Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Hopping on the BBB (Blackberry Bandwagon)

This isn’t going to be a groundbreaking series of reviews. The Pearl has been out for awhile and Blackberry has some exciting new devices coming out soon. I am basically writing this from the point of view of someone who has been using Windows Mobile devices for three solid years now and not used anything else. I have already asked to be included in beta testing for Celio Corp again for the Redfly when the Touch Pro is released on Verizon so don’t expect me to convert to BB over this. However, I have found in the last 36 hours of using this device that I don’t think I will be bored waiting for the Touch Pro to come out.

As I mentioned before, I chose the Pearl over the Curve partly because of price (got it on eBay), but mainly due to form factor. I absolutely love the shape and feel of this device. To be honest I probably wouldn’t have gotten a BB at all if it weren’t for the Pearl. A salesman stopped by yesterday and had a Curve and they are way too wide for me. It would be like carrying a graham cracker in my pocket.

The other reason I never looked at BB besides being a non-win mo device is that Blackberries have been traditionally non-touchscreen. Now the Storm is changing the game in that area.

Well for the most part, the transition to Blackberry has been pretty good. I did not get an instruction manual for the phone (wouldn’t of used it anyways) so the first few hours were rough. Getting the email account setup was an ordeal since I use a hosted exchange server. I currently use 4smartphone.net for my email. They do offer their service for the Blackberry called (duh!) 4Blackberry.net. I did not want to shell out the dough or even bother with a trial period and risk messing up my MS Exchange Server with them.

So I got registered for Blackberry Internet Service which takes care of my email since I don’t have access to a Blackberry Enterprise Server. Instead of using your exchange server address you use the URL of your OWA (Outlook Web Access). Near as I can tell, I can only get email using BIS, so I signed up for a free trial of Astrasync which does Over-the-air syncing for calendar and contacts….but not Tasks. I had to download the Blackberry Desktop Manager to sync tasks by USB. You also need the Desktop Manager in order to do system upgrades (I will talk about those later). Hopefully I will figure out one solution for OTA syncing for email, contacts, calendar, and tasks.

Once I finally got all my PIM data going, I could start getting into the nuts and bolts of the device. The first thing I noticed was that the trackball made up for the lack of touchscreen. I got the trackball speed adjusted and it works great.

Coming from Windows Mobile I can say it has not taken me long to get very familiar with the BB OS. I am sure there are some shortcuts or little things I could be doing that would make things better, but so far I can’t complain.

There are a few things I have a serious problem with at the moment I need a solution for:

PDF rendering is HORRIBLE. When you view a pdf “Fit to screen” it is too small to read but when you zoom in it just becomes so fuzzy its unreadable. Totally unacceptable.

I can’t find a way to put it to sleep with only one key waking it up. I have the “Left Convenience Key” as they call it mapped to keyboard lock, but I carry it in my pocket and any keypress will keep the device awake. Amazingly battery life so far has not been affected by it. I know they make holsters that put it to sleep and wake it up when you take it out, but I like to pocket mine.

I probably won’t be getting a Storm (never say never), but for those of you thinking about making a jump from win mo to BB, I wouldn’t be so worried if I were you. I will keep updating you with my thoughts over the next week.


Matilda444 said...

I am appreciating this thread very much, thank you! So many times, I've almost purchased a Blackberry and chickened out at the last minute. My Exchange Server syncs so easily with Windows Mobile devices and I'm very hesitant to mess with something that works so well. Though, I have to admit, I'm more than a little bored with Verizon's hardware these days . . .

James A. Morman said...

I agree Verizon seems to always have a crappy lineup...case in point they still have the Treo 700wx available.
I am glad you like the thread.