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8/27/2009
10:26 AM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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Nokia Officially Bows Maemo 5 And N900 Tablet

Nokia confirmed speculation today that a new Internet Tablet is in the works. The new N900 carries forward the basic concept of the N800 and N810, but takes it a huge step forward by adding cellular radios (making it a phone) and giving it the powers of Maemo 5, the newest verison of Nokia's mobile Linux platform.

Nokia confirmed speculation today that a new Internet Tablet is in the works. The new N900 carries forward the basic concept of the N800 and N810, but takes it a huge step forward by adding cellular radios (making it a phone) and giving it the powers of Maemo 5, the newest verison of Nokia's mobile Linux platform.Make no mistake, this device is way more important for Nokia than the N97 smartphone. The N900 -- and specifically Maemo 5 -- is the leap that Nokia needs to re-join the new leaders in the mobile space.

Let's take a look at the hardware first. The N900 seemingly has it all. It has a 3.5-inch WVGA (800 x 480 pixels) touch display and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. It comes with quad-band GSM/EDGE and 900/1700/2100MHz WCDMA/HSPA 3G cellular support, as well as Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth and FM transmitter. That's a lot of radios. It has a 5 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics, dual-LED flash, video capture (800 x 480 pixels at 26 frames per second!) and video light. The N900 has built-in storage of 32GB, and it can expand up to 48GB with a microSD card. That's plenty of storage for mobile media, such as music and movies. With this spec list, it sounds a lot like Nokia's N Series smartphones.

Here's the killer part: It has 1GB of system memory for applications. There's 256MB of full memory available, and an additional 744MB of virtual memory, and OpenGL ES 2.0 graphics acceleration. That means multi-tasking and running multiple applications is a snap for the N900.

Maemo 5 is what makes multi-tasking possible. Maemo 5 is the latest verison of Nokia's mobile Linux platform. Nokia has worked with open source partners to make Maemo 5 a possibility. It comes with a Mozilla-made browser, with full support for Adobe Flash 9.4. That means Web browsing should be pretty darned spectacular, and embedded video should play with no problems.

Other interesting aspects of the N900 are that it will come endowed with Nokia's Message services (a must), with support for up to 10 different email addresses, as well as SMS and IM clients to round-out the messaging features.

The one big question remaining is: What about apps? Every other mobile platform has access to an apps store of sorts. Competitors Apple, Google, Microsoft, Palm, and Research In Motion all have app stores already operating or in the works. Will there be an apps store for the N900? Will Nokia's Ovi Store start offering Maemo 5 apps? This has yet to be answered. And what of the future of Maemo 5? Nokia says that the N900 will be able to update its system software directly over the Internet. But how soon will other devices hit the market running Maemo 5? Hopefully more information will become available at Nokia's confab, to be held in Germany September 2 and 3.

For now, I like what I see. The $700+ price tag is a bit painful, but that is inline with the unsubsidized price of a lot of smartphones these days. The N900 goes on sale in October in select markets.

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