Got my N810 today…

I was originally planning to get an N800, but a combination of that being on backorder and a realization that the store I was buying from is charging below average for the N810 and way above average for the N800, led me to changing my order to an N810. The guy who helped me with that was even kind enough to give me an $8 discount! (Oh boy!).

Here is a huge, disorganized list of first impressions. Who knows? Maybe someone will actually find it useful…:

  • Holy crap, it’s small… and shiny, metal, and big-screened! Real metal. Mmmm…
  • Definitely pocket friendly. Even fits in my shirt’s pocket if I leave out the case it came with…
  • I seem to do better typing with the touch screen thumb keyboard than the real one. Seems it may grow on me, though. Even as it is, it’s nice to have for those numerous cases where virtual keyboards do not work.
  • This is the first device I have used where all space surrounding the screen is justified. If the screen was any larger, I would not have space to put my fingers. Perfect.
  • Comes out of the box with a removable screen protector attached. However, the thing has a huge white sticker over it that, when I removed it, left behind a horrible sticky mess. Prompted an emergency trip to find a new screen protwctor; went with a PSP one, which I cut to fit.
  • GPS has worked well for me. This may be because I am in a small suburb. Locked on with reasonable accuracy in about 30 seconds. Neat that I can set an alarm for when near certain types of places!
  • Media playback is smooth for me! Dropped some TV shows from my computer to the tablet, paying no attention to formats, and I could watch them happily in Canola. Large changes to the picture seemed to cause some lag with one of the videos, but I imagine some reformatting – or using different feeds – could solve the issue.
  • Microphone is really clear, yet also very sensitive!
  • This gadget begs to be used in portrait mode. It feels extremely comfortable that way.
  • I’m not allowed to use sudo, with a message appearing to tell me that I would break my system. Security-mindedness ends there, however, as the system will happily allow remote login as root. Instead of the relatively safe sudo, I have found myself creating a whole new session as root with ssh root@localhost. Seems a bit easier than finding this mystical “becomeroot” package.
  • Speaking of becomeroot, the package manager scares me. “Categories” are both repositories /and/ organization tools?! I seem to have ended up with a bunch of seemingly duplicate repositories (sorry, Categories) that are really just misspelled versions of others. For example, “repostory.maemo.org” is the URL for one. I guess the categories would make sense if application developers maintained a philosophy of “one sensibly named Category per project / application,” but that seems to have been thrown out the window already judging by all the permutations of Command Line Interface and Web there are in the categories list. I guess the best choice is to use the one-click install and completely ignore the installable applications list. To their credit, the Maemo folks seem to have built an invincible system. I have not broken it yet, even with this madenningly crazy package manager with which I have become obsessed. For that, I am willing to forgive them for making root access tricky to get.
  • Having said that, the omweather applet went crazy and made my system freeze on startup. Fortunately, it was not a kernel panic but a dreadful loss of performance. I had installed openssh-server previously, so logged in remotely via ssh to edit some config files. Nice to have a familiar command line interface! OMWeather is the only thing to have truly killed the system, however. Nokia: Look at your applet loading code; it seems to put too much trust in the things working. As for omweather screwing up, it was because I deleted all the weather stations. Neat feature, though: It can automatically select the nearest weather station based on GPS information.
  • I went on a mad frenzy of installing stuff, and almost immediately filled up rootfs. Okay, it makes sense to use that for applications and leave everything else to the 2GB internal memory, but why the heck is my home folder also there, wasting valuable space? Sure, I can put my own content on internal memory manually, but what about cache and configuration files?
  • The Curse of Monkey Island works! I never got around to playing that when it was new, so this is good…
  • Lots of wimpy writers claim the screen’s beauty to be indescribable, so I will describe what they failed to: No matter how closely I look, I can not discern individual pixels. I doubt that human eyes could find a difference between this screen’s clarity and the real world’s.

The N810 is incredible hardware, but I think the software end of things is still a little bit shakey. It’s definitely built for people who know what they are doing. Unlike a lot of “great hardware, unfinished software” situations, though, the N810’s software is going to be built on for a long time yet — and when that stops happening with the Maemo platform, I am still reasonably free to install another platform altogether. The N810 is unique because it is one of few devices where software and hardware are two different things, which is something I expect we will be seeing a lot of as Linux advances in the handheld computers arena.