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Nokia N900 review – Just four (4) reasons why N900 is the shitz!


My promised N900 review is long overdue. Thanks to the busy work schedule ‘forcing’ me to travel non-stop between few places and the  long holidays which I spent lazying around watching drama series, FB-ing (not so much now), tweeting and sleeping.

(Image source: GSMArena.com)

Well if you follow me on Twitter, I did tweet about my love and hate affairs with N900 especially the first few days after I got the device from WOMWorld Nokia.

(Image source: GSMArena.com)

I actually already finished my review of N900 last week but then decided against publishing it. I feel it is kinda too geeky and a bit long winded with me regurgitating memorized facts about every single component of N900, blabbing about the hardware, software etc. Other mobile review sites already did that and done a better job than me at it.

Bear with me, this is my very first real mobile review.

4 reasons why N900 is so awesome.

1. Multitasking monster.

N900 is built for this. Multitasking capabilities. Proper multitasking. N900 is truly a multitasking monster! In fact I believe Nokia is pitching N900 for its great multitasking capabilities as a strong selling point. With the great power of 600 MHz ARM Cortex – A8 microprocessor, 256MB dedicated high end RAM (Mobile DDR) and 768MB virtual memory, running multiple applications and tasks on this device is a walk in the park.

Opening, scrolling, and switching through multiple applications is really fast. On average, I have around 4-6 applications/windows open and don’t notice any lag. I can listen to my songs or internet radio with IM plugins running behind (Twitter, Gtalk, Skype and Yahoo) while surfing some web sites without problem.

You can detect a slight lag when you are opening more than 8-10 windows especially when accessing different types of applications. There is some waiting when opening data-intensive application like Maps or traffic-intensive web pages, rendering videos while opening web pages but that is to be expected.

N900 is very responsive and there are very rare cases where it won’t react immediately to you poking the screen. There is a humongous 32GB of internal storage which is more than what my first ancient computer gave me, and an option to add external storage using the microSD slot if you need more space.

You can access all the open applications through the Task Manager/ Application Switcher by tapping the top left corner. The user interface (UI) is organized in three levels. You have home screens, task manager/application switcher and main menu. A little bit on the home screens while we are at it. N900 has multi-screen setup – giving you 4 home screens, each of it is fully customizable.

Home screen 1 – Facebook, Witter, Petrovich, Conversations, Web shortcuts and widgets

Home screen 2 – Some of my regularly visited web pages

Home screen 3 – Gallery, Calculator, File Manager, Media Player shortcuts

Home screen 4 – RSS reader

Just click at any part of a home screen to access the setup keys and choose your customs shortcuts (contacts, applications, files etc) and widgets (showing, say, unread conversations) onto the home screen. (contacts, applications, files etc) and widgets (showing, say, weather forecast in real time) onto the home screen. To access the next screen just swipe your fingers across the display.

Arranging the widgets and shortcuts

Options for home screen setup

From home screen, tapping the top left corner once will bring up the Task Manager/Application Switcher and tapping the top left corner again will open the main menu. The extra step added between the homescreen and the main menu is reserved for the task manager will be skipped if there are no applications running in background.

Task managers/switcher showing running applications

Main menu – 1st layer. Access 2nd layer by tapping More..

2. Web Browser

This is one area where N900 is really impressive. N900 is an internet tablet with phone capabilities. Its predecessors were built for mobile surfing experience so naturally we expect N900 to do better in this aspect.

Start up screen for web browser

N900’s browser – Maemo Browser boasts built-in support for Adobe Flash 9.4 as well as full AJAX, multiple pages capabilities, visual history, automatic form filling, password manager, desktop web shortcuts, RSS feeds, download manager, bookmarks import.

The web browsing experience on N900’s Maemo Browser is closer to what it’s like using a computer than other phones, giving a new meaning to desktop-like browsing. Web pages rendering on a a 3.5 inch touchscreen display with WVGA (800 x 480 pixel) resolution is just… too pretty to watch.

Available shortcuts when not in full screen mode

Download manager

N900’s 267 pixels per inch (ppi) display making every page looks so crisp, sharp and clear. A little comparison with other touch devices:  Apple iPhone 3GS: 165 ppi, Nokia N97: 210 ppi, HTC HD2: 217 ppi, Motorola Droid: 265 ppi. The more pixels you have in an inch, the more information they can represent, and hence the clearer and sharper the picture.

Browsing history

The page rendering speed is impressive. If you are not running other application and just the web browser, it is blazing fast. Pages with decent amount of images will load in 3-5 seconds.  Thanks to the Adobe Flash 9.4 plugin, it will show flash objects like ads, embedded videos, or even games.

This is one of the most important feature of N900’s Maemo Browser. While most other mobile phones are using Flash Lite support, N900 comes with full Adobe Flash 9.4 and will also get an upgrade to Adobe Flash 10.1 with hardware acceleration when that becomes available. There is no other mobile phone that can render flash pages as smoothly, fast and good as N900. Period.

The resistive touchscreen on the Nokia N900 is very responsive. It reacts quickly to the touch. It is not as sensitive as iPhone’s capacitive touchscreen (obviously due to the different type of touchscreen technology used, duh!) but far better than any resistive touchscreen I have tried before – say Nokia N97 and Nokia 5800 XM. I find no problem molesting the screen with my fingers. Most of the pokings can be done using your fingers and if you need more accuracy, there is always the stylus to save the day.

Zooming in or out of a page in N900’s Maemo Browser is done by making a spiral gesture with your finger. Zoom in by drawing a circle clockwise and zoom out by making a counter-clockwise circle. Another option for zooming is by using the rocking buttons on the side of N900 (also used as volume up and down buttons, depends on the application)

Double-tapping on a website element zooms it in to fill the WVGA resolution of the display. Another double tap and you are back at where you started. To enter or deactivate full screen mode, tap once on the screen for the controls to appear. Tap at the little icon on the bottom right will give you access to other shortcuts – status area, task manager etc. Panning and zooming is really fast and accurate. Panning is pretty smooth, just drag your finger over the screen. Pressing the screen and hold gives you some page options to select.

Options available for web page

You can open as many tabs (windows) and each of them appears and a different application in the task manager but of course limited by the available RAM memory. You can also tweak the memory cache size up to 50Mb (default is 5Mb) Don’t worry, I have tried opening up to 12 tabs without much hassle. Why on earth one needs to open so many windows anyway?

The QWERTY keyboard is a blessing! It enhances the web browsing experience greatly. You can type the address of the page you want to visit and press enter without deactivating the full screen mode and clicking the address bar. You can pan the page using the arrow buttons, just like how you do it at your computer. There are combination of shortcuts you can use like Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V to select, copy and past text fragments. Just select a fragment of text on the screen with your fingers and then use a combination of shortcuts to copy it.

What else? The browser can save passwords, auto-fill in forms for you, the download manager can resume interrupted downloads, you can view RSS feeds directly on the browser and add more subscriptions on the go.

Then you have plug-ins/add-ons and extensions, just like what we have for Mozilla Firefox browser on the computer. The plug-ins/add-ons allow you to add new functionality to the browser, which is AWESOME! For example, I installed the Greasemonkey extension and Power Twitter script add-on to enhance the options for my Twitter web page. I don’t think there is any other mobile browsers including Apple’s Safari with such feature. Pwned!

Settings for web browser

Add-on installed for web browser

N900’s Maemo Browser is the most awesome browser I have ever came across. User friendly and speedy browser and the best thing is, you can do a lot of  customization thanks to the presence of various plug-ins and extensions.

3. Contacts and Conversations – Seamless integration of social networking

N900 is truly a device built around social networking. The Contacts application in N900 serves as consolidated social networking, instant messaging and VOIP contact list – all in one place. Its feature-rich Contacts offers a seamless integration with online services thus allowing you to add entries for many popular instant messaging clients out there such as Gtalk, Jabber, Skype, Ovi Nokia, Yahoo. MSN etc.

List of online services installed and enabled

Out of the box, you have Skype, Google Talk and SIP but this is expandable by installing plugins. For example, I installed a plugin called ‘Extra protocol plugins for Conversations and Contacts’ which enables me to add other online services like Yahoo, Twitter, MSN, ICQ, AIM etc. You can sort your contact by their availability and medium, see their current statuses in these messaging services so you can write a quick message or two.

Finding contacts by group

For messaging, Nokia N900 consolidated all the messages in the form of a chat, grouped into SMS messages and IM messages. All the messages from the online services accounts you enabled will appear in the Conversations – IM and VOIP messages – Yahoo, Google Talk, Skype chat messages, Twitter @replies and #hashtags etc. How does it feel to get IM chat messages, Twitter @replies on the go? Awesome, I must say. Tiring too. To hear the notification sounds because you forgot to disable/disconnect the accounts.

SMS messages, IM messages, Twitter @replies consolidated under Conversations

4. Applications.

The true potential of N900 lies here. Its open source platform. N900 has been launched just little over 1 month and it has already quite a number of applications available. You have all kind of applications grouped under categories like  ‘Desktop, Multimedia, Graphics, Location & Navigation, Office, Programming, Internet & Networking, Other, etc.’ offering you various features ranging from enabling screenshots, adding widgets, IM and VOIP clients, emulators, ad blocking plugin for browser, virtual private network (VPN) daemon, protocol plugins for contacts and conversations such as Twitter support, blogging clients, torrent clients, games, media players and codecs, etc. The list of applications is impressive for a very new device like N900.

Application Manager for N900

List of installed applications

You have to be a little resourceful (read: geeky) to setup the repositories for the applications, but nothing is too difficult with a little Googling, right? Out of the box, the application catalogues enabled for N900 are Nokia Applications, Nokia System Software Updates and Maemo Extras and I added two more catalogues – Maemo Extras-testing and Maemo-devels (at my own risk, of course). The other two catalogues contain applications under testing or development phase and it is not advisable for normal users to install those applications due to their probably unstable, buggy nature.

Application catalogues

Setting up an application catalogue

Notification of updates is very well-managed and it is also very easy to install an application. Just open the application manager and it will update all the available applications for download, you just have to choose any of those. It is pretty self explanatory from there on, tapping on any of the installation file and follow the guided installation process and walla!!

Let me see what are the applications I have installed and tested for my N900. Petrovich – an application allowing you to send arbitrary files over Bluetooth, Email or “Sharing services”, Transmission – a Bittorrent client, Twitter plugin for Contacts and Conversations, Witter – a Twitter client, Simple FMTX desktop widget – a FM transmitter enabler/disabler widget, Qtirreco – an IR remote control, Pixelpipe Upload and Share – an awesome sharing service, Qik – a video sharing service,  Greasemonkey addon for web browser, FM radio player and many more, too lazy to list out.

Transmission, one awesome Bittorrent client!

1 reason why N900 is not so awesome, yet.

Battery life.

To be fair, apart from all the greatness and praises I made above, there is one annoying weakness that is plaguing N900 (and many other great mobile phones out there), retarding my generous ability to love N900 without er, boundaries? Its battery life is quite disappointing, which I sort of hmm, expected for a power hungry device like this.

Out of the box, Nokia N900 comes with a 1320 mAh battery and it lasts me 6-8 hours on average with activities like checking email, surfing web pages, listening to songs, tweeting, chatting on IM services, taking photos etc.

N900 is built for power user and with all the multitasking, pretty touchscreen display, and its seamless integration with various online services – all this which naturally will put heavy load on its battery life, I wish Nokia will include a better battery, one that last a little longer to enable its user to truly experience the wonderful capabilities of N900.

Conclusion.

N900 is the shitz!!

ps: I really wish I can do a video review for N900, I will try to do one when I go back to Miri next week. Before this, my video guy was damn too busy with his wedding and I don’t have a decent gadget to take a video, ehe!

The 1-month old device already has over 1,000 apps (if you know how to get your sources setup) and that doesn’t include the Ovi Store which has not yet launched for the N900. Apps do everything from enabling screenshots to adding twitter support into contacts and messaging. The list of apps already present is extremely impressive and the fact that it’s an open source platform means more will come at a very fast rate. Notification of updates is also very well-managed.

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45 Responses to “Nokia N900 review – Just four (4) reasons why N900 is the shitz!”

  1. NoktahHitam wrote on Jan 4, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    Any mobile phone when using Internet, it will most definitely drain batteries quick. I’ve read around about N900, sadly, this is TOO FEATURE RICH. And being great comes with a price ie. a hole in my pocket.

    Anyway, I’m glad to see Nokia isn’t giving up the fight just yet. I’m actually looking forward to the X6, capacitive screen… let’s see what wonders it brings ;)

    [Reply]

    bongkersz Reply:

    @NoktahHitam, you’re right bro. Still hope for inventions of great, long lasting, affordable batteries… then we will be happy playing with our mobile gadgets..

    ps: bro, what you used to track the page views/ unique visitors/analytics data? intro some..

    [Reply]

    NoktahHitam Reply:

    @bongkersz, I use blogstats from Wordpress.com. It is pretty accurate. I dont really like analytics, it is a bit anal if I might add.

    I had a look at BlackBerry. Cool shit! Sadly, I dont want my work to follow me every where. Similarly my internet life. I want to be free from technology at some point of the day :P

    [Reply]

    bongkersz Reply:

    @NoktahHitam, I just installed that but having problem to activate it. Tried with 2 different APIs but still cannot, giving me error like ‘API key not exist’. Bosan dah aku.

  2. melbie wrote on Jan 5, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Ahhhh… reading this just makes me wants to get my hands on N900 too! The part where you said it doesn’t lag .. now that’s something!

    [Reply]

  3. kaien wrote on Jan 6, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    You got my old Flame burning again, maybe I should just wait when I am richer (pocket extremely burned by the inclusion of camera as a hobby) and also FOR IT TO REALLY arrive on Malaysia.

    Anyway, just wanna ask. Have you tested the GPS? How’s the GPS software availability on the repository?

    I know that Ovi Map on N900 is really crappy. And the activation fee for voice is just not what I am ready to fork out for.

    [Reply]

    bongkersz Reply:

    @kaien, camera is an expensive hobby.. I can only play with plastic camera (lomography) ehe..

    Yes, I’ve tested the GPS. It’s very accurate actually, even inside the building (off few metres lah) but pretty crappy with the lack of voice service. I prefer Garmin service anytime. But I don’t use it often because it’s draining the battery really fast.. and slowing down the response for other applications.. (data intensive)

    [Reply]

    kaien Reply:

    @bongkersz, Data intensive? Oh you mean for Ovi Map? But I thought Ovi Map will pre download the map before you use it more like Garmin style than Google Map style. I know Ovi Map Maemo is pretty much crappy. I am curious about the ones at the repository instead.

    Lomo is very expensive too. Because for plastic lens camera like holga also 200 bucks over. Before this I was interested to buy a Holga to dissect the plastic lens and mount it on my camera but after I learnt the price.. fark.

    [Reply]

    bongkersz Reply:

    @kaien, you still need to wait for the satellite, image loading bla bla.. I haven’t try any at the repository.. I don’t really rely on this mapping software because.. I’m not sucks at getting direction hahahahahaha!

    Lomo is okay lah… still affordable when it’s less than 4 figures. One neat trick, get that Holga plastic lens and take photo using mobile camera (lens in front). Friend used fish eye lens + mobile camera (E72), turns out quite…. NOICE! HAHA!

    kaien Reply:

    @bongkersz, Aler you are reviewing the Phone so I thought you would have tried out the GPS because GPS is an integral package within a phone these days. I find it useful to have when going to new places which I have never been like some deserted factory in Semenyih.

    The Holga plastic lens requiring the purchase of a Holga which cost a lot for a plastic lens. Wish I can time travel to buy it because Holga was made for the masses who cannot afford expensive camera those days. Or maybe I should use Bull’s eye and lens..wahahaha

  4. David wrote on Jan 7, 2010 at 2:40 am

    great review, cant wait to try your n900! welcome me? when free?
    Talking about the GPS feature, i just hope Garmin releases a version of Garmin Mobile for maemo OS, then there will be no reason not to get this (*if n900 will be launched in malaysia -.-) i wanted to buy E52 few months ago, but when i heard about the n900, then i changed my plan to wait for n900, but unfortunately still dont see it is available officially in malaysia.

    [Reply]

  5. Kitkat wrote on Jan 7, 2010 at 8:53 am

    You’re one lucky guy. I wish I could have a N900 with me. Too bad now I’m still deciding whether to get a N900 or Nexus One. :(

    [Reply]

    bongkersz Reply:

    @Kitkat, and both not officially make their way to Malaysia, right? ;) Nexus One sounds real good, waiting to read more reviews/info on that. By the way, great blog you have there! *stalking mode on*

    [Reply]

    Kitkat Reply:

    @bongkersz, Thx thx :) I heard that N900 will be coming to Singapore in March/April 2010. I’m not sure how true it is but deep inside my heart, I hope it’s true. :)

    [Reply]

  6. u2ugsm wrote on Jan 7, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    good information about the mobile and cell phones.keep it up man and you are 100% serving the peoples with your knowladge.

    [Reply]

  7. Fong wrote on Jan 12, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    Great review. I am using N900 now. It is way more powerful than N97 in term of the speed and stability. Just update the firmware and you can now download software from ovi store as well. Nokia Malaysia should bring in N900. I get my unit from US. Anyone are base in KL using N900?

    [Reply]

    bongkersz Reply:

    @Fong, since it’s not officially available here.. not many people are using it.. Very powerful device..love it very much.

    [Reply]

  8. sygys wrote on Jan 20, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    You are a moron reviewer! tell me how long a laptop lasts when you multitask like you do on the n900?? well i can tell you a hell of alot less! second of all the wifi drains your battery! put up a 3G network for updating your widsets and you can go for 16 hours easily.

    Oh my f%$%ing god what a god damn noob reviewers are out there!

    You are really lame! You havent even looked in you X-terminal and pressed “top” and then enter to see what apps using the most mem and CPU have you?

    You really are a complete retard and not come up with any facts that the battery drains fast. Its just there you say!

    try to open all these widgets on a hypephone and see what happens… Oh wait!! you cant! there is no way to open all these widgets at once on the hypephone. LMAO

    The lamest review ever seen around the net!

    [Reply]

    bongkersz Reply:

    @sygys, you’re a moron for not reading my review properly ;) Sure I know heavy usage with Wifi-ing, 3G-ing, multitasking is going to drain the battery fast..

    Which part of “‘N900 is built for power user and with all the multitasking, pretty touchscreen display, and its seamless integration with various online services – all this which naturally will put heavy load on its battery life, I wish Nokia will include a better battery, one that last a little longer to enable its user to truly experience the wonderful capabilities of N900″ you do not understand eh?

    Without opening the X terminal, any user with half a brain can guess what apps will suck up the CPU and batt.

    And, for your info, I used 3G most of the time, not Wifi. ;)

    You made my day with your… oh-so-fucking-l33t comment. Bwahahahahahaha!

    [Reply]

  9. Eina wrote on Jan 25, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    Fong – I see above that you are using a USA-purchased N900 in Malaysia. Any chance you can confirm that it is compatible with all the local telcos here as far as 3G data goes? A friend of mine is going to the States next month & she will bring one back for me if I want. But am worried as I have read some postings on other sites saying it is missing some 3G. I don’t want to pay so much money for a new phone & be stuck with Edge.

    Thanks.

    [Reply]

    bongkersz Reply:

    @Eina, no problem with 3G. I’ve used it with Celcom 3G.. ;)

    [Reply]

  10. haro wrote on Mar 3, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    will be launched soon in msia

    how much u buy it?

    could have more RAM though..

    [Reply]

    bongkersz Reply:

    @haro, i got it for trial. RAM, based on experience.. more than enough. Of course, the more the better.

    [Reply]

  11. Eva wrote on Mar 25, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    Hi. I am definitely not techy/geeky and I don`t know much about technology. Is it advisable to get this phone?

    [Reply]

    bongkersz Reply:

    @Eva, yes. It’s pretty easy to use actually ;) But, it’s a bit bulky and heavy for girls.. So, go and try it out before you buy it.

    [Reply]

    Eva Reply:

    @bongkersz, I have already check it out and I don`t think the size & weight is a prob. Just that, I`m scared it will be hard for me to handle all the features/functions/apps. Thanks for the info & reply! :)

    [Reply]

    bongkersz Reply:

    @Eva, good luck and enjoy your new toy!

  12. Mobile Arena wrote on Mar 26, 2010 at 9:19 am

    Hi,

    I just found this post from my Google News reader, very usefull post and blog yiou have. keep it up with great work.

    Jenni

    [Reply]

    bongkersz Reply:

    @Mobile Arena, thanks Jenni ;)

    [Reply]

  13. Bryan wrote on Mar 31, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Wow, this is a really detailed and comprehensive review about Nokia N900 from a consumer point of view!

    I too think the original battery should have higher capacity or at least 1500mAh like N97. Anyway, it’s easy to get a compatible high capacity battery in the market or a portable backup battery, so I suppose it should not be a big problem. :)

    [Reply]

    bongkersz Reply:

    @Bryan, yeah.. the most we can try to get a portable charger to solve the problem ehe…

    [Reply]

  14. luffyx wrote on Apr 26, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    hi,
    hallo kawan trimas utk review N900 ni,stakat ni u punya review paling best i tgk full with important info…just nak tanya sket,betul ke N900 Xboleh MMS & Video Call? coz di web Nokia Malaysia N900 Xde MMS n Video Calling..so is it true? comment plzz…..also bleh tak u listkan sedikit kekurangan N900 ni selain BATERI nya yg cepat habis…thanks.

    Luffyx, -IPOH-

    [Reply]

  15. logan wrote on Oct 6, 2010 at 4:21 am

    nice phone. like my n900. it’s easy to use and me and the wife love it. seems simple enough. my daughter hasn’t gotten of hers in ages! very practical unlocked phones. games and apps are fun and i havn’t gotten sick of the web browsing and fantasy football yet!! much better than our old unlocked verizon phones. i like that i bought 3 of them! speaker is loud enough to never have to hold up to my ear and it connects with my bluetooth really well. email, gps, wifi are great for the business side of things. picked up my last couple unlocked gsm phones at gsmauthority.com very happy

    [Reply]

  16. bumilangkawi wrote on Jun 4, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    I’m using N900,its really a very powerful gadget,unfortunately its drain battery really fast when using 3g.

    I really like to use it because can integrate with many IM and even skype.Email,no sweat.

    [Reply]

    bongkersz Reply:

    @bumilangkawi, that is one of the drawback.. i did complain about the battery life too..

    [Reply]

  17. Frode wrote on Jul 11, 2012 at 5:40 am

    Very late post, stumbled on this when looking for something else:
    The battery time was greatly improved by later software releases.

    [Reply]

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