My first week with a linuxphone
So, last Tuesday I went to the post office to pick up my new gadget, a Nokia N900. Now I figured it was time to write a bit about my first impression. Of course I had to write this entry using the phone, even though I type a bit slower than on my laptop. I am using the wordpress app, which is still in beta and to my knowledge not in any repo yet.. (why?)
So, what do I think? Simply put, it’s great! I am truly impressed at the slick interface, and the way everything is so well integrated with each other. Especially the way contact information is stored is a story by itself. Out of the box the phone supports skype, jabber (google talk, facebook chat and more) and sip, in addition to normal phone functions. Additional protocols can be installed in the application manager. After you have set up your accounts, you merge contacts in your contact list, by just selecting who of the contacts are the same person. Now, when I select e.g. my brother, I get the option to call,send sms, call with skype, call his gtalk-id, chat in gtalk and so on. And all the different chat options and sms exchanges are cleverly stored as conversations, much like one is used to when using a chat client with history functionality. This is a huge improvement for me on how to sort sms in particular, coming from more traditional phones. It all feels very connected and seamlessly integrated.
That should be taken into account when reading this review by the way. I have not previously owned a proper smartphone like blackberry, iphone, winmo or an android enabled device. My positive surprises might be something you have already enjoyed for years..
Let me briefly touch the multitouch capability of the phone. As I am writing this, I am playing a rip of the CD Industrial by Madrugada in flac format, having the webbrowser open, a facebook conversation with a friend that is currently idle, witter (twitter client) is open, and the settings dialog because I had to check which services were supported for this blog entry. While this does eat more of my battery, and you might think it is not a big deal, I think it is huge! I love that I do not need to exit a game in order to answer an incoming message, or that I can keep the browser window open on the page that has the instructions on how to install the worpress client while I install it. This phone truly feels more like a laptop replacement than an actual phone. If I don’t have a PC nearby, I can do pretty much anything I need, just a bit slower. I am even more impressed at the capabilities than I thought I would be!
The physical size is not as bad as I was afraid of. I ordered it from the web without having held it in my hand. To date I have not seen the phone in any store here in Geneva.. Granted, it is more chubby than a smartphone without keyboard, but it fits nicely in my pockets. The screen is crisp and clear, and the resistive screen works more than well enough for me. Having never owned a touch screen device before, I am not going to discuss more how much better or worse it is compared to a capacitive screen. One thing I have definitely noticed, is that the stylo makes my life a lot easier when browsing full fledged web pages that are meant for a larger sceen. Hitting the links with my chubby thumbs can be rather difficult without zooming. You might also be interested to know how I like the keyboard so far? As I said, I am writing this entry on my phone.. Of course it is not like an actual pc, or even a netbook, but the keys are nice and responsive. Do not see what could be improved at such a limited space. I got quickly comfortable with the original placement of the space key. I have noticed others complained about this, but myself I find it clever. It has become the obvious resting point for my right thumb when writing.
What is less impressive, and what am I missing? The camera for one, is nothing more than average in my eyes. First off I don’t at all understand why it has more than say 2 MPixels. It only reduces the quality of the pictures with such limited size of the objective. Then again this seems to be an issue with all phone manufacturers these days. I never cared much for image quality on cell phone cameras anyway, so in the end I am not really bothered.
One thing I am really missing is a Spotify client with offline mode. I am a huge fan of Spotify, and think it is the best thing to happen to music in the last 10 years. I would love to have the music available everywhere!
In general I also hope to see more apps soon. It seems that Nokia is having difficulties getting the store working for payed apps without the community immediately finding a way to cheat it. For the future of Maemo/MeeGo, I think this is important to get in place in order to attract more commercial developers. I am also missing a better map solution for the gps. The OVI maps currently installed are fairly limited. I heard that version 3 is underway, with voice guidance capabilities. Great!
To sum up, the one feature I like the most? The freedom. How the device never tries to get in the way of me doing what I want IF I want to. It feels like it is trying the best it can to enable me with all its bits and pieces. This is an amazing piece of hardware and software in its own right, regardless of what the competition does better or worse. I am loving it more and more every day, it is by far the coolest gadget I have ever owned!