The Nokia N900 (aka the Nokia Rover) is a device that is not quite a mobile phone and not quite a laptop computer. Or if you want to look at it another way; it’s a device that functions as both of these devices making it one of the most modern devices on the market today. This is the first Internet tablet that incorporates full phone functionality into its design. It also incorporates many features of a smartphone including a touchscreen, a digital camera and advanced media player capabilities. With multiple keyboard options and a lot of options for personalization, this is a device that’s worth the time it takes to test it out. The Nokia N900 is slated for an October release date with specific dates varying depending on the country of release.
Blurring the Line Between Phones and Computer
Smartphones are getting larger and more advanced in comparison with standard mobile phones. Laptop computers can be created in much smaller sizes than they were in the past. What this means is that there’s an increasingly fine line between what makes a device a phone and what makes it a laptop. Add in the fact that you can talk on a notebook through Skype or access the web with your phone and you can see that the difference between phones and computers is increasingly difficult to define. The Nokia N900 is one of those devices that truly straddles this already fine line.
Features of Interest on the Nokia N900
The Nokia N900 has many features of interest to both Internet Tablet users and fans of smartphones. The most important features as far as the hardware of the phone include:
- 3.5″ Touchscreen. The Nokia N900 is an Internet Tablet that has a touchscreen similar to what you would find on the latest smartphones. It’s a 3.5″ touchscreen with an 800×480 pixel resolution that can display 16 million colours.
- Accelerometer. This phone has a three-way accelerometer which is increasingly common on smartphones today.
- Multiple Keyboard Options. Like with many smartphones today, you have a choice here of an on-screen keyboard or a slide-out three-row keyboard. The Nokia N900 comes with a traditional QWERTY keyboard but has variants for buyers in different countries where English isn’t the only major language spoken.
- 5 Megapixel Camera. This is an average digital phone camera. It has autofocus, dual LED flash and lens protection. It is capable of recording video up to 640×480 pixels. It’s not outstanding but it takes good pictures.
- Media Player. One of the things that people typically want in a mobile phone today is a good media player. That’s something that you’ll get with the Nokia N900. The video player itself has a fun interface built on top of it which is touch-friendly and easy to use. Video playback is quick and clear. And there’s a little stand built into the back of the device which allows you to prop it up so you can watch the screen without holding on to it which is a neat little design feature that we don’t often see.
- TI OMAP3 microprocessor with ARM Cortex-A8 core. This device is the first Nokia device to use the OMAP3 microprocessor which is actually three microprocessors in one. What this means to you as a user is that it can run multiple applications simultaneously and quickly without getting confused or slowing down. Whether you understand the under-the-hood functions of this phone or not, you’ll be able to make use of its strong ability to allow for multitasking on your mobile device.
- Battery. The battery on this device is of note. That is because the battery is smaller that what we’ve seen on other Internet tablets in the past but the new microprocessor reduces power consumption so the mobile device can be used for a decent amount of time before needing to recharge (better than an Internet Tablet, perhaps not as good as the average smartphone).
- High-Speed USB 2.0 USB Micro-B connector. This can be used for battery charging, data storage and data synchronization.
- Memory. The Nokia N900 has 1GB of RAM, 32 GB of built-in internal memory and the potential to increase memory with Micro SD cards.
Maemo: Nokia N900 Software
The operating system for the Nokia N900 is a Linux-based open source system called Maemo 5. This version of the operating system essentially takes the experience of the Linux desktop and compacts it down to the size of a large mobile phone. It offers a highly user-friendly, totally customizable user interface that lets you move your widgets around, add application shortcuts, etc. This operating system comes with a number of built-in applications that should interest the average Nokia N900 user. These applications include a Mozilla-based web browser with an RSS reader and Adobe Flash 9.4, Ovi maps with GPS mapping functionality, productivity tools including calendars and a PDF reader and connection to others via IM, SMS, Google Talk and Skype.
Open Source Means Personalization is Possible
What’s really of interest to a lot of people about the Nokia N900 is the fact that the Linux-based system and the easy customization of the widgets on the phone both make this phone simple for people to customize. Individuals can add and remove widgets to make the Nokia N900 more personalized right out of the box. And developers can play around to easily create new applications and codes for this device which will allow continuous improvements to it by the users who choose to purchase this phone. From both ends, this means that you can make a very unique customized phone out of this device.
So Is the N900 a Phone or a Computer?
The bottom line about the Nokia N900 is that it’s a good mobile phone that really brings the major features of a laptop computer to a pocket-sized device. Many are saying that it’s the first Nokia smartphone that can really compete with other major smartphones released by competitors like Apple and Blackberry (although some argue that the N97 was a good start to that). It does have all of the basic features that you would want from an advanced smartphone. But it’s a bit larger than some of the other devices we’ve seen and it does a great job of bringing the Linux desktop experience to the mobile platform so it’s a little bit more than “just a phone”. It really walks that line between the two options which is something we’re going to see a lot more of in the mobile industry in the future.