Bandla recommends! The November smartphone list



December list is here

This month has seen huge change in the smartphone market. As usual, The list first:

  • LG Optimus Pro
  • Blackberry Curve 8520
  • Nokia E5
  • LG Optimus One

  • HTC Explorer
  • HTC Chacha
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini
  • Blackberry Curve 9300
  • Motorola Defy
  • Samsung Wave II

  • Nokia E6
  • Nokia 701
  • LG Optimus Black
  • SE Xperia Neo V
  • Blackberry 9360
  • Continue reading
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Skype your N900 (India Only)


n900_skype

n900_3

One of N900’s strong areas is the deep integration of skype. Due to Indian government regulations on VoIP, Nokia had to remove Skype from N900 for India region. And there was no way to put skype back in as skype doesn’t provide standalone app for N900. The easiest way (maybe only way) is to install global firmware on N900. The procedure is pretty easy. This method provides flashing the firmware using Ubuntu Linux x86 and windows  32-bit. A bit of luck is required for 64-bit and it’s better not to take chances till 64-bit supported flasher tool comes out. If you don’t have a 32-bit OS, you can use Ubuntu Live CD. Lets dig in now.

Requirements:

      • N900 (with battery having atleast 50% battery juice)
      • PC with Ovi Suite installed (for backup/restore)
      • Global firmware
      • USB data cable

Safety First:

Since installing new firmware erases everything from the phone, it is necessary to take complete backup of the phone. Connect the phone to PC and use Nokia Ovi Suite to backup everything on the phone. There is no need to backup content in 32Gb space as it will not be wiped by firmware install.

Downloads:

The flasher tool is necessary to load firmware on the phone. If you have never used this tool till now, please download from here. Ubuntu users can download deb file from here.

Next you will need the latest firmware file for Global region. Keep your phone’s IMEI number as it is required to enter the firmware list. You can obtain IMEI number by dialing *#06# (no need to press dial) from dial pad. You can download the firmware from here.

Installing Flasher:

You can either use the installer to install flasher and run from start –> Programs or use the tar/gzip to download, uncompress and run flasher from same location. In windows, copy the uncompressed flasher executable to C: (as it is easy to run from command line). On Linux, use the command “sudo dpkg <flasher file name>” to install flasher on a 32-bit ubuntu or “sudo dpkg -i –force-architecture <flasher file name>” on 64-bit Ubuntu.

Skyping the phone (windows):

  • Open command prompt, cd to the flasher’s location. If you have installed Flasher using installer, run flasher from start –> programs. This doesn’t run the flasher tool but cds to the location where flasher tool is installed to.
  • Switch off N900 and connect the phone to PC using data cable while holding ‘u’ key on qwerty. Keep holding the ‘u’ key till Windows installs the driver and recognizes the device.
  • Once your phone is recornized, release u key and run the following command (make sure that firmware file is in same directory where flasher-3.5.exe exists:

flasher-3.5.exe –F <firmware file name> –f –R

eg: flasher-3.5.exe –F  RX-51_2009SE_2.2009.51-1_PR_COMBINED_MR0_ARM.bin –f –R

  • The flashing procedure takes few minutes and N900 boots to display ‘Welcome Screen’ once the flashing process is successful.

Skyping the phone (Ubuntu):

  • if you have downloaded tar and uncompressed it to a location, cd to the location and run “sudo ./flasher-3.5 -F <firmware> -f –R”. If you have installed the debian package, run “sudo flasher-3.5 -F <firmware> -f –R”
  • Connect your switched off N900 (while holding u key) to USB when flasher tool gives warning “Suitable USB device not found, waiting”. You can release ‘u’ key once the flashing process starts.
  • Once the phone reboots and once the flasher exits, remove the data cable and in few minutes/seconds, the phone will show ‘Welcome Screen’.

Once the global firmware is installed, you need to restore your data using Nokia Ovi Suite and start configuring Skype.

You can refer to this manual for more information on how to flash on Mac OS X, flashing eMMC etc : https://wiki.maemo.org/Updating_the_tablet_firmware

Note: Flashing process can sometimes brick the device. Ensure that the phone has enough battery life and that the OS is fully compatible with flasher and the device drivers are stable.

Warning: Flashing should be done at your own risk. Nokia may not provide warranty if the device is bricked while flashing.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Load offline maps on N900


If you are using N900, you should be knowing that unlike Ovi Maps on Symbian devices, the maps application on N900 won’t work when you are not connected to internet. The reason is that instead of using offline maps that are stored locally, N900 loads maps from the server (like google maps). There is a quick remedy for this issue but it’s not a complete remedy as you have to connect to internet if you want to find route to a point or to search for location. With this method, you will be able to see where you are atleast and use the maps to find directions on your own.

  1. Download India maps from here to your PC. This is a zip file that contains maps data from Nokia’s server.
  2. Once downloaded, unzip the content of the zip. There are total of 16 folders under the root folder. Some of these folders will be empty while some will have .cdt files that contain map data).
  3. Connect your N900 to PC and copy the content inside the folder (say 11415).
  4. Look for folder named ‘diskcache` under ‘cities’ in N900’s main storage. If the folder is not visible, disconnect the phone and open the Ovi Maps application and close the application once it is loaded.
  5. Copy the 16 folders named 0-9 and a-f to diskcache folder. Disconnect the phone from PC and now you will be able to use offline maps.

 

You can go here to get more info on offline maps, loads maps for other countries, to learn how to add voice navigation to Ovi Maps and more.

Note: You sometimes may get irritating popup asking you to connect to internet when you are using offline maps. Just close the popup.

HTC Legend: Guide to rooting and installing Froyo ROM


Disclaimer: Please note that rooting should be done at your own risk and that I will not be responsible for any issues that come up due to rooting, though I can surely help to fix the issues Smile

What is rooting:

Rooting is a method to gain super user access (root) in your phone. tasks like modding the firmware, installing a different ROM etc. can be accomplished after gaining super user access. Some might ask why we need to take risk and load custom ROM? Android was supposed to be open platform, giving users some freedom but thanks to the madness among manufacturers to customize the UI (senseUI, touchwiz, motoblur), the end users suffer huge delays in getting OS updates. best example would be SE Xperia phones. X10 is still stuck on 1.6 and users are desperate to get newer version which is lot more faster and they are at the mercy of SE. Same is the case with other manufacturers. While Froyo was release couple of months ago, there is no sign of updates for most of the current gen phones. Thanks to the rooting methods, we will be able to load and use ROMs that are having all the latest-and-greatest updates (cooked by independent developers). Sometimes, these custom ROMs run faster than factory UI and are lighter too.

State of the Legend:

HTC Legend currently runs Android 2.1 (Éclair). While HTC said that it will push Froyo updates for legend, nobody knows when that will be done. I personally felt that, though SenseUI is awesome and makes lot of tasks easier, it eats lot of resources and sometimes gets in the way. The custom ROM that I am going to use (Cyanogen 6, Azure) is lighter, faster and without SenseUI. This ROM also allows you to move the apps to SD card which is a huge plus, given the number of apps available for download and the limited internal memory size. Here is a list of great features that are available in Azure ROM:

    1. Based on Froyo, which means its faster and lighter on resources.
    2. no Sense UI, takes less space and better battery life.
    3. rooted, super-user access and terminal emulator available.
    4. Google Voice.
    5. Live Wallpapers
    6. options to install custom boot loader
    7. allows installation of hundreds of apps that can be run only on rooted phones.

The latest ROM (2.05 or 2.1) does not allow rooting and the only way to root the phone is to downgrade the firmware to 1.3x and then root the phone. The process to follow is:

    1. Create a goldcard
    2. downgrade legend to 1.31
    3. root the firmware
    4. install ROM Manager
    5. install Froyo ROM with Google apps.

 

Required:

  1. A formatted micro SD card
  2. Fully charged phone
  3. Linux PC if possible else a windows PC (better stick to 32-bit OS for now)
  4. Android SDK
  5. Backup tools to backup existing data on your Android phone.

 

Things to do before rooting:

Before you do the rooting and Froyo install process, Please use the backup tools to backup all your data (sms, contacts, application list, bookmarks and other data). Installing new ROM removes erases user data.

 

Create GoldCard:

The first step in this process is to create a goldcard. A goldcard turns your device into a generic device, thereby allowing modifications like installing another firmware possible. There are different methods to create a gold and the following, I felt, is the easiest of all. Please use a secondary or unused SD card for this purpose.

  1. A formatted SD card is necessary for this. A gold card is nothing but a formatted SD card with modified CID. Insert the SD card in the phone and format the card (Settings -> SD Card & Phone Storage -> Unmount SD Card -> Format SD Card).
  2. Download   klutsch’s goldcard creation tool from here. Run this tool as administrator. (this tool is windows only)
  3. Enable USB Debugging mode in your phone (Settings -> Applications -> Development -> USB Debugging) and connect the phone to your windows PC.
  4. Click on “Get CID” Tab and copy the cid that is generated. In case you get any error, select MMC0.
  5. Open the link “http://psas.revskills.de/?q=goldcard“, enter your email id and the CID. You will then get the goldcard image to the mentioned email id.
  6. Download the goldcard image to PC, from the goldcard creation tool, click on ‘load GoldCard.img’, select the image that you just downloaded and click on “Patch MMC”.
  7. Voila, you now have your goldcard. Please do not use this card for any other purpose till the rooting process is over and it’s time to downgrade the OS.

Remove the goldcard and use the primary card till the goldcard is needed

 

Downgrade the OS:

Download the following packages before starting this process:

Connect your phone to Linux host now in ‘charge only’ mode. copy the contents of hack4legendv5.zip to androidSDK/tools directory and then run the script ‘crackin.sh’. Run crackin.bat if you do not have a Linux box and are using windows pc. The phone will reboot couple of times and there will be lot of errors shown in the terminal. In the end look for the line showing permissions for the file /dev/mtd/mtd0. It should look like this:

crwxrwxrwx    1 1001     2002      90,   0 Jul 19 16:19 /dev/mtd/mtd0

This means that your phone is ready for OS downgrade. For the next step, you do need a winodws host.

now, connect your phone to windows phone in ‘charge-only’ mode and execute the file RUU_Legend_HTC_WWE_1.31.405.5_R_Radio_47.26.35.04_ 7.05.35.26L_release_126592_signed.exe and just follow the instructions and the phone will reboot to 1.31 version of firmware. And it’s time for Legend to get rooted.

 

Root the Legend:

Time to use the goldcard. insert the goldcard and connect the phone to pc in ‘charge only’ mode.

Download the file r4-legend-root.zip from here. Unzip the file to a directory and cd to the directory.

Switch off your Legend, switch it back on in ‘fast boot’ mode (keep the back button pressed while switching the phone ON). When you see that the phone has booted into fast boot screen.

connect the phone to Linux or windows pc (preferably Linux) and run ‘./step1-linux.sh’ (linux) or step1-windows.sh (windows).

You can now remove or format the goldcard. I would keep the goldcard for now as if there is any issue the above step need to be run again with goldcard.

Now Select RECOVERY option. Fastboot screen –> Boot loader -> recovery. You need to use phone’s volume rocker to move up/down the menu and power button to select the option. The phone screen should now show a phone with red caution sign.

From the terminal window, run ‘./step2-linux.sh’ (linux) or step2-windows.sh (windows). Once this step is completed, the phone will be back in recovery mode. From the options, select ‘wipe data’ and then select the option to update the ROM, select the file ‘rootedupdate.zip’ from SD card. The rooting process will now start and after few minutes, the phone will boot with rooted firmware.

Now, the easy way to install custom ROM is by using ROM Manager. You can backup/restore existing ROM.

Install Azure ROM with Google apps:

Download the files Azure ROM (http://derhofbauer.at/android/downloads/roms/azure-1.0.1) and Google Apps (http://derhofbauer.at/android/downloads/addons/gapps-az-20100816-1.0) from your PC and copy them to the SD Card. Start ROM Manager and first use ‘Backup Current ROM’ to backup existing ROM. Once the backup is completed, select “Install ROM from SD Card” and select Azure first, followed by Google Apps patch. You will see option to clear used data. select the option and start Azure install. Few minutes later, the phone will boot into CyanogenMod 6 Froyo ROM and you are done.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Maemo 5 Review Part 1 (home screen, contacts, texting, calling)


This is in continuation to the N900 review that I posted earlier (https://bandla.wordpress.com/2010/03/02/nokia-n900-first-impressions/). The history of Maemo 5 and N900 was explained in short in the earlier review. I will be diving straight into the review of Maemo 5 this time.

Home Screen and customization:

This is how the Maemo home screen looks like. Similar to Linux desktop, Maemo 5 has 4 home screens which are totally customizable. After some customization, here is how my Maemo home screens look like:

You can move around by swiping across the display (horizontally). These home screens are tied in panoramic view which means swiping right from Screen 1 takes you to Screen 4 and swiping left from Screen 4 takes you to Screen 1. And the action is very slick and fluid without any lag while swiping. Even when there are handful apps were running, there seems to be no lag here.Unlike Symbian home screen, there is no limit to what you can put on  Maemo Home screen.

On the top left corner, there is an icon that takes you to Symbian styled menus. At the centre of top bar, there is digital clock, Signal, battery level, online status indicator and Network provider name.

So, how to customize the home screen? A tap on the screen (anywhere) shows a gear style icon at the top

A tap on this icon opens up customization mode and top menu gives couple of customizations options.

home screen customization

Shown below is the snapshot of Home screen’s Top Menu.

These are the operations that you can do from Desktop Menu:

  1. Remove existing icons of apps from Home Screens. Each icon has “x” on top right corner clicking on which removes the icon from home screen.

    home screen customization

  2. Move icons around the four Home Screens. Holding an icon and dragging it horizontally across moves it to adjacent home screen. This is one action that is not as fluid as seen in iphone OS. Sometimes to move the icon across two screen, I had to drop the icon in adjacent home screen and move again.
  3. Add shortcuts for installed apps. As shown below, clicking on ‘add shortcut’ gives a list of all the apps that are not yet added to home screen. This means that once the app is added to home screen, it is removed from the ‘add shortcut’ menu.

    homescreen add shortcut

  4. Add contacts. Contact home screen icons can be used to call or text.
  5. Add bookmarks.
  6. Add Widgets. Not many widgets are available right now for Maemo 5. Weather and pedometer widgets are my favourites though and they work very well and show real time data very well. Do remember that having widgets that connect to data networks for real time info (RSS feed, weather apps etc) can reduce battery life.

    homescreen add widget

  7. Change Background and Themes
  8. Manage views. This options lets you select how many home screens you can have. Do remember that once you uncheck a home screen, the icons on that home screen will be cleaned up too. To be precise, those icons will not be moved to adjacent home screens. You need to add those icons again to any of the remaining home screens and enabling the home screen will not bring back the configuration done before deactivating the home screen. Instead, it gives you a clean home screen. So, in this mode, do be careful in what you are doing as a wrong touch can make you pull your hair out. The following snapshot shows the views setup window. A tap on tick mark disables the respective home screen on desktop.

One problem that I have noticed here is that while in customization mode, it is not possible to move across screens, which I would consider as a simple design flaw that can be fixed. To move to next home screen, I have come close customization mode and move to home screen and go to customization mode again. Now that the number of apps are minimal, this is not much of a pain but when I have a huge list of apps added to home screens, it can be a pain to do the reorganizing of apps. Also, a pop up asking whether to remove the icon from home screen when ‘x’ is clicked would have been a nice option to have. Reason is that sometimes, I used to click on ‘close app’ accidentally while selecting the icon to move.

While in Home screen, the top menu doesn’t show any drop down menu but instead shows a cluster of tiny icons, clicking on which you will get the options to change settings like Profile, Availability, Internet connection, Alarms etc and the following snapshot is self explanatory.

Clocks & Alarms: selecting this options shows the following menu from where you can add/edit alarms, set world clocks and change time/date and timezone. From this menu, you can add or remove alarms, set world clocks and change date/time for the phone. Extremely easy to use inteface which is catchy too.

Profile: Not much options here. All you can do is on/off vibrate, change profile to General or Silent.

Internet Connection: Swap between wifi networks and 3G/GSM networks

Availability: changing this will change your status in networks like Gtalk and skype. Also, you can enable GPS here to allow others to know where you are all the time as long as the option is enabled. But this can drain the battery real fast.

Conversations/Messaging:

This is one area where N900 really excels. Accounts from Ovi, Skype, Gtalk, Jabber and SIP can be integrated into messaging section.

Conversations are sorted based on names instead of timeline. This makes it easier to continue texting with buddies or to search for old texts. As you can see from above snapshot, in converstations mainpage, youc an see the threads going on and also tabs to send new SMS or new Instant Message (IM). The left column helps you identify whether the conversation is IM or SMS conversation. Yellow (letter style) icon denotes SMS based conversation and white color icon denotes IM based conversation. For IM conversations, right column shows the current status of your buddy (offline, online, idle), account type (gtalk,skype etc) and photo. The centre column lists buddy name and last message sent/received. All in all a very well though out design.

When in conversation mode, top menu lets you change settings, add accounts and delete conversations and send IM.To come out of the menu, just tap on greyed out area on the display and you will be back into conversations list.

Thanks to the qwerty keypad, large screen and intuitive conversations UI, Texting and IM has never been easier. The below two snapshots shows writing IM and writing text.

convesations with a buddy is sorted in timeline mode as shown below:

This makes it very easy to track your conversations (be it on IM or through SMS) very easy. Actually, it’s lot lot better when compared to Nokia’s own Symbian SMS center.

Accounts: This section allows you to control you accounts and add/remove accounts. Would have loved to see more accounts here like Yahoo and MSN. All you need to do is to select the type of account that you want to add and provide respective userid and password. And all your IM contacts from the account will be listed in IM contacts.

Following snapshots will  give a brief idea on how easy it is to setup IM account in conversations:

1) Select new from accounts menu

2) Select gtalk account from list of available account types

2) Add username and password and you are done setting up new account

The above snapshot shows contacts list in conversations. ‘0dummy1’ is phone contact on SIM and “devaraj N” is IM contact.

Contacts:

This is how the Contacts menu looks like.

Since I have not added pictures to any contacts, a blue icon is showing in far right column which will usually show the picture of contact. From the top menu,  you can do tasks like Adding or removing contacts, import and export contacts, add/remove groups etc. The contacts can be sorted based on Name or history of conversations and surprisingly, based on current online status :). If you have added Gtalk or other IM ids for the contact, the right column will show whether the contact is online in any of the networks or not. The amount of detail that can be added to contacts here is overwhelming.

To edit contact detail, click on the drop down menu showing contacts name and select Edit. There are many other options like Merge/delete/send contact.

The following is snapshot of Contact’s top menu from where you can add or remove contacts, group contacts, add your information, export/import contacts and change settings:

You can keep your detail like phone number etc under ‘my information’ which you can use to send a e-business card to your buddies

Adding a new contact is fairly simple and can be initiated from top menu. You can add the following fields to a contact:

  1. Name
  2. Mobile
  3. Wired Line
  4. Email, webpage
  5. Gtalk, Jabber, Ovi, SIP, Skype ids
  6. GPS pointed Address (home and work)
  7. Gender, nickname and job title
  8. Birthday
  9. Note

The basic add new contact windows gives you option to add contact name, mobile number and email but you can lot more info by clicking on “add field” tab and here are few snapshots of what fields are available to add:

Isn’t it a truckload of info that you can add to your contacts/buddies? You never need to look elsewhere to find ways to communicate with your buddies.

From the contact menu, you can click on communication history to see the complete history of texts/call/IMs done with this contact and continue a conversation or call from there.

When compared to older Symbian Contacts menu, the amount of options and customization in Maemo 5 is simply mind-blowing. Though there is whole lot of information that can be added to the contacts list, everything is so simple that it takes no time at all to get used to. However I search, I am not able to find any drawbacks or design flaws in this section.  There is no need to install different IM clients or apps to reach your buddy. Everything is put in one place and  hats off to the Maemo team for this. I would rate this 100/100!

Calling:

Clicking on “make a call” icon shows a list of recent calls (incoming,outgoing and missed) and two tabs to open Dial Pad or Contacts list.

This is how Maemo’s dial pad looks like:

Taskbar shows “Phone” top menu from where you can clear timers, calls and set accelerometer settings for Call section and let add accounts like Gtalk and Skype for VoIP dialing.

In the Dial Pad, you can select whether you want the call type to be a Skype/gtalk call or a Cellular call. Can’t stop saying this again and again but integrating social networking and VoIP wherever possible is a really good option to have in Dial Page.

One surprise here is that selecting a contact shows you option to either call using GSM network or using VoIP (skype).

This is how the incall windows looks like and as usual, the options are pretty simple. loudspeaker on/off, mic mute, dial pad and end the call. The top menu “call” lets you initiate a new call or merge calls.

To be Continued … (app manager, browser, camera, multitasking, calendar, media player, photo manager, conclusion).

Nokia N900 First Impressions


Before I start the review, would like the thank WOMWorld for sending the device for a two week trial. It has been an amazing first week using this device.

WOMWorld: http://www.womworld.com/nokia/

A peek into history:

It would be surprising for some if I say that N900 is not the first of it’s kind from Nokia. N900 was more of evolution from a series of devices that were released by Nokia since 2006. These devices were more popularly known as MID (Mobile Internet Devices) and known as Nokia’s Internet Tablet.

N770:

This was the first ever internet tablet (MID) released by Nokia in November 2006. Powered by TI OMAP 1710 252MHz processor and 64MB of RAM, 128MB Flash memory, this device had a 4.13″ (800×480 px) touchscreen display and connects using Wifi. Also, supported bluetooth and MMC cards for memory expansion. This was the first device from Nokia running Maemo OS and was priced 360$ at release.

N800:

The second Internet Tablet from Nokia, powered by 400MHz OMAP 2420 processor. Had 128 MiB of RAM and 256 MiB of flash memory. Display was 4.1″ touch display  (800×480 px at 225 ppi). Being an Internet Tablet, N800 needed wifi to connect to network. Also supported USB and bluetooth. Ran Nokia Internet OS2007 and priced at 399$ during release.

N810 and N810 Wi-Max edition:

The third and most probably last of the wifi Internet Tablet from Nokia is powered by 400MHz OMAP 2420 processor. Had 128 MiB of RAM and 256 MiB of flash memory. Display was 4.1″ touch display  (800×480 px at 225 ppi). Being an Internet Tablet, N800 needed wifi to connect to network. Also supported USB and bluetooth. Ran Maemo OS 4 and priced at 399$ during release. The next iteration was N810 Wi-max edition that was able to use Wi-Max networks.

One major problem with all these three devices was that, being internet devices, relied heavily on Wi-fi to connect to internet and if I am correct, wi-fi was not a popular choice for network until 2009. These MIDs were ahead of time. Still, when in public, the most preferred way to connect to internet is using 3G or EDGE network.

Symbian OS:

Symbian has been part of Nokia family for more than a decade, since 1998 to be precise. Though it was a great OS, since the dawn of touchscreen smartphones, Symbian is fast losing it’s grip on smartphone OS market. The reason is simple. Symbian is designed to work on non-touch devices and though Nokia released Symbian S60 5th edition, it was never as fluid and intuitive as it’s competition.

Maemo 5:

Maemo is Debian Linux based smartphone OS developed by Nokia for its Internet Tablets and later evolved into smarphone OS. The first version of Maemo was OS2005 and later versions were OS2006, OS2007, OS2008, Maemo 5. I will discuss more on Maemo 5 later.

Now let’s kick into the actual part.

N900:

N900 is top of the line N-series device released by Nokia in November 2009. This is the first Nokia Smartphone that moved from Symbian. Current version runs Maemo 5. It was a good move by Nokia to evolve it’s Internet Tablet range into a full fledged smartphone.

Specification:

Display
  • 3.5 inch touch-sensitive widescreen display
  • 800 × 480 pixel resolution
Keys and input method
  • Full QWERTY tactile keyboard
  • Full QWERTY onscreen keyboard
Processor and 3D accelerator

TI OMAP 3430: ARM Cortex-A8 600 MHz, PowerVR SGX with OpenGL ES 2.0 support

Memory

Up to 1GB of application memory (256 MB RAM, 768 MB virtual memory)

Size and weight
Volume:
Approx 113cc
Dimensions:
110.9 × 59.8 × 18 (19.55 at thickest part) mm
Weight:
Approx 181g
Mass memory
  • 32 GB internal storage
  • Store up to 7000 MP3 songs or 40 hours of high-quality video
  • Up to 16 GB of additional storage with an external microSD card
Connectivity
  • 3.5mm AV connector
  • TV out (PAL/NTSC) with Nokia Video Connectivity Cable
  • Micro-USB connector, High-Speed USB 2.0
  • Bluetooth v2.1 including support for stereo headsets
  • Integrated FM transmitter
  • Integrated GPS with A-GPS
GPS
  • Integrated GPS, Assisted-GPS, and Cell-based receivers
  • Pre-loaded Ovi Maps application
  • Automatic geotagging
Camera
  • 5 megapixel camera (2584 × 1938 pixels)
  • Image formats: JPEG
  • CMOS sensor, Carl Zeiss optics, Tessar lens
  • 3 × digital zoom
  • Autofocus with assist light and two-stage capture key
  • Dual LED flash
  • Full-screen viewfinder
  • Photo editor on device
  • TV out (PAL/NTSC) with Nokia Video Connectivity Cable (CA-75U, included in box) or WLAN/UPnP
  • Landscape (horizontal) orientation
  • Capture modes: Automatic, portrait, video, macro, landscape, action
Video
  • Wide aspect ratio 16:9 (WVGA)
  • Video recording file format: .mp4; codec: MPEG-4
  • Video recording at up to 848 × 480 pixels (WVGA) and up to 25fps
  • Video playback file formats: .mp4, .avi, .wmv, .3gp; codecs: H.264, MPEG-4, Xvid, WMV, H.263
Music and audio playback
  • Maemo media player
  • Music playback file formats: .wav, .mp3, .AAC, .eAAC, .wma, .m4a
  • Built-in FM transmitter
  • Ring tones: .wav, .mp3, .AAC, .eAAC, .wma, .m4a
  • FR, EFR, WCDMA, and GSM AMR
Operating system

Maemo 5 software on Linux

Web browsing
  • Maemo browser powered by Mozilla technology
  • Adobe Flash™ 9.4 support
  • Full screen browsing
Applications
  • Maemo Browser
  • Phone
  • Conversations
  • Contacts
  • Camera
  • Photos
  • Media player
  • Email
  • Calendar
  • Ovi Maps
  • Clock
  • Notes
  • Calculator
  • PDF reader
  • File manager
  • RSS reader
  • Sketch
  • Games
  • Widgets
  • Application manager for downloads
Gaming
  • Bounce
  • Chess
  • Mahjong
Battery

BL-5J 1320mAh

Color

Black

What’s in the package:

Phone

USB charger. It is good to see that N900 can charge through USB.You can use either the USB cable (connecting to PC/laptop) or the bundled charger to charge N900.

If you want to use your regular Nokia charger, an adapter is included in the package that connects older chargers to phone’s USB socket.

TV-Out cable

3.5mm in–ear headset

USB Cable

naresh cam 267

BL-5J battery. This is the same battery found in 5800XM and is powerful enough for long run.

naresh cam 227

Three pairs of earbuds

Soft cloth for cleaning

Manual

Design:

Face of N900 is dominated by 3.5” 16M color display

Above the display, there is notification LED, proximity sensor, front facing VGA camera for video calling and earpiece. The phone has a glossy metallic border that attracts lot of fingerprints and is prone to scratches.

The display slides up to reveal a three row qwerty keypad.

N900 Top

The top of the design has volume rocker, power on, camera buttons along with IR port.

N900 bottom

Bottom of the device is clean. No ports or keys.

N900 right

Right side of the device is fully loaded. Nokia has crammed in a right speaker, lock/unlock slider, 3.5mm jack, microphone and slot for stylus.

There is one problem here. In my opinion, the 3.5mm port is awkwardly placed on the right side. Given that this device is mostly used in landscape mode, it is very difficult to hold the device if I connect headphones will long 3.5mm jack. It tends to get in the way of my index and middle fingers, making it very uncomfortable to use. would’ve been lot better if 3.5mm port was placed at the top of the device. between power and camera keys.

N900 left

There is left speaker and mircoUSB port on the left side.

N900 rear 1

At the rear, there is a 5mp camera with sliding lens cover and a kickstand. Overall the design is pretty simple.

How the device feels in hand:

Blocky, very very blocky. And sturdy, rock solid. I felt that the device is heavier and thicker than it should be. Be it in pocket or in hand, I can feel the weight, which I am not comfortable with. Main reason for the blocky design would be the huge display and slider qwerty keypad. Still, it would’ve been much better if the phone was 5mm thinner at least. But then once I started using the phone, I forgot about the weight, bulky/blocky design. There is something in this phone that makes me use it for everything.

Display:

The 3.5” 16M color display supporting 800×480 pixels is a screamer. This is one of the best displays that I have seen in high end mobiles and it trumps my 5800XM’s display by a wide margin. Movie watching is a real pleasure on this phone. The contrast and brightness levels were excellent. There was no problem is using the phone outdoors in bright sunlight. The outdoor visibility is impressive and Equally impressive is the way that this phone displays photos. Full points for the display quality. The real fun is when it is dark. The display looks so good in dark that I don’t want to turn the lights back on!<<picture with phone playing videos>>

Touch:

Nokia opted for resistive touch instead of superior capacitive touch in N900. Lack of capacitive touch ( and multi touch) shows while swiping through home screens and while using a browser. It’s much easier to do pinch than to draw circles on screen to zoom in/out. I do hope that Nokia goes for capacitive touch in N900’s successor.

When compared to other resistive touch phones, N900’s touch accuracy and response is much better, especially when compared to that of 5800XM. The need for stylus is much less thanks to superior touch response and qwerty keypad.

Keypad:

There are two ways one can use the keypad. one is the slider qwerty and the other is touch keypad. Touch keypad is disabled by default and need to be enabled to use. I will be concentrating on the qwerty slider keypad as I never really liked the onscreen keypad of N900.

Keypad left

keypad right

They keypad is three row qwerty slider with white backlight. Slider mechanism is very smooth and doesn’t feel loose or jerky. Also, do note that the slider does not have tilt like that in N97. The backlighting was uniform and easy on eyes.

Though the keys are thin, they are well placed and easy to type. It would have been great if the keypad had four rows as the slider can go much farther out. As a result, I had to regularly use Shift and Fn keys to type special characters and numbers. double tapping Fn key locks the keypad in function keys mode and only the special characters/numbers engraved in blue will be active. Another click on Fn key sets the default mode. Same is the case with “Shift” key which enables keypad to use keys “ ; “ “ :” and uppercase characters to be used instead of “.” “,” and lower case.

Overall experience with the qwerty is pleasing and earns my thumbs up!

Audio features/quality:

The included in-ear buds suck. Worse thing is that there is no remote with audio controls like the one bundled with 5800XM. And the earbuds are very poorly designed and they never tend to stay intact. If you get this phone, make sure that you dump the bundled earphones and get better ones. I don’t really care about the bundled earphones as those who purchase this phone will be least interested in them and always stick to 3rd party earphones/headphones. For those who are interested in using bundled earphones, well, you are going to have a really hard time using them 🙂

The audio output, when Sennhieser CX180 was used, is excellent and definitely among the best in smartphones. And it’s certainly better than that in 5800XM but falls a bit short of PMPs audio quality. Tried various genres like Indi pop, bollywood music, Indian classics, pop, rock and audio output was pretty flat and exactly the way I wanted it to be. With 32Gb onboard and such an amazing audio quality, this phone will be a hit in music centric buyers.

Add to that the option to have FM Transmitter, which means you start playing songs, turn on the FM transmitter and have others enjoy your pesonal FM radio station 🙂

Video features/quality:

Thanks to the high resolution display, watching movies on this was a pleasure. The colors were vivid and treat to watch. Thanks to Maemo, I was able to get DivX support by installing a simple plugin and also, I have option to install linux based media players like mplayer and Mediabox media centre. UI and applications part will be covered later in detail. The kickstand helps while watching videos. As shown in the pictures below, N900 can be rested at an angle using the kickstand so that you need not hold the device in hands all the while video is playing.

Connectivity:

This is another area where the phone excels. Wi-Fi, 3G, EDGE, GPRS, Bluetooth, IR. You name it, N900 has it. This is one thing that was lacking in Nokia MIDs. Thanks to the wide range of connectivity options, you can always be connected to friends and family. And switching between networks is very easy as shown in the picture below.

Al I need to do is click on the icon next to time (showing network status/signal), and tap on “Internet Connection” tab. This will list available wireless networks (wifi, EDGE etc) and once the right network is picked and password entered, you are in.Like most other Nokia phones, N900 signal reception is top notch. After all it’s a Nokia phone and this is what Nokia does best. Even in  an elevator and in basement, the signal strength was pretty good and never died.

Performance:

Though the Cortex A8 is a powerful processor, there is a lag that happens when doing multitasking. Sometimes, I felt that a snapdragon or A9 would’ve been much better for Maemo 5. This lag happens especially when playing music and switching to/fro web browser and media player. Cortex A8 and 1Gb of memory should be good enough for decent multitasking that does not include applications that require high processing power.

The real hero here is Maemo 5 and it is the UI that gives breathtaking experience. A detailed review on Maemo 5 will be posted soon.

To be continued.. (User Interface, camera, maps and more)

Before I start the review, would like the thank WOMWorld for sending the device for a two week trial. It has been an amazing first week using a device that I may not be able to purchase ever.

WOMWorld: http://www.womworld.com/nokia/

A peek into history:

It would be surprising for some if I say that N900 is not the first of it’s kind from Nokia. N900 was more of evolution from a series of devices that were released by Nokia since 2006. These devices were more popularly known as MID (Mobile Internet Devices) and known as Nokia’s Internet Tablet.

N770:

This was the first ever internet tablet (MID) released by Nokia in November 2006. Powered by TI OMAP 1710 252MHz processor and 64MB of RAM, 128MB Flash memory, this device had a 4.13″ (800×480 px) touchscreen display and connects using Wifi. Also, supported bluetooth and MMC cards for memory expansion. This was the first device from Nokia running Maemo OS and was priced 360$ at release.

N800:

The second Internet Tablet from Nokia, powered by 400MHz OMAP 2420 processor. Had 128 MB of RAM and 256 MB of flash memory. Display was 4.1″ touch display  (800×480 px at 225 ppi). Being an Internet Tablet, N800 needed wifi to connect to network. Also supported USB and bluetooth. Ran Nokia Internet OS2007 and priced at 399$ during release.

N810 and N810 Wi-Max edition:

The third and most probably last of the wifi Internet Tablet from Nokia is powered by 400MHz OMAP 2420 processor. Had 128 MiB of RAM and 256 MiB of flash memory. Display was 4.1″ touch display  (800×480 px at 225 ppi). Being an Internet Tablet, N800 needed Wi-FI to connect to network. Also supported USB and bluetooth. Ran Maemo OS 4 and priced at 399$ during release. The next iteration was N810 wi-max edition that was able to use Wi-Max networks.

One major problem with all these three devices was that, being internet devices, relied heavily on Wi-fi to connect to internet and if I am correct, wi-fi was not a popular choice for network until 2009. These MIDs were ahead of time. Still, when in public, the most preferred way to connect to internet is using 3G or EDGE network.

Symbian OS:

Symbian has been part of Nokia family for more than a decade, since 1998 to be precise. Though it was a great OS, since the dawn of touchscreen smartphones, Symbian is fast losing it’s grip on smartphone OS market. The reason is simple. Symbian is designed to work on non-touch devices and though Nokia released Symbian S60 5th edition, it was never as fluid and intuitive as it’s competition.

Maemo 5:

Maemo is Debian Linux based smartphone OS developed by Nokia for its Internet Tablets and later evolved into smarphone OS. The first version of Maemo was OS2005 and later versions were OS2006, OS2007, OS2008, Maemo 5. I will discuss more on Maemo 5 later.

N900:

N900 is top of the line N-series device released by Nokia in November 2009. This is the first Nokia Smartphone that moved from Symbian. Current version runs Maemo 5. It was a good move by Nokia to evolve it’s Internet Tablet range into a full fledged smartphone.

Specification:

Display
  • 3.5 inch touch-sensitive widescreen display
  • 800 × 480 pixel resolution
Keys and input method
  • Full QWERTY tactile keyboard
  • Full QWERTY onscreen keyboard
Processor and 3D accelerator

TI OMAP 3430: ARM Cortex-A8 600 MHz, PowerVR SGX with OpenGL ES 2.0 support

Memory

Up to 1GB of application memory (256 MB RAM, 768 MB virtual memory)

Size and weight
Volume:
Approx 113cc
Dimensions:
110.9 × 59.8 × 18 (19.55 at thickest part) mm
Weight:
Approx 181g
Mass memory
  • 32 GB internal storage
  • Store up to 7000 MP3 songs or 40 hours of high-quality video
  • Up to 16 GB of additional storage with an external microSD card
Connectivity
  • 3.5mm AV connector
  • TV out (PAL/NTSC) with Nokia Video Connectivity Cable
  • Micro-USB connector, High-Speed USB 2.0
  • Bluetooth v2.1 including support for stereo headsets
  • Integrated FM transmitter
  • Integrated GPS with A-GPS
GPS
  • Integrated GPS, Assisted-GPS, and Cell-based receivers
  • Pre-loaded Ovi Maps application
  • Automatic geotagging
Camera
  • 5 megapixel camera (2584 × 1938 pixels)
  • Image formats: JPEG
  • CMOS sensor, Carl Zeiss optics, Tessar lens
  • 3 × digital zoom
  • Autofocus with assist light and two-stage capture key
  • Dual LED flash
  • Full-screen viewfinder
  • Photo editor on device
  • TV out (PAL/NTSC) with Nokia Video Connectivity Cable (CA-75U, included in box) or WLAN/UPnP
  • Landscape (horizontal) orientation
  • Capture modes: Automatic, portrait, video, macro, landscape, action
Video
  • Wide aspect ratio 16:9 (WVGA)
  • Video recording file format: .mp4; codec: MPEG-4
  • Video recording at up to 848 × 480 pixels (WVGA) and up to 25fps
  • Video playback file formats: .mp4, .avi, .wmv, .3gp; codecs: H.264, MPEG-4, Xvid, WMV, H.263
Music and audio playback
  • Maemo media player
  • Music playback file formats: .wav, .mp3, .AAC, .eAAC, .wma, .m4a
  • Built-in FM transmitter
  • Ring tones: .wav, .mp3, .AAC, .eAAC, .wma, .m4a
  • FR, EFR, WCDMA, and GSM AMR
Operating system

Maemo 5 software on Linux

Web browsing
  • Maemo browser powered by Mozilla technology
  • Adobe Flash™ 9.4 support
  • Full screen browsing
Applications
  • Maemo Browser
  • Phone
  • Conversations
  • Contacts
  • Camera
  • Photos
  • Media player
  • Email
  • Calendar
  • Ovi Maps
  • Clock
  • Notes
  • Calculator
  • PDF reader
  • File manager
  • RSS reader
  • Sketch
  • Games
  • Widgets
  • Application manager for downloads
Gaming
  • Bounce
  • Chess
  • Mahjong
Battery

BL-5J 1320mAh

Color

Black

What’s in the box
  • Nokia N900
  • Nokia Battery (BL-5J)
  • Nokia High Efficiency Charger (AC-10)
  • Nokia Stereo Headset (WH-205)
  • Video out cable (CA-75U)
  • Nokia charger adaptor (CA-146C)
  • Cleaning cloth

The Retail package:

naresh cam 223

naresh cam 224 naresh cam 225 naresh cam 226

What’s in the package:

Phone

naresh cam 244

USB charger: It is good to see that N900 can charge through USB.You can use either the USB cable (connecting to PC/laptop) or the bundled charger to charge N900.

If you want to use your regular Nokia charger, an adapter is included in the package that connects older chargers to phone’s USB socket.

TV-Out cable

3.5mm in–ear headset

USB Cable

naresh cam 267

BL-5J battery. This is the same battery found in 5800XM and is powerful enough for long run.

naresh cam 227

Three pairs of earbuds

Soft cloth for cleaning

naresh cam 233

Manual

naresh cam 234

Design:

Face of N900 is dominated by 3.5” 16M color display

naresh cam 2 003

Above the display, there is notification LED, proximity sensor, front facing VGA camera for video calling and earpiece. The phone has a glossy metallic border that attracts lot of fingerprints and is prone to scratches.

The display slides up to reveal a three row qwerty keypad.

N900 Top

The top of the design has volume rocker, power on, camera buttons along with IR port.

N900 bottom

Bottom of the device is clean. No ports or keys.

N900 right

Right side of the device is fully loaded. Nokia has crammed in a right speaker, lock/unlock slider, 3.5mm jack, microphone and slot for stylus.

There is one problem here. In my opinion, the 3.5mm port is awkwardly placed on the right side. Given that this device is mostly used in landscape mode, it is very difficult to hold the device if I connect headphones will long 3.5mm jack. It tends to get in the way of my index and middle fingers, making it very uncomfortable to use. would’ve been lot better if 3.5mm port was placed at the top of the device. between power and camera keys.

naresh cam 2 007 naresh cam 2 008

N900 left

There is left speaker and mircoUSB port on the left side of N900.

N900 rear 1

At the rear, there is a 5mp camera with sliding lens cover and a kickstand. Overall the design is pretty simple.

How the device feels in hand:

Blocky, very very blocky. And sturdy, rock solid. I felt that the device is heavier and thicker than it should be. Be it in pocket or in hand, I can feel the weight, which I am not comfortable with. Main reason for the blocky design would be the huge display and slider qwerty keypad. Still, it would’ve been much better if the phone was 5mm thinner at least. But then once I started using the phone, I forgot about the weight, bulky/blocky design. There is something in this phone that makes me use it for everything.

naresh cam 2 010

Display:

The 3.5” 16M color display supporting 800×480 pixels is a screamer. This is one of the best displays that I have seen in high end mobiles and it trumps my 5800XM’s display by a wide margin. Movie watching is a real pleasure on this phone. The contrast and brightness levels were excellent. There was no problem is using the phone outdoors in bright sunlight. The outdoor visibility is impressive and Equally impressive is the way that this phone displays photos. Full points for the display quality. The real fun is when it is dark. The display looks so good in dark that I don’t want to turn the lights back on!

Touch:

Nokia opted for resistive touch instead of superior capacitive touch in N900. Lack of capacitive touch ( and multi touch) shows while swiping through home screens and while using a browser. It’s much easier to do pinch than to draw circles on screen to zoom in/out. I do hope that Nokia goes for capacitive touch in N900’s successor.

When compared to other resistive touch phones, N900’s touch accuracy and response is much better, especially when compared to that of 5800XM. The need for stylus is much less thanks to superior touch response and qwerty keypad.

Keypad:

There are two ways one can use the keypad. one is the slider qwerty and the other is touch keypad. Touch keypad is disabled by default and need to be enabled to use. I will be concentrating on the qwerty slider keypad as I never really liked the onscreen keypad of N900. naresh cam 244

Keypad left keypad right

They keypad is three row qwerty slider with white backlight. Slider mechanism is very smooth and doesn’t feel loose or jerky. Also, do note that the slider does not have tilt like that in N97. The backlighting is uniform and easy on eyes.

IMG_2683

naresh cam 248

Though the keys are thin, they are well placed and easy to type. It would have been great if the keypad had four rows as the slider can go much farther out. As a result, I had to regularly use Shift and Fn keys to type special characters and numbers. double tapping Fn key locks the keypad in function keys mode and only the special characters/numbers engraved in blue will be active. Another click on Fn key sets the default mode. Same is the case with “Shift” key which enables keypad to use keys “ ; “ “ :” and uppercase characters to be used instead of “.” “,” and lower case.

Overall experience with the qwerty is pleasing and earns my thumbs up!

Audio features/quality:

The included in-ear buds suck. Worse thing is that there is no remote with audio controls like the one bundled with 5800XM. And the earbuds are very poorly designed and they never tend to stay intact. If you get this phone, make sure that you dump the bundled earphones and get better ones. I don’t really care about the bundled earphones as those who purchase this phone will be least interested in them and always stick to 3rd party earphones/headphones. For those who are interested in using bundled earphones, well, you are going to have a really hard time using them 🙂

The audio output, when Sennhieser CX180 was used, is excellent and definitely among the best in smartphones. And it’s certainly better than that in 5800XM but falls a bit short of PMPs audio quality. Tried various genres like Indi pop, bollywood music, Indian classics, pop, rock and audio output was pretty flat and exactly the way I wanted it to be. With 32Gb onboard and such an amazing audio quality, this phone will be a hit in music centric buyers.

Add to that the option to have FM Transmitter, which means you start playing songs, turn on the FM transmitter and have others enjoy your pesonal FM radio station 🙂

Video features/quality:

Thanks to the high resolution display, watching movies on this was a pleasure. The colors were vivid and treat to watch. Thanks to Maemo, I was able to get DivX support by installing a simple plugin and also, I have option to install linux based media players like mplayer and Mediabox media centre. UI and applications part will be covered later in detail. The kickstand helps while watching videos. As shown in the pictures below, N900 can be rested at an angle using the kickstand so that you need not hold the device in hands all the while video is playing.

naresh cam 2 014 naresh cam 2 017

Connectivity:

This is another area where the phone excels. Wi-Fi, 3G, EDGE, GPRS, Bluetooth, IR. You name it, N900 has it. This is one thing that was lacking in Nokia MIDs. Thanks to the wide range of connectivity options, you can always be connected to friends and family. And switching between networks is very easy as shown in the picture below.

Al I need to do is click on the icon next to time (showing network status/signal), and tap on “Internet Connection” tab. This will list available wireless networks (wifi, EDGE etc) and once the right network is picked and password entered, you are in.

Screenshot-20100306-163045 Screenshot-20100306-203657 Screenshot-20100306-203650

Like most other Nokia phones, N900 signal reception is top notch. After all it’s a Nokia phone and this is what Nokia does best. Even in  an elevator and in basement, the signal strength was pretty good and never died.

Performance:

Though the Cortex A8 is a powerful processor, there is a lag that happens when doing multitasking. Sometimes, I felt that a snapdragon or A9 would’ve been much better for Maemo 5. This lag happens especially when playing music and switching to/fro web browser and media player. Cortex A8 and 1Gb of memory should be good enough for decent multitasking that does not include applications that require high processing power.

The real hero here is Maemo 5 and the hardware is nothing special when compared to that in other phones. Stay tuned for a detailed review on Maemo 5 soon.

To be continued.. (User Interface, camera, maps and more)

From Linux VM on Windows to Windows VM on Linux


For more than a decade, I had been a big fan of Microsoft Software, especially Windows and Office (just a fan, not a fanboy). Once in a while, when a new distro Linux comes out, I used to try it for a day or two and forget about it. And if I had to use it for a long time, I used to do create a virtual machine for linux, which again never lasted more than few weeks.

But for the past month, there is a linux distro running on my home PC and there is no windows on the same. If I say the same to my friends at Digit Forum, they will surely be shocked.

The Awakening:

So, why suddenly I have started using Linux? For long, my work life has been depending a lot on Linux. I had been a Linux admin and then Clearcase admin. Few months ago, I got a feeling that I was not giving enough respect to the platform that has been the source of fodder for me. So, I thought of giving Linux a serious try at home.

The first real try:

The next day, I tried to use Fedora which is very identical to RHEL on which I work at office. But There were too many issues.

1) Not able to mount/display NTFS properly.
2) RPM dependencies that used to form a never ending chain
3) UI not refined.
4) Applications availability
5) Fonts look outdated especially in browser

I thought of waiting for better distro and was monitoring the progress of Ubuntu as it seemed to be the best Linux Distribution for home use.

Karmic Koala:

One day, I went to my friends place and there I saw Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala) running on HP dv5 series laptop. I tried to use the OS for sometime and felt that this could the distro that I can finally use on my PC.

The first thing I did after reaching home is to clear one of the two HDDs that were there in my PC and made my PC ready for installation.

Live CD and Installation:

Before doing a full install, I used the Live CD to boot into the OS from CD. This is undoubtedly the best unique feature in Linux. Using a Live CD, one can boot linux from CD without installing the OS. This helps to quickly check if the OS is going to be useful for self or to quickly use the OS in case the HDD’s OS crashes.

After a quick check again, I went for full installation of the OS. The installation process took less than 20 minutes. The beauty of Linux distro is that you get most of the tools necessary for home use bundled with the OS. The following were the default apps:

1) E-Mail : Evolution
2) Browser: Firefox
3) Torrents: Transmission bittorrent client
4) Music: Rhythmbox
5) Movies: movieplayer
6) Office: Open Office
7) Image editing: Gimp
8) F-Spot: Photo Manager
9) Many other accessories from notepad to RSS feed reader.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Start up and shutdown:

Do you remember the long text based boot up that used to be the trademark bootup process of linux. That is gone. The boot process is fully graphical and is fast too. It took just a few seconds for boot up and the shutdown is extremely fast. It takes less than 10 seconds to shutdown.

User Interface and fonts:

The interface is smooth, easy on the eyes and the best ever in linux distros that I had tried. When compared to the fonts that were used in the earlier versions of Ubuntu or other distros of linux, the anti aliased fonts in this version are stunning and this could be the reason why the OS looks so beautiful.

A single notification alert is placed on top right corner and the alertsrelated to system messages, warnings, errors, even chat messages can be seen by hovering over the notificaiton (mail) icon. Simple but very thoughtful and of course, useful.
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Hardware and Drivers:

All the peripherals and hardware were detected correctly. The D-Link PCI wireless card that I added later too got detected while Ubuntu was not connected to internet (which needed drivers to be installed using manufacturer’s disc in Windows 7) and quickly got connected to the wireless network in my house. The only problem came when none of the TV applications are able to get TV signal from TV Tuner card. After going though lot of linux forums, came to know that this is a known issue for analogue TV Tuners and that Digital tuners should work fine. For now, am using my laptop for TV viewing by connecting it to the VGA port of my LCD. Two thumbs up for this distro for amazing support for hardware.

Application Installation:

This was one area where linux lagged behind windows. Installating an application used to be a nightmarish experience in earlier distros. With Ubuntu Software center and Synaptic Package manager, application installation has become easier than what it is in windows. All I need to do is Open either of these applications and search for the applcations using the search box and once the application is listed, click on “Install” and the application will be downloaded and installed (only one prompt for password) in the OS.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

If not sure what the application name is , you can go through the lists of apps organized per the nature of app like games, utilities, Education, Sound&Video, read the description of each of the available apps and install the app that best suites you. Remember that none of these apps are present on the harddrive. They are downloaded and installed.

There are alternate apps for Mobile phone PC Suites, itunes and other windows exclusive apps provided by device manufacturers.

NTFS paritions and File Operations:

All the windows partitions are visible. No need to edit fstab or install ntfs supporting pathes. All the partitions will be listed under “Places” menu or under “Computer”. When you try to open any partition, an icon of that partition will be placed on the desktop for quick access. By default, none of the partitions will be mounted and they are mounted when you try to access them.
I was surprised to see the NTFS partition that was shown as raw (corrupted) partition in windows accessible in Linux. May be I was lucky here but thanks to this, I was able to save all the data in this partition to another partition and reformat it.

File copy and directory browsing is very fast and snappy. It is much faster than that in XP and is on par with windows 7. The file copy dialogue is very informative and multiple file copy dialogue boses are clubbed together making it one large dialogue box with multiple status bars, which is a good idea because you need not tab throught multiple windows when multpile copy operations are running.

 Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Windows applications:

If you want to be a bit more geeky, you can use applications like Wine and Crossover to install windows based apps on linux. Though making a windows application work through wine is a painful task, it’s worth a try.

Ubuntu One:

This is clound application by Ubuntu. A free account offers 2Gb of free space that can be used to store documents and also can be used to sync files between computers that are online. This is still in beta stage and I have not tried this yet.

Areas that need improvement:

  • very slow on old hardware
  • support for analogue TV cards
  • Games
  • option to select packages at the time of installation
  • Better music and video players to be bundled (like songbird and VLC)
  • A better GRUB2

Conclusion:

For the first time ever, I felt that Linux has what it takes to become an operting system for Home PC. Everything worked. My usage of home PC includes:

1) Movies and Music
2) Gaming
3) TV Viewing
4) Internet browsing

Except for Gaming and TV viewing using analogue tv cards, everything is possible. And since I am not able to do gaming, I am able to utilize that time in a better way by putting more effort in socializing and blogging. And for TV, I can always use my TV Box to connect directly to LCD and watch TV or use laptop+ USB tuner card.

You may now ask me if I am still using windows alongside linux. NO. I am using Windows inside linux. That’s what I call “From Linux as VM in windows to Windows as VM in Linux”

I urge all those who know a bit about linux to give Ubuntu 9.10 a serious try. This OS now deserves lot more. It’s fast, it’s flexible and it’s free. What more do we need?

Few comments on Ubuntu by ThinkDigit Forum members:

16000+ packages available in sources. No need to download any package manually. Package Manager, Synaptic works like a charm. Default Boot Loader, GRUB2 detects and configure installed OSes pretty well. No need to edit any file. Very helpful community.

–ghost at rest

Airtel Mobile Office works out of the box with my Nokia 5800 + USB cable. Just connect your mobile and configure the mobile broadband connection. It already gives you a list of Operators

–Ico

GRUB 2 sux in its Ubuntu avatar.. on the plus side.. please mention about the awesome anti-aliased fonts in Ubuntu and the new notification system…

–HellKnight

Shut down times are much lesser. My system shuts down in 3-5 seconds. Even boot up times are better. The same, however may not hold true for ancient rigs.

–Krow

Would have liked facility to select the packages to include during installation itself (maybe as Advanced option)

–sakumar79

References for Ubuntu and Linux to learn more about linux:

Ubuntu.com
linuxquestions.org
linuxjournal.com
redhat.com/docs
distrowatch.com

Few Images for reference:

Tweetdeck installed using Adobe Air:

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Gimp in action:

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