The first MeeGo Summit has been filled with thrilling highs and troubling lows. Since MeeGo has yet to launch on a wide array of products, most of the developers and press here had only limited experience with the OS. I stuck version 1.1 (you can find it here) on my old Eee PC, but that only helped a little.
MeeGo is designed primarily for touch interface devices, and working with it in a non-touch environment was a little frustrating. Fortunately, Nokia and Intel had our backs. They gave out free Lenovo IdeaPad S-10's to every Summit attendee. Each came with a flash drive loaded with MeeGo 1.1 and either Broadcom or Open Source wifi drivers. As the Intel rep phrased it,
"You can either use the Open Source drivers, or you can use the ones that actually work."
While some of the coders among us had no trouble fixing the Open Source drivers and getting their WiFi operational, I elected to take the lazy route. It's been a tiring few days.
THE FIRST MEEGO TABLET!
Okay, so this is technically a tablet-netbook. And it's also not running a commercial release version of MeeGo OS. Also, the WeTab is technically the first MeeGo tablet, but it runs on a heavily customized version of the OS and, well, kind of sucks. Anyway, on to the review.
Even at this early stage, MeeGo is extremely fast. I noticed short lag spikes opening up my browser, but the browser itself was responsive and the UI simply flies. There's a high level of web integration here. The second I logged into Gmail on Chrome, my home ("Myzone") screen populated with a Gmail widget. Nice.
As a touchscreen UI, MeeGo is very intuitive. It took about ten minutes for me to figure everything out. MeeGo is mostly seamless, but there is a powerful Windows-style file browser that gives you added control when you need it.
There is no on-screen keyboard. I'd imagine this will be fixed by the time an actual MeeGo tablet hits the wider market, but for now the absence is rather glaring.
During most tasks, moving your cursor to the top of the screen causes a thin section of shortcut menus to pop down. This doesn't happen in the browser though, which means you need to actually exit in order to get back Home. While MeeGo saves all of your tabs, re-opening the browser prompts them all to re-load. It's kind of a pain in the ass.
While the S-10 has a (really damn good) capacitive multitouch display, multitouch doesn't seem to have made its way in as of 1.1. No pinch-zoom yet.
Also, flick-scrolling isn't possible. You have to actually touch the scroll bar to scroll. Ugh.
And there are basically no apps right now, and no integrated application store of any type. That's bound to change by launch. Right?
The Just Plain Weird.
The first time I logged into my Gmail chat account I was bombarded with a ton of messages from my ex-girlfriend. Most of them were...friendly, which baffled me until I realized that all of those IMs were over a year old.
No more messages from the past have appeared, but seriously. What the hell?
MeeGo has promise. A lot of promise, actually. Beyond being the most open OS out there, it flows extremely well and does a good job of getting you the info you need when you need it. The UI is a very good merger of convenience and control. Browser integration is fantastic, and Chrome works well within MeeGo.
There are still some glaring, gaping holes in the OS. The inability to play most files is a pain, as is the lack of multi-touch. Battery life hasn't been optimized either. It seems to be about as efficient as Windows 7 right now (it should be much more efficient) and several developers have complained to me about rapid battery drains.
Digging through MeeGo pulls up a lot of gold...and quite a few chunks of pyrite as well. There are holes to fix (we'll see if 1.2 does that) but the main thing holding MeeGo back is developers, developers, developers.* The apps are what make or break any operating system, and MeeGo is running low on time to get an ecosystem going.
*Apologies to Steve Ballmer