Apr 27 2009
Let’s start off by saying the iPhone is a very cool and unmistakably innovative product. What I’ve got put together here can in no way replace Steve’s gift to the mobile world. But, I think you’ll be interested to find that while you can’t match the style of the iPhone, you can mimic and even best many of its features for less.
If you remember, the iPhone is billed as three devices in one. One of those is a mobile web browser. To date, the mobile web browser with the best browsing experience short of a laptop would have to be Nokia’s series of Internet Tablets. With the new n800 out, you can score the original 770 for about $200. At press time, Amazon had them for $140 with free shipping.
The Nokia 770 has a slightly larger screen (4 inches) and a greater pixel depth (800x400x225dpi) than the iPhone (480x320x160dpi). It browses with a version of the Opera browser that displays web pages in roughly the same way you’d see them on your desktop.
The 770 also does internet radio in addition to playing mp3s – so while its no iPod, multimedia playback (including mpeg video) is there too. And, not to pour salt in the wound – the Nokia runs open Linux, so 3rd party applications are available.
Yes, you say, but where’s the phone? This comes in two parts. First, we’ll get the service by signing up for a free account with GrandCentral (rumored to have just been bought by Google). This will give us a free local call-in number.
Now part two: the software. Download the Gizmo Project app for the Nokia 770. After signing up for your Gizmo account, you can set up your GrandCentral number to forward calls to your Gizmo Project SIP account. A call comes in while you’re online – take it on your Internet Tablet. Call comes in while you’re offline, Gizmo Project’s free voicemail takes a message and sends you the .wav which you get in your email on your 770 in a very “visual voicemail” way. For free.
Now take free mobile calls at any free wireless hotspot. You can buy call out credit for 1.9 cents a minute, or call out free to certain contacts using the Gizmo free calling plan.
And, though this isn’t as convenient as a phone with cellular coverage, you can cut and paste text not to mention, download and edit Word and Excel files (with Abiword and Gnumetric installed). And, yes, Internet Tablet OS 2006 has an onscreen finger-friendly keyboard.
So maybe you don’t feel like dropping $500 on an iPhone. Or maybe you just don’t think they are all that. That doesn’t mean the features aren’t worth ripping off.