Thursday, February 7, 2008

Nokia N800 & N810: How to turn your internet tablet into a "PADD" from Star Trek

If you're a fan of the TV and film series Star Trek, you may be familiar with the "PADD" portable computer tablet that many of the characters used.

Well, if you install an unofficial theme pack called "LCARS", you can turn your internet tablet into something that still works just like an internet tablet, but which looks and sounds like a PADD from Star Trek.

How to install LCARS on your N800 or N810

The installation process is very simple:

1. Click on the Globe in the top left hand corner, open a new browser window, and go to this address: This is the official website for installing Maemo applications, and Maemo is the software platform used by Nokia's internet tablets. Incidentally, is sometimes a very slow site even when you access it on a desktop computer. If it's too slow when you visit, try going back later.

2. On the Categories section on the right of the screen, click on "Desktop Environment".

3. Scroll through the applications until you see one called LCARS PADD, and click on its title.

4. Take a look at the information and comments about the application if you want. When you've finished doing that, you can install LCARS by clicking on the green "Click To Install" arrow.

5. Say yes or OK to all of the boxes that appear. As you can see in the video above, the installation may take a little while.

6. Don't worry if a web browser window automatically opens at the end of the installation process, this is just to show you the latest release notes for LCARS, which includes news on any new features or bug fixes, and instructions on various topics. Read this page if you want to, and close the browser window when you've finished using the X in the top right hand corner.

The installation should now be complete, but the LCARS theme won't actually be visible until you've set it up.

How to set up the LCARS theme on your N800 or N810

1. Click on the "Home" menu on the desktop and select "Set Theme".

2. Scroll down and select either LCARS PADD or LCARS Bridge, then select "Apply", then select "Close". These are both basically the same theme but with slightly different colour schemes.

3. Click on the "Home" menu again and select "Set Background Image".

4. From the "Image" drop-down menu, select the name of the image that matches the theme you just selected. Click on "OK". If the desktop looks a bit untidy with the new image, just rearrange some of the boxes as shown in the video above.

5. Switch off the tablet, then switch it on again.

The LCARS theme should now be in full working order, with all the correct icons, menus, backgrounds and sound effects.

The tablet works in exactly the same way it did before, but the interface has a Trek-ish feel to it and so do the sound effects.

How to go back to the original theme on the N800 or N810

This is slightly complicated, but it's still fairly easy to do as long as you follow all the steps below in the correct order. (Most themes aren't this complicated to remove, but most themes aren't as elaborate as LCARS.)

1. Click on the "Home" menu on the desktop, click on "Set Theme", select "Echo", click on "Apply" and then "Close". IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU DO THIS BEFORE REMOVING LCARS.

2. Click on the "Home" menu again, and select "Set Background Image". From the "Image" dropdown menu, select "Echo". Click on "OK".

3. Click on the Applications menu (the green squares on the left).

4. Click on "Settings".

5. Click on "Application Manager".

6. Click on "Show Installed Applications".

7. (Before the next step, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ALREADY SELECTED "ECHO" AS YOUR TABLET'S THEME, as described in step 1 above.) In the Application Manager, you now need to select the following items one by one and uninstall them by clicking on "Uninstall": lcars-complete, hildon-theme-lcars, lcars-sounds, lcars-extras, search-memory-alpha. Make sure you start with "lcars-complete", otherwise the others cannot be uninstalled.

8. Close the Application Manager using the X in the top right hand corner, then switch off the tablet using the power button, then switch it back on again.

The tablet should now be back to normal, with its original theme, background image, icons, menus, sounds etc.

The reason it's so important to select a theme other than LCARS before removing LCARS is because you should never remove a theme you're currently using. If you remove a theme while you're using it, it can cause very severe technical problems on your tablet. Always make sure that before you uninstall a theme, you have first selected some other theme through the desktop's "Home" menu.