Gadgets

Nokia N900 announced at last.

Last year I wrote about my disturbing Nokia obsession. I had realised that I had become a Nokia fanboy, almost without noticing. I've always had Nokia phones, and they've always in my mind been better than the competition. A couple of years ago I found myself with a Nokia 770 internet tablet. Not because I had a great desire for one specifically. Simply that it was a cool looking piece of technology which by then was old enough that I picked one up for 75 pounds. I couldn't say no for that price.

(Image from wikipedia)

I found that I liked it a great deal, though it was slow and buggy, I had bought into the *idea* of an internet tablet, a mobile computer. And so a year on I bought my n810 which was the latest in their internet tablet line. Still being a high priced item at the time I bought mine second hand.

Mine is the one up there in the banner.

image from mobilelinuxinfo.com

It has been hands down the best device I've ever owned. I really do love it. Despite that it does have it's flaws. It's not as fast as I'd like, and it only connects over wifi, or phone tethering. So when I started to hear rumours of the next 'tablet' the N900 I was hopeful for a device that would just tidy up the downsides of the 810.

Of course since my 770, there has been a revolution in smart phones brought about by the iPhone. Half the people I know have one. They all seem to love it, but it's never quiet convinced me. Just too locked down, all sorts of little things you can't do. It's a fabulous device, it's perfect for mass market appeal clearly. But it is not for me, instead I have obsessively followed the progress of the next Nokia device.

I started following engadget and sitting on the internet tablet talk forums (since renamed talk.maemo.org) and listening out for news. I quickly discovered the code name for the next level of the Maemo operating system was fremantle. It already had a roadmap published for alpha thought to beta levels. And so we all knew that the next device would come sometime between July and the end of the year.

Much speculation occurred on the forum, wishlists were compiled. It became clear that there a lots of different use cases out there. Some were keen for smaller, others keen for bigger. Some who love their n800 who were never convinced the n810 was worth an upgrade were hoping for something without hardware keyboard. Others like myself would have been devastated at the perceived backwards step if that had been the case.

Some complain that it must fit easily in the pocket, sometimes I feel these people are looking for an accessory to an outfit rather than a tool. Personally I just wear combats with bigger pockets! The gadget dictates the clothes not the other way around.

Overall it really exposed what a tough job making the next 'must-have' gadget is, everyone wants something different. Not just different, but conflicting. There would simply be no viable way to please all the opinions, and that was just from the already bought in users. In my own line of work I frequently comment that whilst pleasing our customers is one thing, we also need to understand what those people who have yet to buy our stuff want. The potentially much larger audience who didn't think the last thing you did was good enough to warrant a purchase. So just pleasing those people who did is only half the picture.

Around mid-spring came the first 'leak' in the form of a set of specifications. Which included '3.5" screen' ...disaster! A smaller screen! That's not what I wanted to hear. I had said on the forums that I would be a sure and certain buying even if all they did was give me something that looked exactly the same as my n810 but with a faster processor and a 3g data connection.

The rumours were given confirmation from apparently reliable sources, and the speculation and debate could kick into a higher gear. The common message for those of us who thought the smaller screen was a terrible idea was 'wait until you see it, don't judge it too soon' People calculated stupid stuff like how much closer to your face you could hold it to perceive the same relative size. And pointed out it would not take much. I remained unconvinced.

Later on the next rumour, a leaked schematic showing a 3 row keyboard and no d-pad. If the screen size issue was contentious, it was nothing compared to the keyboard issue. Those die hard fans of the N800 have never forgiven the n810 for putting the d-pad on the keyboard rather than on the face. Just hiding it away in the sliding mechanism was considered bad. But none at all! What were Nokia thinking? Personally I could cope without the D-pad, but the smaller keyboard was cause for concern. And those who live with languages more complex than standard English pointed out that it's already hard enough to enter commonly used characters and symbols for them. Less keys would only compound the issue.

Again the message from those in the know. 'Don't judge it until you've tried it.'

As the weeks wore on, the impatient bemoaned Nokia not giving us more information, why keep silent. What harm in giving us some dates? What harm in putting our minds at ease, would there be multiple versions. We've heard rumours, spotted code names in source code that point to at least one other device. Would that be a 'proper' tablet? Of course everyones view of what a 'proper' tablet might be is different.

The last week Eldar Murtazin of mobile-review.com leaked the mother load of images. Pictures of the device from all angles, dozens of pictures of the OS. Though he held back, no video demo, just static images. But it included his impressions, and he was impressed. And importantly it confirmed that this wasn't just going to have a 3g data connection. It was to be a full on smart phone.

YES cried some, NO cried others. A phone means a phone contract, and a price hike. For those who really were not interested in a device to be a phone the thought of paying for this unwanted 'feature' is terrible. For others who dream of a convergence device, their wishlists were being fulfilled.

I found myself coming around. I'd been worrying that this would not be a suitable replacement for my beloved N810 internet tablet. But a replacement for my phone...that's a different story.

Then Yesterday Nokia finally made a formal launch at maemo.nokia.com

(Image from engadget)

Oh Boy! Suddenly after over a year of speculation and rumour hunting, there it was. In all it's PR glossy glory. The videos look great, the device looks great. And now I remember...I never set out to get an internet tablet. I just bought a cool piece of tech for a low price. And got sold on having computing power in my hand anywhere I am. So maybe I should just trust that Nokia know what they're doing. That a convergence device can meet all my needs. One thing is for sure, short of a devastating review telling me that it doesn't actually work, then I will be buying one the moment they're available.

Despite the fact that it will likely be a crazily expensive gadget. It has been announced at 500 euros less tax. So I'd guess around 550 quid.

How can I justify this high price for a tiny device? Well I don't have a laptop, I do all my home computing on my n810 and will transfer to the n900. Nokia are marketing this as a mobile computer. And I know already that I will use it as much of more than my 810, which is every day, a few hours a day. Having not paid full price for either my previous 2 devices. Nokia I feel has earned me being in the horribly over charged group of early adopters. Yes the price will drop if I'm just patient. But I've been patient long enough. Roll on October.

Nokia ....just tell me where to send my money.