Wednesday, February 10, 2010

N900 : A fully fledge Linux phone for non geek

N900 review

While the N900 has been avalaible for several month, I would like to review it and share my first month findings.

First of all, I'm a geek and having a Linux phone has always been part of my vision for a clear sky future. Of course, as the CEO of a Linux company it makes a lot of sense. Convergence is not simply a network issue but a platform issue as well.

But I will not (at least in this blog entry) detail and share the geeky functions. You'll find numerous reviews about the N900 on the Web with all the gory details like speed, CPU, RAM, etc.

The point I want to make is that this is geeky piece of technology has been designed for non geeks ! I was expecting some instability, command line, reboot and some other flashing and hackish magic (disclaimer : I _had_ to flash my N900 but ... I did really bad things and have been warned several time by the system before ... I obtain root privileges and finally broke the N900). None of this is mandatory and the N900 is great as is.


My life has changed since the N900 because it integrates in a transparent/user friendly way all the communication tools I have to use on a daily basis on my computer at the professional and personal level. Now, my laptop is in my pocket: I can do everything with my N900 !

Convergence is, for me, a way to abstract the medium used to communicate to concentrate on the conversations and user interaction. Out of the box, the N900 support : gmail/google talk, Jabber, SIP (VoIP standard), skype, facebook, flickr. You can add some additional networks later on ;-)

An application called Hermes connect to all the social network/accounts you have configured and help you grab the information (birthdate, profile picture, etc.) and then you can very quickly merge all those separates identities into one of your existing (or not!) contacts (of course, as a cell phone, it manages as well SMS, landlines, cell phones, etc. ;-).

Engagement and discussion !

So now, whenever I have access to a Wifi network (yes, the N900 can use Wifi) or if I decide to contribute to the poor telco companies using 3G (the N900 is GSM compliant and can function on every? GSM network) I have access to a unified communication device.

All in all, I had more and more contact with people (in no particular order friends, prospect, customers, family, etc.) on very various timezones because I can carry with me the N900.

Who should buy it and who should not ?

Non geek

  • you are not a hardcore fan of a particular phone brand
  • you have the use of one or more of the social network I mentioned and want them to converge in an easy to use/integrated way
  • you need a communication device with a keyboard : the N900 keyboard is very usable and I have been using it to review Office documents, write numerous emails, tweets, SMS, etc.

 Even if this is not the subject of my post, some arguments nonetheless :
  • Maemo (Debian) inside : yes, you can have a terminal, become root and break everything, patch your kernel, mount samba shares
  • You can install a chroot of your favorite Linux flavor
  • 3D & multitasking
  • Development tools : you can create your own application. Lots of example to build on
  • Lot of cool open source applications (openVPN, asterisk, python, etc.)
  • Some people reported success with ... Android (can be a factor for some but I'm not ready to change anytime soon!)

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