According to a number of sources, Nokia has just announced a new tablet-like wireless internet device, the Nokia 770. No one really seems to know what to do with it–it’s slightly larger then a PDA with a 4.13 inch 800x480 LCD, 802.11 and Bluetooth, 64 MB of RAM, 128 MB of flash, and an RS-MMC socket. Nokia’s positioning it as a cheaper, more portable alternative to the laptop, and equipping it with a web browser and email software. There have been a number of products with similar aims in the past, but none of them have been able to achieve any amount of success.

The 770 will probably fail, too. It does have a could things going for it, though–it’s a relatively open platform (it supposedly runs Debian Linux), and the software for the device is open-source. The hardware is surprisingly capable for the cost–at $350, this is cheaper then any PocketPC with a VGA screen. It’s a bit limited on the storage front, with room for only a single RS-MMC card (up to 512 MB), but that’s not really all that bad.

Personally, I wouldn’t mind something like this, but I’d be tempted to use it as a portable video player, and I doubt that the 770’s 200-ish MHz OMAP chip has enough oomph to play back video at any reasonable resolution and frame rate.

I’m not really sure what Nokia has up their sleeves here. On one hand, the hardware looks pretty good. Unfortunately, the software is brand new and doesn’t seem to include any PDA-type features–it’s focused entirely on web browsing (using a scaled-down Opera), email, and RSS reading. If Nokia can keep the platform alive for a year or two, it might gain enough support to be interesting, but as it stands I don’t see how it’ll have much of a chance in the market.

Update: Martin at Telepocalypse sees the 770 rather differently, and is very positive on it. Om Malik agrees.