August 19, 2009

Nokia N900 first PREview

Eldar you lucky bastard! Always the first to get your hands on the kit that makes us drool. Looks like Eldar’s been able, once again, to get an exclusive hands-on with the still-unofficial Nokia N900 – the Internet Tablet that’s supposed to surface real soon, boasting the latest incarnation of the Maemo – a Linux-based Operating System in case you live under a rock.

It’s no secret anymore, Nokia’s secret weapon for 2009 (and the first 2 quarters of the year to follow) has been uncovered, and while they were able to conceal their 2008 secret weapon – the N97 – up till the day of the announcement, they haven’t been able to do that this year. Two weeks prior to Nokia World and the IFA – both taking place in Germany – this leak is big.

It seems that the new N900 will offer much more than what the previous two tablets had brought to the table (the N800 and N810). This time, the N900 resembles a more mature N97 – one which comes with a shiny new armor, the latest OS which Nokia plans to show off. Apple, Android, HTC (still going the extra mile to hide WinMo under a smooth layer of touch-sensitive UI they call TouchFlo), be afraid; be very afraid.

From what Eldar has said, you can actually presume that the touch-screen is much more sensitive, the graphics are stunning (hence my favorite picture at the beginning of this post), and the overall feel is awesome. The keyboard is still 3 rows, something I would have loved to see has changed with this device. Alas, the oh-so criticized right-hand side space key is still there; however, the arrows have now moved to the right and the symbol key, the shift and the function (FN) key are all piled up to the left. Thank the lord of mobile phones for that.

Sporting exactly the same amount of inbuilt memory as the N97 (32GB), the N900 runs a different OS (codename Fremantle) that’s meant to be the Maemo 5. It also has a smaller battery compared to the N97 (the latter has a 1500mAh vs. 1320mAh for N900), and a different processor. It will ship with the ARM Cortex-A8, and I’m quoting for explanation:

The ARM CortexTM-A8 processor is the first applications processor based on the ARMv7 architecture and is the highest performance, most power-efficient processor available from ARM. With the ability to scale in speed from 600MHz to greater than 1GHz, the Cortex-A8 processor can meet the requirements for power-optimized mobile devices needing operation in less than 300mW; and performance-optimized consumer applications requiring 2000 Dhrystone MIPS. The Cortex-A8 processor is ARM’s first superscalar processor featuring technology for enhanced code density and performance, NEON™ technology for multimedia and signal processing, and Jazelle® RCT (Runtime Compilation Target) technology for efficient support of ahead-of-time and just-in-time compilation of Java and other bytecode languages.”

Pretty geeky terms huh? Let me sum that up for you: F-A-S-T, fast.

The device will have to be too darn fast, and I’m assuming the Toshiba TG01 will be much compared with it since the latter sports a 1GHz processor and a whopping 4.1” touchscreen. Also, with Qualcomm’s Snapdraggon chip being shipped within the latest but still-unseen Smartbooks, this should get really interesting. Oh, and let’s not forget Nokia and Intel’s joint venture some while ago. Does anyone smell a new powerful breed of mobile phones/ultra-small netbooks/call-it-whatever-you-want surfacing soon? I’d like to believe so.

Jump to this link to read more about Eldar’s first impressions and bear in mind that with the addition of a SIM card to the Internet Tablets, we might as well see another name emerging this fall. Will Nokia remain faithful to Symbian or will Maemo be the next OS empowering the Finnish flagship devices? This’ll only keep getting better…

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