This is a screen grab of the Nokia N900 phone dialer. It’s the only part of this super high-powered Linux phone that has a vertically-oriented display.
And for yours truly, that’s a bit of a problem.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate the awesome slide-out qwerty keypad or the desktop-worthy web browser. It’s just that when I’m out in the world I’m often carrying bags, opening doors, or holding on to the overhead safety bar during rush hour on the subway — so I don’t have two hands available for texting, web browsing [see update below] or whatever.
As such, I’m not sure I’m the right candidate for the N900 in its present form. But I think it’s perfectly suited for a different type of user.
I imagine that this type of user would spend most of their working day indoors — at a desk, in a meeting room or an airport lounge. Not to say that they’re sedentary; quite the opposite, in fact — they would need something smaller and handier than a laptop to take with them as they move between conference rooms or international terminals, for example.
They might work in tech support or be a community manager for some organization’s online presence. Or they might be a blogger and/or citizen journalist, uploading text and other media while on the move. But to use the N900 effectively they would ultimately need to sit down or at least stop in their tracks for a few minutes to interact with it using two hands.
Using my N97 is a completely different experience; while the N900 is rich and immersive the N97 is quick, easy and convenient. The availability of Java apps like Opera Mini make a difference, as do the generally larger font sizes (albeit with a lower-res display) — but mostly it’s the ability to use any app in portrait mode that makes something like the N97 more efficient to use. At least for me.
UPDATE: The built-in web browser actually does have a portrait mode. The details can be read here — it’s not enabled by default for some reason, which I why I missed it as I wrote this post.
I think my criticism is still valid, though — enabling portrait support for the Conversations app alone would go a long way towards making the N900 more usable. What do you think?