What's in the box?
The Nokia 770 Box contains: the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet, a hard protective cover (which is reversible), two styluses, one 64Mb RS-MMC card and and MMC adapter, a soft carry case, USB cable, three manuals ("Connect to the Internet", "Quick Start Guide" and the main manual), a stand so that you can use the Nokia 770 on the desk plus a charger (not pictured) and a battery (not pictured).
After a 45 second bootup sequence, the Nokia 770's main screen appears, showing the RSS news reader, web shortcut time and some other basic functions. There's a degree of personalisation here, but strangely you can't boot straight into the Nokia 770's email client.
The on-screen controls are fairly simple - down the left hand site are three large icons allowing access to the web browser, email client and a third icon for all the other applications. Underneath that a set of smaller icons act as a task bar. On the top right are controls for connected to a wireless LAN, mobile phone, plus a control for screen brightness, speaker volume and a battery indication. On the very top, the main screen title (here it's "Home") is also a drop-down context-sensitive menu.
The screen is actually quite bright (that doesn't come out too well in these pictures) and it's an incredibly sharp, high-resolution display. Although it's only a 65,000 colour panel, pages appear to be bright and clear.
Connecting to the Internet
At first power on, the Nokia 770 goes through some basic questions about your Internet connection. You can connect up either via an 802.11b/g wireless network or using a Bluetooth phone via GPRS/UMTS (3G) or a plain old CSD dial-up connection.
Our first choice was to connect up to the web via a Sharp 902 3G phone on the Vodafone network. The Nokia 770 detected this without problem and added an entry to the phone in the tablet's memory. Unfortunately, the Nokia 770's setup wizard chose an invalid dial-up number, but this was quickly rectified after some Googling.
Out second test ran into a rather more serious problem. Using a fairly standard Netgear WGR614 v5 wireless router we tried to make a connection. This is an 802.11b/g router in an environment with plenty of other nearby networks, DECT phones and other electronic gadgets. However, all other devices connect to the Netgear router with no problems, including a Nokia 9500 Communicator. We eventually found that the Nokia 770 would only make a reliable connection to the router when held within about 2 feet of the device.
Although this wasn't an ideal test environment, it must be stressed that no other device has problems connecting to the router, including the 9500 and two laptops. The network is WPA-PSK protected, but in fact it did not matter what type of protection was in use, the 770 needed to be physically very close to the Netgear device in order to connect.
The third test was to connect to another wireless 802.11b router in a much cleaner environment with no other nearby networks, in this case one designed for office and factory use. The Nokia 770 connected flawlessly and had no difficulties with range.
Subsequently we tried the Nokia 770 on some other domestic WLAN routers with pretty disappointing results, so it seems not to be an isolated problem with our Netgear router.
The Nokia 770 supports WEP, WPA-PSK and WPA-EAP encryption, plus 802.11b and 802.11g wireless ethernet.
Our conclusion: connectivity to home-based routers appears to be very poor, to the extent that this may well be a physical fault with this device. We will pursue this issue with Nokia.
Once you have established a connection, the web browser is probably the first thing that you'll use. The browser can use all 800 pixels on the screen easily by using the "full screen" button at the top of the unit. Most sites work well with the 800 pixel wide display, and the Nokia 770 has an inbuilt "optimise" function to help with sites that are designed for different size screens. It's also easy to zoom in and out of the page, using another dedicated button on the top of the unit.
There are also some additional navigation buttons on the front, including (from top to bottom) a standard four-way selector, an escape key, menu key and home key. Navigation is actually a little fiddly - scrolling up and down is done with either the scroll bars, dragging the stylus or using the navigation key. There's no easy way to scroll down a page at a time.
There's no password management function built in to the 770 as far as we can tell. This is something you get used to with modern web browsers.
Generally the browser is very stable, although we did crash randomly once or twice and on one occasion the Nokia 770 reset itself in use. Still, the software can be upgraded, so perhaps these issues will be fixed. The browser is also fast, indeed much faster than any other mobile device we've seen.
The embedded email client is fairly simple and can access multiple mailboxes using POP3 or IMAP4. It's a simple but fairly flexible client, however it lacks any inbound rule functions which can make life difficult. And as you can see from our screenshot, there's no spam filtering either.
The layout is a bit inflexible. Although you can change the font of the displayed messages, you can't change the size. Even in full screen mode, the Nokia 770 struggles to fit everything in.
The email client comes with a contact manager, signatures, optional encryption and a search function.
Of course, if you have a web-based email client you can use that too, and that's probably a better option in many cases as it saves a lot of tedious downloading.
The RSS client is given prominence in the Nokia 770's startup screen which is slightly unusual. The RSS reader takes a little getting use to, and again it seems to have quite a large font size which limits the amount of information being displayed.
We added several feeds without a problem though.. except for our own! Yes, although Mobile Gazette's RSS feed passes every validation test we've tried, it seems to require some manual tweaking for the Nokia 770's RSS reader to view it properly.
The Nokia 770 also comes with a PDF file reader, calculator, clock, notepad, sketch program, chess, mahjong and marbles.
There's an audio player that can play back MP3, AAC, RealAudio and other formats. On the bottom of the 770 is a standard headphone jack. There's also a video player that can play back AVI, MPEG4 and H.263 formats, but we actually found it a bit limited. There's a trailer for Ice Age 2 on the RS-MMC card though, and this showcases just how good the Nokia 770's multimedia capabilities are.
This is a Linux device, and that means that there's more software available for it than comes in the box. Maemo has an application catalogue of what has already been ported to this platform, plus information about development tools for this particular Linux platform. Also, Nokia promise a major update to the operating system in 2006 which will include nice things like Voice Over IP (VOIP).
Nokia say that the 770 has three hours browse time, and we feel that's about right. The 770 includes a charger, but it's not the traditional Nokia charger that most people are used to - it uses the newer Nokia AC-4X charger found on the very latest Nokia handsets. There's also a standard mini USB connection on the bottom, so the 770 can be connected to a PC using a pretty common USB peripheral cable.
The Nokia 770 comes with a clever reversible protective cover - turn it one way round and it protects the screen, the other way around it allows for normal use of the 770. This all fits into the carry case, and the 770 slips easily into a jacket pocket (although at 230 grams it is rather heavy).
Documentation is pretty slim but adequate for most of the software. It's fairly easy to learn how applications work after a short period using it, so really the manuals are aimed at getting you started.
One crucial thing missing from the documentation is a guide to assembling the two-piece stand. We think it clips together as shown in the picture on the right enabling you to put the Nokia 770 on a desk and have it angled up towards you.