Tag Archives: N900

Connecting on the surface: an N900 risk

I had just got to being really comfortable with my pre-production Nokia N900, odd little UI quirks and all.  But thanks to a bit of carelessness, I lost use of it and found a potential problem for every user.

I am in the habit of using USB-to-microUSB cables to charge devices with this capability.  While working on some project at my home workstation, I had the N900 happily sucking up electricity on top of the PC tower to my left.  Unknown to me, the usb cable had looped near the floor and was waiting for some object to hook it.

That object turned out to be my chair.

By scooting back a bit, I inadvertantly launched the N900 off the tower and a few feet through the air to the wooden floor below.  It was not a big fall, and not as violent as I make it sound, but I was irritated nonetheless.  Still, it seemed to check out okay… but to be on the safe side I relocated the device to a remote table out of the way, and plugged it into a regular charger there.  I returned to my work certain all was well.

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Chickens, eggs and N900s

In my previous article I alluded to Maemo community outreach as a “chicken and egg scenario”.  The exact point is that it can be hard for a corporation to justify outreach expenditures if there’s no proof of significant interest.  Easy to swallow as reality but still tough for a community evangelist to fully digest.

In this case that outreach translates to developers, particularly those attracted to Linux, Qt and especially the mobile computing ecosystem.

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Add one item to the Nokia N900…

…and in my opinion it then becomes the iPhone killer.

See if you can spot it, and figure out why.


What's right with this picture?

Enter guesses or arguments in the Comments section!

After Amsterdam

Okay, I’ve been asked to update everyone on my experience during and after Maemo Summit 2009 and I apologize for being late in doing so.  Catching up with work (the $ kind) came first.

I’m putting some things together so this post is just to let you know I didn’t fall into the Atlantic on the way back.  For one I want to work further on what was to be my presentation (more on that embarassing fiasco later) and I also owe the Maemo Guru a piece on the N900 that Nokia so graciously loaned me.  Not to mention entering a few pages of bugs, quirks and ideas into Maemo Bugzilla.

So, bear with me a bit and I’ll try to do some serious word crunching tomorrow.

The gears of Maemo


Since starting this blog after my last job loss I’ve taken Nokia to task over what I perceive to be shortcomings and errors, particularly in staffing and ambitious enterprise projects like Ovi.

But in the spirit of fairness and balance, and in preparation of my trip to Amsterdam for the Nokia-sponsored Maemo Summit 2009, I want to take a moment to acknowledge one team that I believe is doing a fantastic job: Maemo.

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ASUS brings its own eBook to the table

Last week I stumbled across an article describing how ASUS was poised to enter the electronic book market and take on Amazon’s successful Kindle.  One critical (and useful) difference with ASUS’ upcoming model is that it follows the traditional fold-open book form factor rather than Kindle’s slate shape, but a possibly more alluring feature is its color display.  There is also mention of it possibly sporting speakers and a webcam for internet video chatting or Voice over IP (VoIP)– at a retail cost half of Kindle’s $300 USD.  !

As a longtime user of ASUS motherboards I’m impressed with their workmanship and hope it translates to this product line.  ASUS also has the brand recognition I believe to attract early interest to these products, especially if the proposed price and feature set make it to market.

On a related but more speculative note, this thread at talk.maemo.org introduced me to the Microsoft Courier.  Check that engadget photo out.  Deja vu, anyone?  It’s also going to have to compete with Sony, whatever Apple eventually amazes us with and others.

Some pundits confuse the prospects of these devices with those of smaller handhelds like the upcoming Nokia N900, but while the latter may function as a usable eBook that’s not its primary purpose and the smaller screens can degrade the book experience for many.  Likewise, the difference in portability will compound the insurance that the two families will occupy mostly distinct usage environs with only slight functionality overlap.

This particular product type has been promised as far back as I can remember, as a big-dreaming teenager inhaling as many science fiction paperbacks as I could afford.  I’m encouraged by the final arrival of this cool technology but concerned over what it might mean for future human eyesight.  At least paper doesn’t glare at you…


Thanks to maemo.org member Rebski for the Microsoft Courier find.

MID use case: mobile auditing and inspection


click for full-size image

As promised, I’m starting the series on use cases for Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs), beginning with one that may seem unusual to many: mobile auditing and inspection.

This particular usage hits close to home for me, or at least it did when I worked for Quality Assurance in Nokia’s old Alliance factory in the United States.  My interest derives from the two roles I held there, first as a data analyst and later as a quality engineer.

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TV out: the REAL game-changer

The Maemo Guru demonstrates gaming over the N900 TV-out cable and asks if this will impact the iPhone.  Forget other handhelds– what might this do to larger gaming platforms?

Imagine as these devices get a little more powerful how they could play games on television screens that are now restricted to Xboxes, Playstations and Wiis.  Then imagine how they could leverage that power along with high connectivity to internet cloud and home computing ecosystems to gain access to players and content.  Expand that vision to propose a small video multiplexing device that allows 2 or more mobile computer users in the same room to partition the playing screen just as conventional game machines do now.

Suddenly the N900 portends a greater potential, and greater threat, for gaming.  This platform may well be the first to truly bridge the world of Gameboys and immobile gaming devices.

Nokia took a beating for its N-Gage hardware, especially for not getting version 2 quite right.  Maybe the company wizards did learn from that experience, and thanks to legendary corporate conservatism we are just now seeing the benefit of that lesson learned.

The N900 and its descendents may well show the world that Nokia does indeed get gaming, after all… I’m cautiously excited by the prospect and cannot wait to see where this goes.  Arguments welcome.  ;)

Nokia World 2009

Nokia World 2009 in brief

There’s been plenty of coverage already on this eye-popping event so I’ll limit my analysis to just a few points.

Nokia N900

The rundown:

This impressive Maemo-fueled touchscreen phone (aka mobile computer) is the new flagship device and comes laden with highly compelling features.  Even though I find the small screen size disappointing I understand the politics behind the design decision.  This is after all a phone more than tablet.  Rumors combined with my own common sense continue to encourage me that this is indeed part of a product platform and we will ulitimately see some sort of “slate” variant (a la N800)… by early next year at the latest (possibly CES?).

My verdict:

I would buy this multifaceted device save one factor: advertised price.  I won’t quote any numbers (there’s already too much confusion over this) BUT if it comes to the US at much over $400 unsubsidized, I’ll wait.

Nokia Booklet netbook

The rundown:

This is the product I personally find more exciting as it represents a new adventure for Nokia.  The brand will finally sit on shelf space alongside Dell, Acer, HP and others which should help further Nokia’s recognition as a new player in internet services.  This will be solidified by the option of a cell radio modem (for data only) and the future placement of Windows applications on Ovi Store.  That’s right, penguin lovers, the netbook will come with Windows 7 installed by default.  Reformat and repurpose with the OS of your choice.  ;)

My verdict:

This is another gadget that would easily be on my list (my youngest son is in the market for a netbook) were it not for a higher-than-expected retail price of ~$800.  Although as usual Nokia has packed this portable PC with useful features like HDMI output and a purported 12 hour battery charge(!), at typically twice the cost of entry netbooks this is a bit prohibitive.  A subsidized version from my cellular service provider might help.

Another showstopper for some is the hard-soldered 1 gigabyte of system memory.  If this is indeed limited, that means no heavy business usage.  Of course, many could argue that this is a consequence of the 120 gigaybte hard drive and 10.1 inch screen anyway.  Cramped viewing real estate and storage space notwithstanding, the netbook does come with a version of Microsoft Office except that, curiously, it is a 60 day trial.  Buying the full version of course increases the actual product cost.

In appearance this aluminum-bodied product holds its own against the best netbook or notebook designs out there, including Apple’s.  Kudos to Nokia’s industrial design team!

X Series phones

The rundown:

The trademarking of new series designators C and X had a lot of tongues wagging prior to the show.  There was plenty of wild speculation over just what this advent might mean.  Pundits who identified the X designator as a likely series of new music phones were right on target, as Nokia announced the X3 and X6 music-oriented devices.  I’m impressed with the appearances and features of both (moreso with the X6).  Both will be available at Christmas.

My verdict:

Another product line perfect for my teenage sons.  The X3 is even affordable at a listed 115 Euros.  I think this line has potential!


I found the atmosphere around and during this event to be more electric than last year’s event.  Nokia does seem to be seriously trying to battle the growing skepticism over its high-end prospects.  I am just concerned that pricing may interfere; let’s hope there’s a significant difference between proposed retail and actual when these sleek beauties all hit store shelves.

There were other announcements such as formal acknowledgment of the N97 Mini but nothing else I felt compelled to cover here.  Visit the official Nokia World 2009 site for more in-depth coverage especially as the event continues.

The event itself has rekindled my faith a bit.  Now if Ovi can just get the same degree of much-needed attention, maybe Nokia can stifle the doubters…

Ovi: door, wall, or minefield?

Sorry to be picking on Ovi.com again, but it has been a few months and recent developments (such as announcement of Nokia’s N900 tablet phone) beg an update.

I’ve been slowly trying to move into and live in the beautifully remodeled house of Ovi, but there are so many broken appliances that the landlord deserves a complaint.  Ovi Contacts can’t be used by Ovi Mail (???!!!) for one, but then again, the Contact syncing started acting up on me last week so maybe like the Mail service it is still too immature for regular use.  Ovi Mail is so far only sending 3 out of 4 emails for me.  That’s not good enough for me to switch from Hotmail (my current internet email provider).

Then to top things off, I read that Nokia’s music service will not be coming to the United States until 2010.  This increasing delay continues to confound me, although blogger opinions on the subject make sense.  What doesn’t is Nokia’s failure to solve the purported issues (like burdensome Digital Rights Management (DRM), lack of blockbuster phones for the service and carrier demands for higher cuts of profit) that have kept a program like Comes With Music from being a success.  Music is a highly compelling usage for handheld devices so this ongoing issue only serves to fuel the cynicism of pundits claiming that Nokia’s promise of renewed US presence is hollow (see my recent post on the subject).

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