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  • BlackBerry Torch – My New Hotness

    Posted on November 30th, 2010 Shawn No comments

    MyGGGo Cell Phone Lineage

    This month my gadget obsession resurges, as I move on from one device to another.  A passing (er, lighting) of the torch, if you will. This past Thursday (that would be Thanksgiving here in the states), I got my hands on the BlackBerry Torch 9800 on AT&T. This post is the intro to a series of articles coming up. The upcoming posts include: first impression, native apps versus 3rd party apps, and more. [Go here for a slew of old articles on previous phones.]

    Let’s talk about why I chose the Torch this time around.  I use my phone as an enterprise device, for both work and personal use. I guess I’m a “prosumer“. In recent years, we have been limited at work to only BlackBerry devices, due the the centralized management and security it brings.  Within this past year, we have been offered the option of iPhone or Android devices, using Good Mobile Messaging software to integrate into our enterprise. Though Good remains limited in digital signing/encrypting of email.

    Those limitations kept me looking at BlackBerry devices, and since I’m not married to any one carrier, I knew immediately that I wanted the BlackBerry Torch for AT&T.

    The main reason, capacitive and large touchscreen. Having spent years with Palm Treo phones, and about 4 months with the BlackBerry Storm, I really have missed touch screen. The Storm “clicky” screen was not acceptable for me, as I could type faster than the screen could respond.  Ultimately creating a brick wall that I could never get past.

    The Torch eliminates the click screen, and it’s what you’d expect from a modern smart phone. There is a slide-up physical keyboard and an on-screen (portrait and landscape) keyboard. The typing options are plentiful.

    The Torch doesn’t have the highest resolution screen, but is plenty good looking. It doesn’t have the fastest processor, but it’s plenty fast. The new BlackBerry OS 6, is relatively snappy and pleasing on the eyes. [My wife, the resident iPhone user in the house, agrees.]

    Other phone options currently available include a multitude of BlackBerry Bold offerings on Verizon and AT&T.  As much as I liked the capability of the Bold 9000 and have heard wonderful reviews of the 9700 (and newer), the larger touch screen is the device for me.

    Coming up soon: My First Impressions article. Native Apps versus 3rd Party Apps article.

    For now, here are a couple accessories I plan to pick up.

  • BlackBerry Bold 9000, Too Clicky & Other Shortcomings

    Posted on August 17th, 2010 Shawn 2 comments

    I have used the BlackBerry Bold 9000 as my primary all-in-one converged phone/media device for 18 months. It’s about time I put this device in its place. Let’s get into the issues: keyboard, no touch screen, Gmail integration, limited internal/application memory, and more.

    Don’t get me wrong, as longtime user of smartphones, the Bold 9000 has some excellent features, but I’m going to be the grumpy old man today. Remember, my smartphone history is: PalmOne Treo 650 (Verizon), Palm Treo 700p (Verizon), BlackBerry Storm 9530 (Verizon), iPhone 3G (AT&T), and of course Bold 9000 (AT&T).

    Keyboard: This keyboard first is just too wide for me. The width needs to be trimmed down a smidge. My former Treo devices had the perfect spacing of keys making typing a breeze. With the Bold 9000, my thumbs need to travel further than necessary. “Click, click, click”, says my keyboard as I type. These keys are ridiculously loud. Just try to type on this thing when you are in a meeting without disturbing everyone in the room; or worse, try checking your email while sitting on a public loo. The guy in the stall next to you is bound to count your clicky keystrokes.

    Lack of Touch Screen: There’s not much to say about this. It’s 2010, get with it. Granted, the phone came out in 2008, but still, combined hardware keyboard and touch screen smartphones (Palm OS, Windows Mobile) have been around since 2005. What’s taking RIM so long to get touch screen phones, with a physical keyboard on it? Yes, we can now get our hands on the BlackBerry Torch 9800, but it astounds me that the flagship BlackBerry devices of 2008 and 2009 did not have touch.

    Gmail Integration: Gmail has 26 million user accounts. Presumably, many of them are using BlackBerry to read/send Gmail. So, how is it that the BlackBerry operating system still does not support 2-way synchronization? If I archive a Gmail message on the Bold, it will automatically archive when displayed on the PC’s web browser. Though, if I archive a Gmail message on the PC’s web browser, the BlackBerry OS is not smart enough to automatically sync. In fact, there’s no way to force a synchronization, which requires me to archive the same message twice.

    Also, if using the BlackBerry’s integrated “Desktop” email client, it displays messages from all integrated email accounts; Exchange, Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL, etc. Though, when using Desktop to display messages, there are none of the expected Gmail features, like Archive and Add Star. If you want to use the Gmail features, you have to leave the Desktop and open the Gmail icon to get those features. Simply, it’s a poor and inefficient implementation of Gmail integration and support.

    Application Memory: This device has a whopping 128MB of memory reserved for the OS, installed applications, and running applications. What this means is if you install more than 10 apps, get ready to run out of memory and have the phone lock-up forcing a reboot. Also, if you have more than three 3rd party apps running simultaneously, same story…out of memory, forced to reboot. Even though there is 1GB of on-board storage and up-to 16GB of microSD storage, you are still limited to 128MB for all apps. That’s just crap.

    Media Playlist Syncing: If you have playlists on the computer in Windows Media Player (WMP) or iTunes, the playlists will only sync to the Bold with the PC installation of the BlackBerry Media Sync application. If you were to use the native WMP or iTunes syncing; music, video, and photos will sync, but no playlists. Stupid, just stupid that RIM cannot use the WMP or iTunes API to get playlists to sync.

    On a good note, that’s about all I can complain about. The Media app is sub-par to iPod or PocketTunes (Palm OS), but it’s usable. The screen resolution is great. The phone, speaker, Bluetooth, and other features are great…but this is my Debbie Downer rant.

  • BlackBerry Magnum, Bold with Touchscreen

    Posted on January 29th, 2010 Shawn No comments

    From zdnet.com

    To the gadget readers, I’m sorry for the lack of postings on gadgets. I’ve been slacking in this area for a while, as I generally have been using Twitter for quick thoughts.

    Well, I have a reason to write up a post now. My history comes from Palm Treo’s, you know the original smartphone with both a real QWERTY keyboard and touchscreen. I love that setup. But, due to rules and regs at my employer, I was required to move over to BlackBerry. My first go round was with the Storm 9530 on Verizon. That’s the BlackBerry that was complete touchscreen with the clicky screen. It was supposed to be Verizon’s answer to the iPhone. Due to the click screen and software bugs (to keep this short), the device was a failure, in my hands-on opinion. My use of the Storm lasted a whopping 3 months. Then I moved to AT&T and got the Bold 9000. That was known as the Cadillac of BlackBerry’s, with a large keyboard, hi-res display, WiFi, GPS, and everything you’d expect in a top notch smartphone. Though, it didn’t have touchscreen.

    Now, let me fast forward to sometime in late 2010 or 2011 (ooh, this is some Back To The Future kind of thing).

    There have been FCC reportings of a new BlackBerry that has both a QWERTY keyboard and touchscreen, code named Magnum. Now, a video has surfaced of a working prototype. And, I have to say…I see my next BlackBerry. This device, or as the prototype shows, is exactly the same size and layout as the Bold 9000 (interesting that it’s not the same size and layout as the newer Bold 9700). Possibly, the Magnum prototype was built before the 9700, and we may eventually see a newer prototype that looks more like the 9700.  Though, I prefer the 9000 size and layout.

    This new phone has a couple changes over the Bold 9000, like a micro-USB input, instead of the mini-USB. Plus there is no trackball or trackpad. That means all navigation takes place on-screen, like the Storm.

    Other than those features, there is the obvious touchscreen, which looks to have the clicky screen of the Storm. Touch = good. Clicky = less than good, but better than nothing.

    I’ll embed the video below. But, as far as things go, I’ve been using the Bold 9000 for just under 1 year, and I’d expect the Magnum to make it onto shelves by Christmas 2010 (or maybe Spring 2011). This will likely be my next phone soon after release.

  • My Top Obsessions of 2009

    Posted on January 6th, 2010 Shawn No comments

    Wow, we are already a week into 2010 and I have yet to post My Top Obsessions of 2009. Shame on me, and sorry for the delay. You may remember what my top 7 obsessions from 2008 were.

    As we wind up 2010, let me recap on the obsessions that have kept me coming back to the blog. In looking over the past 12 months, I’ll highlight the top ten obsessions that have swallowed up all my free time this past year. I’ll also take a look at what obsessions might be cropping up for 2010.

    Here are the obsessions in order of importance to me.

    Picture the ball dropping, and countdown on…
    10. Rock Band Network.
    You may be wondering, why is this at #10 and not higher on the list.  For me, I looked at RBN as a way to get my old bands music (and possible new bands music) into Rock Band. It’s kind of a dream of mine. Then when I got into the RBN beta, I realized (1) I don’t have the free time to do this, (2) I don’t want to free up time to do this. So, RBN, as exciting as it seems to me…has been a pipe dream to me, and my exploration of the tools has been short lived. In 2010, I do expect to take advantage of the grabbing songs from the RBN store, and possibly getting back in the development ring…but, neither is happening yet.

    9. New Site Name.
    This isn’t exactly a highlight, but it is something that took up part of early 2009.I moved my web site to a new host, and changed the URL. It once was at http://blog.javadevelop.com, which was just a spinoff blog of another site. As this site was growing in popularity, I decided to rename it to http://www.MyGGGo.com, short for My Gadget, Game & Gizmo Obsession. It looks to have been a poor decision, since the site statistics showed my daily visitors went form about 300 to about 30. Ouch, that hurt!  Well, you live and you learn.  I’ve decided to stick with the new name and rebuild. Some of you have stuck around, and I greatly appreciate it. I hope to get the site (now going on its 4th year) back up in readership and commenters throughout 2010.

    8. BlackBerry Bold.
    It’s funny to see that last year, the BlackBerry Storm made it to my #3 spot, and truly should continue into 2009. Though, in the wee months of 2009 (Fabruary to be exact) the Storm was replaced by the BlackBerry Bold 9000. It wasn’t replaced because I didn’t like it. It was due to the fact that my company was willing to supply me with a BlackBerry and the Storm wasn’t on the “accepted devices” list. With that, I jumped from the Verizon ship onto AT&T and picked up the Bold. It’s really a great phone, though I wish it had a larger touchscreen. It’s got high-resolution, good call quality, and decent email (funny that BlackBerry does not have the best email client of all). It’s even a good media device, which has allowed me to continue my life of mobile convergence (cell phone, calendar, email, music player, GPS, and web all-in-one). The Bold remains my current device, and I am eyeing an upgrade to the Bold 9700 in the coming months. Although, this blog was founded on gadget obsessions,  formerly known as “My Treo Obsession”, I didn’t spend as much time on BlackBerry posts throughout the year.  An interesting statistic, my readership has suffered for that too.  Looks like I need to get back to my gadget roots here.

    7. New Music Games
    Why do I keep this so general? Well, there were a few music games I picked up this year, and each had something I loved. First, I have to say, I’m disappointed that no Rock Band 3 came out in 2009, but I’m sure it will be stellar when it does. Guitar Hero 5: This is possibly the best party music game of the year. With drop in/drop out play, it’s great for parties. Also, the ability to have 4 players on any instrument is great. Especially at my house right now, where if one person sings, everyone wants to sing; or if one person plays guitar, everyone wants to play guitar. Though the soundtrack didn’t grab me, and all my DLC is on Rock Band, so the game didn’t get much rotation. The Beatles Rock Band: This showed us what Rock Band 3 might be like, with 3 part harmonies. This game is beautiful, we all know enough about it. Guitar Hero Van Halen: This is my favorite music game to play this year. You say. “WHAT?!?!” I love classic Van Halen. Activision, screwed the pooch in it’s implementation of the story and the band, but the songs and charting are fantastic. What’s missing? The same thing as all GH games, DLC. Finally, Lego Rock Band: It’s so much fun to watch the cut scenes, and play Super Easy mode with the little kids. Plus, the import/export of your existing Rock Band library makes this a fun game.  Though, I would have rather seen Rock Band 3 over all of these, it was a decent year of flooded music games.

    6. Slacker Radio.
    The streaming music service available via web browser, stand alone desktop client, iPhone, BlackBerry, and some select Sony TV’s, has been a staple of mine since I learned of the service in late 2007. With the Slacker Radio application for BlackBerry release on February 2009, it truly became my de facto music source for the entire year.  I use it via my web browser at work. I use it in the car via my BlackBerry plugged into my stereo AUX jack, I use it at home via Berry or computer, and when I travel. I’ve made several custom stations including a Rock Band station that I update regularly with all the songs available for the game. 2010 definitely looks to be a year where Slacker continues to be part of my daily obsessions.

    5. Rock Band DLC.
    Rock Band 2 came in at #2 on my 2008 list, and I had anticipated that Rock Band 3 would have come out in 2009.  Well it didn’t but guess what did? Over 370 songs available for download into Rock Band. I didn’t play as much as I would have wanted (due to moving and life), but the abundance of weekly DLC from Harmonix has kept this game (Rock Band 2), although now getting a little long in the tooth, from passing away.

    4. Drumming Stuff.
    This is a continuation from 2008, where drumming made my top list.  This year I successfully built (though not yet completed) a custom electronic drum kit. It’s custom because, I purchased it piece mail via auctions on eBay. A stand here, a pad there, etc. I’ve also used an old “brain” or module (the Yamaha TMX) to connect the kit via MIDI to the Guitar Hero World Tour drum kit.  Now, all my video game drumming takes place on a professional electronic drum kit, instead of the cheap’ish plastic kits that are available for the game.  Due to moving for much of the year, I haven’t used the kit since May, but am in the processes of setting it back up in the new place.  In 2010, I plan to buy some more components to round out the complete pro kit, and write some posts (with photos) on how to build the DIY pro kit.

    3. New Music.
    Last year, GNR with the release of Chinese Democracy made my top list.  This year, I could put in a single album in the list, though I will span this to cover the few albums that got me a bit obsessed this year. At the top, is Green Day’s 21st Century Breakdown. Sure, it got trashed by the GD purists, but I love it. It’s a great listen, easily digestible, well told story, and similar to their American Idiot album. Next is Dream Theater’s Black Clouds & Silver Linings album. I was hooked pre-release due to my resurgence of interest in the band, thanks to Panic Attack and Constant Motion in Rock Band. The new album is 6 songs, but more than 70 minutes. The songs are extremely long, you do the math.  I mostly appreciate the fact that the album was released with a 3-disc set, containing instrumentals and a bonus disc of covers. We also got 311′s Uplifter this year. It was more of a downer than an uplifting experience, as it was just bland.  But, I did obsess over it, so it makes the list.  Finally, Dave Matthews Band release of The GrooGrux King.  Good old DMB. Nothing exciting, just a good listen. The album came out shortly after the death of saxophonist LeRoi Moore.

    [ad#post-banner-ad]
    2. Prototype.
    This game (for PS3 and Xbox 360) got trashed by just about everyone. Worse, it’s near clone, inFamous (for PS3) made it into many pro game journalists top 10 of the year. For me, Prototype was the most played game (excluding rhythm games) for me in 2009. I bought it in July when Amazon had a one-day sale, for $40. It was during a time where I was “without home” and no place to setup my Rock Band lair, so needed something else to pass the gaming time. This game is a sandbox (New York City), much like GTA IV, where you are basically evil and trash anything and everything in your way.  There’s a ridiculous amount of multi button combos, which does take some getting used to. But for me, this 3rd person game has taken more than 40 hours of my year, and I still haven’t finished it or reached 50% of the achievements. It’s not without its issues. (1) There is no Xbox Live component. Which is ok for me, but now that I have played much of the story and some of my friends have picked up the game, we’d really like to play online together. (2) You can’t leave NYC. If you try to cross a bridge or swim away from the island, God sends in an immediate missile strike and you are killed. Towards the end of the game, there is a hint that you get get to a ship, but I haven’t made it yet. (2) There is no DLC. This is a real drag, since the game could really leverage a new downloadable map, possibly some new combos, or something. I would likely pick up DLC if it were ever released. I stand by my words that this is a fun game to play. Find it in the bargain bins and enjoy.

    1. You, the readers, and authors.
    Thanks for those readers who have stuck around during some transitions of 2009.  Thanks to some of my part-time (and near full-time) authors that write posts.  It’s been another fun year of obsessions, and more to come in 2010. I hope to grow the site in different ways this year. Not yet sure how, since It’s a kinda “fly by the seat of my pants” blog.  I’m happy to see some people taking advantage of the Store offerings we add to various posts (sponsored by Amazon and Google), and just glad to see that people enjoy reading and discussing the same things that I obsess about. Thank you!

    With that, we’ve come to the end…

    Happy New Year!

    Please share your top obsessions in comments below.

  • BlackBerry Not Reconciling with Outlook? Read on

    Posted on December 10th, 2009 Shawn 6 comments

    BlackBerry BoldI use a BlackBerry Bold 9000 on AT&T. This is a corporate device, and it’s connected to my companies BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), for over the air (OTA) syncing of email, calendar, contacts, and tasks.

    A few months back, I opted to upgrade my Bold’s operating system to a leaked version of the BlackBerry OS.  After it was complete, my Bold started showing signs of syncing issues.

    In a quick detail it goes like this:

    • I delete an email from Outlook, and it does not automatically delete (aka Reconcile) from the Inbox on the Bold.
    • I open an email in Outlook, and it does not automatically mark as opened on the Bold.

    These things used to work, prior to upgrading the OS.  On the flip side, if I open or delete an email message on the Bold, it does reconcile within Outlook.  So, this is saying the there is some sort of syncing, but it’s not fully working both ways.

    I’ve done many tests, including following RIM’s Knowledge Base suggestions of KB 10939.  I’ve gone as far as to wipe the device (aka remove all the data, applications, and OS; and reinstall an official OS and every app from scratch. I’ve even tried exploring deleting/undeleting messages in Outlook.  None of these options resolved the issue.

    This morning, as I continued to troubleshoot, I stumbled on a tip that suggested I toggle Wireless Reconcile from on/off and then from off/on.  Interestingly, doing this process, cleaned up the Inbox on my Bold to match Outlook.

    The steps to do this process are below (which I suspect are similar for any BlackBerry):

    1. On the BlackBerry, open the email application.
    2. In the menu, select Options > Email Reconciliation.
    3. In Email Reconciliation, change Wireless Reconcile to Off, and then Save.
    4. Return to Email Reconciliation, change Wireless Reconcile to On, and then Save.

    The above steps forced my Inbox on the BlackBerry to match the Inbox on Outlook.

    As a follow-up test, I created a new email message in Outlook and sent to myself. As expected, the message arrived in both my Outlook and BlackBerry Inbox. I opened the message within Outlook, but the message remained unopened in the BlackBerry Inbox. Grrr!

    So, I’m able to do a one-time clean up by using the steps above, but I’m still not able to get the Reconcile feature to automatically update the BlackBerry Inbox.  My plight continues…

    If you have any suggestions, please post below.

  • Slacker Radio for BlackBerry: Update

    Posted on September 21st, 2009 Shawn No comments

    SlackerUpdate20490

    Hey BlackBerry users, and music lovers, our favorite internet radio application has been updated. After a quick check this morning of the BlackBerry App World, I see that I’m offered an upgrade from v2.0.45 to v2.0.49.0.

    In this update we get the following:

    SlackerNotes20490

    All the details in the release notes look warranted to me.  As a heavy user of Slacker on both my desktop and BlackBerry, I’m looking forward to testing out this new version.  If you are new to Slacker, you can point your BlackBerry web browser to www.slacker.com to get the application, or you can use App World on your BlackBerry to get it, or you can go send it to your ‘berry from the App World site on your desk top.  To play Slacker from your desktop web browser, just go to www.slacker.com in your browser of choice to get the complete awesomeness of Slacker.
    [ad#post-banner-ad]
    Slacker is available on all BlackBerry models.  I use it on both the Bold and Storm.  Works great on both, and looks incredible on the Storm.  Slacker also offers a full-featured application for iPhone and iPod Touch too.

  • Must Have Apps for BlackBerry

    Posted on September 8th, 2009 Shawn No comments

    It’s been ages since I wrote about my gadgets, thanks to my love affair with the Xbox 360. Right now my Xbox is setup at work for a big Guitar Hero 5 and Beatles Rock Band event tomorrow.  I’m here talking about my other big obsession, applications for BlackBerry.

    As far as BlackBerry’s go, I’m somewhat of a n00b. My first berry was the Storm 9530 on Verizon, which after 5 months, I switched to AT&T and got the Bold 9000. Don’t worry, I have been a smartphone junky for 6 years now, just recently new to BlackBerry.

    So, now onto my list of must have applications for BlackBerry. I’m going to spare the suspense and jump right into my #1 app and work my way down to the minutiae.

    1. PodTrapper (Versatile Monkey) – This is the premiere podcast player for BlackBerry.  I’m a heavy podcast listener, and in the past used iTunes on my Windows computer to download podcasts.  Then I’d transfer over via Windows Media Player syncing.  Basically, it was a crappy kludge, and I never much liked all the steps to get podcasts on my device. With PodTrapper, all podcasts can be downloaded over the air (OTA), via cell signal, WiFi, or USB. There’s even a pseudo-store front for browsing known ‘casts. The app lives within BlackBerry’s limited usable memory, but the podcasts live in the microSD (or on-board 1GB flash) memory. I use this app several hours every day. It’s available at www.versatilemoney.com for $9.99.
      If you are wondering, the podcasts I most listen to are 2old2type Radio, BB Geeks, CrackBerry.com, Jay Severin, PalmCast, Pandora Presents…SANS Internet Storm Center StormCast, Starpower, The Live Music Podcast, gspn.tv Weekly Lost Podcast, The Xbox 360 Fancast, Major Nelson.
    2. Garmin Mobile GPS - This full-featured GPS is just as good as the stand-alone units and costs the same as the cheap units, but offers features that some of the high-end units can’t match. The benefit of Garmin Mobile for BlackBerry is that your BlackBerry has a cell phone radio in it and the software uses the cell radio to assist in location finding. You may know of tower triangulation, which uses your cell phone radio to determine roughly where you are.  Well, Garmin uses both the on-board GPS and the cell phone radio to locate you (better known as aGPS), which just about every stand-alone GPS does not have.  Also, Garmin Mobile is a very small application and there is no downloading/installing maps. The maps all come to your BlackBerry real-time, OTA. So, as maps (in the Garmin cloud) update, you get them immediately without having to purchase maps every year. Garmin Mobile has the features you’d expect, audible turn-by-turn announcements, 2D, 3D, text views that update as you progress in your trip, speed, and estimated time of arrival (which updates as you progress). It also has traffic warnings, which is another benefit of the cell phone radio. Garmin Mobile will determine the best route if a major road is known to have traffic or construction. On the somewhat downside, if your phone cannot get a cell signal when you start Garmin, the app will not open. It needs a cell signal to get the initial maps. If you lose cell service during your route, that’s ok, as long as your phone can access GPS satellites, your route will continue. For Storm users, you have full touch screen capability, making it even better to use, plus the portrait or landscape layout is very nice. I chose Garmin Mobile for my Bold and my wife’s Storm, instead of paying $100+ for a stand alone unit. It’s available at http://www8.garmin.com/mobile/blackberry/ for $99, but can be found for $79 if you do a little online searching.
    3. [ad#post-banner-ad]

    4. Slacker Personal Radio - This is a free music application that has access to over 100 pre-programmed (and unlimited custom made) radio stations. It’s based on the popular browser based streaming radio at www.slacker.com, and is used daily on my BlackBerry. It has taken over as my primary music player, used more often than the built in BlackBerry Media Player. For Slacker, you pick a station and songs play at random. Stations can be cached, which helps reduce data usage and saves battery. The app is free and all music is free with an occasional advertisement. There is a paid option for about $4 per month, which supports no ads, song lyrics, and other features. You can download it at www.slacker.com.
    5. SocialScope Lite- This is one of the many Twitter applications for the BlackBerry.  Previously, I used TwitterBerry and UberTwitter. I switch out Twitter apps like underwear. This current favorite, also integrates Facebook support into a single feed, which is a good thing for me. I have noticed though, that during times of limited BES coverage, SocialScope does not update, but UberTwitter figures out how to reroute traffic through a different port and works fine. That is something SocialScope, I hope, will fix in their next update. The app is still in beta. It’s free (for now) and can be located at http://www.socialscope.net/.

    Some other mentionables include: GymTechnic, WeatherEye, CaptureIt, LeaveItOn, and I Love BlackBerry.

    I’ll cut there for now. How about you BlackBerry owners, what apps are you using every day?

  • BlackBerry Bold 9000 versus Storm 9530

    Posted on July 28th, 2009 Shawn 2 comments

    I haven’t given enough love lately to My Gadget Obsession, most of my time has been spent on My Game Obsession.  Let’s talk BlackBerry.

    We last left off on the continuing series where I had jumped ship from Verizon Wireless after many years and headed to AT&T.

    Part 1 – Last Days on Verizon Wireless
    Part 2 – First Days on AT&T
    Part 3 – BlackBerry Bold 9000 versus Storm 9530

    Now, let’s talk about My new Gadget Obsession, the BlackBerry Bold 9000. This has been my primary device since February 2009.  As far as smartphones go, this one wins over the three I previously owned (BlackBerry Storm 9530, Palm Treo 650, Palm Treo 700p).  It’s not perfect, but hits enough pluses to be a huge success for me.

    Since I am both a Bold and Storm owner, I feel I can give a fair comparison of the two.  I’ll put features in categories to make it a quick read.

    Screen - The Storm has a much larger screen (3.25 inches versus ~2.3 inches), yet only a slightly higher resolution (480 x 360 pixels versus 480 x 320 pixels).  What this translates into is the Bold has a brighter, crisper display. Side-by-side, there’s no comparison, the Bold looks nicer.  Though, the sheer size of the Storm display, at 480 x 360 is higher than the iPhone, is extremely good.  Both the Bold and Storm excel in the display department.  In my opinion, there are very few smartphones on the market that look as good and sharp as the Bold and Storm.
    [ad#post-banner-ad]
    Keyboard - The age old story, of preference should come into play here (but it does not).  Do you like a physical QWERTY keyboard on the candy-bar layout (that would be the Bold), or do you like all touchscreen with an on-screen soft keyboard (that would be the Storm).  Personally, I want both!  I had both on the Palm Treo, and I want it on my newer phones. Rant aside, preference really doesn’t apply much here…well, not in the standard sense.  The Storm keyboard just plain falls down with the patented “SurePress” technology of the screen clicking for every typed character.  No matter how good a smartphone typist you are, you just cannot get much speed out of typing on the Storm, plus my fingers quickly get sore typing on it.

    The Bold keyboard has been called “the Cadillac of smartphone keyboards”. It’s big, the buttons are wide and the have a very solid click feel to them.  I believe it is a very impressive and solidly built keyboard, though it’s actually a little too wide for me, but only a little.  I’m being very picky here.  If the keys were just a tad shorter and thinner, I’d be able to type lightening fast.  Plus the form factor of the phone could be a little smaller. (I think the recently released BlackBerry Tour 9630 on Verizon has slightly smaller keys).

    The one major complaint to the Bold keyboard is I have not figured a way to press the ‘alt’ key and have it lock to type several numbers.  Same thing goes for the ‘sym’ key to type several symbols.  This makes typing anything other than letters slow and challenging.  On the Storm touchscreen keyboard, there is the ability to lock the ‘alt’ key.

    Now, if email and text isn’t your main use for a smartphone, then the Storm might just be right for you. We’ll get into that on Navigation.  Overall the Bold wins and stomps on the Storm in the keyboard category.

    Camera - The Storm camera is an impressive 3.2 MP with flash, auto focus, 2x digital zoom.  Whereas, the Bold is a 2.0 MP with flash, 3x digital zoom.  The Storm takes better quality pictures, that’s for sure…but there’s a cost.  The software (and/or hardware) running the Storm camera is very slow and can take about 3 seconds for a photo to snap.  So those posed pictures commonly have closed eyes, or those candids have a a blur since the photo opportunity passed by the time the shutter captures the image.  Though, if the picture is captured as expected, the Storm photos are very impressive.  The Bold is decent and easy to use.  Though at only 2.0 MP, do not expect semi-professional quality photos to come out of it.

    Audio - The Storm has a single speaker in the back-bottom-center of the battery case. The Bold has two-speakers hidden under the top of the battery case emanating sound out of the left and right side.  You’d expect the Storm being the media device to have better speaker sound, but the bold takes the win here.  As far as using headsets or bluetooth Headsets, both sound excellent.

    Media - As for the media players, the Storm (with it’s larger display) can display album art more than twice the size of the Bold.  I love displaying album art, and wish there was a full-screen option to the Bold.  The Storm was designed for media and videos, although crisper on the Bold, are best played on the larger screen.  I don’t use my smartphone for much video though, but I do use it for my regular MP3 player.  The BlackBerry Media Player (on both the Bold and Storm) does not stand up to the old PocketTunes player on Palm OS or iPhone/iPod.  There’s no bookmarking feature, no cross-fade feature, no custom skin feature, and limited EQ options.  The BB Media Player is just so-so.  I’m looking at 3rd party players, but have yet to find a perfect replacement.  For podcasts, I use PodTrapper and highly recommend it for any BlackBerry user that listens to podcasts.

    Service - “Your mileage may vary”.  I get good AT&T signal at home and inside some buildings.  I get poor Verizon signal at home and inside some buildings.  As for data service, the Bold has WiFi and the Storm does not.  That’s a huge negative on the Storm for me.  I have my home wireless network setup on the Bold. As soon as I walk in my front door, the Bold detects my home network and connects.  That way I get broadband speed for downloads, email, and web browsing at home.  Makes audio streaming work near perfect.  The Bold is my first smartphone with WiFi, and I will never go back to one without it.  The battery life is not that bad when leaving WiFi on all day.  For me, the Bold wins on the AT&T signal and the WiFi capabilities.

    Navigation - Not GPS navigation, but navigating on the device.  This is really a preference.  The Bold has the standard BlackBerry trackball, where the Storm is all based on touchscreen.  I think the trackball is ok, at best.  I commonly navigate to something and click with the trackball, only to have the item above/below selected.  It’s frustrating.  The trackball is also likely to build up “gunk” over the months/years of use and will reduce its performance.  I do not favor the trackball very much.  Though, when it works, I can fly around for navigation.

    The touchscreen navigation on the Storm is nice.  Finger flips on the screen scroll it any direction you need. Pressing on the SurePress screen selects your item, and I rarely ever click the wrong item.  For me, the Storm wins in the navigation department.

    Size - Both are big and clunky (see pictures).  If you are looking for something small to hide in your bag or pocket, don’t go for either of these.  I’m not so worried about size :-) so I’m OK on both.

    Speed - Both the Bold and Storm are fairly snappy.  The time they slow down is when you are running low on flash memory (see Storage).  Otherwise, both perform quite well.  No complaints.

    Storage - The Bold comes with 32MB flash memory for storing and running applications, plus 1GB of memory for storage (files, photos, music, etc.).  There’s also a microSD slot for adding up to 16GB of additional storage. Once you start playing with downloading/installing/running applications, you’ll quickly learn that 32MB is just not enough.  The Bold cannot run like an iPhone loading up hundreds (or even dozens) of apps that you may (or more likely may not) use.  32MB quickly gets taken with only a handful of installed apps.  Keep in mind that the 32MB is needed not only to store the apps, but to run them too.  Just not enough.  1GB of on-board storage is nice, and the microSD slot is great.  I have an 8GB microSD card, and considering upgrading to a fast 16GB card in the future.

    The Storm comes with 128MB flash memory for storing and running applications, plus 1GB of memory for storage (files, photos, music, etc.).  There’s also a microSD slot for adding up to 16GB of additional storage. The 128MB is respectable, and will go a lot further than the Bold.  It’s still not up to iPhone snuff, but easily trashes the Bold.

    Let’s wrap this up.  Both are great devices.  The Bold keyboard wins.  The Bold WiFi wins. The Storm screen size and media capabilities win. The Storm flash memory wins.  The Storm navigation wins.  Now that I have owned two very different BlackBerry devices, I realize that I cannot wait for the rumored next generation that will combine the best of the Bold and Storm, a BlackBerry with both physical keyboard and touchscreen.  It’s not very groundbreaking since Palm has been doing that format for more than 7 years.  It will be nice to have the best of both worlds.  For now, I’m content with the Bold and my wife is content with the Storm.
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  • Hello BlackBerry Bold on AT&T, Goodbye Storm on Verizon

    Posted on April 6th, 2009 Shawn 4 comments

    Welcome to part one of a multi-part romance novel (not exactly) of a man, and quest for the ultimate device and network.

    Part 1 – Last Days on Verizon Wireless
    Part 2 – First Days on AT&T
    Part 3 – BlackBerry Bold 9000 versus Storm 9530

    I’ve had a mobile device for almost 6 months. You know what that means. It’s time for something different. Although you may believe that is the reason I’m switching devices, it’s not exactly true.

    I’ve been with Verizon for about 6 years, having left Cingular (now AT&T) due to a billing issue. Verizon has been good to me. They have good (though not incredible) coverage, they have a good web site for managing accounts, and had 3G high-speed data before anyone else.

    Issues with Verizon are: their monthly plans are pricey (which isn’t a major deal if your employer pays or you can expense it), their devices are generally late to market (BlackBerry Storm excluded), and they have this crazy policy of not allowing Wi-Fi on their devices.

    The lack of Wi-Fi is what drove me away. As mentioned in earlier posts, I have terrible no Verizon coverage at home. At barely 1x, I can’t get data, all voice calls drop, and my battery always dies searching for a signal.
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    Last year I scoured the Verizon world for the BlackBerry Storm. I waited in line for hours on its launch date at my local Verizon store, and got one. I was retiring my Palm Treo 700p for the Storm. My new employer is an all BlackBerry shop, so I figured, why not get the latest device?

    The Storm has been a mixed bag for me.  Big and beautiful screen. Great sound quality and phone use. Decent UI. Click/touch screen makes it tough for typing anything. No Wi-Fi makes it basically useless at home, just like all other Verizon phones. All that aside, I would have kept the Storm if it weren’t for my employer who said “We will not allow Storms on corporate email”, because they are afraid of the amount of help desk calls they’d get with this new device.

    If Verizon had another 3G BlackBerry or something with Wi-Fi, I would have stayed. As of now, they do not. Even the upcoming BlackBerry 9630 for Verizon, will not have Wi-Fi. So, welcome (back) AT&T, and welcome the current mack-daddy of BlackBerry’s, the Bold 9000. 3G, simultaneous voice and data, GPS, bluetooth, and the deal sealer….Wi-Fi. I feel spoiled just talking about the specs in this bad boy. Yes, it has a full QWERTY keyboard (thank god). No, it does not have touchscreen (this is going to take some getting used too).

    While I was typing this post, I was activating the Bold. My number has been ported (or at least partially) from Verizon Wireless. The AT&T rep was not able to make a test call to me, but I was able to dial-out. I also received a random call on the Bold from someone looking for their lost cell phone.

    You may wonder what is in store for the Storm (which is due for a wonderful operating system update this month).  The Storm is going over to my wife, replacing her Motorola ROKR, or KRZR, or some other all CAPS bizarre acronym. She’s known for dropping and breaking phones, so I don’t expect the Storm to live well into the retirement golden years. But, it’s better than sitting in my desk drawer with my two other Treo’s and older LG phones, right?

    Check back, as My Gadget Obsession starts a new chapter with the BlackBerry Bold 9000.

  • New BlackBerry’s for 2009

    Posted on December 27th, 2008 Shawn No comments

    rim2009roadmap1
    Touchscreen Bold and Slider Storm. Now we are talking! Those are the two devices I want to see from RIM. I will gladly retire my 9530 Storm in a heartbeat for either a slider Storm or touchscreen Bold. How about you?
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