The Nokia N900: room for improvement

This is a follow up to two posts I have published about my experiences with an N900 which you can find here:

I am accustomed to having installed apps on my N97 for a variety of services including Gravity for Twitter/ and the app ecosystem for the Maemo-based N900 is simply not as developed as Symbian devices. Well, there are a number of apps available for the N900 but there aren’t nearly as many consumer apps for the N900 as there are for Symbian smartphones. In fact, the Ovi Store isn’t available for the N900 yet and the apps you can download are accessible largely through the older Download application.

While some of the apps that ship with or are available on the device are pretty good, some of Nokia’s own apps are very disappointing. The Maps application seems like it is a generation or two behind the version available on the N97. It doesn’t allow you to synchronise with Ovi and it can be a little difficult to actually find a location (this is one area where Google Maps are far better – I just type in addresses as I know them and Google Maps finds the location or suggests close matches, Maps on the N900 just gives up). I also couldn’t figure out how to navigate to locations I was able to find short of getting a set of directions.

That said the Conversations app is proving to be a pretty versatile application indeed! Besides supporting and integrating a number of IM services almost seamlessly into the N900’s messaging system, you can add support for Twitter and presumably other similarly accessible services.

N900 Twitter integration

Although the keyboard takes some getting used to, it works pretty well. The one aspect that bugs me and really should be fixed is that long presses on keys which support additional characters don’t return the corresponding character. The N97 didn’t support this for a while, at least until the N97’s firmware was updated to version 2 recently.

I like that the N900 supports multiple calendars and while that will include sync’d calendars if you sync your calendars using something like Mail for Exchange, getting Mail for Exchange to work properly with Google services isn’t easy. I haven’t tried with other services but I found that the N900 just didn’t want to sync with my Google account so I only got 1 or 2 syncs with GCal and Google Contacts before the link pretty much stopped working.

This post was going to be a litany of the problems with the N900 but when I really think about those issues they are mostly software related and can be fixed. The device itself is a little bulky but that isn’t a big deal in real terms. Software can be upgraded and added (I think there may even be a Maemo version of Gravity in the works). The main thing is that the N900 has pretty powerful hardware and serves as a great tablet and phone alike.

What the N900 has done for me is emphasize the value of a Linux based operating system on a mobile device and good hardware to support it. I am rapidly losing interest in Symbian and barring something miraculous when new versions ship next year, I am heading in a decidedly Android direction. I’d be tempted to go for an N900 but it doesn’t handle my calendars and contacts very well and that is important to me.

On the other hand it could be a perfect device for you and you may have found a way to get all those cloud services nicely sync’d. I am going to miss the N900 and I am already getting a bit frustrated with what is a comparably slow and clunky N97 now that I have shifted back to it.



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