nokia is not nearly as stable as the Zaurus. Out-of-memory problems are the main issue. It can be pretty annoying. You can really see the extra several years of development that has gone into the Sharp product at this point. However, each new ROM Nokia sends out makes the situation much better. This is a beta level system, but will improve dramatically over time. Also, if you are just running one app at a time, it's quite usable. For example: I ran a GPS mapping program on a 9 hour drive, and it performed perfectly (on the return trip as well).

QUOTE
* how is performance compared to a Zaurus?

At this point, the Nokia is definitely slower. Nokia chose to use a multi-core processor (CPU+DSP) that runs at a slower clock speed (220Mhz vs. 400Mhz). This means that apps must take advantage of the DSP to get up to the same speed as the Zaurus. So, as more apps and libraries take advantage of the DSP, then the system will get faster. The Nokia certainly isn't super slow though. I found the PDF viewer to take the same time between pages as qpdf on Zaurus, for example, while doing a better job of rendering the PDF.
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adf
post Dec 20 2005, 06:28 PM
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.02
I played with one for a little while at compusa. It was nicer than I'd guessed it would be...gorgeous screen good on-screen keyboard, nice interface, solid feel. Of course, playing with something at a counter lets you see some of the best features before the annoyances become apparent....
I really liked the thing. If hadn't just bought a 3100, I'd have picked up the 770 on the spot. I wonder if we shouldn't all buy one just to encourage Nokia to build more? blink.gif
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fpp
post Dec 21 2005, 01:36 AM
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QUOTE(adf @ Dec 20 2005, 06:28 PM)
  I wonder if we shouldn't all buy one just to encourage Nokia to build more? blink.gif

Well, that's exactly what a few of us have done, apparently. But Nokia already has its hands full just fulfilling the backorders it already has, and can't seem to build the critters fast enough, so.... :-)
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dhns
post Dec 21 2005, 07:48 AM
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QUOTE(fpp @ Dec 21 2005, 10:36 AM)
so.... :-)
... it again shows which large opportunity Sharp has missed. A C1000 with builtin WLAN/Bluetooth :-)

-- hns
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fpp
post Dec 21 2005, 01:36 PM
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QUOTE(dhns @ Dec 21 2005, 07:48 AM)
... it again shows which large opportunity Sharp has missed. A C1000 with builtin WLAN/Bluetooth :-)

Well, you only miss when you were trying to aim... It's been said over and again that Sharp builds the Zaurii for Japan and the Japanese, and they've always done well in that. It's only us handful of geeks who insist on using these gizmos in places and for things they were not designed for, and have the gall to fret and resent what we perceive as shortcomings :-)
Nokia, OTOH, clearly builds the 770 for the western world, so our lifestyles and local identities are better reflected in it. Mine, for instance, "speaks" French. It's the first localized PDA I've had since my last Psion :-)
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mk500
post Dec 21 2005, 04:26 PM
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QUOTE(dhns @ Dec 21 2005, 07:48 AM)
QUOTE(fpp @ Dec 21 2005, 10:36 AM)
so.... :-)
... it again shows which large opportunity Sharp has missed. A C1000 with builtin WLAN/Bluetooth :-)

-- hns
*



Imagine if Sharp kept the same form factor as the C1000 but extended the screen width to 800px (just use some of the excess space already available right/left of existing screen). Add built-in wireless, as you asy, and then release worldwide. It would be a killer product.

But I've given up on waiting for Sharp "what if" scenarios. And I guess we shouldn't make this into yet another Sharp Wish-list thread. Maybe it's now more realistic to hope Nokia releases a model with a keyboard :-)
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mk500
post Dec 21 2005, 04:58 PM
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QUOTE(adf @ Dec 20 2005, 06:28 PM)
I wonder if we shouldn't all buy one just to encourage Nokia to build more?


I think that it's really important that people do "vote with their wallets" on this product. We all wish more companies would release Linux PDA's outside the Asian market. We all wish Sharp would release a Zaurus with built-in wifi/BT. Buying the 770 sends a clear message on both issues.

I realize the 770 isn't a small purchase for a lot of us, but I think you will find it's a huge amount of fun, and will reward you with several years of linux-hacking-fun.

There are new, quality applications released every week. Here's some examples of some of the cool things I've been playing with:

GPSDrive: Excellent GPS moving map system.

http://www.elisanet.fi/tapio.tolvanen/nokia770.html

Rhythmbox: iTunes like music browser/player. Even can connect to your iTunes library being shared across your local network!

http://tuxrecife.blogspot.com/2005/12/end-of-year.html

I'll do some seperate threads on cool software I've found for the Nokia. The ease of porting apps is really creating a goundswell of porting and development around the 770, and it's well worth the entrance price to pick one up.
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dhns
post Jan 11 2006, 06:36 AM
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So,
I finally received my N770. Here some very first impressions to share after unpacking (more to come):

+ comes with 2 stylusses (stylii?) and a protection bag
+/- housing looks not as well polished as a Zaurus but nevertheless robust
- the cover makes it look clumsy but well protected
- installing the RS-MMC card is a lot of twiddling - much more difficult than the SD or CF card in a Zaurus
+ good documentation to get started immediately (WLAN, Bluetooth)

Now, it is charging and then let's compare to a Zaurus.

-- hns
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bluedevils
post Jan 11 2006, 07:43 AM
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I look forward to more impressions from you. I currently use my 6000 as a home web machine and wonder how it stacks up. This was purchased at a simlar price to the msrp of the nokia and has built in wifi. The main hardware diff would then be the keyboard, display width and built in bluetooth.
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lardman
post Jan 11 2006, 08:51 AM
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Make sure you upgrade to the latest flash image as this is much snappier than the original which came with mine. Even with maemo my Nokia 770 is about the same as my Zaurus now in terms of speed of use, etc.


Si
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dhns
post Jan 14 2006, 07:29 AM
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QUOTE(bluedevils @ Jan 11 2006, 04:43 PM)
I look forward to more impressions from you.
*

Now,
after some days of getting used how to operate the N770 here are some more impressions (compared to SL5500G, C860 and C3000).

First and very important note: my N770 uses software version 3.2005.51-13 which is the latest available dated 31 Dec 2005 (http://europe.nokia.com/nokia/0,,79636,00.html)

Here the positive impressions:

+ works right out of the box for WLAN
+ has very good WLAN sensitivity - much better than my G4 Powerbook
+ sleep mode has a nice solution - sleeps after approx. 30 seconds and wakes up when touching the screen or removing the cover
+ screen-keyboard comes up when needed (at least mostly)
+ slightly thinner than a C860 (60% without cover, 80% with)
+ It was very easy to install Xterm through the Browser and a WLAN connection.
Takes approx. 5 minutes to enable WLAN,
type (see below) http://www.maemo.org,
locate the X-term package within the downloads,
click the link to download, and choose a location to store it in memory,
find the downloaded package in the file manager and double-click.
That is all.
+ Managing the WLAN-connection is easy but still slightly more complex than on MacOS X (e.g. you have to reselect the network from time to time while MacOS X remembers networks)

Neutral:

O larger display makes no noticeable difference for Web-Pages
O Screen layout is so that the active area for application windows (e.g. the Xterm or a Web page) is not larger than on a Zaurus
O same width&height as C860 + SanDisk WLAN card
O Speed is the same (in average). Some functions feel to be slower others faster but there is no specific pattern (I have not timed anything in detail).

Drawbacks:

- protection Cover is difficult to handle - you have to unplug the N770 from the charger to remove the cover; and removing it separates the device completely into two parts which is more difficult to manipulate (needs two hands) than the C860/C3100 twistable display
- typing on the screen keyboard is not really optimized. Important characters like : and * are only available by using the shift key. It is *very* difficult to type UNIX commands into the Xterm. For that, a Zaurus is unbeatable
- Software is focussed around Web surfing. To have a decent PIM, you have to install GPE-calendar etc. first.

So, my first impression:
* good device (I don't see the word excellent fit compared to a Zaurus)
* good software, mostly stable
* a Zaurus is much better and easier to use if you want to type and take notes on your portable device (Terminal, Text-Editor)
* Any PDA is better for PIM applications (this might change of course by a new software download)
* is better suited for connectivity
* larger screen resolution and size doesn't make a significant difference in daily life
* expandability of the Zaurus is much more advanced (has SD and CF slots); The Zaurus SD slot is much easier to operate
* a Zaurus gives a more advanced mechanical impression

Finally, I come to the conclusion that a Zaurus C3100 with built-in WLAN and Bluetooth could cost twice a Nokia N770 and I would still prefer a Zaurus... (Sharp - do you listen???)

The next things I will try with it (unfortunately my WLAN access point is broken):
* how to access the Xserver from external or how to access an external Xserver (i.e. use my Mac as a large screen and keyboard)
* how to write software, compile and install from a non-Linux system (i.e. Mac & Xcode)

-- hns
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Gondola
post Jan 14 2006, 03:36 PM
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I've been using my Nokia 770 for a few days now, getting a feel for it, and slowly learning its strengths and weaknesses. My post will be in comparison to my Zaurus 6000L, reluctantly sold recently to pay for my obsession with the ultimate portable computer. I also am using the most recent firmware as of this posting.

Although the 770 was only released in November, there have already been several firmware releases by Nokia, addressing issues with performance, and bugs.

I take exception to something dhns said:
QUOTE
"Screen layout is so that the active area for application windows (e.g. the Xterm or a Web page)  is not larger than on a Zaurus"

Not true! Many apps feature a full screen mode for many applications, accessible via a button on the top of the device -- includes web browsing, some games, the book readers, and the x terminal. Web browser shows a small toolbar at the bottom of the screen in full screen mode. This means many of the websites which were awkward on the 640x480 screen might be "just right" on the 770's 800x480.

Pros:
- All the same positive notes that dhns had.
- Nokia has been quick to address issues with new firmware releases.
- Browsing the web and using applications has "seemed" quicker.*
- Third-party applications are popping up all the time; the "community" seems to be a growing one. Plus, these third-party apps are installing without errors, and usually working on the first try.
- Shipped in 8 days.
- The default sketching program is a LOT more responsive to drawing; it's fun to use!
- The default UI is much prettier, but less customizable.
- Smaller in all dimensions, and much lighter.
- FLASH PLAYER OMG! smile.gif I played a couple Strongbad emails, and they worked, although there was some rendering lag on one of them.
- On-screen keyboard almost always comes up when needed, and is quick and easy to use. I have had few problems with shell commands because I only needed it long enough to install an SSH server.
- Flasher is dead-simple to use on Windows; flashers exist for Windows, Linux, and OSX.

Cons:
- I had issues with setting up WPA with my WRT54G, but I switched to the latest official Linksys firmware and have had no problems since.
- Bright areas on screen are "sparkly" like quartz. The Z6000L screen was superior in this regard, but for dark or complex, colorful images, it's still very attractive.
- The "direction pad" is not easy to use for games. Fine for Tetris, but that's about it.
- Uses RS-MMC cards, which are a little more expensive than SD, which means yet ANOTHER piece of flash to worry about. Fortunately, it comes with an adapter which allows you to use it as an SD card in other devices.
- I run out of memory very quickly when running more than one app; three seemed to be the limit.
- The cover is very thick and bulky, and has sharp edges.
- Ports on the bottom have NO COVER. USB, charger, mic, and phono are all exposed to dust, debris, etc. while on the road, although Nokia did include a soft bag that fits it very well.
- Like dhns said, the stand is pretty lame; the 6000L dock was very easy to use. You have to manually plug in the charger and/or USB cable when you want to use them, and since the stand sits so low, the cables and plugs are often in the way of just setting it down!
- Becoming root was more challenging than on the 6k.
- RS-MMC slot is hard to open.

General comments;

As a book reader, it is stellar. The large screen combined with the very pleasant fonts and software (white text on black background, though, to avoid sparklies) make it a winner for me -- lighter and easier to hold than my Zaurus was.

For ebook reading, and web browsing, I'm sold. The 770 seems to work perfectly for me. For a remote admin who needs to type a lot of stuff on the road, I can see where a device with a built-in keyboard would be more practical. For me, though, I mostly use it as a reader/reference/browser.
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