Archive for January 2011

N900 in Hand!

19 January 2011

I’m back from the States with my N900.

Specs and such are available from lots of places on the Web (here’s one source http://maemo.nokia.com/n900/
) so I won’t go into that. I’ll just give my impressions of the device so far.

WOW!

That about sums it up. Thanks for reading.

Ok, a bit more detail. It’s not all roses.

The display is physically smaller than that on my old N800. The N800 wasn’t a cell phone while the N900 is. To be a cell phone the N900 has to be about the size people look for in a phone. I put an Otter case on mine which makes it a bit thick, but provides some dust, rain and impact protection that is comforting. I do miss the screen space, particularly when using Gnumeric, but understand the trade off.

The slide out keyboard feels solid and the keys have a nice feel as well. I have large-ish hands though so holding the N900 in both hands to type with my thumbs, I sometimes have trouble hitting only one key. It is also slow when typing words that use the same thumb on a qwerty keyboard, especially if there are upper case letters or numbers involved as the shift key and the key to enable numbers on the upper row are both on the left side of the keyboard. A password like A3sx9qV4 is eleven left-thumb presses and one right-thumb press. It gets tedious feeling. I may remap my keyboard to Dvorak. Qwerty seems to be too much left-thumb, left-thumb, left-thumb, left-thumb, … whereas Dvorak should be more left-thumb, right-thumb, left-thumb, right-thumb, at least when typing in English. In my password example above the Dvorak keyboard would be nine lefts and three rights. A bit better. This is the sort of thing that makes me choose open OS devices. I CAN remap my keyboard.

I enjoy having mobile computer and cell phone on one device. I may regret it the odd time when I want to take notes with Xournal during a call and don’t have my bluetooth headset on. Will just have to remember to use the headset. Bluetooth just works with both my Jabra headset and with Sync in my truck. Bluetooth, wifi, GPRS and A-GPS status are available with a glance at the status area on the display. To change any of these just click the status area to bring up the status menu.

While I was in the States a brother got me interested in geocaching. With the N900’s GPS and AGTL geocaching tool I’m ready for impromptu geocaching. It tempts me to get a data plan from my cellular provider, but open wifi connections are pretty easy to find so I’m reluctant to spend more for internet access on the road.

The N900 has a real camera (5 MP) in addition to the web cam like the N800 had. With the built-in GPS, geotagging of photos can be done.

All my favourite applications are available, Gnumeric, Xournal, Password Safe, Terminal, omweather. The default calendar with desktop widget and the default contacts application are great. Ovimaps replaces Maemo Mapper. There’s a python interpreter. The resistive touch screen allows use of a small tipped stylus for accurate drawing or writing on screen. The N900 seems to have everything I could ask for.

The Maemo 5 interface offers four desktops. With that, the one-click full screen scrollable application menu and the dashboard, multitasking is a breeze! Maemo 5 is attractive, responsive and seems very well thought out.

My first Palm device, a IIIxe, was like a dream come true. Later Palm devices that I tried were disappointing. I was afraid that the move from N800 to N900 might be similar. Thanks to Nokia and the power of open source, my fears were unfounded. I still love my N800, but the N900 is a big step up. Reading some other people’s comments on the Web it seems the N900 isn’t for everyone, but I couldn’t be happier.