So I thought to record my first 24 hours with the device, including impressions, configuration experience, usage tips, and whatever else emerged. This was written down in real time, and includes direct links to download/install a ton of 'first time' apps (so you might want to view this in your N900 if you've got one). Enjoy!
UNPACKING: December 2 11:00am
I collect the box from the lobby of the building, open it on the spot, and am impressed immediately with it's light weight and inky blackness. Back at my desk, I inventory the contents of the box: basic, utilitarian packaging, a variety of cables, and a manual. I attempt to open the N900's back-cover. There's no release button, and you have to dislodge the back-cover from the body with more force than I'm comfortable applying to a new (and very expensive) device. Once installed, I resist the temptation to dive in (work first!), and instead simply plug in the AC Adaptor and let the battery charge. The Indicator Light blinks yellow while charging.
FIRST BOOT: December 2 4:00pm
The Indicator Light turns solid green around the same time I finish work. I remove the T-Mobile SIM and MicroSD chips from my T-Mobile Dash, attempt again to open the back-cover (very tricky, but getting easier). Once open, it's a cinch to install the chips and close it back up again. I push the On/Off button and wait to be amazed. I sure was:
- The N900 boots to the familiar 'handholding' boot image, seems to detect and connect to the T-Mobile Network automatically, and even displays a '3G' indicator! No network configuration or setup required at all. Take that Windows Mobile 6.5 Connection Wizard.
- I activate the browser, pick Facebook from the pre-loaded bookmarks list, and attempt to enter my account credentials. It takes a few tries on the slide-out QWERTY. I've used hardware-QWERTY phones exclusively for years, and this one feels solid. But every device has a different set of tactile and user-experience characteristics to get used to. How much distance and distinction between buttons, how much up/down travel on each button, button placement, button function, and the pairing of alpha-numeric with special characters on each button, etc. I'm sure by the end of 24-hours, I'll have the hang of the N900's hardware keyboard. It feels good, matte, and responsive.
- Facebook itself, like Google Reader, and other web pages I loaded, were all quick and responsive. I'd never experienced T-Mobile's 3G before (the Dash is a 2.5G device), and the speed seems plenty fast.
- I open the media player which shows the albums, songs, pictures, and videos on my MicroSD chip immiediately. No lengthy "scanning library" delay experience like Windows Mobile. My content is simply there. I play a song, watch a video of my daughter, listen to a pre-loaded track from Nokia, and then flipp over to a German-language Internet Radio Station.
- I load Ovi Maps and determine my current location easily
- I open the Sharing app and configure my Flickr account easily
- I switch back to Google Reader while listening to the Internet Radio Station, then activate the Application Manager and begin installing apps. The device remains responsive and the streaming audio never skips during this short test.
INSTALLING APPS: December 2 5:30pm
You can download applications compatible with Maemo5 by pointing the device's browser to the talk.maemo.org site. You can also use the built-in Application Manager front-end, whic by default shows a short list of approved-by-Nokia apps from the default repositoriess. I installed the following (links will download .install files):
- AdBlockPlus - great for surfing on a 3.5 inch mobile device: removes ads!
- Amazon Widget - thought this would show me info specific to my account, but didn't. I'll likely un-install it as a result
- Conversations Inbox Widget
- DocumentsToGo Viewer Edition - untested by me
- eCoach - pocket fitness tracker w/ heart-rate monitor connetivity, not yet tested by me
- Evernote - multi-platform note-taking app; not yet tested by me
- FM Radio - tested, works but requires original headset shipped with device (i.e. usin my BOSE headsets wouldn't work)
- Friend Status IM Status Aggregator - works easily enough, but will be really useful once plug-ins for other IM protocols are installed (see "NEXT STEPS")
- gPodder Podcast Client
- Hermes - Pulls contact information from Twitter & Facebook into the PIM database, but requires that you already have people entered in it
- MaStory - WordPress Blogging Client ported/updated from Diablo; not yet tried
- Mauku - Twitter client which works ok, but could benefit from multi-account support
- MilkyWay Wallpaper
- Petrovich (file sharing app)
- Qik - mobile video streaming app which I've tested and seems to work reasonably well
TESTING MESSAGING: December 2 9:30pm
I then configured accounts for Sykpe, Hermes (using Twitter and Facebook credentials), Mauku, and Jabber. All worked well. The Phone even displayed my Skype contacts in the Contact list. For any contact I selected, the Phone app displayed a dialog box offering to call them via my mobile network or via Skype. I also configured 3 IMAP4 accounts and was able to download, read, and send email easily using the updated version of the Modest email client. When viewing the top-most screen in Modest, it would be nice if the app listed the number of unread/read emails in each account. Instead, you have to click into each account to see that information. There's also no multi-select (that I could find) to delete a range of emails at once. So I found myself click-and-holding messages one at a time in order to get the Delete menu option to appear.
The integrated IM/SMS application works very nicely. I receive updates from several Twitter users via SMS messaging, and those arrived with a quiet chime, a floating notification screen, and a blinking blue Indicator Light. Combining IM and SMS into the same app was a great idea.
TESTING PIM SYNCING: December 2 10:30pm
I explored the following two PIM-sync scenarios:
- Direct device-to-device syncing via Outlook and the Nokia PC Suite software: The software installed and ran just fine on my Lenovo T43p laptop running Windows7. Pairing the N900 with my laptop via Bluetooth took several tries, and required an updated driver from the Bluetooth component manufactureer. But once it was setup, I could sync Calendar, Contacts, and Notes between both devices using either the Nokia PC Suite software or Windows7's built in Sync feature. I was also able to sync via the N900's sync/charging USB cable. One detail I noticed however, is that when creating a new appointment in the N900's built-in calendar I couldn't find an option to invite others to it (a basic feature in Outlook/Exchange). I was able to sync 1200+ contacts to the device in about 15 minutes, and 200+ appointments in another 10 minutes.
- Over-The-Air syncing via Nuevasync to my Google Calendar/Contacts: As a long time Windows Mobile user without my own Exchange Server, I've relied steadily on Nuevasync, a free service that provides synchronizing of Calendar/Contacts info via Exchange ActiveSync to your Google account. I configured my N900 to NuevaSync's service but couldn't get it working past the initial connection stage before it threw an error. NuevaSync appears to be seeking testers with N900's in order to fix this. I've registered my interest in helping them out, and others might wish to do so in order to speed progress towards a workable solution. Also, I have to give a shout-out to OggSync's product, which is how I automate syncing of my Outlook data to Google in the first place.
REAL WORLD USAGE: December 3 7:00am to 1:00pm
Today started pretty busily. I had an early school-run, for which I relied on the fantastic OneBusAway service using the N900's text messaging to find out when my bus downtown would arrive. I was then on a 2-hour walking tour looking at office space, for which I used the N900 to take pictures and check email. The tagging/sharing features with the camera work wonderfully, and are a lot of fun. Also, I love that you only have to slide open the camera shutter to activate. There was also a 1-hour conference call in a noisy coffee shop, for which I used the wired headset while reviewing a PDF document on the phone. Call quality was very good, I could hear the other participants loud and clear, and found the wired microphone very sensitive (i.e. the coffee shop owner sitting nearby remarked that he never heard my voice over the din of other customers). I also discovered that you can set the phone orientation to portrait or landscape, and you turn on a setting so that the phone app activates simply by turning the device to the portait position.
On the bus back to my office, I Twittered a bit, read the news via the browser, and then turned off 3G to conserve battery power. By 1:00pm, the battery was down to 20% or so, and I plugged it in to re-charge. That's about 6 hours of steady usage without any Bluetooth, Wifi, or GPS. The screen brigthness is set to half-power and the screen-off timer is set to 1 minute. I imagine battery power might improve by (1) turning down screen brightness a tinch, and (2) awaiting the promised firmware update (fingers crossed).
NEXT STEPS: December 3 and beyond:
- Install RootSh for root access to the device (yeah, I got this far without it!)
- Enabling Extras Development library and see what other apps are ready to try out
- Enable the Extra Testing Repository - contains pre-release, not-fully-tested software. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK.
- Install Telepathy plug-ins for MSN, YAHOO!, and AIM IM protocols
- Replace PC Suite-based synchronisation with some Exchange 2007-based solution
- Try out Fring for multi-protocol IM, when it's available
That's it for now. If you've got one of these devices, or have questions, I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.
After 4 attempts at ordering over 3 months from Nokia, Amazon, and Dell, I finally managed to get an N900 delivered today.
It's been charging since lunch time, and now that my work day is almost done, I'm getting ready to turn it on and explore its Maemo5 goodness.
Yay! Turn up the music and open the windows, it's time to play!
The awesome Nokia N900 just hit the Nokia USA online store less than an hour ago. This 3G phone follow-up to the popular N770 and N810 Internet Tablets was scooped last month (by Engadget) passing FCC certification in the US with T-Mobile compatible 3G frequencies. Check the encyclopeidic PDAdb.net for specs, but in short: Same processor as the iPhone 3GS, 3.5mm headphone jack, 32Gigs of storage, but an open Maemo OS and lots more. Excitement in the Maemo community is palatable.
According the online-chat representative, I am the first in the US to buy it! Nokia threw in a Nokia BH-703 Bluetooth Headset and free 3-day shipping with the device. FTW: delivery by the end of September! I followed this up with a very honest, friendly chat with a TMobile Tier3 support rep who expressed interest in the phone himself, and offered to help test its connectivity to T-Mobile 3G network when it arrives. "We're here for you 24X7, so give us a call when you get the phone." Thanks, T-Mo!
- N900 Gets Wine, Windows Users are Awed!
Soon it may start raining Windows applications on the N900! Yeah, the dearth of good apps/games on the platform has convinced a certain Damion Yates to get the Wine running on his N900. Windows applications and Wine! What’s the connection? Well, for the uninitiated, Wine is a program which brings Windows libraries to Linux and is widely a part of many a Linux distros doing the rounds on the desktop platform. Coming the mobile platform, where our Maemo and N900 stretch their wings, unfortunately Wine is not compatible wit ARM processors, which is at the core of our N900 hardware. Thanks to Damion though, who figured out a way around this limitation by using QEMU emulator. The project is still in its stages of infacy and the full tutorial is not out yet. Till then, lust on this video showing Notepad running on Wine, via a stastically compiled ARM QEMU binary, which you can catch after the break.
As can be seen in the above videos, Damion has managed to get the physical keyboard as well as the mouse pointer working on this project. While we wish Damion to get the nitty-gritty of the project figured out, enterprising hackers can get their hands dirty and get their doubts clarified by Damion himself at this MaemoTalk discussion.
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- The seven reasons why you should buy Nokia's N900 « The Prodigal Guide
The N900 is the most powerful, most capable, mobile device on the market today. Full stop. Nothing comes close. It's a peerless internet browsing device that doesn't nanny you like the iPhone and offers you both the freedom to tinker ...
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