Python on the Nokia N900

One of the really attractive things about the N900 is the possibility of customising it. You see, I’m a bit of a geek at times. A nerd, if you will. And the idea of being able to tweak the way my phone works appeals to me, whether it be in fixing a bug I find in an app or out-and-out writing a new one for something the manufacturer hadn’t though of (and I think a lot of the iPhone’s appeal to geeks is represented by that too, app store policy issues aside). But that’s not an option on symbian. First off, well, programming for symbian is fairly horrible; and secondly, you’d need the source code to the app which most companies aren’t going to provide without a rather large chunk of change.

But the N900 runs linux and therefore it should be really easy to code for (if you’ve written code on linux before). And since Python is one of the easier ways to write an application, I wondered how long it would take me to get up and running with Python on the N900, from nothing installed through to getting “Hello, World” running. So here’s how it went. Read more

Nokia N900 vs Nokia E71

As I mentioned before, I wanted to compare the N900 I’m testing to the E71 I’m currently using as my main phone. While the Nokia N900 blog has already done a comparison of the technical specs of the N900 with the E72 and so has Blog Giraffe; and while for the most part, the comparison holds true for the E71;  there are some differences, particularly with the camera, and neither went into too much qualitative detail of how the comparison holds up in day-to-day usage, and as we all know, winning in tech specs on paper doesn’t always translate to being a better device in real life.

For example, bootup speed. The tech specs say the E71 should take longer to get from cold to ready with it’s ARM11 processor clocking in at 369MHz to the N900’s 600MHz. In practice, however, the N900 from turn-on to entering the PIN takes 23 seconds versus 25 for the E71; but from turn-on to ready to being ready to make/receive a call, both phones take an almost identical time of 50 seconds (to within a second).  So let’s look at the devices in real life usage.

The quality of the screen is far lower on the E71. For icons and the like, it’s not something you’d notice, but for any kind of complex graphic (like an image), and especially when looking at both screens side-by-side, it’s very obvious that the N900 is far superior to the E71 here.

In terms of ease of use… well, I’m not yet quite ready to call that one. The N900 feels more awkward for tasks common to both phones like making phone calls, or twittering; but I’m not fully used to the N900 yet, it’s hampered by the problem I’m having with it with bug 6063 (more on that later) and it uses different twitter clients (Gravity on the E71 is far more polished than Witter on the N900 at the moment; however that probably will change with more development time). Overall, it feels more like the E71 is more autonomous as a device, while the N900 is more reactive; but I want a few more days to get used to the N900 to be sure it’s the device and not the user.

Let’s take a look at both devices side-by-side.

N900 vs E71 - Top view

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N900 Unboxing

Nokia N900The by-now-traditional thing to do when you get a relatively new piece of kit like the N900 is to do an unboxing post. Granted, Engadget have done the ultimate N900 unboxing and since this wasn’t a special developer edition I can’t even get close, but that’s no excuse not to do an unboxing post anyways!

First off, kudos again to DHL for having the common sense to chuck the parcel on the ferry rather than sit back and let stuff pile up while they wait for Iceland to stop erupting:

N900 Unboxing 1
N900 Unboxing 1 - The DHL packet arrives, Icelandic volcanoes be damned!

A bit of ripping and tearing later (well, it had sat on my office desk taunting me all day long)…

N900 Unboxing 2
N900 Unboxing 2 - The Box!

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N900 trial

Nokia N900

About a week ago, I was on the luas on the way into the lab and saw someone using a Nokia N900. I’ve been humming and hawing about getting one for a while now (and I recently tried to buy one from eBay only to have the deal fall through) and so I mentioned it (ironically using my e71) on twitter:

Just saw the n900 in the wild. So want one. Lovely looking thing.
Got into a brief twitter chat with @abetson about it, and thought that was the end of it. But later that day, I got a facebook message from Paul at WOM World Nokia:
I noticed your tweet this morning and to put it simply would love to offer you a two week trial of the N900. Reading through your blog it seems you are the perfect man to put this device through it’s paces. It’d be great for us to share your honest feedback (good and bad) and experiences with our network via WOMWorld Nokia.

If you’re interested you can email me back at <snip!> so I can answer any questions you have and give you more details.

(for the record we pay all postage costs)

Looking forward to hearing from you

My first thought was it had to be a scam, but it turned out to be on the level, and we talked about what was expected, which turns out to be very little, they really do seem to be doing this right. You agree to trial the phone, and hand it back in a fortnight, they pay all the shipping costs, and they basicly just hope you write about the phone. There’s no contractual obligations (bar taking reasonable care of the phone and handing it back at the end of the trial). You’re not censored, there’s no requirement even to mention you’re doing it (though they hope you will). They even have a google maps mashup showing who’s done trials with the phone in your area:
Experience Map
And hey, noone’s done this in Ireland yet and who can refuse to be the first? 🙂 So I agreed to do the trial, Paul dropped the phone in the post the next morning and DHL took it from there. So get ready for a few posts on the new N900 over the next few days, starting with the traditional unboxing post.
N900 Unboxing 1
Kudos to DHL by the way – Icelandic volcano? What Icelandic volcano? 😀

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