Friday, December 25, 2009

Nokia N900

I've had my Nokia N900 for about a day now, and I can report that it is an awesome phone. It is the ideal geek phone. I have never had a phone that I could drop into a command line if I wanted to. Not only that, but I can ssh into (or out of) the phone.

There are obviously not as many apps for this phone as there are for the iPhone or Windows (which my previous phone was), but nearly everything I used to use is there and many things are much easier (like the simple SSH connection to the phone, which makes transferring music or pictures on or off as easy as a network operation between two computers).

The screen is 800 x 480, which means that you can see fully rendered web pages and not mobile substitutes. The firefox browser is not as fast as a desktop version, but it is very good. And I can go directly to many of the sites (such as facebook) that I might have used an app for on another phone.

The other thing they make a big deal out of in the marketing material is the task switching. You can switch among the multiple apps as easily as you do on a desktop computer. Apple phones don't really do this at all. My Windows phone let me switch between running apps, but it wasn't quick or easy. With the multitasking I can open multiple browsers like I use tabs on a desktop, making surfing the web easy on the phone instead of unbearably complex.

My only complaint so far is the Ovi maps program. It may be that I am just not used to it yet, but I find it hard to use. I can't see how to have it recalculate from my current location, and the search is a little hoky (I don't want to see places from Bulgaria show up in my search for local stuff). I'm sure I will get used to it, or google maps will appear for this phone. I actually liked the Bing/Windows Live maps on my windows phone more than google, but I won't hold my breath waiting for it to show up.

Finally, I have to comment on the "social networking" integration. On other phones, I have a choice of calling or emailing my contacts. That is nice, and is here, too. But on this phone I also get the option of IM'ing them from any of the major services (I had to install a plugin to add AIM and Yahoo), and I can skype call. I could do all of this on my old phone, but it was not fully integrated...each was a separate app. I think Maemo leverages Telepathy, which is designed to do just this kind of integration. GPS is integrated as well, with my location broadcast on my IM status (to whatever granularity I prefer) and auto geotagging of photos. Oddly, the addresses in contacts are not integrated with the GPS, but (again) I may just not have figured it out yet.

Connectivity is good, also. I popped the sim card out of my AT&T phone and put it in the N900, and with a few clicks I was connected with 2.5G Edge (the 3G speeds only work on T-Mobile, and my contract with AT&T is up at the end of the year, so I am switching after 10 years with the AT&T/Cingular--but not with any real complaints about AT&T, I should add). And it is very good about automatically switching to and from wifi when it comes into the house.

Oh...the phone works well, too. Phones still have phones connected to them, and this one is good.

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