So far my N900 seems to be a lot zippier with the latest firmware and I have heard reports that battery life should also be improved significantly so will keep an eye on this too. I just read a great tip from Mark over at The Nokia Blog where you can actually switch to portrait mode in the default web browser with a bit of finger gymnastics. Mark created a video to show how this works. You will need the latest firmware to enable this capability.
I didn’t watch the video at first and just read that you need to press Ctrl-Shift-O to enable portrait mode and after doing this over and over I saw now switch at all. I then watched the video and discovered you enter this three-finger press and then close the keyboard to see the browser in portrait mode. You can then open and close the keyboard to toggle back and forth. To turn off this functionality you can do the three-finger toggle again. To me, this is actually a very slick default to have since I always browse with the keyboard open in landscape anyways. Google Reader’s iPhone formatted page looks and works great in portrait mode and is something I use all the time. FYI, text input fields do NOT appear to work in portrait mode so this orientation is just a good way for single hand browsing where you can scroll with your thumb and is not for power surfing.