The Nokia N900 has been heralded as a mobile computer in smart phone’s clothing and it’s brimming with features. Featuring Nokia’s Linux-based Maemo operating system, the N900 certainly packs a punch.
What we like
The N900 comes with massive amounts of memory – 32GB built-in storage as standard, as well microSD slot for a further 16GB.
You can tell that Nokia is keen for the N900 to be used as a media player, and music-wise it doesn’t perform too badly via the standard headphone jack – although it would benefit from an equalizer function. Internet radio expands your musical selections, and video playback is satisfyingly crisp thanks to the 3.5in high-resolution screen. You can even prop the handset up using the built-in stand for more comfortable viewing.
The 5-megapixel camera comes with a powerful flash and the photo quality is really good – the lens cover will help keep all future photos nice and crisp too.
Generally, web browsing is very fast; we raced the N900 against a MacBook and there was very little between the two. The computing influence is really clear when it comes to the phone’s traditional web bookmarks and what is basically tabbed browsing. Many users will find the ability to have several applications running at once with minimal lag invaluable.
For the amount that the phone can do, battery life is not bad but the handset does need regular charging. Luckily the battery indicator is surprisingly accurate so you’ll always have a good idea of how much juice you have left.
One of our favourite things about the N900 is how much you can customise it – setting up your RSS feeds, most used applications and favourite contacts as icons on the home screens is quick and easy, and means you don’t have to delve into the applications themselves.
The fact that Maemo was created using open source Linux means you can expect some exciting apps to be in development, although the Ovi store is not yet open for business on Maemo 5.
Zooming in and out is fun when you get the hang of it – it takes some swirly stylus work which makes you feel a bit like a wizard.
What we don’t like
The main bugbear we have is that the handset is huge. It feels like you’re lugging a brick around; and irritatingly it won’t even lie flat because the camera cover and prop protrude from the back slightly. But there’s certainly no way you’d want to cart it out with you on a night out, for example.
The touchscreen is not as responsive as we’d like – it takes quite some pressure to register any gestures when using your fingers, and although the stylus definitely makes life easier, you don’t necessarily want to whip it out every time you use the phone.
Picking up the handset for the first time, it’s not particularly clear what to do and how to use it, despite the natty video that it comes with to guide you through. The menu system can be quite confusing until you get the hang of it and personalise.
We took real issue with the slide-out keyboard – the keys are so flat that it’s almost like typing on a touchscreen, except that the keys are so close together you don’t even vaguely get the same levels of accuracy.
All in all, the N900 is probably a grower, but you’ll have to put in a lot of effort to fully appreciate it. Its size is a really prohibitive factor and one that might put a lot of people off, not to mention the keyboard which makes typing emails and text messages a bit of a pain.
It incorporates an impressive range of features and its high speed processing is a real boon, so once you get used to the size and are familiar with the navigation, we can imagine the N900 becoming a device you can’t live without. But just be prepared to jump through a lot of hoops to get there.