Wednesday, 18 November 2009

N900 meetup in London impressions

I've just came back from N900 meetup held in London tonight, 17th of November 2009 that is. There are few things I'd like to point out.

  1. That was a proper geek-squad meetup. Not many people were 'regular users', as far as I've personally noticed, actually. Pre-meetup arranged via Maemo Talk forums just before the actual event in Starbucks opposite the venue also was quite geeky. I think that proves Nokia is aiming at Maemo enthusiast in the first place, not mass market. The latter will come later, surely.
  2. Release date. Nobody was brave enough to ask quite crucial 'when the hell are we going to get that damn thing in our hands!?' question during the official presentation (that includes me). However, backstage talk revealed that pre-orders placed with MPD (aka Nokia Retail) are just in the mercy of almighty Nokia. Basically, as soon as MPD gets actual delivery of the first batch of devices, these will find their way to pre-order customers. That could happen just anytime now.
  3. Presentation itself. Two scandinavian-accented ladies gave some insight on N900's features that average Maemo-geek is already quite aware of, so it wasn't that surprising. However, impressive bit was that whole of the presentation was performed directly on N900 itself, using big LCD/plasma screen as an ouput of N900's built-in TV-out facility.
    Later on, couple of guys from Maemo Community Council gave slightly more interesting talk about specific apps they have created, which was more interesting, imho.
  4. There was a prize draw during the meetup, where one of the lucky attendants won actual N900. It wasn't me, obviously, however huge congratz to the winner!
  5. First major update of Maemo OS for production devices should be available before Xmas (this year, that is), however that's highly unofficial information.
  6. Hands-on with N900 itself... There were many working N900s units around during the meetup, so it was hard to not get any on hands, actually. Having a proper play with one, here are my initial impressions:
    a) Hardware keyboard has odd layout that needs getting used to, but good thing is that it has very good feeling and tactile feedback. Waaay better than it was on N810, imho.
    b) Playing Quake 3 Arena without a glitch on pocket-sized device is actually extremely impressive. Not that I am planning to play that 24/7 once I get the device, but it proves its capabilities quite enough.
    c) UI of Maemo... Well, I've had mixed feelings, to be honest. First of all, I miss 'back' button (whether hardware or software) and tapping empty space to get back to previous screen seems not quite the best idea ever. Secondly, there is certain learning curve involved to get this interface right. Few things other than lack of back button struck me, however I'm also sure it's just a matter of getting used to after a while.
    d) I've also found few interface inconsistencies across the UI, however I won't elaborate on that just yet, as I just don't exactly remember what it was (yes, they have been giving wine for free ;).
    e) Interface isn't *that* responsive at times, which suprised me a little in a device that is capable of running Q3 without a hassle. Don't get me wrong, it is quite quick device overall, but some I've come across few simple'ish tasks that required quite a while to respond.
    f) Hardware-wise, yes it's a bit bulky, but after a while I've noticed that I wasn't really that bothered. It feels quite compact, once I got used to it a little. I picked up E71 from my pocket and it turned out N900 has nearly same footprint, but is just about twice thicker. When it comes to build quality, then yes plastic is fantastic, yet device feels very solid and reliable.
Overall, whole event and first real hands-on with N900 was quite interesting. Many like-minded people, most of whom were Maemo-geeks, free food, free wine, freebie T-shirts, prize-draw and quite unique opportunity to talk to people directly involved in Maemo development was genuinely great stuff. I really liked it!

Now, when am I actually going to get my pre-ordered N900 in my hands!? :)


  1. To clarify, I've been in the Maemo Community Council (the first two terms); but am not currently on it. Gary is a key member of the Maemo community, but also not on the council.

    The council line up can be seen on it homepage:

  2. Thanks for clarifying that, Andrew. :)