Despite becoming the sole owners of Symbian, Nokia have gone ahead and announced the N900. The N900 is the next in the 770/N800/N810 line of devices based on the Debian-derived Maemo platform. Unlike it’s predecessors however, the N900 is in fact a phone. One of the best things about the previous Maemo devices is the lack of restrictions on what you could do. Enabling root access to the underlying Linux system was possible (and easy) allowing a lot of access. Even updating it with unsigned firmware images was allowed. In theory this will all be possible with the N900, but in practice, things might not be so open. I remember a quote from someone at Nokia some time ago along the lines of “As soon as you put a sim in it, the operators want a piece of it”. Although you can get a sim-free unlocked N900 (the UK price is advertised as £499.99) I’d guess any operator subsidised N900 will have restrictions.
I recently finally got a new mobile phone contract with a Nokia N73 with T-Mobile (UK), complete with “unlimited” Internet access. I have to say it is actually more useful than I thought it would be. I have a little app called GCalSync which synchronizes the calendar with Google Calendar. I also have the official Google Mail client which is almost perfectly (it doesn’t seem to show whether messages in my inbox have a label or not - but it’s a minor concern). The best bit though it accessing the internet from Nokia 770 using the N73 as a bluetooth modem. Setting is not as straight forward as it should be. The 770 has settings wizard and T-Mobile Internet is an option, but it’s settings are wrong. After searching for a bit I found the correct settings:
- Number to dial: *99***1#
- APN: general.t-mobile.uk
- Username: user
- Password: pass
The “1” part of the number to dial has a slight chance of being different. This number refers to the different connections your phone might have setup. By default the one you want is the first one and will only need to be something different if you’ve changed things. After that you may want to set your 770 as a trusted device (in the bluetooth pairing options on you N73) so that you don’t need to say “OK” all the time on your N73 when your 770 wants to connect.
Someone on the MythTV mailing list recently announced GMyth, a library based on ANSI C and GObject to provide access to Myth backends in a GTK environment. Their ultimate goal is to have MythTV accessible from a Nokia 770/N800 complete with live transcoding. You can find lots more info over on MoRpHeUz’s Blog.
There is now a single click installation route for getting Mono on the Nokia 770 and Nokia N800. Basically it sets up installation repositories and installs the runtime. From that any apps you install will install only the components they need. Whether there are any really cool Mono apps for Maemo yet is something I don’t know. But I’m sure there will be :)
I recently managed to get video streaming (and transcoding in real time) to my Nokia 770 :D Here’s a guide for anyone wanting to do the same thing. This assumes you have a wireless network with a computer on it. The first thing you need to do is install MPlayer on your 770. The media player that comes with it is too limited with regards to what it can play. The interface to Maemo MPlayer is a bit limited but I tend to start it from the command line anyway. Then install VLC (VideoLAN client) on your PC. VLC is a cross platform media player with wonderful codec support and more important built in streaming and transcoding support. To stream (and transcode) using VLC, go to the Open File dialog box and select “Stream/Save” (and click the associated “Settings” button). From there select HTTP streaming (remember the port) and set up your transcoding options. The following are ideal for the 770:
- M4V video
- MP3 audio
- 256 kbps video
- 64bps audio
- Width: 400
- Height: 244
You need to fiddle a bit to specify the width and height. As you select the options you’ll notice the “target” field at the top change. Highlight the bit that says “scale=1” and replace it with “width=400,height=244”. You can also select play locally if you want to see what it’s playing on the screen at the same time. After you’ve done all that click OK as many times as necessary to get back out of the windows and click Play. The video will now be streaming to anyone trying to listen. The first thing to do is to test it using VLC itself. Open another instance of VLC and go to File -> Open Network Stream. Select HTTP and enter your IP address or (localhost) and the port you selected earlier. When you hit play you should see the video clip playing (quite small). If not, then try again… Assuming it’s all working, it’s time to see it on the 770. Run XTerm (you really need XTerm if you want to do cool stuff with a 770) and type in the following:
mplayer -cache 8192 -aspect 16:9 http://_your.ip.address_:_port_ Hopefully you’ll have your video clip playing wonderfully on your 770 :D 256kbps is good enough for most clips at that resolution. Actions scenes get a bit blocky but don’t complain too much. 256kbps is also low enough to fit through most if not all ADSL upstream connections and, even better, small enough to fit through newer cellphone connections (the 770 can use a phone as a bluetooth modem). In fact UK readers on T-Mobile can get Web ’n’ Walk Max for £22.50 a month get 10GB of bandwidth and are allowed to use the connection for video streaming and Voice Over IP. My final goal would be getting it to work with MythTV (it can already use VLC for streaming) and have live TV anywhere I can get a signal on my phone…
For those that don’t know, it isn’t a phone - Nokia market it as an “Internet Tablet”. Basically it’s a PDA running Linux with WLAN, Bluetooth and an 800x480 touchscreen display.
There’s too much about it that’s cool for me to go into right now, so I’ll leave you with the picture :)
Apparently the term “UMPC” is being used by a few people to describe the 770 (and similar devices) - “Ultra Mobile PC”.