Nokia N900 Review

Updated on 30 January 2010 by

IMG_2512 The Nokia N900 ups the ante for the N-series of internet tablets by being not only a MID and a phone, but also introducing the latest version of the Maemo operating system. In an age of increasing smartphone innovation, can the N900 stand up to the competition, or will be knocked over by soon to be released devices?

We’d like to thank Dynamism.com for kindly lending this N900 for review.

Getting to know the N900

It is important to understand exactly what the N900 is, and a bit about where it came from, before one can see exactly where it is heading. The N900 is the latest “internet tablet inch from Nokia. Chronologically, the previous version are the N770, N800, N810, and for a brief period of time, there was a special edition N810 with WiMax. Now Nokia’s latest iteration, the N900, includes a phone, 3G data access, and a serious camera.

Maemo is the OS of choice for the N-series internet tablets. I believe from its inception, it has been an open-source project which has been run by Nokia and developed with help from the Maemo community. Maemo is essentially a full fledged Linux OS, which makes these devices particularly appealing to Linux gurus. When reading this review, be sure to keep in mind that I am not even remotely a Linux guru, so we’ll be looking at this device from a consumer perspective. If you’d like to read more in-depth about Maemo, check out the Wikipedia article.

I purchased an N810 back when it was released in 2007, and while I praised the beautiful hardware design, the software (Maemo 4) had some serious hurdles to get over if it wanted to be a mainstream gadget. Devices like the (then new) iPod Touch eclipsed the N810 as a consumer internet device, and I eventually sold my N810 and opted for a first-gen iPod Touch.

I’ve been hoping that Nokia would learn some important lessons from all of the smartphone innovation that’s been happening in the last few years (in terms of software design) and would have a strong offering with the Maemo 5 equipped N900. Despite bringing a more finger friendly interface to the N900 (as opposed to a stylus oriented one), I feel as though the N900 will run into some of the same problems as the N810.

Hardware

Let’s take a brief tour around the device:
IMG_2514
Back: Camera with sliding cover and stand.

IMG_2518

Left side: Speaker, micro-USB charger/transfer port, wrist strap eyelet.

IMG_2519

Bottom: Nothing but the stylus silo.

IMG_2522

Right side: Microphone, headphone and A/V out port, hold switch, speaker.

IMG_2523 Top: Infrared port, camera button, power button, volume/zoom rocker.

IMG_2507

Front: Light sensor (h), front facing camera (h), proximity sensor (h), earpiece, indicator light. [h = hidden in bezel]

The N900 has a 3.5 inch resistive touchscreen which has a resolution of 800×480. The CPU driving the unit is an ARM Cortex A8 processor running at 600Mhz. Included in the unit is 32GB of flash storage as well as a MicroSD slot for additional storage. The N900 also has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and of course cellular connectivity and 3G (HSPA) data (oh, and a neat little FM radio tuner).

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10 Comments For This Post

  1. Ruben van Gogh says:

    Nice and honest review. Having owned a N810, which died after a very intense period of using it as a daily device for everything (as lyrical writer – even wrote a complete opera on it), I think the N900 is a far better device (if not the size had shrinked to 3,5 inch). But I love the hew maemo OS.
    But with Abiword on it, I don’t complain – being able to use and convert to so many different documentformats.
    Nevertheless I hope for a new 4,3 – 5 inch maemo with slider keybolard in the near future.

  2. mastereye says:

    I’ve heard that the device has a built in FM transmitter. Is that true? Would be very handy to use something like that in a car.

  3. jim says:

    Firefox Mobile is out for Maemo.

    http://blog.mozilla.com/blog/2010/01/29/firefox-for-maemo-now-available/

  4. jpmatrix says:

    so,
    n900 or archos5IT ???
    that is the terrible choice i have to do :))

  5. raon says:

    Nice review, thanks. You described the UI as ‘Inconsistent’ this doesn’t seem to changed since OS2008, I gave up my N800 because of frustration with the UI, especially the on screen keyboard.

    @jpmatrix I’m currently very impressed with how Android scales up on the Archos S5, easy to learn, easy on the eye and fast.

    :-)

  6. benz145 says:

    Yeah I had the similar frustrations with OS2008 on the N810. For me, the issue was that half of the OS was designed to be navigated with the finger, and half of the OS was designed for a stylus. It was really annoying to have to swap between these two UI implementations (sometimes even within the same application). I was really happy to see that Maemo 5 is just about fully finger-friendly. Now though the weak interface design just kills me. Applications are cluttered and lack any consistency beyond a few basic requirements (like having the buttons for switching apps and closing an app at the top left and right).

  7. Mike says:

    Mmmm, a honest review maybe, but a bit critical. Prior to the Nokia N900 i was using the Nokia N95 and the Nokia 5800XM. The Nokia N900 is a breath of fresh air in every sense. I agree it’s not for everyone, especially when I showed what it could do, most people were overwhelmed by the basics of not have phone keys on the phone.

    This device is definitely aimed at the person who spends hours surfing the web or social networking, IM and all the other goodies that go with this applications (Facebook, flickr, youtube, stumbleupon, twitter, last.FM, podcasting etc).

    However, you only highlighted the hardware that has already been covered by a dozen or so other website reviews. There is so much more about the N900 than the faults you have pointed out.

  8. Andrew says:

    Short and nice. I offer even shorter: “200% device for linux funs”. I have been using n810 for two years. It is nice design and materials. New Nokia n900 has get the same problems as previous one like lack of office apps, crazy GPS, apps instability. There is only good app working nice from a box is Skype. There is an only way to use Maemo is to install selected and stable apps (like Crazy Parking) and never try to update otherwise it stops forever sooner or later!!! Sorry for Nokia offering raw materials for users instead of readymade device. I have said goodbye to Maemo forever… Have a nice day!!

  9. logan says:

    great great nokia. easy to use, it’s practical which i like. processor is faster and the nokia apps and games are fun to use. email and gps keep me in the loop for my business. my daughter and wife love using their facebook on there. great unlocked cell phones. camera and video recorder are crisp and clean and the batter life is great i only charge once a day. very excited to see what else nokia comes out with and what they have to offer. got our last couple unlocked mobile phones at gsmallover.com and we love them. 2 thumbs way up

  10. car gps navigation| says:

    Suggest you try Garmin.com for up to the minute information, they manufacture/sell GPS units.. For my own sake, I hope not, unless they plan to phase it in gradually because I just purchased a new GPS hand-held unit and it WASN’T CHEAP !!

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    […] Mais uma resenha do N900, agora do Carrypad. […]

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