Nokia Unveils Handheld Linux Tablet

Ahead of the LinuxWorld Summit in New York, Nokia unveiled its first device in what it calls the "Internet Tablet" category. The handheld Nokia 770, which sports a 4.1-inch touch screen, is also the company's first device without a built-in mobile phone - relying instead on Wi-Fi Internet connectivity.

The Nokia 770 Internet Tablet features a widescreen 800x480-pixel display and weighs about half a pound. It measures 5.6 inches wide, 3.1 inches deep, and .75 inches thick. The new device is being billed by Nokia as a way to browse the Web and access e-mail when not sitting at a desktop PC.

"With the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet consumers can access broadband Internet services away from their desktop, for example in the backyard or at a cafe within a Wi-Fi hotspot," said Janne Jormalainen, Nokia's vice president of Convergence Products, in Wednesday's announcement.

Despite its support for removable storage and the ability to play audio and video, Nokia does not see the 770 as a competitor to Apple's iPod. The device is also taking a different approach from PalmOne's recently announced LifeDrive, which focuses on media and personal organization.

To help build support for the 770 and avoid the fate of similar Internet appliances including Microsoft's Windows Smart Displays, Nokia is turning to the open source community. The Internet Tablet is built atop a new Nokia platform called Maemo based on Linux, and the company plans to launch a Web site to help developers build software for the device.

"Linux is a logical choice for the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet as Linux and the Open Source development platform provide us with fast and efficient solutions to build products for this new Nokia product category. This is the first step in creating an Open Source product for broadband and Internet services. We will be launching regularly updates of the software," said Jormalainen.

By early next year, Nokia plans to add voice over IP and instant messaging software to the 770 Internet Tablet. All software upgrades will be free to customers, and can be loaded onto the device using a USB connection or Bluetooth.

Nokia will begin shipping its 770 Internet Tablet starting in the third quarter of 2005, with an estimated retail price of $350 USD.

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