Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Nokia 770 update - better than expected

Back on April 23rd I upgraded my Nokia's software load. Since then I've worked with it a bit I've noted some more (good) features. Generally speaking the latest release is faster and uses less resources. Somebody has worked hard to clean up the internals, although I can't state specifically what they are. But here's a few things I've noticed.
  1. Power startup is now twice as fast. Using a digital stopwatch (yes, I did time it), it takes 35 seconds to go from cold start to complete desktop. Now before you think that's too slow, keep in mind the typical multi-gigahertz multi-gigabyte OS (Windows or Linux, take your choice) takes the same amount of time to boot. Besides, the December software drop took nearly a minute.
  2. I've installed a status bar cpu/memory load meter on my 770. I installed it before I upgraded and kept some simple statistics on memory usage. Since the upgrade I re-installed it and checked again. Sure enough, the amount of memory used by the system after boot has dropped from 55% to 40%. Furthermore, the system recovers memory more aggressively after an application is closed, and there is no longer the annoying slow memory consumption that occurred the longer the 770 stayed on.
  3. The browser really is faster. If the wireless link is fast enough, then loading simple pages is no slower than it is on my Windows/Suse Linux notebook. The big fat fly in this ointment are pages that contain animated ads. A good example of a bad page for the 770 is The Inquirer. On a standard notebook you won't notice the impact hit (or if you use Firefox and Adblock Plus with Filterset.G you won't even see them), but on the 770 such web pages slow to a crawl while loading.
  4. Wireless networking. I don't know if this is a new bug, or if it's been this way from the beginning. I reset my entire wireless list when I upgraded. When I walked into a Panera's after the upgrade, I attempted to connect to the shop's wireless network. It eventually did but I couldn't connect to anything. I got nothing but network error dialogs. I opened up the connection and found it was set as ad-hoc. When I configured the connection as managed, it immediately allowed full connectivity; web browsing worked and I could update my news feeds. I remember with the December release it would eventually just work after many attempts. This time I shortened that 'learning' period considerably.
When I answered Doc Searls' question about what I wanted improved in the 770, at the top of my list were performance and stability. The performance increases are measurable and noticeable. While I can't give anything definitive with regards to stability, I can say that I have not suffered any crashes since the upgrade, but the jury is still out. Overall, however, this release is much better than the December release, and it makes the user experience more enjoyable. I believe that there is still a large area for improvement, and I look forward to the next release of the 770's system software.

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