Walt Mossberg

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Reviewing the Nokia 770

There’s no other major item most of us own that is as confusing, unpredictable and unreliable as our personal computers. Everybody has questions about them, and we aim to help.

Here are a few questions about computers I’ve received recently from people like you, and my answers. I have edited and restated the questions a bit, for readability. This week my mailbox contained questions about the Nokia 770, hard-drive storage and Jumbles programs for Windows Mobile.


In your review of the Nokia 770 hand-held computer last week, you said it was very slow. I can only assume that you were using the old operating system, not the new 2006 version, which is much improved. Is that true?

No. I was using the new 2006 operating system, and also was using virtual memory, which is supposed to speed things up. I got the unit directly from Nokia, which configured it. Even so, I found that, with the notable exception of the very nice Web browser, the 770 ran many programs, especially its email program, so slowly as to be dysfunctional. I can only assume it needs a more powerful processor, or a software rewrite, or both.

I have heard from a handful of enthusiastic 770 users who were disappointed or angry about my review. These folks are either gadget geeks; or fans of small, mobile computers in general; or fans of the open-source Linux operating system, which the 770 uses. Some wish I had reviewed the product from their perspective. But, as with everything I review, I try and take the perspective of a mainstream, non-techie, non-enthusiast consumer who just wants digital products to work well. That’s my mission, and I’m sticking to it.

I am buying an iMac for my wife, and am wondering how much memory and hard-drive storage is enough. She is actively involved in digital photography and will soon be doing a lot of digital video work. Should I get one, or two, gigabytes of memory? Should I opt for a 250-gigabyte hard disk, or a 500-gigabyte model?

Since she’ll be working with videos, and with large numbers of photos, which take up a lot of storage and a lot of memory, I would buy as much memory and as large a hard disk as you can afford. I wouldn’t advise two gigabytes of memory or a 500-gigabyte hard disk for an average user, even one doing light photo and video work, but it sounds like your wife will be going well beyond that.

Can you tell me if there is a “Jumbles” program that I could install on my ViewSonic Pocket PC?

There seem to be several Word Jumble games for Microsoft’s Pocket PC platform (now called Windows Mobile). You can find them online at a number of places, but a good place to start is Handango.com, a site that sells programs for hand-held computers, including those running the Pocket PC and Palm operating systems. Just go to Handango and type in “Jumble” and a list of programs will appear. Many even offer free trial downloads.


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