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 â€œinternet 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.
Left side: Speaker, micro-USB charger/transfer port, wrist strap eyelet.
Bottom: Nothing but the stylus silo.
Right side: Microphone, headphone and A/V out port, hold switch, speaker.
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).