Nokia delivers Linux wireless tablet

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Nokia is to release its first product with a Linux based operating system. Unveiled at the Linux WorldSummit in New York today the 770 Wireless Internet tablet is a web browsing device aimed at consumers with home wireless networks. The 770, which is slightly larger than Nokia’s widescreen 7700 smartphone, connects to the web via 802.11b/g wireless connections or through a Bluetooth enabled mobile phone. It also has email and streaming facilities.

Janne Jormalainen, Vice President of Convergence Products, Multimedia, Nokia, expects its primary use to be in the home but adds that ‘customers can also use the 770 on their travels accessing the web via wireless hot spots.’

Jormalainen says that Nokia chose a standard, not embedded, Linux based operating system – which it calls Internet Tablet 2005 software edition – as it was the established OS for web tablets. However he adds that ‘Nokia is making a firm commitment to both Linux and open source developers.’ It intends to publish the source code for the products via the www.maemo.org website and hopes to work with developers so it can collaborate on future hardware and software.

‘There’s a huge development base out there,’ adds Jormalainen ‘and as we are opening up the source code anyone can build on top of the platform.’

The tablet itself sports a four inch 800×400 widescreen display which is controlled by a stylus. Although Nokia believes its core functionality will be web browsing – it has the acclaimed Opera browser on board which Jormalainen claims will deliver full web pages to the screen – it also features an email client, image viewer and media player. Owners can also stream music, video and images to the device across their network and via the web. Other facilities include an RSS reader and internet radio.

When the second edition of the software launches early next year Jormalainen says Nokia will add Instant Messaging and VOIP (the device already has an integrated mîcrophone) to the 770’s specification.

Although it appears to be a device that is crying out for a hard disk Nokia is only offering the users limited memory – just 64Mb of flash which can be upgraded via the addition of an RS-MMC card. Jormalainen believes that the 700 will act as a replacement for a second or even third PC in the home.

Jormalainen is however adamant that Nokia has no plans to launch Linux based phones. ‘Looking forward Symbian is the best system for smartphones’ he says. ‘With this device we are creating a new category and for that category of device a Linux system seemed ideal.’

The 700, which will debut in Q3 this year will be available via Nokia’s website, selected retailers and possibly via internet service providers. Nokia expects the price to be in the region of £250.

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