RealTime IT News

Nokia's Mini-Tablet Smartphone N900 Ships

Nokia's mini-tablet smartphone device, the N900, running on open source Linux Maemo 5 software, ships today and will be on sale by the end of the month.

The N900 will sell for about $650 at the Nokia pre-order Web site, and is priced at 500 euros, or about $740, without subsidies, which have yet to be disclosed for the U.S.

While the Finnish giant calls the N900 both a "mobile computer" and a "handset," others describe it as a high-end smartphone. Though it appears to fall into the gray area between the two, a sort of mid-sized Internet device (MID), it does have voice calling and is grouped in Nokia's Nseries family.

Despite a murky nomenclature, the N900 does boast an extensive feature set, including Wi-Fi, GPS and a 5-megapixel camera.

It's all powered by the open source Maemo 5 platform and an ARM Cortex-A8 600 MHz processor. The N900 boasts a 3.5-inch touchscreen with 800-by-480 resolution, a keyboard and has 32 GB of internal storage with the capacity for up to 1GB for application memory.

"The Nokia N900 has generated a lot of interest since its public launch in August, which has been reflected in the device preorders," Jose-Luis Martinez, vice president of Nokia's Nseries, said in a statement. "What's exciting is the Maemo software, which takes its cues from the desktop computer and offers a full browsing experience like no other handset. We believe the Nokia N900 will be a very compelling device for people who are passionate about technology."

Still, it's not a good time for an identity crisis, as the N900 faces stiff competition from not only (NASDAQ: AAPL) Apple's iPhone, but also from the family of BlackBerry devices from Research In Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM), Palm's (NASDAQ: PALM) Pre and Pixi and the newcomers in the smartphone sector, the Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android-powered handsets.

The Android crew includes the Cliq and Droid from Motorola, the Hero and Eris from HTC and most recently the Moment and Behold II from Samsung, with Acer's Liquid, Dell's Mini 3iX and Sony-Ericsson's X10 in tow.

Meanwhile, computer vendors are racing to pump out netbooks and tablets to try to offset sagging PC sales.

News of the device's imminent arrival on store shelves comes as the world leader in mobile market share tries to diversify its portfolio, with the N900 at the high end of the wireless family along with a netbook, the Nokia Booklet 3G.

The Booklet 3G is being sold for $299.99 with a two-year data plan from carrier partner AT&T. It is available now for pre-order, with retail sales coming later this month at Best Buy.