May 25, 2005
NEW YORK - Nokia Corp. is straying from its core cellular business with its first non-phone mobile device, a handheld Internet tablet for accessing the Web around the home over a wireless broadband connection.
The Nokia 770 Internet Tablet unveiled Wednesday is based on the open-source Linux operating system rather than the Symbian platform it uses for "smart" cell phones or the mobile version of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows. Nokia said it plans to publish the source code in hopes developers will write customized software for the device.
Priced at $350, the Internet Tablet is being positioned as an alternative to buying an extra personal computer or laptop for different rooms, providing a cheaper, quicker and less-cumbersome way to connect to the Web.
While fairly unique in terms of its handheld size, the Internet Tablet can be seen as the latest in a long line of attempts to create a so-called "Internet appliance" - a TV-like device providing easy access to the Web and basic tasks such as e-mail for which the computing power of a full-blown PC is unnecessary.
The Nokia announcement also marks the second time in days that a prominent producer of mobile devices has veered into a new product category.
Last week, PalmOne. Inc. unveiled a $500 device called the LifeDrive, essentially a cross between a mobile media player, portable hard drive and an organizer. The LifeDrive features 4 gigabytes of internal storage and a high-resolution screen for on-the-road access to music, video, digital photos, e-mail and office documents. It also offers Wi-Fi wireless capability to connect with the Web and corporate networks remotely.
By contrast, the Nokia tablet is designed specifically for Web browsing and personal e-mail, primarily at home, though its Wi-Fi transmitter can also connect with public and commercial hot spots.
And while it comes with a slot for removable storage to play music or video, as well as software to play and view such media, the tablet also is not intended as a rival to Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod or other MP3 music players, according to Nokia.
The new device, weighing half a pound, is three-quarters of an inch thick, 5.6 inches wide, and 3.1 inches deep. The touch-screen display is 4.1 inches long measured diagonally.
In one similarity to Nokia's smart phones, the tablet employs the Opera browser from Opera Software ASA.
There's also a USB port to connect with a PC and a Bluetooth transmitter that can be used to connect with a mobile phone that has cellular online access.