Saturday, August 29, 2009

Exclusive Video Previews Of maemo 5 On Nokia N900

image As we get closer to Nokia World 2009 (1st September 09), there seems to be more leaks and previews of Nokia’s next big bad boy – the N900. Which leaves me wondering whether the event will still have such a kick with one of Nokia’s main announcements already flooding the internet! Perhaps Nokia has something else, even bigger up their sleeve?

The fact that Nokia has put in the effort to create an open source platform on it’s own is nothing short of amazing, some say it’s even bigger than any hardware release we’ve seen over the past years! With maemo 5 Nokia has sprung itself into the frontline of the competition alongside Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android-based devices, something Nokia has vowed to do in past interviews. Looking at these video previews it definitely looks very promising, the ability to multitask is luxurious, and users can even run several browsers simultaneously, just as you would on your desktop!

Speaking of desktops, maemo will have several desktops, which is fully customisable for users to throw in widgets, contacts, browser and podcast shortcuts and so much more. From the looks of it the possibilities and customisation are virtually endless, and users will be able to switch between desktops with just a flick of a finger, just like the N97. I’d like to note that maemo’s multiple desktops seems very similar to the one seen in Ubuntu, which is a Linux based platform as well.

To allow all this heavy multitasking, the N900 comes with some pretty impressive hardware.

3.5" touchscreen, 800x480 resolution. The screen shrinks from the N810's 4.13" but keeps the same resolution. Software won't take a big hit on this since the resolution is the same, but applications that rely on very precise touchscreen use may be more difficult.

TI OMAP 3430 ARM Cortex-A8 CPU at 600 MHz. This is a massive upgrade over the TI OMAP 2420 at 400 MHz. Faster faster!

Up to 1GB Application Memory. This is a plus but not as big as it looks. There's only 256 MB of "real" RAM and the rest is attributed to swap. Still - the RAM amount is doubled over the N810 and the usable swap is six times the size.

32 GB storage. Wow. That's massive. This puts the N900 squarely in the "multimedia computer" space and even has more storage than some SSD netbooks. The N810 had only 2GB internal. Both support MicroSD (through a MiniSD adapter on the N810)

Size: About 113 cubic centimeters and 181 grams. That's down from about 129 cubic centimeters and 228 grams. it will feel better in your hand as a phone.

3-row Keyboard. This part took the biggest hit. The large D-pad and four-row keyboard was replaced by a three row keyboard with a squashed spacebar and arrow keys that can't easily be used for gaming (not that the N810 ever did much of that.)

Wireless connectivity: This is the first Maemo tablet that is actually a PHONE. With that, we get 3.5G HSPA, GPRS, EDGE,WiFi, and Bluetooth 2.1. That's a major boost over the WiFi/Bluetooth that the N810 gave us.

Additional Communication: The N900 now includes TV out, an FM transmitter, a real A-GPS receiver (hopefully destroying the long lock times that the N810 suffered) and a micro-USB connector. The N810 had micro-USB and a GPS. The new features are fun toys, but won't be massive selling points.

CAMERA: The new camera features represent a massive shift from the previous generation tablets. The N800 had a cute pop-out rotating webcam that worked badly. The N810 had a front-facing webcam that worked badly. The N900 has a 5 megapixel Carl Zeiss camera with a digital zoom, dual-LED flash, macro mode, and MPEG4 recording up to 848x480 at up to 25FPS. The Maemo tablets are now on par with high-end Nokia Nseries devices and soundly beat the pants off iPhones and Blackberries.

The star feature of Maemo 5 will probably be the dashboard, allowing users to conveniently switch between tasks in a live thumbnail layout. Response seems speedy from the videos and it definitely adds to a mobile computer feel, which Nokia has been trying so hard to emphasise for the Nseries. Well, the videos will speak for themselves, indulge :D

For more info, tech specs and the original videos visit here!

EDIT: The N900 will probably retail for 500~600 euros, roughly RM2500+


Saturday, August 22, 2009

N900 – Redemption For Nokia’s Disappointing Line Of Releases Lately?


Let’s be honest, Nokia’s line of releases lately has been like my blog updates - a long shot from being impressive. Even the N97, Nokia’s new flagship which was mush hyped about last year turned out to be underpowered with a disappointing processor and insufficient RAM. Hardware wise the N97 even scratches it’s own lens – Come on! Any decent engineer would have tested something first before manufacturing thousands of units and shipping it worldwide right??!

Anyway, i didn’t write this article to give Nokia an ass-whooping (although they deserve one), I wanted to let you guys know about something big that Nokia’s cooking up, presumably to be announced an Nokia World 2009 this September! :D

My oldie N95-1 is a device i was, and still am proud to have because it was a milestone for Nokia, and pretty much redefined what do-it-all smartphones were capable of. I’ve been hunting for a replacement for the past year but nothing promising has surface. Fortunately, from what i understand, the N900 is going to be a game changer for Nokia, due to it’s drastically new OS. ..well, sorta.

For those of you who keep a close eye on Nokia’s releases you’ll already know that Maemo, a Linux based platform isn’t really new to Nokia. In fact Nokia has already released 3 internet tablets that run on this platform, the most recent being the N810i which supported WiMax. For most users however, “Symbian” and “S60” would sound more synonymous with Nokia, and this is where the N900 steps in.

Although sporting a similar form factor with the previous internet tablets, the N900 (codename RX-51) will in fact be a fully functional phone. Hence making it comparable to other multimedia phones from other manufacturers, and bringing it into the “do-it-all-phones” category if you will. Confirming the rumours that have been going round lately about Nokia ditching Symbian for Linux, the N900 will run on a variant of Nokia’s Maemo platform, called Fremantle (aka Marmo 5). I know this sounds totally alien to you, but if what Eldar from Mobile Review predicts is right, this is the OS-to-be for forthcoming high-end Nokia devices. As shocking as this sounds, one look at what Maemo brings and you won’t think twice about switching back to Symbian.

So, why the change after spending so much on Symbian? Well from what i understand Nokia realises that minor tweaks here and there to the Symbian platform just isn’t going to cut it to compare with the upcoming releases of fancy OS and smartphones from it’s competitors. Admittedly, though functional the S60 platform looks and feels dated when compared side by side to the likes of Android and the iPhone. Nokia’s solution: Build it’s own OS from the ground up (Maemo), while completely reconstructing Symbian as well (that’s where the new Symbian Foundation comes in). In short what this means is Nokia will probably be swtiching to Maemo for it’s high-end “multimedia computers” as they call it, while keeping Symbian for the mid-range and lower end devices.

With that out of the way, let’s have a quick look at the RX-51

  • Runs on Fremantle (variant of Linux-based Maemo)
  • Built on ARM Cortex-A8 CPU
  • Internal memory of 32GB (supports microSD of up to 32GB as well, that’s a total of 64 GB!)
  • Slide-out QWERTY keyboard
  • 800x480-pixel resistive touch screen (supposedly much more responsive than the N97’s)
  • Decent build quality comparable to the E75
  • 5 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics and lens cover
  • Kickstand for comfortable video playback
  • Powered by a BL-5J 1320mAh battery
  • GPS, WiFi, 3.5mm jack with TV-out etc. standard stuff


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General Interface

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Task manager



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Web browsing

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Maps & Navigation

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Date & Time management

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Mouth watering eye candy right!?!?! :D According to Eldar there’s plenty of cool transitions and visual effects, while maintaining a quick and responsive UI. I sure love the media player and task manager view, definitely looks more mature and computer-like compared to S60. While this looks like a promising competitor the the iPhone and Android, I sure hope Nokia won’t screw it up like the N97. They really need to make a memorable come back and right now, this seems like just the device to do it. Long live Nokia! :D

P.S. Watch this space for more updates on the upcoming device and announcements from Nokia in Nokia World 2009, it's just a few weeks a way!

For the original article as well as plenty more screenshots, visit Eldar’s site here!