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Hardware upgrade ( N900 Unboxed )

I have tested the Nokia internet tablet to replace my Blackberry  smartphone (and Verizon)  and go fully WiFi.  The Nokia N800 is a great internet tablet but doesn’t work as a phone very well.

Here is why it wouldn’t work for me:

  • No handset mode so must have headphones or Bluetooth headset.  Bluetooth headset took too much resource and didn’t work very good.
  • Skype on this device wasn’t stable.  Some calls to phones worked well but other times the calls wouldn’t go through.
  • No cellular service at all.

Yesterday, I received the Nokia N900.  Like the N800, this is a Linux-based mobile computer but with a built-in handset.  Skype is integrated into the device instead of just running as an app as in the N800.   Call quality is better than that of the N800 (so far).  Since it is a cell phone, I am using T-mobile for on-demand service.  If needed, I can make voice cell calls or data access when I’m outside my WiFi coverage.  The least cost to set this up is around 3.50 per month.  Adding the SIM card also enables the GPS so now I can use location-based services.

So unlimited voice calls, voicemail, web, and GPS service has a cost of $12.49 a month.  Total cost if I keep the service as is for 2 years is $299+ on-demand services while compare to Verizon of just under $4000 (see last post).   I’ll be tracking the exact cost in this blog from month to month.

What I’m I giving up compared to iPhone/Android on Verizon or Att?  Not exactly sure but Verizon does have the best quality, just that I don’t think its worth $3700 price difference.  I am giving up the Android and Apple app stores but like the Linux community for the desktop, many popular apps have been ported over.  Yes, I have Angry Birds on my N900 (actually, first app I downloaded).

I am very pleased how this device has performed.  It has the touch screen UI (not multi-touch).  There are 4 desktops that can run widgets.  I have email, facebook, RSS feed and others running non-stop.  It has true multi-tasking with a dashboard that shows each app in real-time.  Not sure if Andriod or Apple has this feature.  With 32GB internal space, the ARM A8 cpu, and Debian based Linux for the OS it runs fast.

More to come about the N900 but for now I have some angry birds waiting for me.

N900 review below:

Hands-on the Nokia N900 from IntoMobile on Vimeo.


Smartphone Exit (on Verizon)

I have a Blackberry on the Verizon Network. but today I am no longer supporting the current smartphone trend.

The Trend:

Purchase a 2 year contract with a wireless provider and receive the latest mobile device.  Two years is a long time and how much does it actually cost?  According to PCWorld, total cost to own an iPhone or top Andriod is $3800 after 2 years.  For some, this is a tool needed for their trade.  For me, it’s something that is nice to have but not convinced it’s a need.  Instead of the standard two-year upgrade to get the latest and greatest phone, I will be canceling my account and going with a “phone” that is about 4 years old. What a way to start a technology blog!!

The Plan (experiment):

The device I will be using instead of the Blackberry is the Nokia N800. I’ve had this device in my closet for the past 4 years but is perfect for what I need.  What I need is a device with an OS without restrictions.  The N800 meets this need with its Linux-based OS and root access.  I plan on upgrading to the Nokia N900 which looks more like the current devices, twice as powerfully at half the cost.

As a phone, I am using VoIP and chose Skype as my provider. For less than 10 USD a month, I get a phone number and unlimited calls to cell and landlines. In comparison, the new smartphones average 150 a month.

For apps, I will be creating and building the apps I need for personal and business. No need for an App store to download angry birds.

Main Reason: I am amazed by the creativity and space created by Apple and Google and the App store is great.  Just not a big fan of Verizon and the cost to have a smartphone connected.  I am losing some functionality but the unrestricted access to the device is more important for me. I have already made memory changes to the device that give me 1 GB of memory for apps compared to 512MB for the newest Android.  The chip performance can be throttled to reserve battery life.  By the way, it uses the ARM 11 from TI (400 Mhz).

This plan is not for all. I am one of the lucky ones that has a flexible job which allows me to work from my home office or local coffee shop. Most locations I go to have free WiFi which is required for the device to be connected. I also don’t have to be connected 24/7 so going offline where WiFi isn’t around is no big deal. I do most communication vie email and IM so to me the need of having an always on cellular device isn’t a top priority.

What to do when driving or at the grocery store: Simple, I’m not connected for now.  It will be possible to subscribe to the Verizon hotspot which can connect up to 5 devices but for now I’ll be disconnected where I’m out of range from WiFi.

That’s the plan, a completely customized mobile device that will be used as a phone without the two-year contract.