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Find your way around with a Nokia Internet tablet 770 back
Previous article: The Nokia 770 Internet Tablet view

Navicore01

The Nokia Internet Tablet has been a companion for me whenever I am in London, or when I am going on holiday. You'd be surprised how many places, home and abroad, have WiFi internet access these days. I recently upgraded the firmware to OS 2006 Edition (Version 1.2006.26-8), which has a few new goodies, like integrated IM client, Contacts (but still no desktop synchronisation), and Acrobat reader. Generally, I am happy with its stability and the longevity and swapability of the battery (these are the same as the batteries in their mobile phones, so you can get them from any phone shop), but would have liked to get more uses out of this wonder device, specially its superior 800x600 crispy display.

Well, as it happens, Finnish innovation did not stop at the Nokia 770, and I got delivery of my shiny new Navigation Kit yesterday, all the way from Belgium (?!). I have registered for this kit as soon as it was announced on the Nokia products website. Even though there is mention of Navicore, their involvement seems to be well hidden, as everything coming out of the box carries the Nokia brand name through and through, with the quality to match.

Nokia 770 Navigation Kit Holder

I particularly wanted to get this kit because it is advertised as using the SIRF III chipset in the GPS receiver. Reviews from various sites indicate that these receivers are capable to locking on to the Satellites within one minute from cold, even indoors. Having gone through a number of hand held SatNav devices (Navman, Tom Tom, and ahem, Gizmondo ), I know how frustratingly slow these receivers can be in acquiring lock on Satellite signals. If you stand a few steps back from the window, you might sometimes have to give up altogether. Well, let me tell you, these new GPS receivers do live up to their reputation, as I managed to get a lock from my desk in my living room within half a minute. Furthermore, the Navigation software indicates that half of the maximum number of satellites (about 10) have been located and their signals acquired. Impressive ! And finally, the icing on the cake is the battery for this receiver: it is a standard BL-5C removable Nokia battery, meaning it lasts for ages, and I can carry a spare one and swap them on long journeys or while trekking.

Nokia SIRF III GPS Receiver

The Navigation software itself is loaded on to a Mini MMC card, so you simply plug it into the slot and run the installer. The software generally feels solid, and although it does not appear to be any faster than Tom Tom and NavMan, it beats the socks off the PocketPC based software by a mile. I am saying this because I have not been able to crash the software yet in the last few days, whereas the Navman PIN (which is essentially a Mitac Mio 168 running PocketPC) crashed twice on my first day and required hard reset to recover (it is in fact completely dead now, after crashing half way through a long journey to Blackpool). Even the Tom Tom software running on a Palm Treo 650 sometimes causes the bluetooth functions to go crazy. Actually, to be fair, the only tiny hiccup I found today was that the 770 had some problem discovering the GPS receiver via Bluetooth when I was standing in an environment with many bluetooth devices enabled (like a schoolground, for instance). This problem is non existent when I am in a car or in the house.
    
Nokia 770 Navigation Screen  Nokia 770 Navigation Screen
 
OK, now for the good bits. The screen is fantastic. I mount the 770 on the suction holder next to the rear view mirror and it is clearly visible to everyone in the car. The touchscreen is useable if you want to quickly zoom in and out with your fingernail (instead of the provided stylus). The instructions can be either male or female, although both have an American accent. The loaded maps cover most of Northern, Western and Eastern Europe, although Southern Europe is not an option. There is an accompanied CD, although I have not explored it enough to see if the rest of Europe can be loaded on piecewise. It is something most people do not do until they have to go to these regions, I guess. Another good point is the battery life for both the Nokia 770 and the GPS receiver are pretty good, even with Bluetooth enabled most of the time. I use the 770 both net surfing too, and running it in Navigation mode does not bother it too much. The supplied power cord for the cigarette lighter socket ifor the  car, for some reason, only has one terminal, so you can either charge up the 770 or the GPS receiver, but not both simultaneously (they both have the same terminal, so can share this connection). The other good bit is, as the 770 is fully WiFi enabled, you can update the internal database of 'safety cameras' and other points of interest. I found it also useful that there is already a built in database of WiFi hotspots as you drive or walk along. Very useful indeed !

Nokia 770 Navigation Screen

Here are a few niggling points I do not like. First, the postcode search is not that intuitive. There is no search field for postcodes, in fact. The results seem to indicate that it does not support full postcode search (only the first five digits of the postcode are displayed). However, I discovered after using it a while, that if you type in the whole postcode into the field labelled City, then the navigation software takes you to the right location pretty accurately (on par with Google Maps, in fact). One other thing I miss is the page that displays the number of satellites acquired, together with the coordinates which are really cool to look at. Instead, all you get is a series of little bars on the bottom right corner of the screen, kinda like the signal strength indicators on most mobile phones. Lastly, there is a gimmicky 3D mode, but you lose all the road names while in this mode, so not sure why anyone'd want to switch to it.

Nokia 770 Navigation Screen

In general, I am happy with this kit. Wonder what other goodies Nokia will be bringing out for this little device next ? Top of the list for me will be a Freeview (DVB-T) adapter.


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Previous article: The Nokia 770 Internet Tablet view

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 by by David at 05 Dec 2006 23:48:03
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