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  • 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.

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    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.

  • Accessories for BlackBerry Storm

    Posted on September 25th, 2009 Shawn No comments

    BlackBerry StormIt’s been ages since I wrote about the BlackBerry Storm. Shame on me, since I was one of those people standing in line November 21, 2008 at the local Verizon store to be the first to get one. In a bit of irony, I have since switched to AT&T and primarily use a BlackBerry Bold. No worries though, my wife is now the proud user of the BlackBerry Storm, and LOVES it!

    With that, let me get to the topic of some accessories that we have found important to have.

    • Screen Protector
    • Since the screen is touched all the time, it’s important to protect it from scratches and smudges. Fortunately, the Storm’s screen is glass and very durable. You should invest the few cents/dollars it costs to get a screen protector. Think of it as the lamination over your drivers license. One screen protector should be sufficient, but buy two…it’s inevitable you will ruin the first one when attempting to put it on.

    • Case
    • Phone’s drop, it’s as simple as that. Tell me you have never dropped a phone…I won’t believe you. Your Storm cost you anywhere between $50 and $200 (unless you paid full $550 retail). If you drop that sucker and it breaks, you will be footing a big’ass bill to buy a new one out of contract, or to get it repaired. Get yourself a case, and use it. I got a rubberized case, that does the trick. It was dirt cheap (about $2 at the time), but had two minor issues. Rubberized cases stick to clothing and make it tricky to get in and out of pockets. Not the end of the world, but something to think about. The case I had bought had holes for all the side and top buttons, but did not have a hole for the speaker in the back. Fortunately, the speaker is loud enough to penetrate, but if I was to get a new case, I’d make sure it had a hole for the speaker.

    • Car Charger
    • The big technical change on the Storm, is that it uses a new charger adapter. Most phones on the market (prior to 2009) use USB adapters, but the Storm is using the new smaller microUSB adapter. So, those stacks of USB car chargers and AC adapters you have are not going to work. You can find a converter at Radio Shack, or just pick up a microUSB car charger. They are now cheap (from 1 cent to $5).

    • Here’s the combo deal:
    • Windshield Mount
    • You are going to want to windshield mount your Storm, for a few reasons. It works as an excellent GPS (with Garmin Mobile, VZ Navigator, Google Maps, etc), it’s a great speaker phone (plugs into your car stereo’s AUX jack), and is a great substitute to commercial radio. A cheap mount that swivels to take advantage of landscape or portrait is the way to go.

    If you have any other accessory suggestions, let us know.

  • 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.
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    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.
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    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.

  • BlackBerry Storm Error at Boot, Solved

    Posted on February 4th, 2009 Shawn No comments

    BlackBerry StormFor months, I have received an error message every time my BlackBerry Storm was rebooted (i.e. battery pull or Soft Reset). The error is a cryptic Java error:

    "uncaught exception java.lang.IllegalStateException".

    Since I install beta software on a daily basis, I’m rebooting this things a lot. If I was an average BB user, I would need to reboot much, but that’s not the case for me.

    So, this error is getting annoying over time. I did some research and have found the problem. I have my device password protected. Every time it boots (or is idle for 1 hour), it locks and requires me to unlock with a password. Apparently, the password protection is what causes the error (thanks to a pinstack forum post).
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    As a test, I disabled my password and did a battery pull. Upon reboot…no more error. Voila!

    So, this isn’t cool! I want my device password protected since I have data on this that I would not be happy if it went missing/stolen. WTF, RIM? Can’t we get some password protection that doesn’t throw uncaught Java exceptions? Please.

  • Slacker Radio Officailly on the Storm!

    Posted on February 4th, 2009 Shawn No comments

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    Slacker downloadWe got word early this morning (thanks CrackBerry) that Slacker has released an official version of their FREE Slacker Radio Mobile application for the BlackBerry Storm. As you may know, Slacker on other BB’s has been a huge hit; and those of us who put the unofficial version on our Storms, were praising it.

    Now, the official release is here. All issues with the unofficial have been resolved.Slacker Install
    * Buttons are now big enough for touchscreen.
    * Album art is now huge and beautiful.
    * No more flaky application lockup/crash issues.
    * No more songs cutting out with 10 seconds left.

    Press Release

    Slacker Announces Availability of Mobile Radio Application for the BlackBerry Storm SmartphoneSlacker Menu

    Free Slacker Personal Radio Mobile Application Features Touch Screen Navigation and Station Caching

    SAN DIEGO, CA – February 4, 2009 – Slacker, Inc. today announced the availability of the free Slacker Mobile application for the BlackBerry® Storm smartphone from Research In Motion (RIM) (Nasdaq: RIMM; TSX: RIM). BlackBerry Storm users* can now listen to their favorite Slacker radio stations anywhere they go, whether they are connected to a wireless network or not – a Slacker Mobile feature exclusive to BlackBerry® smartphones. The application, which is optimized for the handset’s unique touch screen, is available as a free download by visiting Slacker.com from your BlackBerry Storm.Slacker Player Landscape

    I’ve got some of my own photos of the app in action. There are the install screens, menu screens, & playing screens in portrait and landscape. Just awesome! We love Slacker! Oh, slacker stations can be cached for offline play on BlackBerry’s.

    Slacker Player Portrait

    So, you can play when you have no data coverage (i.e planes, trains, etc) and will save a ton of battery. There is also an app for the iPhone in the iTunes store, but no caching capabilities for iPhony’s.

  • Gym Technik (workout app) for BlackBerry Updated

    Posted on January 28th, 2009 Shawn 1 comment

    You may have read an earlier post where I was comparing three fitness software apps for the BlackBerry Storm; Ascendo Fitness for BlackBerry, PumpOne Mobile, and Gym Technik. Well I haven’t gotten around to writing up a full comparison yet. In fact, I still haven’t seen what PumpOne can do. I have ruled out Ascendo since it was not Storm-friendly when I tested and was more app than I needed. I will cut to the chase and say that I use Gym Technik for my daily (wishful thinking) exercise tracking.

    Gym Technik is completely web-based, with a web client for the desktop and a web client for the BlackBerry. You are due for a full review, but work (the job that pays me, not this one) has been busy and I haven’t been able to write the review. So, instead I will post the news update verbetim from Gym Technik announcing their new features. In short, I love the new desktop features, and like the BlackBerry Storm features. It’s available for all BlackBerry models, and yes you iPhone guys can use it too.

    Here’s the announcement, with my review coming sometime in the not-so-distant future:

    The team at Gym Technik has a big announcement that we’re excited to inform you about. We’ve just upgraded the Gym Technik application and added a slew of new features, all of which were requested by you and your team – other Gym Technik members!

    New Features Now Live

    Gym Technik has just been upgraded and we’re excited to bring to you the following new features that so many of you have requested the last few months. This upgrade is automatic and free so all you have to do is just login and continue using Gym Technik as normal and you will see all the new changes. Below is a quick rundown of our new features:

    ·New home page when you login

    Instantly view informative summaries about both your workouts and body stats as soon as you login on your home page. You will also see a much more intuitive navigation to other portions of the site

    ·Articles at your fingertips

    Informative articles, both featured and latest, displayed to you on your home page as we update them. Now you’re always in the loop on the latest informative articles from Gym Technik

    ·Workout and Routine Library

    This is probably our most exciting new feature. We’ve built out a workout library section where you can find pre-built workouts and routines each within its own category. So if you’re looking for a new routine or just need some guidance in building out your workouts, browse all the categories within our workout library and in one click add any of our 60 published routines to your own workout library and begin to track on your calendar and your smartphone.

    ·The library

    As an extension to our workout and routine library, we’ve built out a content driven library where you can browse through for fitness tips, nutritional advice, lifestyle articles, and smartphone tips. So if you’re looking for that extra bit of motivation or want to learn a few tricks on the latest integrations with your smartphone – The Gym Technik library will have what you need in here.

    ·More exercises and more images

    Gym Technik has extended it’s already extensive exercise list with new exercises requested by many of you. We’ve also added videos and images for almost all of our exercises so you can now get the guidance you need for any new exercises you add to your routine.

    ·Edit or delete your custom exercises

    This was probably the most requested feature so this is sure to excite many of you. Now you can edit or delete any of your custom exercises that you’ve already created

    ·Upload photos

    Now with Gym Technik, you can track both your workout stats AND the progress of your body through photos. Upload photos of yourself using your smartphone or directly from the web site and tag each photo to a body part to visually watch yourself get closer to your goals.

    ·Enhanced user interface for smarthones

    We have taken a lot of your suggestions and improved the user interface of the smartphone application. Improvements will be seen across all smartphone handsets.

    ·Faster experience on mobile

    We have optimized the way images load up to give you a faster experience on the mobile application. And to make it even faster, you can turn images off in your mobile settings.

    ·International launch

    We are proud to announce that Gym Technik is now multi-lingual, with our first language launched in German at www.gymtechnik.de

    ·Browser compatibility

    With the launch of all these new features and the enhanced user interface, Gym Technik no longer supports Internet Explorer 6.0. So if you’re using IE 6, you will have to upgrade to version 7.0 or use Firefox, Chrome, or Safari to enjoy all of our new features.

    Again, this upgrade has only been possible thanks to the overwhelming submission of feature requests we’ve received from all of our members and we sincerely appreciate this feedback. We are already planning for our next upgrade which will contain more exciting features which are once again driven by exactly what you’ve asked for – so stay tuned!

    And if you haven’t taken the opportunity to get in touch with our team to share your ideas, then make sure you do by visiting the “Support” section of our website and letting us know how you feel we can improve. We’re always listening.

    The team at Gym Technik wishes you a great 2009 and a year in health.

    Team Gym Technik

    http://www.gymtechnik.com

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