By July 23, 2008

Nokia N810 Internet Tablet Review

The chances are that if you are reading Matt & Tracy’s blog then you will need little introduction to the Nokia N810 internet tablet. I confess to being the owner of a Nokia N800 internet tablet so, when Matt invited me to review the N810 I jumped at the chance. I was curious to see how the latest member of the breed measured up.

Nokia N810 Internet Tablet angled right open

The Nokia N810 Internet Tablet


Internet tablets themselves are an odd breed that occupy a bit of a niche market. They are neither PDAs, mobile phones or laptop replacements, however, with a fully customisable Linux operating system they are real computers with great potential to act as converged devices. They are to my mind what the PDA always should have been

The N810 represents the latest evolution of a concept that began with the N770 in 2006 and progressed through the N800 in 2007. The 770 and the 800 have something of a cult following, but so far have failed to make a wider impact. Perhaps the 810 might change that?


Nokia N810 Internet Tablet specification:


  • Internet Tablet OS: maemo Linux based OS2008
  • High-resolution 4.13” WVGA display (800 x 480 pixels) with up to 65,000 colors
  • 400MHz TI OMAP 2420 CPU
  • 128 Mbytes RAM & 256 Mbytes Flash ROM
  • 2GB internal memory
  • Built-in VGA Camera
  • MiniSDHC Compatible memory card slot (up to 8GB)
  • Bluetooth® 2.0
  • WiFi: 802.11b/g
  • Built-in GPS receiver
  • Integrated QWERTY keyboard
  • High quality stereo speakers and microphone
  • Continuous usage (display on, wireless LAN active): up to 4 hours, Standby time: up to 14 days
  • Dimensions: 128x72x14 mm
  • 225 grams
  • Internet Calling with Video
  • Built in email client
  • RSS Feed reader
  • Instant Messaging
  • Media Player
  • Browser based on Mozilla technology
  • Flash 9 compatible





What’s in the box?

1. N810.

2. Plug in wall charger.

3. USB cable.

4. Stereo headphones..

5. Slip case.

6. Spare stylus.

7. Dashboard mount (for use as a GPS).




The form factor is similar to its predecessor the N800, albeit smaller. The device looks clean and modern with its brushed metallic aluminium style fascia. It feels reassuringly solid and well made, sitting easily in one hand whilst leaving the other free to use the stylus. If you’re left-handed like me then you might find that the stylus stored in the upper right corner is a bit awkward to access.

The controls are similar to the N800 but arranged slightly differently:

· On the top from left to right there is a switch for full-screen mode where toolbars and the taskbar can be turned on/off, a volume/zoom up/down control, in the middle is the on/off/standby power switch and on the right is the screen lock switch.

Nokia N810 Internet Tablet_top

Nokia N810 top view

· On the upper left corner is a multi-function led designed to give visual notifications of device status.

Nokia N810 Internet Tablet_camera

Nokia N810 camera and light sensor

· On the front fascia to the left are the home screen select and browser back navigation buttons. Above these is the webcam and light sensor.

Nokia N810 Internet Tablet front view

Nokia N810 front view

· To the right on the side, from top to bottom is a 3.5mm audio socket, power socket and, hidden under the stand, a USB2.0 micro socket.

Nokia N810 right side Nokia N810 USB connector

Nokia N810 right side

· On the bottom the mini-SD slot is hidden behind a plastic cover. Next to that can be found together with the battery cover release switch.

Nokia N810 bottom view

Nokia N810 bottom view

· On the back a brushed-metallic fastened panel hides the removable battery that is found in many Nokia mobile phones.

· Very little to be seen on the left hand side of the device beyond the loudspeaker.

Nokia N810 left side

Nokia N810 left side

· The QWERTY keyboard is accessed by sliding it out from the bottom of the unit in a fashion similar to some HTC Windows Mobile devices. Doing that not only gives access to the keyboard, but also context sensitive menu key on the lower left and a five-way navigator D-pad used for moving around various screens and menus.

Nokia N810 Keyboard

Nokia N810 keyboard

The N800’s two SD slots have been dropped in favour of one mini-SD slot. This seems like a backward step and reduces the potential for expansion, but Nokia provides an internal card with 2GB of file storage so, potentially there’s up to 10GB of space available and perhaps more with larger cards. A swap file can be configured on the internal storage to improve performance, but I can’t say I noticed any difference.



· Speedy performance.

· Excellent bright, evenly-lit and sharp screen.

· Quality construction.

· Powerful, highly customisable and reliable operating system.

· Connectivity.

· Open source community support.


· Navigation is a backward step from the N800 at times requiring the keyboard to be opened up.

· Unfinished feel to some of the software.

· Only one memory expansion slot.

· Brushed metallic finish is susceptible to scratches and greasy finer marks.



In use the N810 generally feels very responsive with applications launching quickly and menus popping up on command with little delay. The fact that it’s a Linux device should not put you off – it’s easy to use, configure and very intuitive.

As the name intimates, the N810’s primary function is web browsing and in this respect it’s pretty much on the money as far as mobile devices go. The Mozilla based browser is quite speedy with support for Flash, and the large 800 x 480 pixel screen allows web pages to be viewed in full without having to scroll around like you would on a PDA or phone. In this respect it is light years ahead.

As you would expect for an internet-enabled device, connectivity is excellent with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth v2.0 built in (no bluetooth stereo audio though). There is support for WEP and WPA-PSK encryption for secure wireless connections and setting up a connection to a hotspot or your home network is easy with the ability to have several configurations available. Equally simple is establishing a bluetooth connection to a 3G mobile phone for go-anywhere internet access. Rather surprisingly the N810 like the N800 seems to have an uncanny ability to hold onto a Wi-Fi signal for far longer and more reliably than any Windows pc I have ever used.

Out of the box there is no decent PIM application other than a rudimentary contacts manager, but to be fair Nokia makes no claims regarding PIM functionality.

As a media player the N810 is competent and possesses some excellent features such as an internet radio application and the ability to play media streamed from a server. The built-in media player is somewhat basic, but it does a reasonable job of things and there’s good support for a wide variety of audio and video formats including mp3, WAV, AAC, WMA, WMV, MPEG 1-2, mp4, avi etc.

Sound quality is good and on par with a decent mp3 player. Quality headphones enhance the experience further. Video playback is superb: smooth and sharp on the large screen making it much better than any mobile phone or PDA. Watching an entire movie is a reasonable proposition. Occasionally, playback can stumble on high resolution video files but transcoding to 400 x 288 pixels soon sorts that out and Nokia provides a free utility for optimising videos.

The email application is fairly basic, but allows multiple POP3 and IMAP4 mail accounts. I found that it does slow noticeably with large volumes of mail.

There is no sim slot and therefore the N810 can’t be used as a standalone mobile phone, nor can it access the online world without a hotspot or phone to hand. For some people this is a major omission. For me it isn’t an issue. With excellent Wi-Fi performance to rely upon free Skype-to-Skype calls were of decent audio quality with minimal lag.

Physically, the keyboard is what differentiates the N810 from the N800. It slides out smoothly from the bottom of the unit and locks into place. It adds a new dimension to the device that makes data entry less of a chore than it is on the N800. Writing mail, short notes and documents, and instant messaging becomes more realistic. However, you will struggle to touch type on it or write a lengthy document.

Nokia N810 open

Nokia N810 in the open position

Inevitably, the addition of the keyboard has forced some compromises upon the o/s in terms of navigating the user interface and on occasions when I found myself using it, I was still forced to resort to the stylus. Conversely, when I wanted to just stick with the stylus I was forced to pop out the keyboard. This was slightly frustrating and could probably be overcome with familiarity, but in this respect I feel that the N810 is slightly behind the N800 in ease of use.

Battery life in use for media playback is borderline acceptable at about 3-4hrs depending upon settings and the quality of encoded files. In general use it fared much better. I was pleased to discover that the charger is a standard Nokia phone affair because the battery is also a standard Nokia item, obtaining replacements or spares ought to be cheap and easy.


There’s nothing new here which hasn’t already been covered elsewhere in this or the N800’s review except the GPS functionality. The GPS and mapping software itself is a bit clunky. Getting a satellite lock was slow and the maps seemed to be quite low on detail compared to dedicated GPS units.


Nokia N810

Nokia N810 closed position


Has the 810 moved things on and would I recommend one? Not much and almost is the answer.

You really have to want an internet tablet to be able to reconcile cost against performance and convenience. If you are looking for a laptop replacement and for something that can be used for regular web access then you are probably better off looking at a sub-notebook such as the Asus Eee PC which is much more capable and cheaper.

If you are like me and don’t like to be carrying several devices, then it’s tantalisingly close to achieving that nirvana as an all-in-one replacement for a PDA, mp3 player and mobile phone. This in itself is worth paying good money for.


Review by: Nigel

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Posted in: Phones, Reviews
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About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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