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back to article Hands on with the Nokia N900

Announced last week, the N900 finally gives Nokia something competitive in the high-end market, and offers a great deal for developers to get excited about. I had a hands on today and came away with fairly positive impressions, for an iPhone user. But more importantly, Nokia has a roadmap that takes it into the next decade. Qt …

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Interested...

I thought the N800 concept was a great one and I really enjoyed using mine. I didn't miss the cellular functionality it lacked. It only disappointed insofar as it felt like a concept device that Nokia pretty much abandoned to small apps developers.

I loved the fact that it ran a form of Linux and I could compile my own apps for it.

The N900 looks like an incremental development of the N800 tbh and I can't see anything revolutionary about it. I hope they have endowed it with enough cpu cycles and RAM as they were the chief things lacking in the N800 harware-wise.

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Unhappy

Battery life?

So it's an N810 + cell radio, but with a smaller capacity battery. Uh-oh!

The battery life on my N810 is very poor. It'll last about two days from a full charge without running any apps. If I actually use the thing I'm lucky if I get home before it runs out of juice. This is with a brand new battery. My crappy old 6630 phone will last for days with light usage.

The N900 will not be very practical as a phone unless Nokia have heavily optimised the OS/daemons to improve battery life.

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Almost right...

"....punters with disposal income, who are looking for a bling gadget, either want the iPhone and iPod Touch - or already have one...."

I don't, yet, have a bling gadget, I'm still plugging away on a very battered 6110i - it makes calls, sends texts, has a diary...works for me. But it is starting to fail, so I'm looking round for an update, and so far I've not seen one - the current models all seem to be a moderately good device wrapped round one impressive feature - be it music sync as you mentioned, camera, gps, browser or whatever.

Maybe the N900 will be my eye-opener, but frankly I doubt it - all the makers of blingphones seem to look at the hardware and make sure that the phone is operating just beyond its capabilities - I'd rather have a device with less features and more performance.

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FAIL

Too expensive

Plus since they changed to Qt, none of my N800 apps work because they're all GTK. And as far as I can tell, legacy GTK support on the 900 is "oops, sorry."

With that, I can't consider paying the bucks.

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Anonymous Coward

"although typing on the iPhone is much easier than any of Nokia's Qwerty keyboards"

I've been using the E75 for several months now and I wouldn't consider getting a phone that doesn't have a QWERTY keybaord.

Yes, they do take a couple of days to get up to speed, but most users (as opposed to reviewers) have a single device for longer than a couple of days.

I'd suggest your comment is based on the fact that you use your iPhone all the time, and you've used the other devices for an afternoon.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "although typing on the iPhone is much easier than any of Nokia's Qwerty keyboards"

I agree. I like the N97 keyboard. Took a little bit of getting used to, but worth it.

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Battery life will decide it for me.

After moving to an E71 from power-hungry HTC WinMo devices I don't want to go back to charging every day.

I've been waiting for a Nokia tablet with a qwerty keyboard and Linux since the N800 came out.

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Double-Tap to Zoom - hello, not new....

Hmm, the "double tap to zoom" exists on my N97 too, so hardly new or stolen from the iPhone.

However, my N97 will be replaced by this thing the minute it's available (not that I have any real complaint about my N97 to begin with)

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IT Angle

Lots of assumptions and talking on behalf of other people

I think couple of things in this article are pretty, pretty weird.

1st. "although typing on the iPhone is much easier than any of Nokia's Qwerty keyboards"

This comment is just out of this world. Take for example e90 or e71. Especially e90 has one of the best feeling and quickest keyboards ever made to a cellular phone.

I have typed with the iphone's keyboard and its pretty much pain in the ass with my fingers.

2nd. Browser speed.

I just tried your funky site with firefox 3.5 and it loaded 12 seconds. You think the final firmware wont do better than 20 sec. or that there won't be any other quicker and lighter browser's available to maemo 5 after the release?

Quite good article but lots of assumptions and generalizations.

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Stop

Re: "although typing on the iPhone is much easier than any of Nokia's Qwerty keyboards"

I'd partially agree with this - The length of time you use the device is obviously a big factor, if our reviewer owns an iPhone and is only using test phones for a day or two then the ease of use of keyboards is going to be skewed in favour of your own phone as it's what you're used to.

HOWEVER - a lot of (certainly more recent) Nokia's attempts at keyboards are just dreadful. The N97's keyboard is especially godawful, a lot of this can be attributed to the fact that it's a 3-line keyboard, and it's disappointing to see the N900 follows suit - It seems strange that nokia try to emphasise text input, but then add a shoddy cramped keyboard almost as an afterthought.

Compare these 3-line keyboards with the ones included on their E-series phones (either 4-line a-la the E75 or even 5-line as on my own E90) and you really see the difference, I appreciate that Nokia want to make the device more compact but the 4 and 5-line keyboards on their E-series devices really are in a world of their own compared to the pitiful N-series 3-line jobs.

As such, sure, the iPhone keyboard (which incidentally is 4-line) may be far better than the N-series keyboards but I certainly wouldnt put it above that of an E90 (which is a phone thats getting on a bit now), or even an E75.

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too little, too late

price = too high for a brick phone

interface = same old nokia with iphone inspiration

innovation = I'm not seeing any that can justify 500 euros.

and some keep repeating that apple is expensive. what a joke.

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Linux

Great but what about the screen?

Thank you for your review, I for one will almost certainly be buying one of these, but what about the screen Andrew?

Is it resistive or capacitive?

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Price too expensive ?

Eh, too expensive compared to what exactly ? What's the point in comparing it to an Eepc when it's a fraction of the size, and show me the unlocked IPhone 3GS, Samsung I8910, Palm Pre or other high-end smartphone that are much cheaper than this ? I've just looked on EBay and the cheapest 32gb 3GS is 652 euros, the Palm Pre is around the 400 euros mark and I8910s are also in the 500 euro mark.

Insofar as I'm concerned this is a game-changing device, it's got the hardware to match most devices (I8910) and hammer most of them (Hero, Iphone, Pre) but most of all the open Linux o/s is simply outstanding. Concerned about battery life, just carry a spare, how hard can it be. WTF do people want exactly ?

There's no such thing as the perfect device but this to my mind comes closer than anything else out there.

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Hmmm

"""I've been waiting for a Nokia tablet with a qwerty keyboard and Linux since the N800 came out."""

That would be the N810, came out 2+ years ago.

I'm not so sure this is the right direction to go from the N810, which I have, and don't feel is really terribly useful. It's close, but it just never really worked for me. I don't think making the screen and keyboard smaller, while focusing on the touch screen functionality will make me want to use the N900 more than my 810. And the cell phone functionality just needlessly boosted the price far beyond what the previous tablets have cost.

I do like that they moved to Qt, and I like that things seem to run in the video without any noticeable churning of cpu and memory (or swapping to flash like my n810 is so fond of...)

That said, I'd probably like this device more than an iPhone (can't stand them,) a Pre (Keyboard is kind of useless), or the G1 (just too many problems to list.) I might just hang on to my S60 flip phone (Why did US carriers stop offering decent candy bar phones?) and wait around for the next messiah device.

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where's the review?

Nokia strategy waffling says nothing about the phone!

Is the email interface adequate? The s60 accepted self signed imap servers, my g1 doesn't, does the n900?

Does it play streaming video / audio in the real world? How about iplayer?

Real questions for real people. My g1 is sending this, did you post your review with the maemo?

Can I use shh properly or does it, like the g1, lack a way to type the full ascii range - no ctrl.key

Can I specify a http proxy ?

That's hands on.

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Anonymous Coward

N900

Seems a lot of people (including the reviewer!) haven't really appreciated WHAT this device is all about; it's *not* just an iPhone/Pre/Android but goes a LOT farther.

Clue: It has 1GB total RAM, 768 virtual complementing its 32GB flash memory. This alone ensures that it is a MULTITASKING DEMON, as shown by the various videos- subject to battery limitations, you'd be able to keep loads of apps ACTUALLY RUNNING SIMULTANEOUSLY rather than the Noddy- style iPhone.

You'd actually use this more like a small, connected EeePC, especially as it can actually run other flavours of Linux that have been compiled to ARM e.g. Debian.

Take a look at the Maemo site and you'll find more videos. YouTube throws up a VMWare demonstration of an N800 dual-booting WinCE and Android --http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNo6pn-dnSQ - ie the generation *before* the just -superseeded N810

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The author's bias is showing...

"Even Apple makes its SMS app needlessly obtuse - although typing on the iPhone is much easier than any of Nokia's Qwerty keyboards."

Obviously the Author hadn't played with the now 'obsolete' E90. Compare that to an iPhone ya silly twit. Its a real QWERTY Keyboard and its larger than the Blackberry's.

As to the issue of voice, pair this with Nokia's blue tooth headset that shows caller ID and you can get calls while the 'brick' is sitting in your bag or briefcase.

Yes this thing is set up for people who really use an 'all you can eat' data plan without touching a 'facebook' page or twitter.

Unfortunately the author is right that it took 5 generations to get where it is today and probably another couple to get it right.

Still a thumbs up because they are on the right track.

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Thumbs up!

Finally!

In next version please include 1GB RAM. If the power requirements are too big use hot-plug RAM and a daemon to manage the powered-on RAM.

Also, include some USB ports and a VGA out. I'd like to use the "N910" as my PDA *and* PC (just hijack a bluetooth or USB keyboard/mouse and a monitor and instant-PC).

This is the start of an era. Finally!

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Want One

Had all Nokia Communicators, Have the original N770.... Nokia gadget geek here.. Just can't quite afford it right now... Wonder in any of the UK networks will offer it on a contract...

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N97 double tap?

"By Vince Posted Wednesday 2nd September 2009 17:02 GMT

Hmm, the "double tap to zoom" exists on my N97 too, so hardly new or stolen from the iPhone"

How does that work without a touch screen then?

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Pity about the keyboard

If this thing had a decent keyboard it'd replace my e90 in a second. As it is I'll just have to wait for the e900.

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Does it have a vibe?

Does it? (one of the major downsides of the 9300 I used to have was the lack of a vibrate - the number of calls I missed due to not hearing the ring in noisy places was amazing.)

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Unfair browser comparison

As a geek on a budget, I've just picked up the predecessor (N810) for a bargain price (much less than an Ipod Touch).

It's heavy and a bit slow but actually these devices have far better potential than iPhones because of the open platform and the better browser. Most compex sites have to do an iPhone specific version because the limited browser can't cope with Flash or too much Ajax. These devices have a 'proper' Mozilla browser with enough screen real estate to display virtually all sites as they would appear on a desktop.

Think of this as a proper computer that has been squashed into something looking like a mobile phone rather than mobile phone with a few interactive add-ons.

The keyboard on the N810 is poor because of the flat keys and the flat angle with the screen and I'm sure the N900 is no different. I fully expect that the iPhone on screen keyboard is better. There is an onscreen keyboard on the Nokia too but it's too small. There is also handwriting recognition but it's not the best around.

Personally I think Nokia should ditch the keyboard and make the device thinner and lighter and concentrate on a better on screen keyboard and better handwriting recognition.

The best thing is that anybody can write and distribute software for these devices - you don't need an overpriced Mac or Apple's approval to distribute your code !

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@Rob 101

"how does that work without a touch screen then?"

Well, if you take the touchscreen off the N97, it doesn't work very well at all!

http://www.mobileburn.com/review.jsp?Id=5799

And for all those who complained about resistive touchscreens, it's nice to see Nokia have launched new phones this week with capacitive screens ... don't know what's on the N900, but I'm sure it is on the specifications page if someone goes and looks ...

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Oops

OK, so I had a blind spot and read 95 hence my confusion.

How's the camera and video by the way. I pretty much got my 95 based on them since I had twin nieces on the way and wanted all in one for easy flights.

I'm assuming cam quality is about the same but is it any faster and have they stuck with the 640x480 30 frames?

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Missed the point

This machine is not supposed to be a smartphone. It's a portable workstation with a buildt-in 3G modem, just like some SGI workstations used to have.

It is the mobile version of a workstation. You can run services like ssh or apache on it, even proxy servers. You have a propper shell which was completely ignored in this 'review'. You can even do software development on it. It is probably the first fully integrated completely mobile usable computer.

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Slow loading 3GS vs N900

>while you really need a heavy site to slow down the 3GS, but my dusty personal archive took about 20 seconds to load on the N900, which felt like ages.

I have tested it on my device, and N900 load that archive for ~7sec (3G connection), iPhone 3GS ~13sec (wlan).

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yes it does have a vibe

"Virbrating alert (internal)" says http://maemo.nokia.com/n900/specifications/

(of couse that page also says "Full QWERTY tactile keyboard" which is a joke.

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It will be interesting to see ...

... how this fares. Seems that the success of the Apple iPhone delivered Nokia a desperately needed kick in the nuts about the importance software in their business ... then again reading the T&Cs at Forum Nokia (the acceptance of which is somewhat stealthily made a pre-condtion for obtaing the development tools) makes one wonder whether they in fact want to attract or repel 3rd party developers.

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compared to E90.....

I've been using an E90 on Vodafone UK for the past 18 months and will never leave a full Qwerty keyboard. Brilliant phone for work and play; Mail for Exchange works brilliantly as well as POP3 and IMAP. Shame there's no dedicated numeric keys. And same that they haven't adopted the lovely very responsive E90 keys. Thankfully it has a stylus so fat fingers can cope. I don't know enough about Maemo OS but I'm a little worried that the application source will be limited to a few, whereas S60/3rdEd is more widespread, especially due to the many Java app databases out there for S60. Can anybody help with that? Is Maemo5 big enough to be developed enough to combat S60 handsets? Charging via USB....so I don't have a choice about creating a data connection to a PC? Or is it a mains charger?

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