One week with the N900: 22 things I love and a few things (9) that I don't

| December 3, 2009 | 139 Replies

It was only meant to be a short number of things that I loved about the N900 but one thing kept popping up after another. The only thing limiting this to 22 is that I have a lecture to go to right now.

What I love about the Nokia N900

  1. I love that big ass screen – 800×480
    1. All your photos look so crisp and beautiful
    2. Watching videos is stunning!
    3. Web browsing is phenominal so much detail – minimal or no side scrolling.
    4. Reading PDFs, documents, powerpoint, so comfortable
    5. Really responsive for a resistive screen – you don’t need the stylus, it’s nice it’s there though for things like the drawing app as a pen.
  2. I love that the menus are fast
    1. Pretty much instant. It really makes a difference not having to wait that half a second for applications view to load. You press, it’s there
  3. I love that opening applications is fast (except maps which isn’t finished for Maemo5)
    1. Apps also open up pretty much instantly. No waiting around.
  4. UI very fluid
    1. Nice UI transitions
    2. I love the real kinetic scrolling – consistent, and smart. Kinetic scrolling only appears where scrolling is applicable, and it behaves properly too. Large fast swipes = very quick scrolling.
    3. I love that the menu background is identical to your desktop.
  5. Panoramic Desktop – Love the wide array of customization possible
    1. Can change to have a flowing background or
    2. Can have different backgrounds
    3. Widgets Shortcuts to all apps or bookmarks or standalone active widgets which can be placed anywhere on the desktop
    4. Slick sliding from one desktop to another
    5. I love that I can layer widgets and shortcuts – no static bar of limited number of shortcuts.
    6. I love that I can easily turn a website I’m browsing into a bookmark on the desktop
  6. I love the powerful multitasking
    1. Can open up all preinstalled apps simultaneously and still be hungry for more.
  7. I love that switching between tasks is a breeze
    1. Multitasking is also about the ease of changing from one task to the other, and it’s so simple with the live windows – actual live windows. Not static icons or thumbnails. If you switched from playing a video, you’ll seethe video miniaturized but still playing
    2. Closing tasks is just as easy. Just single click from multitask view or press “end current task” from “on button”.
  8. I love the speed of the web browser. With 3G coupled with the default browser it feels like I’m using broadband.
    1. Setting up connections is easy, and you never ever ever have to tell the N900 to set that connection when opening apps requiring internet
    2. I love how it just switches to WiFi when it’s available and goes back to cellular data when it’s not available
    3. If Virgin Media breaks, I don’t have to go digging into settings. I just click to switch connection to “Tmobile internet” and N900 resumes loading webpage using 3/3.5G [depending on coverage] With S60V5, I had to delete my WiFi connection for N97 to ignore the non-working WLAN and then type in passwords and add connection lalter
  9. I love how accurately N900 renders webpages.
    1. I can access my University Blackboard, email, library account; a task not possible before because of high security from our IT department allowing only certain approved desktop browsers. Now, when I’m in Uni I don’t have to hunt for a free computer to check if I’ve been given new meetings, confirm change of venues, update my library books to avoid fines – I can do it all sat in the lecture, inconspicuously from the N900
    2. Twitter, facebook, digg, myriad of blogs, news sites, [I can even blog directly with the N900 and wordpress – no third party apps!) basically the web looks like how it should on the N900 as it does a computer, and also you can interact with it like you do on your desktop (some browsers may seem to render like the desktop but you don’t have the same type of interaction with the webpage)
    3. I also love that double tapping zooms in to the column width so you don’t have to scroll left and right to read all the text.
    4. If you still need to zoom text further, there’s the circular gestures or the zoom buttons.
  10. I love flash for youtube video viewing
    1. It means other flash interactions work too, like wordpress’s flash uploader
  11. I love love love that it can play back AVI files .avi/.DivX/.Xvid files without problem! All running smooth without additional software or conversion!
    1. Just drag and drop your videos/movies and N900 recognizes them.
    2. Couple the N900 and  your videos with the video out cable and a big screen TV and you’ve got yourself a pocketable HDD video player.
    3. When you exit video player and return, it comes back where you last left off. Great for watching longer clips at brief intervals.
  12. I love the stereo speakers
    1. Perfect placement for wider and more obvious channel separation
    2. Much clearer and louder than on the N97
    3. Of course you do have 3.5mm jack if you want to listen in private and the included in-ear headphones are surprisingly  quite good, comparable in sound to a Sony MDR-EX71, but most likely much better build quality.
  13. I love the app manager and the easy two click installation of apps
    1. There’ll be tonnes of apps available for Maemo5 soon and with Qt, much of what’s available in other platforms can reach Maemo5, not just the plethora of already available Linux programmes.
  14. I love the QWERTY keyboard and on screen QWERTY keyboard option
    1. The keyboard is great, ample, obvious tactile feedback. I can type blogposts comfortably on it
    2. On screen keyboard option is nice, let’s you use the N900 closed all the time if you want to.
  15. I love the keyboard shortcuts
    1. Copy and paste
    2. Screen capture
    3. open xterminal
    4. searching for contacts (just start typing their name in the keyboard whilst in desktop view)
  16. I love that screenshot is built in. No third party app necessary.
    1. There are third party screenshot apps, but it’s much more convenient to just press shift+ctrl+p
    2. Screenshots go into their own specific “screenshot” folder, but are easily viewable from gallery. Save a website page to email, or a high score in a game – there’s quite a bit of detail in 800×480
  17. I love the revamped camera UI making it an easier point and shoot

    1. It opens quickly
    2. changing between scenes, resolution is so simple.
    3. Autofocus is super fast
    4. Camera remembers your last defined settings so you don’t have to go and set all that up if you were taking a break in between shots
  18. I love the 16:9 photo option
    1. Although at 3.5MP and not 5MP, My photos look better on the phone and computer as they fill up the whole screen instead of having black bars either side
  19. I love the higher resolution 848 x 480 videos
    1. They look great, plus the audio recording is superb
    2. handles low light quite well
    3. looks fantastic most sufficient lighting
  20. I love the autofocus Video
    1. I’m not limited to one focus point.
    2. Can enjoy macro videos
    3. Distant videos
    4. All the incremental differences in between
  21. I love gaming on the N900
    1. There’s only one 3D game at the moment and that’s Bounce Evolution, and it’s absolutely stunning.
    2. Hopefully this is just the beginning and we’ll see more games as visually absorbing as Bounce Evolution on the N900
  22. I love how my friends can pick up the N900 without me having to tell them how to use it.
    1. I love that they just instinctively operate the web browser like on a desktop, not realising that it’s fairly unusual to be interacting with webpages so fluidly on a mobile phone.
    2. It’s just so easy to demonstrate and show off how good a phone the N900 is. (Found it difficult to impress others with the N97 except for its flick tilt slide that makes it look like a micro netbook)

23. Nokia Messaging. Push instant emails before gmail even picks it up. Works great.

  • Receiving email as soon as someone sends it has become utterly vital since using Nokia Messaging on my N97. Now it’s on the N900. Waiting 5, 10, 30 minutes is no good. Checking manually is even worse. I could have left the house and afterwards received an email saying I didn’t get to send a file that was only on my computer (happened earlier); or had to reply by email within a short time frame to get something asap – there’s infinite scenarios.
  • Great email notifier. Even if I am at a computer, that ping tells me to go check my emails (fortunately, gmail filters out all spam so I’m not wasting time viewing it)

24.  I love the Notification lights!

  • I forgot about these. When the N900’s screen is off, these lights can change colour depending on the situation, e.g. new email/message, it flashes blue or charging – there’s an orangy/yellow intermittent light. Helps to know if screen is off and phone is on silent that I’ve got messages to check or that the charger has actually been plugged in and is working.
  • Having coloured functional LED is a neat feature in itself I’ve been missing since my Sony Ericsson T68i and it’s great Nokia’s brought something back that’s even more useful (I remember discussing this over the table with Ricky Cadden/Teo/Rafe Blandford and Nokia managers on features we’d like to see in future Nokia devices in Nokia world 07)

25. Love the full screen calendar!

  • It’s also much easier to add tasks, switch month/week/day view
  • Hermes pulls in birthdays from facebook
  • Can take in calendar entries from S60 via simple bluetooth phone switch
  • I need more time to play about with this – I don’t want to get to attached to Maemo5 and N900 as it’s going back and I’d have to return to s60v5’S horrific calendar:'(

My issues with the N900

As I’m new to Maemo5, I’m finding a few of the things I’m getting frustrated with or wishing was there, is actually there (or just needs a touch getting used to). So forgive me if some of these shortcomings I’ve written about aren’t valid (within minutes of publication I’ve already had to scratch one thing off). Plus, most of my issues are with the 3rd party apps (like firefox and voice recorder) themselves not directly anything to do with Maemo5 or the N900.

1. I think there should be an option not to squash the web page to 800 pixels wide (like with previous tablets). If you were browsing a web page that exceeded 800 pixels, the option would allow some size scrolling so the view isn’t bunched up.

2. I dislike the back button. If I mispress a site, I just want to quickly go back not wade through (though a rather beautiful) history of visited sites. Another tip from Tan Miaoqing – Hardware back keys instantly lets you go back. Trying to think up of something else I don’t like so I won’t have to change the title of this post

2. It would be nice if the sending via bluetooth had an animated progress bar (you get a notification bar but there’s no animation to show progress…at least none when I do it)

3. I don’t like how multitasking, menu, desktop all share the same button. I’d rather be able to always switch from desktop to app view and another for multitasking – possibly appearing as an additional button whenever you’ve got more than one window open
4. I dislike the battery life – though to remedy this, I have received some  Proporta charging accessories to make the N900 last me a whole day. Check out some posts on that soon.
5. Camera is missing additional settings – colour tones [black and white/sepia/vivid], camera grid, contrast, sequence modes, self timer, sharpness and manual scene
6. I do miss Xenon flash and video light slightly (more to use as a torch – I guess the latter can be sorted with firmware upgrade)

7,I need Nokia Messaging on my N900. The default email client is good, but I miss receiving pushed emails. Update. Nevermind. Thanks to Tan Miaoqing for pointing out there is Nokia Messaging on the N900 ^_^
7. Screen is very responsive, much more so than the N97’s. The whole Maemo5 experience would be improved 10fold were the N900 to have the featherlight touch of capacitive screens.
8. Hate hate hate Ovi Maps on N900 (love it on N97 :S) – though I have been told it’s not finished. It takes too long to start up and I don’t enjoy the interface.
9 How do you access all symbols unless you use on screen keyboard? There’s no button that brings up [square brackets] You have to close the keyboard to bring up the onscreen keyboard ok. I’m learning. Some less obvious keyboard shortcuts but shortcuts none the less, reader Z0l, has pointed out pressing Ctrl and Alt (the Alt is directly under CTRL) brings up symbols (N97 has own single button for this – although those two buttons close enough that its easy to press them simultaneously with a thumb)

9. I’d like to be able to select multiple files/images/videos to send or delete

10. Would be nice to have portrait use of the phone , if at least only to set the phone to call mode.

  • I’ve been looking for the turning control everywhere since I got the N900. Another great solution from Z0l in the comments – at least for phone calls.
  • Launch phone app, click the bar that says “Phone” to get to the settings, set turning control to on.
  • Now, this should be on by default as that’s what I was expecting after seeing the N900 videos. More portrait use possibly in firmware updates to come

11. I don’t like how files aren’t organized uniformly. In photos, oldest photos are the top, in videos, oldest videos are at the bottom.

  • In file manager, the newest camera files are at the bottom and you have to scroll all the way down to get there.
  • Perhaps either keep one direction of displaying most recent files, but always show the most recent files first (which is the case for both photos/videos viewer app but not the file manager. It gets difficult when you’re trying to upload multiple files online. See point 10.

12. A scrollbar please. Kinetic scrolling is fun, but some things are quicker achieved with one drag on the scroll bar (like uber long lists). I don’t want to be kinetic scroll swiping like I’m trying to light a fire.

13. Would be nice to be able to send video without having to open file first. See point 9 (new one).

Will have more blogposting soon with N900 hands on, taking a look at more features and accessories for the N900 – this week is pretty hectic as I’ve got a few deadlines and an exam to meet by Friday.


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Category: Maemo, Nokia, Nseries

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Hey, thanks for reading my post. My name is Jay and I'm a medical student at the University of Manchester. When I can, I blog here at and tweet now and again @jaymontano. We also have a twitter and facebook accounts @mynokiablog and Check out the tips, guides and rules for commenting >>click<< Contact us at tips(@) or email me directly on jay[at]