Nokia’s N900 is, like I said before, more of a mobile computing device or an MID (Mobile Internet Device). It could be misconstrued as a miniature tablet PC as even the ones on their way will comply with most ‘mobile phone’ standards like taking and making calls and messages, but it’s really not. We ran a poll recently asking our readers to share their experiences and views on the N900 and received plenty of feedback (thank you dear readers). This is however my experience with the device and after having sat with some of Nokia’s tech advisors, a few of my issues were cleared up and I’d like to share those with you, should you be interested in buying the device. Take a closer look.
It’s bulky, I’ll say that, but not very much unlike the N96 or N95 for that matter so it’s still easy to carry around even if it does weigh in at 181 grams. The 3.5-inch display is bright and clear enough to view in all conditions and sports an 800 x 480 pixel resolution. I just couldn’t believe they went with a resistive touchscreen. But I was pleasantly surprised to find response was a non-issue. Like the N96, the N900 also has a prop up stand that’s placed around the 5MP camera that’s hidden away by a sliding lens cover (it also activates the cam when slid open).
Volume/zoom keys, a screen lock/power button and the camera’s shutter release are situated at the top. A slider lock for the display and 3.5mm handsfree socket are located on the side, since this is a device that’s meat to be used in landscape mode, this would be considered the side and not the top. This would have been very badly placed if it were to be used in portrait consider the speaker (for calls) is located at the other end beside the display. A micro USB port is placed on the opposite side and doubles up for a charging. Speakers are strategically placed on either side. A stylus can be pulled out from one side at the bottom, but I hardly ever required its use.
The slide out QWERTY keypad, took me a little while to get used. I think it’s just a little small but the placement of the keys are, nevertheless, well laid out. In addition to the 32GB of built-in memory, the N900 also supports external memory via MicroSD cards(hot swap under the rear panel) up to 16GB.
While the N900 may be a large (ish) device it’s quite well balanced, the only problem is, this is not easy using with one hand.
Features and Performance
I am officially a Maemo 5 Fan but I do believe there is still room for improvement. Keeping with today’s multiple-desktop trends, the N900 also offers widget, shortcut and bookmark support for these desktops enabling quick and easy access to all your favorite features and functions. While the multitasking menu set up makes it very easy to switch between running tasks, I noticed that quite a few simple applications and functions somehow took quite a long time to load even if nothing was running in the background. Running more than 4 apps at a time made things even worse. It seemed like the devices ARM Cortex A8 600 MHz processor had quite a bit of trouble multitasking. The weird part is there was no lag at all while actually using any of these apps, even if multiple were running, it just took the processor an effort to get it’s foot in the door, so to speak.
For existing Nokia users, switching over to the new OS will be a cinch as they’ve tried to retain as much of the Symbian UI as possible with familiar icons so the transition isn’t going to be an issue. Good thinking. The best part is you can use any and every part of the UI, irrespective of how tiny some options are, without the use of the pesky stylus. After you’ve calibrated the screen you’re good to go. The layout of the menus and over all set up of the new OS is well planned but the icons and fonts could have been just a little larger. There didn’t seem to be any option to enlarge them either.
The onscreen QWERTY keypad is very large and makes for easy typing. Too bad it doesn’t switch to portrait view because using this handset in landscape is not a good idea while commuting. Another rather serious problem I faced with this piece is when calls came in. The device didn’t really let me answer a call in landscape and the switch to portrait was anything but smooth. Most of the time it would hang and display a blank screen with the ringtone still ringing out loud. Since there are no physical keys I was unable to answer those calls.
As media a device I have mixed feelings about the N900. The music player, although capable of clear tones, dishes them out a very low decibel level. Even with Nokia’s new canal type in-ear earphones, the volume (at peak) was too low to really enjoy my music in this noisy city. The speaker phone was however loud enough to place on your desk and have a handsfree conversation without an issue. The lack of any EQ settings is sincerely missed. The N900 doesn’t have a preloaded FM radio although it has built in antenna. What you’ll have to do is head on over to the App Manager and you can download an FM radio app as well as tons of other useful stuff from there. Unfortunately the radio didn’t really work out too well in my case. All I got was a lot of static most of the time even in locations where I usually get good reception on other devices. Internet Radio worked great though.
I tried using my iPhone earphones with the N900 and all I seemed to hear was static. So I tried it with another pair of standard earphones and had the same issue. It seemed like the N900 was poised to accept only the bundled handsfree as that seemed to work without a hitch.
At last, Nokia has decided that at least one of their devices will support drag and drop video playback. I was ecstatic. The native player supports codecs for almost all kinds of video files including AVI and FLV. Now if only Nokia could incorporate support for DivX and XviD codecs in other handsets they would reign supreme with no peers. It also has TV out support for which cables are provided.
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