Android on N810 …

I was teased by Vince, and my curiosity was too intense … But man what a disappointment !

Following my recent upgrade to Diablo, the latest OS for the N810, I did install Android on my shiny N810. What cooler stuff than Google’s own OS could there be for such a nifty device ?

This post gives you great explanation on how to do it, and it is actually really simple. You need to download this file, and this one on your internal memory card, then run the .deb one (the second one), which will open the application installer and actually install Android. After a reboot, you can go in the Extras menu to find the magic link to Android. If you select it, and wait a minute or so, you’re up and running with Google’s OS, and this just minutes after you gave it a try !

Once you have Android started, you have something that looks like a brand new OS.
Android running on the N810

Unfortunately there is only a browser application, which clearly does not stand the comparison with the OS2008 version, and couple of other application (contacts, file manager, dev tools, maps) which I did not understand how to use on a first try … So maybe I’ll have to come back to it, or get some hints from my fellow Google friends :-D. I have to say though that the map application looked cool, but I’m not sure how I could use it efficiently !

Anyhow, this answers the question … The cooler stuff than Google’s OS actually is the OS2008 from Nokia, specially the Diablo version !

Upgrading the N810 to Diablo

It’s already been a couple of days since the release of Diablo, the latest edition of the OS from Nokia for the N810. And since the best knowledge base on the subject says its hot, there is no way I’m going to leave any longer without it !

Since I’m running an Ubuntu desktop, the upgrade process is slightly different, but really well explained here. on the Maemo community wiki.
You basically need to download the flasher from here, the Diablo image from here, shut down your tablet, plug it in the USB port, and then run the following command:

sudo ./flasher-3.0 -F RX-44_DIABLO_4.2008.23-14_PR_COMBINED_MR0_ARM.bin  -f -R

After that, you switch the tablet on while pressing the “switch window”button, wait a minute. And after a nice reboot, here you are finally running Diablo ! Easy isn’t it ?

After reboot, you need to setup your tablet again unless you did save all the data you had on it.
Since it was time for me to start clean again, I did only restore my settings, and a few data, but no applications or other things. When doing this, the OS may ask you if you want to erase a newer version with an older one (favicons for example). Only choices are Yes, Yes for all and No … A “No for all” choice would have been great since you obviously want to keep the newest files … Apparently I was not able to restore my bookmarks though … Too bad πŸ™
The new eMail application, based on Modest which I had installed on my previous setup, is much better and faster. You can easily access your GMail accounts for examples and it works really smoothly now that it is tightly integrated with the OS.
Browsing experience is although much smoother on a first try … I guess I’ll have to play with it a little longer to get you more feedback !

Well that’s it for this first upgrade. Everything went smoothly, and the new features and OS looks promising … Now I just need to test Android and Fennec to have something brilliant to show my friends πŸ˜‰

Versions on the N810 ?

Hello all,
Here I am again on another firday evening, with a full week behind me. But at least tonight I have some time to play with my N810, and so I decided it was time to upgrade the firmware to the latest version.
Yes I thought I had seen some posts about a new version for the N810, and so I went to look for it. To my deepest surprise, there was no new version for the N810, and I was actually on top of the line, that is running the OS2008 v. 2.2007.50-2… So I guess I have to be happy with that, and even with some digging around, I could not find the post I thought I remembered, and could only find one about upgrading the N800.
Since I’m kind of stubburn, and the reason for my upgrade, was to get Skype working, I went to the Skype website, and found out that the version I had 1.7.62.51.1 was more up to date than the one available there (1.7.62.49.1) … Strange don’t you think πŸ˜‰
All in all, it seems to me that something is wrong, but I cannot figure out what … or maybe I’m just tryng to find something where there is nothing to be found … Any ideas anyone out there ?

The N810 input methods

Today, lets wrapup the various input methods available on the N810.
The shiny device offers numerous ways to be controled. From the touchscreen to the keyboard going through writing recognition, there should at least be one way that will fit your prefered way of entering information.

TouchscreenFirst lets speak of the touchscreen. You can either use it with the stylus or your fingers. If the stylus is of course the most precise way, I found out that you can actually be very precise with your fingertips or nails once you get acquainted with it ! For the GMail interface, I prefer to use the stylus as the lines and buttons are kind of small. However, when in a hurry or just checking the Inbox, fingertips will do just fine. For more easy to use apps like Canola (one of the best media player available), camera or other utils, fingers (even large ones like mine) are just great. One thing I found out a little tricky to manage with this touchscreen is the difference between a short and a long pressure. The short one is used for clicking; whereas the long one is used for sliding the display when its too big for the screen. Unfortunately the screen is sometimes too sensitive and its hard to make simple pressures. For example, on the GMail interface, it takes some learning to efficiently click on the lines or buttons. Another thing which is tough to master is text selection. Double clicking a word works every other times, and line/phrase selection is almost impossible. As a result, the best way to select text is to actually use the stylus and simply select the text like you would do with a mouse. To conclude on this item, I would say that the touchscreen works really great, and with some learning, you almost don’t need to use the stylus. Only thing that really needs enhancement is text selection.

N810KeyboardThe second input method I want to talk about is of course the sliding keyboard. As you know this keyboard is one of the key difference between the N810 and the N800 or iPhone. As I said in my previous post, even though the keys are kind of small, it is really usable (despite my still large fingers) and gives an efficient typing method. In my particular case, I have an azerty version, and all the accentueted characters are available through the Fn function key (like the numbers). Of course usual shortcuts like ctrl+c/v do work and do make global navigation/usage that much simpler. One funny thing with the keyboard is that characters are inverted … Just tought you’d like to know about this twist ! The left part of the keyboard has a navigation push button. Quite frankly I don’t use this button but for navigating long text articles in MaemoWorldPy … I don’t find this button that precise and efficient … But I may be missing something ! One last great thing about this keyboard, is that it allows for an efficient GReader usage thanks to the shortcut, and even if only for that feature, it’s worth the price. So to conclude on this keyboard, its great and well worth the price difference with other devices.

VirtualKeyboard1Next input methods are both based on the virtual keyboard. This keyboard is the one that was also available on previous versions of the tablet and which opens up on the bottom side of the screen. There are actually two ways to use it : either by typping characters by characters on a virtual keyboard, or by hand writing the recognition engine doing its best to understand what you are writing. I’m not a big found of those two methods, the first one being definitely too slow, and the second one being kind of a pain to correct the engine’s mistakes. VirtualKeyboard2The only good thing is that this input mode automatically shows up when you’re slidding keyboard is hidden, giving you a quick way to enter some text (if you have gloves on for example πŸ˜‰ ). To conclude on these methods, they’re only an alternative and definitely not an efficient one.

That’s it for this week post … More on another feature next week ! Don’t hesitate to comment on the ones you’d like to be reviewed !

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 πŸ˜‰ … 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 πŸ˜‰
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 πŸ™. 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