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The Nokia 770: A Linux-based ugly duckling

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Sci/Tech

In my final column of 2005 I said that 2006 would be the year for Linux-powered consumer electronic devices. For the past few weeks I've been enthralled by one early example: the Nokia 770.

Though it's small enough to fit comfortably into a purse or hip pocket, the 770 isn't a phone, and it's not really a mobile device, either. Nokia envisions it as a new product category and calls it an Internet tablet with the idea that it probably won't even leave your home.

The 770 is intended for one main purpose: accessing the Internet. Picture setting it on the end table so you can call up e-commerce sites while watching TV, or on the nightstand for checking your e-mail and the news headlines before you roll out of bed.

Geeks who have seen this device often fall in love with it, so much so that it's been heavily back-ordered since its release. Unfortunately, however, the Nokia 770 is a disaster as a consumer product. Although designing it to do very few things was a shrewd move, sadly it doesn't do any of them well.

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