Nokia N900: Hot and not

Nokia's Maemo 5 smartphone borrows some tablet features; here are the highlights.

Nokia N900

Nokia N900

Nokia's N900, the next tablet/smartphone/whatever to bat against Apple's iPhone, ships today. It's a big occasion for Nokia, as the N900 is its most powerful smartphone yet, and the device's Maemo 5 open source operating system is a diversion from Symbian, which Nokia tends to support.

I've been intrigued by the N900 since Nokia announced it in August, but as I look over the features, I can also understand why it fell off the radar, plagued by delays and overshadowed lately by Motorola's Droid. Here's a look at what's promising and potentially disappointing with Nokia's N900:

Hot: Monster specs

Nokia likes to call the N900 a "mobile computer," and that's partly due to the device's hardware. There's a 600 MHz ARM Cortex A8 processor, 1 GB of application memory and a 3D graphics accelerator with OpenGL support. The 3.5-inch display has a resolution of 800 x 480, and there's a 5-megapixel camera with flash and autofocus for photos and video. Best of all, 32 GB of storage is on-board storage, expandable to 48 GB with a MicroSD card.

Not: Limited portrait mode

Most of the N900's functionality is confined to landscape mode, which is probably why the phone is occasionally referred to as a tablet. When you want to fire off a quick text message or look something up on the Web, needing two hands will become inconvenient in a hurry.

Hot: Maemo 5 operating system

This thing looks smooth as it swipes among four home screens for your contacts, favorite apps, bookmarks and communications. Yes, it can multitask, and a handy button lets you see which programs are currently running.

Not: No MMS

It's puzzling that such a multimedia-capable smartphone doesn't allow for MMS. All that high quality photo and video is somewhat wasted when you can't immediately blast it out to friends and family.

Hot: Firefox and Flash

Check out this video of the N900's Firefox-based Web browser in action, and try to curtail your drooling. When you can play a Flash version of Tower Defense through the Web, who needs to pay for an app? I'm tired of the drawn-out wait for Adobe to bring Flash to smartphones. The N900 brings the smartphone to Flash.

Not: Ovi Store

Nokia's Ovi Store for apps doesn't compare to the iPhone's App Store or the Android Market, and it likely never will unless the N900 catches fire and developers suddenly decide that Ovi is the place to be. The N900's powerful Web browser somewhat offsets the need for apps, but If I paid for a phone with OpenGL and multitasking, I'd certainly want to use those features.

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Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
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