Tuesday, 1 September 2009

I really can't wait for Nokia N900

Nokia N900 has been finally announced, oh yes! This is the device I am really, really looking forward to get - even more than any new Android device that could possibly get released this Autumn/Winter. Having some previous experience with Nokia Internet Tablets, and now reading the official specs of N900 I can without much hesitation say that N900 is going to be groundbreaking device for Nokia and is quite likely going to lead the path that future handsets from Finland might follow.

Nokia Internet Tablets background

I have been using N810 tablet for quite a while and that already was pretty interesting device. Basically, series of Internet Tablet devices are often mistakenly taken as a mobile phone (on Nokia == phone basis), but in fact these are mobile computers having pretty much all the functionality of normal desktop/laptop computer. Linux-geeks are even more pleased, as Maemo platform in actually a Debian-based Linux distro, again offering pretty much the same features as regular Linux box, but optimized for mobile and touch-screen use. Plus, excellent internet features, like Mozilla-based browser with full Flash support, which pared together with 800x400 widescreen made mobile web browsing a truly amazing experience, just like with your Firefox.

Obviously, N810 wasn't perfect and like any other mobile device it had some flaws, but just one, really major one, which was significantly undermining overall user experience - N810 was seriously underpowered. Having very powerful OS running on maybe-not-so-powerful hardware resulted in situations where I've had to wait tens of seconds (sic!) for N810 to respond to my action. It was that slow at times. Despite having very positive impression about N810 and Maemo plaftorm overall, I could stand its poor performance, so I eventually ceased using it and sold it.

Giving that kind of background about my experience with previous Internet Tablets, I am particularly enthusiastic about upcoming Nokia N900, as it looks like this model finally fixes all sins of previous devices in IT series, bringing decent processing hardware along with few other features I am personally really looking forward to see in action.

Good things about N900

Below is my round-up of things and features of Nokia N900 I am particularly enthusiastic about.

Processing power, memory and storage
While previous tablets were underpowered in terms of underlying hardware, N900 seems to be overpowered with the latest ARM-based 600 MHz processor and massive 1GB of RAM (ok, just 256MB of real memory, still twice as much as in N810). Plus, 32GB of internal storage, which basically means I can store my whole mp3 collection and never worry again what music to copy over to E71's microSD card (and what to delete to make up some free storage space).

N900 is going to be smaller, lighter, more compact and portable than N810 was. Seems like it's going to be roughly same size as iPhone, just thicker - due to silde-out qwerty keyboard, obviously. All in all - Internet Tablet is going to be pocket-friendly, finally!

FM transmitter + A2DP support
Wireless music, oh yes! Finally I will be able to get rid of all these dodgy adapters and cables in my car and listen to my favourite mp3s nearly seamlessly! A2DP is also nice addition that was missed in N810, but I'm not sure whether I'll be bothered having standard 3.5mm jack on-board.

Out-of-the-box Polish language support
Getting N810 to understand Polish language was slightly painful. According to the specs, N900 is not going to be problematic on this front and will support Polish out-of-the box. Yay!

Maemo/software improvements
Looking very much forward to see Maemo 5 aka Fremantle too. I can see some important yet missing in previous Maemo editions applications added (like Calendar), plus whole bunch of eye-candy and useful features, like virtual desktops for example, which I find particularly useful.

Look Ma, it's a phone!
Finally, N900 brings a feature that Nokia is actually most known for - a phone (a.k.a. 2G/3G modem). I am very curious how Nokia actually managed to connect a decent Internet Tablet platform together with mobile phone features - you know, a phone that actually places and receives voice calls, not only connects to the internet (yes, I am slightly old-school here). ;) Somewhat I rather don't expect N900 to become my default mobile phone and I plan to use it mainly as internet-centric device, yet still - I hope to get nicely surprised in this area.

Slightly less good things about N900

Although it all might seem overly enthusiastic, I also have two main concerns about Nokia N900, which worry me slightly.

QWERTY keyboard quality and usability
Looking at N900's pictures and its only-3-rows hardware keyboard, I am not very optimistic. Weird spacebar placement, weird cursor keys... This is not looking as a keyboard I'd die for, really. Yet still, if it has good tactile feedback, things might turn around. N810, for example, had better spaced keys, but their tactile feedback was rubbish. I will see as soon as I get to play around with real unit.

Yes, price. Final price brackets of 550-600 EUR (I'm guessing something around 500 GBP in the UK) is way too much, imho. I don't think N900 will get as much interest in wider audience with such hefty price-tag as it actually deserves, unfortunately. That is the shame, as N900 has an excellent potential to bring widespread Maemo awareness and give Nokia something strong in hand to compete with all the greatest and latest mobile platforms around. For that price, most people (not counting geeks!) will choose either iPhone - because it's cool, and everyone has it; either something way cheaper with Android - because it's already cool and is getting even more cool; or finally a proper note/netbook.


All in all, I can't wait for Nokia N900. I reckon it is going to be truly awesome device that I have been waiting for quite a while. I am not sure when I'm going to get one myself (but Xmas is coming, so anyone wants to make me a present? ;), but I will surely go round the corner to London's Nokia Flagship Store and play with it as soon as it hits shelves.

PS. Anyone willing to borrow me one for a week or two? I am happy to review it and give it back afterwards. Honest!

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