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By Thomas McKinnon 1 February 2010

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It has been a while since Nokia served up a phone that truly blew us away; as far back as the N95 if we’re ­honest. The more recent N97 is good, but it isn’t wow, while the 5800 XpressMusic is really cool, but not ­revolutionary.

Now the Nokia N900 has the potential to break the mould. It’s ­daring and fresh but most importantly it runs on the Maemo open source platform that’s built for multi-tasking, browsing and touch – things Symbian S60 isn’t particularly suited to. 

Maemo

The fact that the N900 runs Maemo 5, an open source OS, is what makes it a noteworthy product.

Maemo 5 (read more about the platform) has been designed with a touch-screen UI in mind. So the menu structure is simple and shallow. It features a panoramic home-screen setup that is completely customisable. You can place widgets, shortcuts, contacts and bookmarks where ever you like on any of the four home-screens.

The most impressive bit about the UI is the dashboard. The dashboard sits between the home-screens and the menu, ­displaying all your active applications and allowing you to close or move between them. This functionality in concert with a ­decent processor makes the device a multi-tasking powerhouse.

Maemo makes use of a Mozilla built browser and is capable of playing embedded flash video. Need we say more? There are apps available for download, but the platform is a little thin on content at the moment.

Hardware

The first thing you notice about the N900, besides its large girth at more than 18 mm thick, is the fact that all apps are ­displayed in landscape mode. This works well on the 3.5" ­resistive touch-screen which lends itself to a touch UI. You also get a hardware QWERTY keyboard, but it’s a little cramped with the screen only sliding up ±2 cm. (Read full Tech Specs)

On the media side you’ll find a 5 megapixel camera, a 3.5 mm jack and dual speakers. There’s 32 GB of internal storage for all your files, which is expandable up to 48 GB.

The N900’s most notable hardware feature has to be its ARM Cortex-A8 600 MHz processor. While it’s no Snapdragon, it gives the device a fair bit of power. Wi-Fi and HSPA connectivity round off the hardware offering.

While all this is a rather impressive hardware offering, it must be said that the phone feels a little like it was pieced ­together rather than designed from the ground up.

Verdict

The N900 is impressive because it takes Nokia’s smartphones in a new direction. With sublime browsing capabilities and PC like multi-tasking experience thanks to Maemo, it’s on the ­leading edge. Now if Nokia can just refine the product a little, on the phone side of business in particular, then they’ll be onto ­something big.

The Nokia N900 is set for release in Q2 2010.

PROS
Multi-tasking and browsing are incredible on the N900.
CONS
It feels like a concept product- a little rough around the edges.
USER COMMENTS

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