Nokia N900 Review
Before we get into details about the interface of Maemo 5, we´ll first tell you more about the OS. This is the Linux-based operating system that powers all Nokia tablets. The N900 runs the latest, 5th edition that brings forth many improvements over the previous editions. Despite the presence of a built-in accelerometer, the interface switches its orientation to portrait only when you use the telephone functions and remains in landscape mode in all other cases, one of the things that reveal the N900 is not a cell phone, but an internet tablet with richer functionality.
Compared to previous Maemo versions, the home screen comes with single orientation mode, but now consists of 4 separate pages, much like Android-powered devices. They all feature their own wallpapers, although you can turn off three of them if you don’t like the idea. They all can host widgets and shortcuts to phone contacts, applications or web pages and you can arrange them to your liking. This actually means you´ve got quick access to all major functions of the device and might never need to open the main menu. The options relating to all applications and submenus are called up on screen by pressing the upper middle part of the screen.
As a whole, we are satisfied with the novelty features of Maemo 5 and we would like to congratulate Nokia on the good work. The interface is simplified, appealing, user-friendly and easy to operate.
One of the functions of the N900 that Nokia keeps talking big about is the multitasking function. And we have to say it´s not just empty words. A single press of the button in the upper left corner reveals all applications running in the background (and if none is active, the main menu shows up instead). They get visualized as a grid of images and can be stopped without the necessity of opening the running app itself. The N900 remains snappy, handles even as many as 15 programs running in the background and it starts lagging when the number of active applications has reached 17-18, although we didn’t have any problems using the tablet with even 20 simultaneously running programs. Most impressive indeed. We just have to emphasize once again that we are extremely pleased at the multitasking function of the Nokia N900. It´s incredibly easy and handy to use, which saves time, not to mention the app itself looks awesome.
Maemo 5 brings along significant improvements in the phone contacts as compared to previous OS editions and they are welcome. The most interesting and useful novelty is the built-in support for Skype, Google Talk, Ovi, Jabber and SIP. You just need to enter your username and password for the corresponding service and the N900 will connect automatically, adding your online buddies to your phone contacts. Once you´re done this, you will be able to see their current status while browsing the contact entries. Moreover, the interface is much easier to use and better optimized for bare fingers and you will rarely need the stylus. There is a tab to filter entries by the first letter of the names, located on your right hand side of the screen and finally, your phonebook can be synchronized over the Internet, with a contact file or to the SIM card.
Initially, only five info boxes appear on screen when you get down to adding a new contact entry and you are supposed to enter the person´s first and second name, phone number, email and picture there. Of course, you can add various other details later, be it more phone numbers, email accounts, date of birth, addresses etc.
The dialling screen is opened via the dedicated icon or by turning the phone sideways to portrait mode. If you decide to give someone a ring and once the virtual keyboard has popped up on screen, you will be able to choose whether to use VoIP service or make the call over the cellular network. You can answer or reject incoming calls with the two screen sliders, similarly to the Nokia N97.
The Nokia N900 is not all about the Internet. The tablet comes with organizer functions like calendar that allows for various events, tasks and schedules, world clock, alarms and calculator.
The calendar has rather boring, monotonous interface that is, however, pretty easy to use. It can show all days within a single month with all them featuring previously entered events clearly indicated, plus you also have weekly (quite comfier for people with busier schedules) and agenda views. The latter visualizes a vertical list of upcoming events, sorted chronologically. You can also create several separate calendars, but you are disallowed to synchronize them with other calendars over the air. Unfortunately, there is still no application developed for Maemo 5 that adds similar functionality, so we consider the lack of over the air synchronization a serious drawback of the device.
The Nokia N900 doesn´t come with pre-installed Office software, although there are such applications at Maemo Community (available with the N900 by default). At this time, “Documents on the go” is the only program that can open both Office 2003 and 2007 files, but it´s not exactly free. It will set you back with $10, but at least you get a 30 day free trial to make up your mind... not that you´ve got many options really. Nokia should be launching a new, dedicated Maemo section at Ovi Store soon, but we still don´t know when exactly.
1. fortegag (Posts: 1; Member since: 18 Nov 2009)
The flash on Nokia N86 8MP is dual led. Good review as always.
2. LA6507 (Posts: 2; Member since: 15 May 2008)
This was an excellent review! Great works, guys! I am looking for a succesor for my E71, but it looks like I am going to have to wait for Exchange Support! I'd also like to see better performance in the Maps program, as well. Everything else sounds like it's pretty much the perfect device. I don't see portrait mode as a drawback, for the type of device it is, although with all that power under the hood, I would expect most of the applications and OS to work in some capacity in either orientation.
4. hisham2k (Posts: 1; Member since: 19 Nov 2009)
From what I have read, the N900 supports exchange.
3. DontHateOnS60 (Posts: 844; Member since: 20 Apr 2009)
Really disappointing to see all the things missing from the software. I have come to expect Nokia to include lots of options for things like the camera and video recording, and to see half of that stuff missing is just sad. I really do hope that if Nokia plans on using this in other Nseries devices in the future, not internet tablets, they add all the things that are missing, and fix that maps program. Hey PhoneArena, you never said what the stereo speakers sounded like. How do they compare to the N95, N97, and 5800?
5. chocolatebear (Posts: 4; Member since: 06 Oct 2009)
apart from the ovi maps not as good as google's,i recommend this phone to any one that want to take their laptop with them 24/7,you will be entertain,cos just bought my n900 since then it has put smile all over my face,thank's NOKIA N GREAT JOB,phonearena points review did not do N900 any justice,sad!