There are no controls on the Nokia N900 front panel, the only other functional element being the earpiece, the video-call camera and a couple of sensors on top.
The top (if the handset is held in portrait mode that is) hosts one of the speakers along with the microUSB slot and the lanyard eyelet.
The other speaker is at the bottom, next to the lock slider, the 3.5mm audio jack and the microphone pinhole. The large and a bit cheapish looking stylus also goes in here.
The left side of Nokia N900 has no functional elements whatsoever.
On the right you get the volume rocker, the power key and the camera button. The infrared port(!) is also here. A peculiar decision by Nokia is to give the users no manual control over it and leave it only for remote control applications and the likes.
The back features the 5 megapixel camera and the dual LED flash. They are hidden under a small protective cover which should be more than enough to protect them from getting scratched.
There's also a kickstand here, which can be extended to make it possible to lay the phone on a desk or a table at an angle suitable for watching video. A small magnet takes care of retracting the stand when you are done using it.
Finally, we come to one of the most important parts of the Nokia N900 hardware - the slide-out QWERTY keyboard. As we mentioned the handset doesn't slide out too much which has left less space for the keys.
Nokia chose (or were forced to use depending on how you look at it) a three-row layout which means that virtually every key has two and some have three symbols. So you will need to do a lot of work with the Alt and Shift keys, that's for sure. It's good there is a virtual on-screen dialing pad so you don't have to make your calls using the QWERTY one.
The keys themselves are pretty cool to type on. The tactile feedback and movement are so nicely done that you can achieve pretty great speed. However the limited space means smaller keys will less spacing between them so users with extremely large hands should probably check it out hands-on before handing out the cash.
How comfortable did we feel with it? Well, let's just mention that half the software part of this preview was written on the handset itself. It's that good.
So that's that with the hardware for now, let's take a peek inside the beast. That Maemo OS certainly looked nice on those screenshot but what about its real-life performance. Join us on the next page to find out.