Latest Internet Tablet
At the beginning of this week we saw a minor update to the Nokia N900 that we learned gave us access to the Ovi Store. It is a great week to be a Nokia N900 owner as we see official word that Maemo 5 PR 1.1 is rolling out now across the time zones, starting in Finland. Mine appeared early this morning and I am updating the 90MB update at this time.
If you want to know all about the changes in this update check out the changelog list. My update hasn’t arrived yet, but I understand there is a manual method available for US devices. Here are some of the new and updated features in PR 1.1:
- Support for MS Exchange 2003
- Performance improvements in the browser
- Fast SMS rejection of incoming call
- Silence ringing by flipping phone face down
- OVI Maps updated for route calculation and search performance
- Added voicemail shortcut support
- Lots of other improvements
We are not seeing MMS support, portrait mode for text messaging, or other improvements we have been hoping for. I’ll explore it a bit more when it shows up on my device too.
I just woke up this morning and saw an email from my buddy Phil from WMExperts that was a great way to start of 2010. Last night Firefox Mobile RC 1 was made available as a free download for Nokia N900 owners. I quickly went and downloaded it and am working on a video of it to share with you as I test it out a bit.
According to the Mozilla site, here are the features of Firefox Mobile:
- The Real Deal
Forget about the clunky, stripped-down mobile Web you’re used to. Firefox delivers the performance and security you expect, plus all the bells and whistles you know and love.
- Site for Sore Eyes
Tabs and browser controls are stowed away to the sides of the screen. Now you can see what’s been hiding all this time – the entire Web page. Enjoy the view.
- Touch of Genius
Bookmark your favorite sites with one touch. Swipe your finger across the screen to access tabs or install useful add-ons. Double tap to zoom. So smart it’s simple.
- Awesome Bar
Forget about typing long URLs, let the Awesome Bar do the searching and get you the sites you love in an instant.
- Get Personal
Add-ons have gone mobile. Personalize your browser and make it your own. Search and install add-ons on the go.
- Password Manager
Typing passwords on your phone is just plain hard. Why do it more than once? Choose to “remember” site passwords and forget ever having to endure long and difficult typing.
- Fab Tabs
Your tabs are close at hand. Just swipe your finger to the right to see thumbnails of all your open tabs to find what you want quickly.
- Be a Local… Wherever You Are
Looking for the city’s best live music joint? An alternative route to the highway? Get insider info and access maps with Location-Aware Browsing.
- Get Up and Go
Get Weave and surf the Web on your PC, get up and go, and have everything waiting for you on your phone: your history, open tabs, bookmarks, the Awesome Bar – just as you had left it.
I am particularly interested in Weave and syncing everything from my desktop to my N900. This can be very powerful and I sure hope this Release Candidate performs faster than the previous betas.
I am a pretty positive person and in the spirit of the new year I wanted to follow up on the 5 blunders of Nokia in 2009 with a post about the achievements I think Nokia made in 2009. I am sure Nokia has a huge list of their own for achievements they have made throughout the world, but this list is from my perspective as a Nokia user in the United States. Without further ado, here is my list of top 5 achievements from Nokia in 2009:
- Nokia N900
- Nokia N97 mini
Nokia’s Maemo-based Internet Tablets have been pretty niche products that were fun to use and tweak, but never appealed to the mass market. To kickoff their latest Maemo 5 platform and N900 device they gave out 300 N900 units to developers at the Maemo Summit and then passed a few more long term evaluation units (3 months rather than the typical 2 weeks to 30 days) out to press and bloggers. This strategy allowed them to receive a ton of feedback and then update the firmware to address some of the issues before the public availability of the device in late November. While the N900 is not yet a perfect product, it is WAY ahead of what the previous Internet Tablets provided and has the BEST web browser found on any smartphone today. I also find the VoIP and messaging integration to be awesome, which is pretty amazing on a device where the phone is really a secondary feature. I enjoyed my eval time with the N900 so much that I purchased my own device and created the Definitive N900 Guide that I will keep updating and addint to as I continue to use my N900. The fact that it supports the blazing speeds on T-Mobile HSPA+ network has me even happier with the device since I have been a T-Mobile customer for almost 9 years now.
I know many people hated the Nokia N97, but I actually found the device to be quite capable and decent. Granted, the 2.0 firmware is what should have shipped on the device and much of the initial bad press coverage was Nokia’s fault for releasing it with poor memory management. However, I personally find the N97 mini to be an excellent device that is now down to a single fault for power users. The RAM is still too low, but at least the memory management is much better so even when I have several apps running I rarely see a low memory warning. The hardware is much improved over the N97 with a solid feeling form factor, metal back cover and hard plastic edges, keyboard with more travel and more pronounced keys, and latest firmware that supports kinetic scrolling and better standby screen management. The N97 mini reminds me of an Eseries device with the build quality while giving me the flexibility of a touchscreen, beautiful display, and decent camera of a Nseries device. I would love to have seen this with T-Mobile USA support, but at least a North American 3G version was released at about the same time as the Euro version.
One of the applications I am looking for to make the N900 a more useful device for me personally is a Twitter application. I started out using the only one I could find, Mauku and it gives you some basic functionality. You can setup multiple accounts and view a limited number (not controllable) of Tweets. You can reply, reTweet, view your friends Tweets, and open hyperlinks. You cannot view mentions or DMs though and that is pretty vital for me.
I also experienced some corruption with my microfeed back end that houses the usernames and passwords and after a couple of N900 reflashes the issues were still there so I gave up on Mauku. I just found that the developer posted a very useful note on the Mauku site where you enter a command in X Terminal to wipe your backend database clean. I am not a Linux geek and know very little about using Terminal so I was a bit nervous, but the single line you enter was simply and worked like a charm to get me restarted with Mauku. As quoted from the Mauku site:
You can delete the backend database with X Terminal by entering the following command:
rm -R /home/user/.microfeed
In my quest to find a good Twitter application I came upon Ricky’s post regarding Witter on the N900 and have that loaded up. Witter gives you just about all the functionality you need with Twitter, but the UI is very basic and needs some work.
You can also use the web browser to access the full Twitter site (quite limited itself) or even better use the dabr.co.uk site.
I sincerely hope that Nokia is having the developer of Gravity create a Nokia N900/Maemo version of Gravity because this could be a killer application on that device.
What are you using for Twitter on your N900?
One of the reviewers whose opinion I trust and respect is my friend Lisa Gade. She just posted her Nokia N900 review and gives it 4 out of 5 stars with the cons being lack of portrait mode and rather short battery life. I have been using the eval unit more lately and can’t get over how well integrated communications is on the device (Skype, threaded SMS, IM status, etc.). I do agree though that battery life is a factor and I can’t go a full day with it running the things I want to run.
I have about a month left with the evaluation device and am leaning heavily towards purchasing one for myself in January. Lisa agrees with me that the N900 browser is the best on ANY smartphone and that is one major factor in pushing me to buy my own N900. While devices like the N97 frustrate me at times with low RAM, I have yet to find any hardware spec limiting me on the N900 and only have software frustrations. Software frustrations can be easily addressed with updates and new software.
As I have spent even more time now with the N900, these are the pieces of software I want to see:
- Gravity or other good Twitter app
- Google Maps or updated Ovi Maps client
- MMS support
- Office document creator
As you can see, I am not asking for much more to make this my primary device. An extended capacity battery would sure be nice too.
Listen here (MP3, 35 MB, 38:09 minutes)
I try to talk about Nokia during our mobile podcast when there is something going on and in MobileTechRoundup show #192 I was able to talk about Nokia’s 2010 plans and the recent Smartphone Round Robin event where I shared all about the N97 mini, N86 8MP, and N900. Kevin also has a Nokia N900 in hand and talked a bit about his experiences with the device.
Feel free to let me know if you have ideas to discuss on future MoTR podcasts and maybe we will start up a podcast here on Nokia Experts in 2010.
I’ve posted a couple of deal alerts for the Nokia N900 and we again have another deal that knocks $50 more off of the device so you can pre-order now on Amazon for $509.99, after $50 rebate. I canceled my preorders from Amazon and Newegg a couple of times as I wait until the device is actually closer to release and with the price drops we are seeing this may turn out to be the best strategy. Picking up the N900 for $510 is excellent, but I think I may continue to hold out since I have the evaluation device until January and may see it get down even further by then.
If you have already preordered this at Amazon, then it looks like the rebate will apply to your existing purchase since the rebate is valid until 31 December. Great news for prospective N900 owners. If you preordered with Newegg or another source, you may want to jump back over to Amazon now.
UPDATE: A reader stated this rebate is also available on Newegg so you may get this with a pre-order there too.
To answer some reader questions and get some visibility for the N900 in the enterprise world I just posted this article over on my ZDNet blog and think you will be pleased to see Google Docs and more Google services work just fine on the Nokia N900.
With the fast processor, large display, and internal 32GB flash memory I started thinking the N900 could serve as a great base station for a full computer experience. Could I connect my 37″ LCD TV and a Bluetooth keyboard to the N900 and use it as a mobile PC? I turned on the Bluetooth radio and selected to add a device. I then enabled searching on my Think Outside BT keyboard and voila the N900 found it and identified it properly and they were paired together. I also used the Nokia TV-out cable and plugged the yellow cord into my TV port for instant video appearing on the large display. It seemed to all work together out of the box with no additional utilities or tweaks.
I then went about seeing what I could do with the BT keyboard and found it does not work for navigation or controlling anything on the device, but works pretty well inside text entry fields. I was hoping that some of the application buttons on the keyboard would launch apps, but that support is not yet present. There is not yet any Office software so I went into the Notes program to test out the functionality.
You can use the keyboard for entering all letters of the alphabet, navigate within your note using the directional arrow keys, enter a comma and a period, and activate the shift, caps lock, backspace, tab, and enter buttons. There is no support for the number row, other punctuation or symbols, or any other keys that I could find. The predictive text capability of the N900 is supported and may be helpful for some, but I type quite fast and am a good speller so don’t really need it.
If you are planning to write a novel or other long email or article with the N900, then the BT keyboard solution works pretty well. It is quite helpful that the N900 has the kickstand for propping itself up too. I also used the TV out last week to show off the N900 with a projector and that works flawlessly, even showing off video. The display on the N900 looked better than my projector output, but the 37″ LCD looks quite nice.
The Nokia N900 has an excellent Mozilla-based browser loaded by default, but that doesn’t mean the Mozilla Mobile team has stopped working on their Fennec browser for the N810 and N900. I just received word that Firefox for Mobile Beta 5 is now available. I quickly pulled out my N810 and N900 and loaded up the new browser on both. You can see a shot of this site on both devices using this Firefox (previously known as Fennec) browser. I have only played with it for a few minutes, but it seems pretty slow and buggy to me still and cannot come close to the browser on the N900.
Here is a complete list of everything posted on the Mozilla site for this updated version:
* Enabled official branding, with Firefox name and logo
* Support for localizations, currently including Spanish, German, French, Italian, Dutch, and Russian
* Enabled plugins
* Viewport meta tag support
* Fixed a number of sites that resize their content after the page is loaded
* Added a form assistant to make filling forms easier
* Improved panning performance and behavior
* Zooming doesn’t jump around anymore
* Numerous other bugs and polish issues addressed
This builds upon the feature set of the previous releases:
Easy navigation to Web content:
* Smart URL bar (“awesome bar”)
* Integrated Web search – built into the URL bar
* Easy access to multiple search engines
* Touch-oriented UI
* Maximize content by auto-hiding controls and URL bar
* Zoom in and out
* Touch-enabled bookmarking, controls, tabs
* Tabbed browsing allows view of multiple thumbnails
* Ability to scroll iframes
* Instant Web site ID (“Larry”)
* Password manager
* Popup blocker
* Clear recent history
* Customized security settings
* Automated Update
* Add-ons, including ability to find and install add-ons directly to device
* Location-Aware browsing
* Install and manage search engines
* Offline browsing
* Download manager
* Preferences pane
* Spell checker
* Memory management
Devices services integration:
* Click on a phone number to initiate a call
Keep these tips and tricks in mind when navigating in the browser:
* swipe left to expose back/forward/bookmark and settings buttons; swipe right to dismiss them
* swipe right to expose tabs; swipe left to dismiss them
* stowed away URL bar full page viewing; URL bar reappears when you begin an action
* touch Settings button to adjust preferences; touch button again to go back