Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Nokia N900 is not a cell phone!

I have been reading many reviews on the N900, comparing it to the iPhone, or Android based cell phones, and I am amazed that most of these reviewers just don't get it. The N900 IS NOT a cell phone in the traditional sense. Like I said in my last post, if you want to compare a Nokia product to an iPhone, then go get an N97. Want my honest opinion on a showdown between the N97 and the iPhone? OK, the iPhone wins. Just because the N900 is of similar size, and can access a cellular network does not make it a cell phone.

Now that we are finished with this cell phone comparison, lets look at what the N900 really is. The N900 is a "Window to the digital world".

Look at the picture above. See the little phone icon in the lower right corner? That is the shortcut to the phone app. It is no more or less important to the N900 experience than any of the other icons. When you open a contact, you get a REAL choice on how you want to communicate with them. And actually "choice" is what the N900 is really about. Choice is what differentiates the N900 from the iPhone or Android.

It may be easiest to describe the difference between Maemo, the iPhone, and Android this way. Lets start with the iPhone. Apple has complete control of the user experience. They want to make sure there are no surprises and want a total lock on how the look and feel of all applications will be. Lets say this is analogous to going to Disneyland. There is only one way in and out. You have to pay just for the privilege of paying again when you get in. Nothing is out of place. Every employee has a haircut, and there have been great pains taken to make sure that you only see, feel or taste what Disney wants you to. It is very safe, you wont be offended, and all you have to give up to get this is money and freedom of choice. After a few hours here, you will have "It's a small, small world" drilled into your mind, and even if you visit another amusement park, the song returns over and over.

Android is similar. But not quite as refined, and different handset makers can fool with it a little. Lets call Android Six Flags. Not the perfect Disneyland experience but they still have rides and concessions. It is however still a little rough around the edges. Fairly well controlled, but some one will still sneak up and try to sell you a gold chain, or some knock off perfume. The lady in front of you weighs 300 LBS, has on sweat pants, a thong sticking up, and 4 or 5 children of obviously different parentage. Still an amusement park, but not the perfect Disney controlled experience where nary a gum wrapper is to be found, and you only get to see and hear what Disney wants you to.

Now lets compare these to Maemo and the N900. Maemo isn't just an amusement park, not some where that everything has been decided for you. Lets call Maemo California. You get to see the awesome beauty of Yosemite. You can also cruise down South Figueroa past hookers and dope dealers, and even stop an be shot.

It is your "CHOICE". Choice always has danger. There are those that want everything decided for them, to be led like cattle as long as nothing bad happens to them (except that last walk up the ramp).

Some people want the freedom to make their own decisions on what they want to do, how they want something to work and are happy that Nokia and Maemo give them a wonderful framework to build their digital life in. The way they want, risks and all.

I still say the N900 will be a milestone in computer history along with the likes of the PDP-11, the Altair, and the SORD IS-11.

Do not be confused with comparisons to other "phones". It is Apples, and oranges.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Nokia N900, first impressions.

DHL delivered my N900 on Friday night at about 8:45PM. Needless to say, I was up with it most of the night. I have had many Nokia smartphones, all using Symbian, and I have also bought the N770, and N800 internet tablets that run early versions of Maemo Linux, like the N900.

WOW! What a difference. The previous internet tablets were geek linux, but Nokia really pulled out the stops in making the N900 "consumer ready".

Most people that buy the N900's will not even know or care what is under the hood, although is supercharged, injected, cammed, and rumbling with power. What they will see is an integrated theme of communication. The N900 is really a window to the digital world. Unlike the previous internet tablets, everything about the N900 is seamlessly woven together to bring many forms of interaction with the outside world together. You can make a call using the cell carrier, or with SIP (like Gizmo), or Skype, or Google Talk, and they all work the same. In "Conversations" your SMS, Google Talk, Jabber, MSN , Yahoo contacts are all aggregated into one seamless page.

The conglomeration theme continues with 4 desktops that let you arrange links and widgets to area's that suit your needs. The hardware is fast, and scrolling through the desktops has no hesitation whatsoever.

The whole "Window to the digital world" theme is so well integrated that the N900 is hard to describe as one thing. It's not a phone with computer functions. It's not a computer with phone functions. It is what the future of digital comunications will be.

I have been involved with the computer industry since the early 1980's when I worked for a small Japanese computer company called SORD Computer. SORD was years ahead of it's time, but was overshadowed by the big companies of the time. Nokia is a big company, and the N900 is a true milestone in digital comunication.

The N900 will end up in the history books with things like the DEC PDP-11, Morrow S-100's, Kaypro Portables. The N900 WILL change the direction of digital communications.

I am truly impressed.

For those that wonder if I actually have one, here is the DHL tracking:

Click to see!

Short video I took with the N900 outside the Chicago Nokia Store

Another thought. The iPhone crowd keep whining about capacitive touch screens. The resistive touch screen on the N900 is not only very responsive to the fingers, but it lets you use a stylus for exact work. Try drawing something on an iPhone, try writing kanji. The iPhone capacitive touch screen is great for smudging big buttons and things around with big fingers, but I am GLAD Nokia went with a high quality resistive screen on the N900. I think it is better!

One more thing. Do not compare an N900 to an iPhone. If you want a comparable Nokia product, that would be the N97.

The N900, as I said before is a totally new concept in digital communication. It is not strictly a phone.

I changed the picture. I installed an app called "x11vnc" on the N900, and then with a VNC client on my Mac, I can have control of the N900 through my laptop. Answer calls, change settings. How kewl is this!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

JLUG ( Joliet Linux Users Group ) Lives!

Courtney on Facebook, just re-started the Joliet Linux Users Group as a FaceBook group.

Link to JLUG

In the past, we had an active membership, meetings once per month, we learned a lot and had fun.

I hope to see this again.