Nokia N900 Review

Updated on 30 January 2010 by

Design

IMG_2509 n810

I hate to say it, but I feel like the N900 has actually taken a step back in terms of design when I think back to the N810. While the N810 was a beautiful and sleek device with varying tones of brushed metal, the N900 is basically a black plastic brick. Don’t get me wrong, it feels solid, but it’s just sort of a black lump.  There are subtle intricacies here and there, but otherwise the design is a very simple bar shape. One thing that is interesting about this simple design is that it makes you feel like what’s on the inside (the software) will make up for the device’s otherwise uninteresting simplicity. This would have complimented the software nicely… if the software was impressive but… well I’ll save that for the software section. [N810 image source]

Screen

IMG_2526 The N900’s screen is bright and crisp with the 800×480 resolution. The light sensor embedded in the bezel automatically adjusts the brightness of  the display to the ambient light. The contrast is pretty good for a mobile device, but this thing won’t be replacing your home theater.

The touchscreen is resistive, so it has a bit of a different feeling than most of the smartphones being released these days which use capacitive touchscreens. Because the touchscreen on the N900 is resistive, it isn’t as consistent with touch input as other devices. At least the touch input is very soft, meaning it can pick up input with fairly light pressure. The screen is pretty susceptible to fingerprints. I find myself frequently wiping the screen off to get the smudges out of the way.

For me, there isn’t anything much more annoying than tapping the screen then pulling your finger away, only to realize that the input didn’t get through. The N900 has some feedback when you tap the screen, which comes in the form of a slight vibration. This feedback helps to know when you’ve pressed the screen, but it is still possible to tap a button, feel the vibration, and actually watch the button get highlighted, but nothing will happen until you press it again. This is really annoying and wastes a lot of time when you spend a few seconds thinking that you’ve pressed the button, when in reality, you haven’t. This issue usually occurs when your tap is mistaken as a drag.

Another bothersome problem is horizontal tearing. This is when the screen can’t keep the image aligned during scrolling. The end result is that things look exceedingly choppy when you try to scroll. I notice this particularly when scrolling left to right through the desktops. Not a device breaking issue, but I noted the same problem back on the N810. It really just reduces the visual appeal to what would otherwise be a smooth scroll.

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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 !!

3 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. Pinguins Móveis » Blog Archive » Pinguins de fim-de-semana says:

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

  2. Pinguins Móveis » Blog Archive » Pinguins de fim-de-semana says:

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

  3. ‘In Other News…’ February 2nd | UMPCPortal - Ultra Mobile Personal Computing says:

    […] Published Nokia N900 Review. […]

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