Archive for March, 2010
The merging of Maemo and Moblin was announced at MWC with the name of Meego. We just heard the news that Meego development is opening up to the public today with image downloads for netbooks, the N900, and Intel-based handsets. At this time, unless you are a developer I am pretty sure there is nothing for us N900 owners to download and try, but at least things are moving forward and we hear that the first version of Meego to install may be released in May. I am interested in seeing how Meego will differ from what we see today in Maemo, aren’t you?
I was happy to see Nokia and T-Mobile USA announce the Nokia Nuron since we rarely see an official carrier S60 smartphone here in the US. As I wrote last week, Engadget was one of the first sites to get a chance to try the device and they were not overly impressed. I was sent an evaluation unit a couple of days ago and honestly have to say I am quite impressed with the device and think it is actually a very good choice for people looking for a lower end smartphone. You can buy one for just $69.99 with an Even More plan and only $179.99 with an Even More Plus (non-subsidized) plan. $180 for a S60 5th Edition device with full Ovi Maps navigation and maps of the world for free seems like a pretty sweet deal to me.
Let’s start off my first impressions post here with a look at the specs of the Nokia 5230 Nuron:
- 3.2 inch 640×360 pixel resolution touchscreen display with support for 16 million colors
- T-Mobile 7.2 Mbps 3.5G data network support
- Quad-band World GSM radios
- Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP support
- FM radio
- GPS receiver with free for life Nokia Ovi Maps
- Symbian S60 5th Edition software
- microSD card slot
- 2 megapixel camera
Honestly, the only lower end specs we see here are the rather limited camera resolution and the lack of WiFi. I highly doubt many new smartphone owners even use WiFi (I actually rarely use it on my 3G phones) so that may not be a big concern. I would have like to have seen a 3.2 megapixel camera though.
One other difference between this device and the Nokia 5800 XM is that there is no stylus on the Nuron. It still has the excellent slider lock switch, XpressMusic button (I love this functionality), physical camera button, and externally accessible microSD card slot. There is also only one speaker, compared with two on the 5800 XM.
I opened the fairly standard T-Mobile packaging and saw a white Nokia device in the compartment that looked an awful lot like my Nokia 5800 XpressMusic device. I really like that device and have to say this one looks better to me with the silver frame, red and green bottom buttons, slick pearl back. The display looks fantastic with the high resolution and smaller size.
Interestingly there is a myFaves icon on there, which is funny since T-Mobile no longer offers this service to new customers. I still have a grandfathered myFaves account because it works well for my family’s needs and am happy to see it still supported on the Nokia Nuron.
I tested out Ovi Maps navigation and it was excellent on the Nokia Nuron. You will also find that TeleNav has their application loaded on the device for navigation. This services costs $10/month and honestly I see no need for it with Ovi Maps on board.
Taking a look through the software I was very disappointed that Nokia Messaging was not preinstalled on the device. This should be on every S60 device and Nokia needs to do a better job of making sure that happens since the older email client is pretty bad. I tried visiting the Nokia Messaging site to download the application and it seemed to work.
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I really enjoy using my Nokia N900, but think the Ovi Maps client loaded on it is quite lame. I want the Ovi Maps 2.0 software that all my S60 devices have, but we still have no idea when (or even if) Nokia will ever release a good version of Ovi Maps for the N900. In the meantime, Sygic just recently launched their Mobile Maps 9 product for Nokia Maemo 5 devices. I was sent an evaluation code to install and test the software on my device and gave it a first spin last night. I shot the video below of the interface and some initial navigation testing to give you all a feel for the software.
As you can see the software has fairly typical functionality for navigating to your destination. My first impressions are that it has a finger friendly interface for the menus and has all the necessary navigation options, but the map UI could be improved with larger zoom in and out buttons and the ability to automatically switch into a full screen mode and hide the upper task bar. I may have this full screen mode, but I have yet to find it. I put in a route and then tried going another way and the program had some issues staying with me while it fought to reroute me and kept jumping my location to roads that were nearby. I then put in my real destination and it did a fairly good job of navigating me to my destination.
I need to spend more time with their Points of Interest (POI), navigation accuracy, and other settings while using it on more routes. I’ll try to get more testing done over the next week or two and post my full review so you can make an informed decision since there does not appear to be any trial version. It is currently priced at EUR49.99 ($67) so it is not a cheap software solution.
The Nokia N900 is one of my favorite devices and I think GPS navigation is one area where it could excel with the large high resolution display and 3G capability. Unfortunately, the Ovi Maps version on the device stinks and there is no word yet on whether or not Nokia will provide the update to the latest version with free maps for life. There is however some good news for N900 owners in Europe and the US since Sygic announced Mobile Maps for Nokia Maemo. It is a bit pricey at EUR 59.99 (approximately USD$81) and I just received a reviewer code to give it a full test. I am downloading now and drove into the office today so I can start testing it out. Stay tuned for my first impressions later today and a full review to follow that I hope will help you make a more informed decision regarding the software. Please do post questions here for things you want me to test out with the software.
Features and benefits of the Mobile Maps (from the Sygic website):
- All latest maps are with you on your phone.
- Speed cameras, speed limits and railway crossings warnings provide safety for you and others.
- Signposts help you to head in the right direction.
- Lane assistant informs you about the correct lane to be in.
- Automatically adapts to horizontal or vertical view with
- Automatically or manually adjustable color schemes for day and night use.
- User interface and voice guide speak your native language.
- Search for millions of restaurants and other points of interest, with an option to call in, find parking, and navigate to.
- Design your trip with multi-stop route planning before you head out.
- See the summary of your trip before you set off.
- Avoid a roadblock with a single click.
- Save and organize favorites according to your needs.
- Customize what you want to see on the navigation screen.
Here is a YouTube video that Sygic posted showing a quick demo of the application.
One of the reasons I have been using my Google Nexus One more than the N900 over the last month or so is the sheer number and quality of applications for Android. The N900 is a fantastic device, but applications need to get better. I saw a Tweet from Chanse (Nokia employee) that he was testing a new Twitter application called TweeGo. I followed the link to Maemo Central and followed the instructions to download and install the application to my N900. I also discovered an update to Witter and can honestly say that lack of a good Twitter app is no longer a concern for me on the N900.
I was getting some dependency errors and had to enter apt-get -f install to get things straightened out, but now all is good. TweeGo definitely has a slick look and feel to it, but still feels a bit early in development with some limits on Twitter functionality. You can view your Twitter stream, post status updates, and perform some functions after tapping on a Tweet (Retweet, reply, favorite, unfollow). I do not see any way to view mentions or direct messages, update your status with photos, or view conversations/threads. I was all ready to stop using my current application, Witter, and make the switch to TweeGo when I saw there was an update to Witter made today too.
The updated Witter version improves the UI, which is the area I wanted to see fixed up since it already had a ton of functionality built into it. As you can see in the screenshot, you can now view profile pics in your Twitter feed while also getting a cleaner default theme. The one final function I would like to see is the ability to view the conversation. Other than that, I have to say I am quite happy with Witter and am pleased with the way applications are rolling out on the N900.
I was expecting to get a chance to try out the Nokia Nuron from T-Mobile sometime before it’s release this week, but T-Mobile hasn’t been hooking me up with review units like they have in the past so we have to look elsewhere for reviews. Engadget posted their Nokia Nuron review and the bottom line is not very encouraging. The device will be available under contract for $70, which is a nice price for a device with free Ovi Maps, but sadly Engadget thinks that price isn’t even good enough to recommend it.
As I said back when the Nokia 5800 XM launched, it should have been launched on T-Mobile USA last year with WiFi, GPS, and T-Mobile 3G support. I agree that launching a smartphone without WiFi today is not a good choice and have no idea why we are seeing the Nuron rather than a 5800 XM. If they are targeting teens, then the device has to have a good messaging client and Nokia does not have that on S60 with no threaded SMS and a rather weak keyboard input method on 5th Edition devices without a keyboard.
I previously gave you a short tour of Barriosquare on the Nokia N900 and told you about the beta opportunity. We just received word that Barriosquare is now available in the Extras-devel section of the Maemo repository so it is much easier to get it loaded onto your device now. You no longer have to use terminal commands and be a member of the beta test group to install and use Barriosquare.
Just a few weeks ago I wrote about the beta version of JoikuSpot for the N900 and was able to use it for downloading data when connected to my computer. I spent the last couple of weeks bouncing around with a Sprint Overdrive and Palm Pre Plus with Mobile Hotspot, but tonight when I needed a connection I ended up putting my T-Mobile SIM back into my trusty Nokia N900 and firing up Joikuspot. I then discovered that the beta version had expired and JoikuSpot graduated to a full version, called Premium, for the N900. The great news for those who are reading this site and are probably one of the early adopters is that you can buy JoikuSpot Premium Linux (N900) Edition for just 7 EUR, which is less than half the regular price. This launch price is only available to the first 1,000 people who purchase the application. BTW, this works out to about USD$9.50.
I purchased the full version immediately and am actually posting this entry from my MacBook Pro connected to the N900 wirelessly. With the fast T-Mobile 3G data signal, this solution is awesome and will result in me not needing to turn on the Verizon HotSpot option on the Palm Pre Plus. If you have a Nokia N900 on T-Mobile I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you go buy this application right now.