The time had come for me to get an upgrade for my phone and I pondered on what it would take to replace my Palm Centro. I did think of just simply getting another one but realized that I needed something better. The keys were too small and part of it being old was that the power key wasn’t working well among other maladies that come with a phone aging. That aside, I scratched my head over having a “feature” phone i.e. one with little capabilities and sometimes a keyboard for texting. Problem is, those phones are flimsy and break up quickly. It started to look like the features that made a phone a good, durable one had gone into smartphones.
I thought of having an Android or Blackberry. Why not the iPhone? Well I already have one but its on my wife’s account and has a number for a different state. I’m still getting questions from the folks here at home as to why I should have 2 phones. Works well for me. We have 2 family plans in the house and things balance out well. The thing is I didn’t want 2 phones with web access. One would’ve been enough. I love the iPhone and can’t see myself without it. Why I liked the Palm Centro is that its really a smart phone and was offered at a time when Verizon didn’t require that you have a data plan for such items. If they had continued to do this my decision making process would’ve been much easier. I was beginning to feel robbed in that it was getting harder to get the perfect fit.
The perfect fit I think came when I was browsing around and saw Verizon offering the Blackberry bold, a phone I was eying at $29.99. Of course with 2 year agreement. I jumped at this chance and lo and behold, it was not only that but somehow since I was holding out against updating my prior 2 year agreement, I was given some kind of credit. My cost? $0 complete with shipping and handling.
Well that did it. I went online and in a few days, I got my RIM Blackberry. Somehow already I wasn’t feeling elated. Maybe other things on my mind. My wife started making her snide remarks about boys and their toys blah blah blah. But even that didn’t give me that push back to want to show her I’m a grown man.
Setting up the phone was easy. I was amazed at the activation process. Normally you would have to do a bunch of number inputs but they already had my phone’s serial number and everything ready to go. I just needed to enter some security info and in no time, my phone was activated.
I installed the Blackberry desktop software and apart from a problem it had updating applications where it just hung, everything went relatively smoothly. Using the phone however became a learning experience. Firstly, it took some getting used to with the horizontal screen. Cool as it is to some, the world is now a vertical thing with lots of screen space top to bottom. Not only was the screen small but didn’t seem to want to cooperate with holding it vertical. The keyboard was very good. This is one thing I know I would like. The keys are still small and I would use the Motorola Droid over it anytime but I liked it. Coming from the world of the iPhone, its all about the apps. Rim does have a formidable array of choices here and quite a few come already loaded mostly to do the basic. However, in terms of the quality one would expect from the iPhone, it wasn’t there. Take the browser. Really take it out and put in something more meaningful. It reminds me of ones on Windows phones 2 years ago. Hardly functional, without the capability of properly displaying web pages and not easy to really archaic in design. Using the phone felt like I was going back in time. Then there was the micro track pad. This is a replacement for the trackball of the older Blackberry models and it worked ok but the problem here is that the screen wasn’t touch capable. I initially smeared the glass by trying to use the screen for navigation. Everywhere you wanted to go you had to use that trackpad. Again, I’m so spoiled by the iPhone. Interestingly enough, it has a Twitter and Facebook app. Both are again, archaic in terms of their functionality and barely useful.
With all of its shortcomings, one need not forget why the Blackberry is what it is. Its a business tool. It integrates well into the systems of corporations which makes it a formidable tool for executives to communicate. You don’t have all the fancy trimmings to distract you but messages to receive and deliver. The big draw was the instant communications capability the phones have. Your connection is the actual network so when an email is sent, its received instantly. Even the iPhone can’t do that and has to download email messages. Blackberry has BBM or BlackBerry Messenger which is its instant messenger feature. Of course, with internet access, you can use one of the existing IM services like Yahoo, AOL, MSN and Google to communicate this way. And you can do this without having to send out your cryptic BBM number.
One of the good things the Blackberry has is the ability to connect to GSM networks which is useful abroad. You’ll only need to get a SIM card from one of the foreign countries you visit. There are many prepaid systems which can work very well for the business traveler and save quite a bundle.
There are more features of the Blackberry that I haven’t gone into as yet but as I do I’ll post. In the meantime, I have to say to RIM, step up your game and truly compete with the Android and iPhone with how things look and feel. These truly represent the computer in the palm of your hand and if you don’t offer products that do the same, you’ll go the way of the Dodo bird. Right now you guys are enormously popular especially in 3rd world countries. With Android phones however, this can change and that has already started. Yes, you rock in business as folks would be more into communicating instead of being distracted by cool web pages and apps. However, this is something people are beginning to anticipate as the norm and if you don’t deliver this, you’re gone. For now, let me see how this BBM thing works? Shucks, I have to send a text message to my friend to have him send me his BBM number. Oh well, this is going to be interesting.
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