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Desktop: Lenovo B500 Review

The Lenovo B500 IdeaCentre is a compact yet powerful desktop PC that delivers good performance and viewing space.

DESKTOPS tend to take up a significant amount of space in anyone’s room. You need to find a place for the CPU, monitor and all the cables running between them. This does not even include all the necessary accessories that go with any computer.
The Lenovo B500 is an “all-in-one” PC, meaning it’s a CPU built into a monitor with a retractable stand to keep it level. Now, the question is, can a slimmed-down desktop perform just as well?
Slim but busty
This model is no more than 3in thick but boasts a 23in widescreen full HD display. It is monstrous and covers almost the entire front frame. Watching movies in HD is simply exhilarating, so much so that you forget this is a PC and not a TV.
Beyond the movies, there is so much space for additional icons, files and folders viewable on a single screen instead of a list. This is excellent for those who enjoy having everything at a glance.
The set comes with a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard. Now, as much as I am a fan of all things Bluetooth, this model seems to have a pretty shoddy built-in receiver. Syncing the keyboard was troublesome and took a long time for reasons unknown.
The mouse lags whenever you wake it up from “idle” mode. It goes without saying that both these appendages are hugely important and you expect them to work above all else.
Nuts and bolts
The B500 has a set of illuminated touchscreen buttons on the bottom right of the frame. These control the volume, brightness and one special button turns the monitor on and off (but not the PC). The buttons are highly responsive and the monitor button is always illuminated so that you can see it at night.
The power button is on the side with the optical drive, card reader and two USB ports. There are four more USB ports in the back that reduces the need for a USB extender, eliminating more cables in the process.
The whole unit is held up by a retractable stand and I do wonder about the long-term strength of that stand.
Stellar performance
Moore’s Law is not just doubling capacity, it’s also about halving the space required to house all that power. This model is testament to that. The Intel Core 2 Quad processor certainly puts out plenty of performance and the graphics card is decent.
The startup time is impressive at roughly two minutes (not scientifically tested). If you are an ardent PC gamer reading this, I installed Supreme Commander 2 and the GT240M was still smooth at the highest graphics level. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare worked fairly well too — loading the levels took unusually long though.
With 4GB of RAM and half a terrabyte of space, it feels like a little command centre. What is even better is that it gives you that commanding feeling while allowing you to throw things that you need behind it because there is still so much space left.
Books can be piled on the space where the CPU used to be. If you spend a lot of time at your desk or if your job is built around one, you will really appreciate the benefits of having more space for important stuff.
There is ample room for storing fat HD movie files and a lifetime collection of music. No compromise on hard disk space here, which is a big plus.
The webcam takes up no space at all but still churns out fantastic pictures and really good video. Skype is the best way to test a mic — if your friends keep asking you to repeat yourself, you could have a bad mic. Suffice to say, this unit passed the completely made-up Skype-test with flying colours.
Silence is deafening
When I set up this review unit, only one cable ran astray across the back and into the ground — the speaker cable. It was necessary because the built-in speakers were plainly poor. It was the biggest disappointment and it was the only important thing missing from the all-encompassing IdeaCentre.
Lenovo actually managed to squeeze in a light to illuminate the speakers, which are at the bottom and they even built a touchscreen button for that light. But it is purely decorative. They should have mounted a small bass emitter instead. Wasted chance.
The optical drive pops out from the side. This may look cool but it means that you have to snap on a CD on the tray that it is suspended on the frame. If you try and do it with one hand, it seems like you can break it as there is very little plastic on that frame. Slot trays are better any day for me as they are also less likely to break.
For those who watch free-to-air TV, the B500 comes with a TV tuner to keep you covered.
Priced at USD1000, I believe the Lenovo B500 IdeaCentre is an interesting choice for a desktop. Gamers may be turned off by the graphics card and that is understandable.
However it could be an attractive proposition for students, working professionals and movie buffs from any category. Add a couple of hundred ringgit more for a good set of speakers and you’ve got yourself a pretty awesome wireless command centre. When they become cheap enough to buy on a whim, I will have three of these in every room.
Pros: Space saver; powerful performance; great design; plenty of memory.
Cons: Poor quality speakers; flimsy optical drive tray; unconvincing support stand.

All-in-one PC
Manufacturer: Lenovo
PROCESSOR: Intel Core 2 Quad Q8400S (2.66GHz, 1,333MHz FSB, 4MB Cache)
DISPLAY: 23in widescreen HD (1,920 x 1,080-pixels)
GRAPHICS: nVidia GeForce GT 240M 1GB
STORAGE: 500GB SATA hard drive
CONNECTIVITY: WiFi 802.11b/g, Ethernet LAN, Bluetooth
PORTS: PS/2 keyboard, AV-in, digital TV antenna socket, six USB ports, 6-in-1 card reader
OPERATING SYSTEM: Windows 7 Home Premium
OTHER FEATURES: TV tuner, built-in webcam
DIMENSIONS (W x H x D): 560mm x 25-38mm x 440mm

Buy from your local amazon:

Cell Review: Sony Ericsson Vivaz

The Sony Ericsson Vivaz is a fancy and feature-packed smartphone that is great for shooting videos in HD.
The Sony Ericsson Vivaz is quite the eye-catcher. Everywhere it goes, heads turn, eyes ogle. I felt like a celebrity whenever I whipped out the Vivaz. Friends and family would exclaim, “Wow! What is that? A phone? Let me see!”
So it is the phone that is more the celebrity but I live vicariously through it :-)
Simply sleek
Sony Ericsson has really made an effort to make the Vivaz look good. It really is a sexy little number — slim, smooth, shiny and silver.
The contrast of the dark blue side panels with the silver back panelling gives off a science fiction film vibe, almost as if laser beams will shoot out at any given moment or that you can communicate with extra- terrestrial beings.
Vivaz landscape view
Even the shape of it screams futuristic. It does not look like any phone in the market right now, especially not like the dated candybar phones.
Moving on, the touchscreen is responsive and if you tilt the phone horizontally or vertically, the screen will rotate accordingly.
There are shortcuts on the homescreen too to access frequently called numbers, text messages and media files.
The Symbian OS is similar to the one on Nokia phones so if you are familiar with that, then using the Vivaz will be easier.
Multimedia madness
The Vivaz is really for the multimedia enthusiasts among us — those of us who want to capture life and memories that we experience without the need to lug around extra devices.
The Vivaz has an 8.1-megapixel camera that can also do 720p HD recording. It is simple and quick to do either as there are two separate buttons on the Vivaz for taking pictures or video.
Vivaz rear view
You can do simple editing so this allows some creativity that will make using your mobile phone camera fun. Not only that, it can also easily upload media to web-based photo albums or video sharing sites.
One of the best things about taking videos and pictures on the Vivaz is its 3.2in widescreen display. You can clearly see what you are going to do since the screen is so generous and definitely makes the Vivaz a pleasure to use as a multimedia recording device.
One of the coolest functions of the camera is the Touch Capture mode. Simply touch the screen of the object you would like to take a picture of and the camera takes the photo.
Viewing images and videos on the Vivaz is awesome because you can simply browse through the gallery with a touch of a button and you just need to swipe across the screen to see the next picture or video.
Sound-wise, the Vivaz produces clear and crisp tones but one must remember that bass will always be lacking on such devices.
Good for applications
There is a built-in basic Twitter client that you can access from the ­homescreen of the Vivaz. You can also install a Facebook application and an e-mail client.
Basically, if you can find an application that supports the Symbian S60 version 5 then it should work on your Vivaz. I installed various applications with ease.
The phone comes with an A-GPS so it works pretty well with Google Maps. It came with Wisepilot but somehow, it just did not want to work well when I tested it.
There are three ways to enter text into the Vivaz. There is a virtual Qwerty keypad, handwriting recognition and alphanumeric keypad.
Personally, I selected the Qwerty keypad but it may not be the best option. Sometimes the response was slow or when I typed too fast, it would miss letters.
Long life
The battery is quite long lasting on the Vivaz. When left untouched for three days, with some missed calls and text messages in-between, the phone still showed 95% battery life.
However, if you run demanding applications or surf and do a lot of text messaging, the phone will last you two days tops.
The Vivaz hung on me several times unfortunately. Maybe it’s because I tried to do too many things and the phone just couldn’t keep up and would just hang and I would not be able to receive calls.
A full restart, switching the phone off and on again will solve the problem.
Speaking of web browsing, the phone comes with its own web browser that is really awful to use.
You may want to install another web browser as the one that comes installed with the phone is clunky. I hated how I had to zoom in to see a page every time. Text messaging on the Vivaz was torturous for me.It may be because I am used to a physical Qwerty keypad.
Typing was difficult and not as snappy as I would have liked it to be. The keys were small and using both thumbs on the keypad was a nightmare. I had to use the edge of my fingernails most of the time.
It frustrated me a lot since I was trying to arrange a surprise birthday party with the Vivaz. It did its job, just that I got annoyed at it since the cutting and pasting functions were buried inside its menus and directories.
The Sony Ericsson Vivaz looked really promising and its multimedia features are impressive. The phone is great for shooting images and capturing videos, and has a long lasting battery.
However, it may be sleek on the outside but on the inside it has too many hidden folders, menus and directories.
If you use its multimedia functions then it is good but if you intend to do other things like surf the Web, you might feel it’s a little clunky.
It was love at first sight but the Vivaz was just let down by the Symbian OS which is a little slow and complicated to use.
Pros: Slim and futuristic design; great for 720p HD video recording; 8-megapixel camera.
Cons: Sluggish performance; virtual keypad too tiny.
3G smartphone
Manufacturer: Sony Ericsson
CAMERA: 8-megapixels
DISPLAY: 3.2in touchscreen (360 x 640-pixel resolution)
EXPANSION SLOT: MicroSD (up to 16GB)
BATTERY: 1,200mAh lithium-polymer
STANDBY/TALK TIME: 430 hours/540 minutes
OTHER FEATURES: A-GPS, media player, 720p HD recording
DIMENSIONS (w x h x d): 107 x 52 x 12.5mm

Headphone Review: Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7B

This pair of headphones does an impressive job cancelling out the noise so you can focus on the music.
Being a geek, the concept of an active noise-cancelling headphone has always intrigued me — after all, what could be cooler than a headphone which samples external sounds, then in a split second produces a destructive sound wave that effectively cancels out the external noise.
So you can imagine that when the Audio-Technica QuietPoint active noise-cancelling headphones came in, I was pretty interested to try them out.
Beyond just the coolness of the technology, active noise-cancelling headphones are actually quite practical if you’re a frequent traveller — the technology works especially well to cancel out the constant loud drone of aircraft engines.
The thing is that active noise-cancelling has a pitfall — often,the music you’re listening to has a slightly muffled effect, as if it’s being heard from behind a door.
This was the case with a few active noise-cancelling headphones I have tried — while the noise cancelling on those headphones were excellent, my music had a little less clarity than it should have.
So does the Audio-Technica QuietPoint have the same drawback? I had the perfect opportunity to test the headphones on a recent intercontinental trip.
Frequent traveller pack
The Audio-Technica QuietPoint headphones are actually very similar to the more famous Bose QuietComfort active noise-cancelling headphones — not only are the names similar, but the packaged accessories are also pretty much the same.
Much like the Bose, the Audio-Technica comes in a nice zip-up semi-rigid case with a full complement of accessories for the frequent traveller.
Apart from the headphones, there’s both a short and long audio cable, a full-sized stereo jack adapter and even a twin-pronged audio adapter for plugging into airplane audio ports.
The QuietPoint runs on batteries, or rather a single AA-sized battery, although it’s used mostly for the active noise-cancelling.
The battery compartment is accessed in a rather nifty fashion — you basically rotate the outer side of one of the earpieces counter-clockwise to reveal the battery compartment inside.
Once installed, just flip the little sliding switch on the left earpiece and you’re ready to go.
TOO LARGE: The headband on the QuietPoint has limited
adjustment and sticks out quite far on the sides.
The comfort is pretty good — the earcups are made of a soft leatherette material which completely encloses your ears.
However I did find that the headphones were a little limited in adjustment — my head is pretty small and even so I had to extend the headband all the way out.
The design is also such that it makes the headband jut out sideways a little more than other headphones.
Audio quality
So how was the audio quality? It was surprisingly good to be honest.
With the active noise-cancelling on, music was still clear and the midrange was forward enough that it didn’t sound like it was coming from behind a door.
A colleague commented that the bass levels could be better, but since I lean more towards understated, natural bass, I was fine with it.
In fact, it’s fair to say that I really liked the sound quality of the Audio-Technica.
Incidentally, the headphones actually still work even when the noise cancellation function is turned off, but I don’t recommend that you listen to it like this — for some reason, audio quality sounds a bit tinny when the noise cancelling is not turned on.
On my twenty-hour intercontinental flight, I used the QuietPoint for about ten or twelve hours straight — sometimes listening to music and at other times, just as a way to cancel out the constant (and as it turns out, very loud) hum of the aircraft engines.
Amazingly the headphone batteries lasted the entire trip and even a couple of weeks later, the battery still hasn’t run out in spite of (admittedly sporadic) use since the trip.
As far as the noise cancellation goes, Audio-Technica claims that the headphones can cut out about 85% of ambient noise and
I have no reason to doubt this claim — the headphones successfully cut down the loud drone of the engines to a barely audible hum.
The main advantage of active noise cancellation over passive methods like earplug-style earphones is that you won’t also hear yourself — if you’ve ever tried those in-ear earphones, you’ll understand what I mean.
So yes, the Audio-Technica QuietPoint headphones are pretty good — apart from the solid noise cancellation, the semi-hard case and extensive bundled accessories extend the value of the headphones quite a bit.
One thing I haven’t mentioned is the price —at RM959 it’s not cheap by any means, but it is a lot cheaper than the comparable Bose QuietComfort headphones which will run you quite a few hundred ringgit over RM1,000.
In a nutshell, if you’re a frequent traveller looking for a set of decent active noice-cancelling headphones, you won’t go far wrong with the Audio-Technica QuietPoint.
Pros: Effective noise cancelling; good audio quality; lots of bundled accessories; good battery life.
Cons: Limited headband adjustment.

Active noise-cancelling headphones
Manufacturer: Audio-Technica
Frequency Response: 10 - 25,000Hz
Maximum Input Power: 500mW
Sensitivity: 109dB
Impedance: 300 ohms
Weight: 210 g (without battery)
Accessories Included: 6.3 mm stereo adapter, airline adapter, AAA battery, extension cables, carrying case, accessory pouch


Graphic Card Review: ATI Radeon 5570

For an entry-level video card, the ATI Radeon 5570 defies expectations by letting you enjoy most current games at a good level of visual quality.
Any PC gamer would be familiar with the dilemma of setting up a decent gaming rig. On one hand, you’d want some serious hardware to run your games.
On the other hand, you’d want enough left in your budget to actually purchase original games.
Fortunately for the gamer on a budget, AMD offers an excellent entry-level video card for about RM300 — the ATI Radeon 5570.
Although nowhere as pricey or bulky as the higher-end video cards, the Radeon 5570 lets users enjoy their games and videos at a surprisingly good level of graphics.
Let the games begin
Before we get to anything else, let’s cut to the chase: What kind of games and what quality of visuals can a gamer expect from an ATI Radeon 5570?
We tested the video card on a 32-bit Vista PC running a 2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Quad processor with 4GB RAM.
We picked a selection of four games, and each was set to play at 1,600 x 1,200-pixel resolution at “high” setting.
The two real-time strategy games we chose, Supreme Commander 2 andDawn of War 2, looked great. We commanded our massive armies and enjoyed the spectacular particle effects and explosions that occurred throughout the battlefields without noticing any significant lag or choppiness.
SupCom2 and DoW2 had an average framerate of around 30fps to 40fps, which is reasonable enough to enjoy these games.
Wait, no — 30fps to 40fps at 1,600 x 1,200-pixel resolution and at high graphics settings is actually pretty good for a relatively cheap graphics card.
We were expecting that these games would only run that well on much lower resolutions like 1,280 x 1,024-pixels.
For those not keeping score, the rule of thumb is that any game that runs at less than 30fps will be pretty choppy or outright unplayable.
Anything above 30 provides a decent gaming experience, although any hardcore gamer will demand 60 frames hitting their eyeballs every second.
Similarly, the two first-person shooter games we selected, Bioshock 2and Fallout 3, performed pretty well in our tests.
Bioshock 2 had an average frame rate of around 30fps to 40fps, which was quite surprising considering our best efforts to abuse the game’s water-rendering effects.
The Radeon 5570 performed a little better on Fallout 3, with an average of around 40fps to 50fps.
It did dip to 30fps at one point in our travels across the wasteland — notably this was when we were traversing one particularly scenic route on the overland map.
Other than that, the video card rendered the scenery efficiently and beautifully, although Fallout players will understand that this is “beautiful” in the context of a radiation-blasted post-apocalyptic landscape.
The performance of the Radeon 5570 in the gaming department was significantly above our expectations, so long story short this video card will let you play current PC games in style without breaking your wallet.
For the power it dishes out, the Radeon 5570’s pretty compact (it takes up the space of only one PCI-e slot, cooling fan and all) and consumes little power. AMD advertises that the card eats less than 45-watts when fully utilised, although we didn’t personally measure this.
(We did ask our interns to poke their fingers into an active card to see if “it felt like 45-watts.”)
We can, however, vouch for the fact that the runs relatively quietly. It’s not ninja-silent, but you’ll have no issues with the little noise it makes if you plan to use your PC as a media centre.
Why yes, a media centre — it’s certainly a viable idea with the ATI Radeon 5570. The video card has three video outputs — a DVI port, an HDMI (with audio) port and, if you’re feeling old-fashioned, a VGA port.
The HDMI port and the card’s dual-stream 1080p playback support means that you can plug your PC into a HDTV, pop in a Blu-Ray disc, kick back and enjoy a movie in HD.
The ATI Radeon 5570 comes with a few extra features, although to be honest we’re not entirely excited about them.
We feel that these features are more suited for a high-end video card with the power to make full use of them. It’s like mounting a rear spoiler onto a Proton Saga; it doesn’t exactly make it a race car.
First, the ATI Radeon 5000 series supports Microsoft’s latest DirectX 11 technology. DX 11 promises significantly improved graphics processing and visual rendering, but if you’re the sort of person who really cares about the best quality of graphics possible then you’re probably better off purchasing something higher in the Radeon line.
Besides, the few games of note that actually support DirectX 11 include the upcoming Crysis 2. And if you really believe that you’ll be able run the latest game on a budget gaming machine then, sir, we have a bridge that we wish to sell to you.
Second, if you’re a fan of plugging every opening available to you — we know we are —you can utilise all three of the card’s video outputs using ATI’s Eyefinity technology.
This is great if you have productivity in mind; sharing a single display across three monitors, side by side, gives you a significant amount of desktop space.
However, if you’re planning to play a game that runs at, say, a 5,760 x 1,200-pixel resolution across three monitors, then we hope the game you have in mind isn’t too intensive for this entry-level video card. Say, perhaps, Pacman?
(Actually, come to think of it, if you’re buying graphics cards on a budget, where’d you get the cash to purchase two extra monitors?)
If you really can’t be bothered making sense of the technical details, framerate comparisons and such, then the bottomline is this: The ATI Radeon 5570 is a great video card for its price.
It lets you enjoy most of the currently available PC games at a very, very reasonable quality, and it also has the capability to serve in a decent home theatre PC/media centre.
Now, go get the Radeon 5570 to finish building your gaming rig and use the savings to enjoy even more original games.
Pros: Excellent power for its price.
Cons: Nothing much.
Entry-level graphics card
Manufacturer: AMD
OTHER FEATURES: ATI Eyefinity multi-display support (up to 3 monitors), ATI CrossFireX support (multi-GPU technology), HD Audio controller integrated with HDMI. 3D stereoscopic support.

Cell Review: Nokia N900

EASY TO USE: The N900's homescreen is highly customisable
allowing you to place shortcuts, widgets and contacts on a page.

Smartphones are all the rage and Nokia is set on restaking its claim in this area with their latest N900 device.
Not to be mistaken as the successor to last year’s N97, the N900 succeeds the Nokia N800 Internet tablet.
As Nokia’s current flagship phone, the N900 is the first of its kind to support the new Maemo 5 platform. In terms of physical design, the N900 is really clean and squarish in nature, lacking any buttons on the front panel.
It is comparably thicker than most modern smartphones and it is kind of like a throwback to older N-series phones like the N95.
Still, the phone remains at a pocketable size though it may be a little squeeze in a tight pair of jeans.
Featuring a large 3.5in touchscreen, the phone is primarily touch driven. The screen doesn’t use a capacitive touchscreen like the iPhone so it doesn’t do multi-touch gestures like pinch to zoom.
Instead it uses the same resistive touchscreens implemented in other Nokia phone models so it isn’t as responsive as the iPhone’s capacitive screen.
The screen is quite a fingerprint magnet, often leaving lots of smudges and prints after each use. It has a generously large 800 x 480-pixel resolution, which gives the extra real estate needed to render full webpages.
The N900 has a slide-out keyboard that comes in handy for text messaging and web browsing. Though the buttons are well laid out, they are densely packed into a small area so users with large fingers may have problems typing.
The phone also features a pair of stereo speakers that are of decent quality for casual music listening and is sufficiently audible for taking calls on loudspeaker mode.
The back houses a powerful 5-megapixel camera that takes both photos and videos. A nifty slide-out cover protects the camera lens when it is not in use and instantly activates the camera when opened.
There’s also a little kickstand that holds the phone up on a flat surface at an angle which is useful when you want to watch videos on it.
PROP IT UP: The N900 has a handy little kickstand
to prop it up when you want to watch videos on it.
In use
The Maemo 5 operating system is the core of the N900. The first thing that struck us upon using it was just how different it looked and felt in comparison with the Nokia’s Symbian-based smartphones.
The N900’s home screen is an entirely new environment that has been completely rehauled to be visually pleasing.
It is a highly customisable environment that allows you to set your desktop anyway you like it to be.
You can drop widgets, bookmark websites or create shortcuts to your favourite contacts across four panels that you easily switch between by swiping across the screen.
Menu navigation on the N900 feels smooth and seamless, giving users easy access to settings without having to go through multiple windows.
Powered by a powerful ARM Cortex A8 600MHz processor, the N900 runs very smoothly when transitioning between different applications and is more than capable of handling multitasking applications.
Tapping on the upper left icon takes you back to a screen that Nokia calls the “Dashboard” — here you get a full view of all active applications and allows you to freely switch between them.
The web browsing experience on the N900 is much improved and it delivers a browsing experience that very close to the desktop experience.
The flexibility and compatibility of the N900’s default browser is quite astounding and it has full support for Adobe Flash.
This means that visually-rich Flash-based websites are no problem for the N900. We loaded Facebook on the N900 and used it exactly as we would on a desktop, even as far as playing Facebook games like FarmVille on it.
Another cool thing we liked about the new Maemo platform is how the N900 is able to integrate contacts from your phone address book with those online on your instant messaging client.
This means you can pull up a contact and choose between calling, SMS or instant messaging them all within one simple interface.
One drawback to the phone is its short battery life. With 3G turned on, the phone could just barely make it through the day on a single charge.
Applications for the N900 can be downloaded via the Ovi Store or application manager. However the catalogue of Maemo applications is still very limited.
Though majority of applications are free to download, the Ovi Store lacks applications for Twitter or Foursquare if you’re into social networking.
Sadly, the only two useful Maemo applications that are worth mentioning on Ovi Store are Firefox and Facebook.
However the Facebook 'app' has pretty limited functionalities as it can only show you status updates and notifications. It acts more like a widget and you cannot update your own status or do anything else with it.
The only game worth playing that is available on the Ovi Store is Angry Birds, which is ported from the iPhone.
The drawback to the Maemo version of the game is that it is limited to just 21 levels and users will need to pay for additional levels.
Conversely the iPhone version of the game has 63 levels available. There’s also noticeably lag on the Maemo version of the game though it does not impact the gameplay greatly.
There are however a lot more applications you can download through the application manager, either via WiFi or 3G connection. Admittedly this alternative source for applications feels half-baked.
There’s no way to quickly search through the catalogue for applications so you’ll need to manually scroll through hundreds of applications to find something you’re looking for.
Though its application library spans a variety of categories such as games, multimedia and office productivity tools, the selection is rather limited with only a handful that are actually useful.
Still, there are a few gems that can help customise your phone such as a WiFi switcher to turn your connection on or off as when needed; or a brightness adjustment bar on the status/notification menu to quickly access these basic functions.
If you want to play games on the N900, there are also a few emulators that you can download for running Super Nintendo, Sega Master System and Amiga ROMs.
Some of the useful applications preinstalled in the phone include an RSS reader for aggregating news from your favourite websites and a podcast download tool.
The fact still remains though that the Maemo platform still has a long way to go in terms of apps before it can be a contender to the iPhone and Android.
Perhaps with time more applications will populate the Ovi Store and there will be some actual killer applications for the platform.
Great for music and videos
We didn’t quite expect the N900 to be a phone for media playback but the default media player application does a very decent job. Within it you can access your music, videos and even stream live Internet radio.
There are notable improvements to the music player in the N900 — not only does the player look better but it is also easier to find songs now that they are arranged by albums.
The video player is really quite amazing as it supports a wide variety of formats such as MOV, WMV and AVI files out of the box, thus making it useful for watching videos.
You can also download additional video codecs via the application manager to enable the media player to play MKV files as well.
REAR VIEW: The back of the N900 has a
powerful 5-Megapixel camera with autofocus.
Video playback quality is reasonably good and smooth for down-coverted videos, though the N900 can also play unconverted movies meant for larger screen resolutions. But the drawback to this is that the videos tend to stutter.
The 5-megapixel camera takes good quality pictures and the addition of a dual LED flash helps it take pictures when it’s dark. The phone can also record videos but we found the performance to be disappointing.
The camera doesn’t auto focus as you are recording videos so when you switch from recording something close up and then pull out to a wider angle, things get out of focus. Additionally there are noticeable dropped frames even as you record and videos subsequently stutter during playback.
Overall, the N900 is an interesting smartphone from Nokia that is a refreshing change from the old Symbian platform. From what we could tell, Maemo 5 is a stable and reliable platform with its main strength being able to run multiple applications simulatenously.
The N900 also serves as a great device for web browsing and its support for Flash means the experience is really close to browsing on a desktop. Also it plays both music and videos very well so you won’t be short of any entertainment when you’re out on the road.
However, the platform as a whole still feels very experimental. Much of the interface is new so there is a bit of a learning curve to using the device.
Furthermore there’s a need for more applications as the current pool is just too limited. Another point of contention is the device’s poor video recording and the short battery life.
But on the whole, the N900 is a great workhorse that let’s you do a lot of things. If you’re a mobile tech enthusiast who enjoys tinkering and customising your phone to suit your needs, this is the phone for you.
Pros: Great for web browsing; Flash support; superb video and music playback; able to multitask.
Cons: Limited number of applications at the moment; poor video recording; poor battery life.
Nokia N900
Touchscreen smartphone
CAMERA: 5-megapixels (dual LED flash)
DISPLAY: 3.5in, TFT resistive touchscreen (800 x 480-pixels)
EXPANSION SLOT: microSD (up to 16GB)
BATTERY: 1,320mAh lithium-ion (BL-5J)
STANDBY/TALK TIME: 10 days/6 hours
OTHER FEATURES: Full keyboard, A-GPS, geotagging, accelerometer, FM radio, Media Player with DivX/XviD support, Maemo Internet browser, Ovi Maps
DIMENSIONS (w x h x d): 110.9 x 59.8 x 18mm
WEIGHT: 181g
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