My first steps with the N810

It’s been already a full week since I got my little toy (the N810 for those of you who don’t follow), and what a week !!!
I spent the first two days (over the week end) with the tablet replacing my second hand ! The third day, at work, I just had time to configure the local wifi connection (which is by the way as easy as it could be) before entering an hectic week that took me to friday night without having touched my toy except for a couple of minutes late one night in the remote countryside of Rodez !!!
Anyhow, now is time for a little roundup of my first impressions… I won’t do the traditional unboxing as there are already a couple out there, and clearly I don’t understand how those people have the patience to take pictures when opening that box ! (Oh wait … Someone tells me they’re getting payed sponsored 😉 … No comment !) I’ll rather share with you some points of focus on this device, how I used it, and my feelings about it.
First point : It is a really neat device, looks cool, is beautiful, and simply turning it on makes me happy. Okay maybe this is because it’s been only a week since I got it, but I really don’t think so ! Supposably the kind of feeling you can only get when buying an iPhone Apple product … I’m sorry Mika, but I’m really glad I have this Nokia device 😉
Second point :Apprehension is really easy as I got wifi connectivity less than 5 minutes after powering it for the first time. The next day I connected it using my bluetooth phone as a gprs/edge modem (Actually I had to slightly modify the default Orange Entreprises settings to match my settings after a failed attempt), evene demoed to some friends over lunch. Starting from that, basic Internet usage is as simple as it can get. The browser is Firefox like and the web pages I hang around most of the time were really sharp looking despite the slightly smaller screen. This of course includes Google Mail and Reader (although for this last one I would recommend learning the keyboard shortcuts).
Third point :Portability was the key interest for me, and it delivered big time ! This mean I can follow my little boy everywhere he goes (and believe me, for him, stability is a 2min timespan :-D) while typing this message, or watch a girly serie with my wife while getting my day’s fix of RSS. Of course this also includes chatting with Clowny while watching the pittyfull defeat of France versus Croatia in the European Handball Championship semifinal. Of course it comes with some drawbacks that is it is hard to loose the device, for example when going to bed (ask my wife) or when some attention is strongly required (ask my son).
Fourth point : Global usability is very good. The OS2008 comes with some pre-installed programs as well as a program to facilitate the installation of new programs provided you configured the correct repositories … Does it ring any Ubuntu bell ? It sure does and it’s for the best of it !
The keyboard, although kind of small, is really efficient and I got acquainted with it very fast ! Typing isn’t as fast as it can be on a real one, but it’s much better than T9, and makes the available autocompletion feature almost useless after a week of training !
Fifth point : Now lets start with some complaints ! Battery life is not rising to my expectations. At first I would always leave Wifi on … Bad habit as the device would not pass the day without being charged. Altough I understood that quickly and now use the easily acessible offline mode as soon as possible, I find that a small deception that I cannot stay connected a full day, even with a fully charged battery at the start of it. Anyhow with this usage rule, I can go a week without charging the toy, which is largely enough for me !
Sixth point : I’m slightly disappointed with the default applications as they don’t make a full use of the device. For example to make video calls, you have to use Gizmo (I don’t know a lot of people using this program) as Skype does not seem to support it (Even sound seems a problem). There is no default application for recording videos or taking pictures. The official app “Camera” does not yet support video 🙁. There is no real efficient app to manage podcasts/videocasts as the available ones don’t really work (no flv playback, no capability to differenciate articles from podcasts …). Even blog reading is slightly hectic as offline reading is not that well implemented …
Seventh point : I have not yet really tried the GPS but I know I’m going to be disapointed with it. The few times I tried it, it took like forever to “fix”. The navigation app is actually not free, and does not seem to be up to the level of TomTom for example (Anybody up for the port ?). And although some workaround (other apps) are available, none of them seem to really work offline.

Well I thin I’m going to wrap things up here … I wrote the full article from the toy itself(One other reason why I bought it) with MaemoWordPy (Yes there are some gems out there for this blogging device), an offline writing tool for WordPress. Only thing kind of lengthy to integrate are links … For the rest of it, it’s great ! So all in all I’m definitely thrilled with the N810, even though I waited a long time for it !

See you later for some more feedbacks and insiders tells on the N810

UEFA.com live VOD review

Tonight was Champion’s League night, and since the Olympique de Marseille played a decisive game, I had to watch it. However here in France, two channels are showing the games : TF1 and Canal+; but while TF1 is available to the public, Canal+ requires a subscription I don’t have. And since France has two teams (Olympique Lyonnais is the other one) playing in that championship, they alternate which team they show every other championship game day. The bad thing with that, is that tonights game of l’OM was showing on Canal+. So I decided to give a shot at the UEFA’s VOD service.

This site dedicated to video is pretty slick, and has a really nice interface. It gives access to tons of video of past games, highlights, comments and so on. It is to note that most of the feature require a subscription although selected items can be viewed for free. But the reason I was there tonight was to get Live VOD ! Access was of course really simple, and finding the links for the Besiktas-OM game was really simple, as it was for all the other venues of that night. To get further, one needs to register giving the classical name and address information. And right after that comes the checkout !

Of course, to watch live games, one needs to pay. The price for one game is 6.99€ (I’ll let you do the conversion for $) which is quite expensive for non interested persons, although I know a lot of fans that are ready to spend that amount of money to watch a game ! The first thing I did not like, is that this price is for one game. If you want to watch another game, you have to pay the same price … No discount on multiple games, or game-night-pass kind of subscription. But anyway, since I wanted to watch only that game, this was fine with me. Once you process through checkout, you get directed to the player.

The player is an interface around Windows Media Player, which is required. But more than that, Windows is required, because they rely on some DRM thingy that only works there. So bye bye dear Ubuntu users, you’ll have to make your dual-boot work for that one ! The player gives access to two feeds, one that streams at 450kbps and the other at 2Mbps. Unfortunately I had to use the first one since my DSL speed is right at the 2Mbps limit, and I could only get glimpses of video on that High Def feed. So on the low-def feed, the quality is reasonable if you are used to watching P2P TV with tools like Sopcast. But if you are used to standard or ADSL TV quality, you are way far from this. The good thing is that the streaming was really good, almost without glitches, and I could watch the game from end to end without any problems.

The last thing is the content itself. The game broadcasted was actually the one also broadcasted by Canal+. But the broadcasting time was from 20h45 to the end of the gameNo pregame show, No postgame show (which by the way are great on Canal+), only intermission could be seen. And for the price paid, I find that a little harsh !

To wrap things up, I would say that the service is decent, but when you don’t have enough bandwidth, it’s not worth the price, and you’re better off with some P2P internet TV instead (of course legality issues taken asides!). So next time, I’ll either find a friend/bar who actually has Canal+ subscription, or continue to use my standard way to catch unusual sports like american football, baseball, and so on !