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Nokia n900 review

Background information:
All and all I’m definitely a Linux person. That means my expectations from n900 was primarily to be hackable πŸ™‚ I’m also coming from the world of blackberry. My previous hand-held was 8320. Other than being an extremely well designed smart-phone for business and email, it was pretty much useless for me. In this review i will also try to compare them.

I actually wanted buy the new google nexus one, it turned out that being a T-mobile customer for almost ten years would actually not allow you to qualify for the discount price of $180 with a two year plan renewal. So I said phukitol, and went and spent my $500+ to a Nokia n900 instead of a Nexus One.

N900:
N900 is the flagship product of Nokia for 2009-2010. It’s running maemo as the OS. It’s the “other” linux based handheld OS currently developed only by Nokia (well apart being open source for most parts of it). It’s debian based. So ubuntu/debian users will find theirselves pretty much at home. (System wise of course. UI is completely unrelated)

It has a full qwerty (for US) keyboard. The screen slides up to reveal it. If you don’t want to use the physical keyboard, it also offers a virtual one. It’s kinda weird though because the virtual keyboard is a full screen keyboard πŸ™‚

It also has a great camera. Very good widescreen 800×480 resolution. It works with t-mobile 3g, which is first for me. I had a chance to test the 3g around Washington, DC and Providence, RI. I’m not very impressed. But when it really is on 3g things get super fast.

Goods:

  • Awesome environment if you are a linux person.
  • Great user interface. Very smooth and shiny. Almost never slow and never frustrating.
  • Basic applications are already bundled out of the box. Nokia default software repositories are setup. (Apt-get with a good UI) if you want community supported apps you have to enable the Extras(-devel|-testing) repositories. (Which is setup but disabled for Extras) More infor here and here.
  • Killer web browser. It has the new fennec in it. Fennec is basically mobile version of Mozilla Firefox. So far i had no issues opening any web page! It supports flash player, javascript… If you need one reason to switch from blackberry, this would be it. Zooming, Copy/Paste, Hovering are very well implemented.
  • The maemo SDK and emulator was very easy to install on my ubuntu. I will soon start hacking πŸ˜‰
  • It has all the beauties of a linux box. I mean ssh, sshd, terminal, vi, grep, more, busybox, etc… you get what i mean πŸ™‚ It’s a great feeling to port forward your home machine’s web server to localhost and open the web browser to browse your home machine through the ssh tunnel for example πŸ™‚
  • The media player is very very good. One really great thing is that it has an FM transmitter built-in! You can transmit your songs to any usable FM frequency and listen on a car radio for example. Including the network streaming radios! (Bridge between conventional and internet radio!) It also comes with a good in ear headset with microphone.
  • Great contacts management. With some tricks you can import your google and gtalk contacts and manually merge them. The contacts become a unified messaging system. You can call, gtalk IM, gtalk voice, skype, SIP call from the very same contacts manager. Merging contacts are also very intuitive and easy.

Not So Goods:

  • Battery: It is better than a laptop, but worse than a smartphone. OK, I’m heavily using the phone, meaning browsing, SIP, IM… And I was expecting a not so good battery life, but I wasn’t expecting this bad πŸ™ This is the only thing that is on the frustrating level. With daily usage (whatever that means) I get around 6-10 hours of battery life at max.
  • Email Client (Modest): It’s an OK client. It displays your emails, it let’s you write an email, if you are offline, it let’s you queue them and it knows how to send then when you get online. But it ends there πŸ™‚ There is no search! You cannot search your emails. If you are a blackberry convert, you would be dissatisfied. It needs improvements.
  • Applications: As you could imagine, there are not many applications Γ  la iPhone or Android. But there are a lot of good, stable open applications. For example, there is no google maps. (But there is a nokia maps app which is not that bad) I think with the popularity of this phone, there will be more apps out. Ovi Store is a good start.
  • Keyboard: It’s a good slim keyboard. But the top line of keys are sometimes hard to press because they are very close to the sliding “lid”. There is very little space to fit your fingers.

Overall, I think this phone has a lot of potential. It sleek, very sexy and user friendly. Absolutely a great potential for linux hackers and developers. If I would have an option to return it, I probably wouldn’t. And I’m happy that I didn’t buy a Nexus One. πŸ™‚

Note: Wow it looks like me and engadget did a review at the same time πŸ™‚