May 9, 2009 – 9:30 pm
I just bought my first Symbian mobile – a Nokia 5800. I considered the geekier option of getting the android-powered G2, which was due to be released about the same time by Vodafone, but after a bit of consideration i eventually decided on the Nokia. There were a couple of reasons for that: firstly the G2 doesn’t function as a modem – which was something i wanted a phone to be able to do. Secondly, the G2 hasn’t got a headphone socket – and i want to be able to use wired headphones with it. Apart from those, the G2 is bigger and uglier than the 5800. And, anyway, i spend far too much time playing around with the operating system of my Linux laptop, without having a Linux phone to waste my time (and ruin my eyesight) with as well.
So far, i’m impressed with the 5800 – it’s pleasant to use and the interface is well designed. It’s got a very usable full-screen keyboard for fast text input. I used it to write this and i didn’t find it at all frustrating – and i haven’t got dainty little fingers, that’s for sure! I can type reasonably fast and accurately by holding the phone in both hands and hitting the keys with the corners of my index finger tips. I touch type but i reckon with practice i could get fast enough with this phone to be happy with it.
I’ve installed putty on it and i can ssh to my laptop. The font is really small in putty, but i can just about read it without glasses. The user interface is a bit clunky – you have to click “send” and then a button for the type of thing you’re sending, e.g., a line of text or “ctrl+” – but it works well enough. I wouldn’t want to have to do a lot of work via putty on this phone, but it’s nice to have an ssh terminal i my pocket. The only thing i haven’t found a way to do is send a right hand angle bracket – which means i’ve got no way of redirecting output to a file – which isn’t a particularly big deal most of the time, but it would be useful. Putty doesn’t seem to have any way of scrolling back up the screen buffer either, which is a bit irritating.
The thing that really bemused me though was the ability to go to a full-screen display. Once you’re there, that’s it – you’re stuck. There’s no way back and no way to input anything, so you can’t even log off. Symbian doesn’t appear to have any way to kill rogue programs, either, so (although you can switch to other programs) the only way to close putty is to turn the phone off and back on again.
I was hoping to find a usable pdf reader for the 5800, as i’ve got quite a backlog of pdf literature that i want to be able to read away from the computer, but there doesn’t seem to be one. Adobe reader is available, but it’s not very good – and it’s expensive. Being used to downloading the linux and windows versions of it for free, i can’t say i’m excited about having to pay for an inferior version of it for my phone. But it’s useless anyway, so i won’t be buying it. However, the combination of the display size and the inherent inflexibilty of the pdf format means it’s probably not much of a goer on this size of device anyway.
The onboard gps is handy – particularly when combined with the google maps app. It’s nice to be able to get a map of the area with your location already marked on it. No need to carry a map ever again – so long as there’s mobile coverage, anyway!
And i’ve finally discovered a device that i can bear to watch television on. I’m not at all a fan of tv – and won’t even have one in the house if i’ve got a choice. But i’ve been enjoying watching downloaded programs from Australia’s SBS and ABC television stations. Despite its small size, the 3.2in, 640 x 360, 16m colour screen is surprisingly pleasant to watch – and i never thought i’d be saying that!