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  • BlackBerry Storm no iPhone Competitor, but maybe Palm webOS and Google G1

    Posted on January 27th, 2009 Shawn No comments

    iPhone 3GI think there is a simple recipe to call something an iPhone competitor, or as many like to call “the iPhone killer”. After using the BlackBerry Storm for more than two months, and analyzing the mobile device market, I can say the Storm is not an iPhone killer.

    The simple determination is about how RIM designed the software for the device. They adapted the tried and true BlackBerry OS for touchscreen and keyboard-less environments. That in itself makes the Storm out of contention for the iPhone killer title. To be a real iPhone competitor, a software/OS developer has to do what Apple did. They need to start from scratch and build an OS for the device. Apple did it, RIM did not. It doesn’t make the Storm bad, it just does not make it an iPhone competitor.
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    Now, Palm’s upcoming webOS (on the Palm Pre) as well as Google’s Android (on the G1) have the potential of being iPhone BlackBerry Stormcompetitors. Simply, because Google and Palm did what Apple did, they built a mobile OS from scratch focusing on new hardware and new touchscreen capabilities.

    As of now, the G1 still has a way to go, but has potential. Palm’s webOS is not yet in the hands of the public, but looks to be a direct rip-off of Apple’s iPhone OS.

    This story will continue, but we can close the door on the iPhone OS and the Storm OS being competitors. There is no competition here. iPhone OS was built for capacitive touchscreens and other newer hardware. The Storm’s OS is adapted for the same types of technologies, but is not a rewrite. Case closed.

  • Rock Band 2 – Slacker Station

    Posted on January 20th, 2009 Shawn No comments

    I just finished putting together a Slacker radio station that contains 77 of the 84 artists from the Rock Band 2 game disc. The station is customized to play the songs from the game, and a few extras that I have not weeded out yet.

    Like my previous Rock Band station, it’s free! It’s available in your web browser at www.slacker.com. It’s also available on iPhone and BlackBerry with the Slacker Mobile application.
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    Check it out, let me know what you think.  Rock Band DLC station coming soon.

    Get the Rock Band 2 Slacker Station here.

  • Storms Selling Like Crazy, More Loved features

    Posted on December 4th, 2008 Shawn No comments

    Two topics in today’s BlackBerry Storm post.  First, Verizon should be paying me commission since I have convinced three individual Storm sales this week alone. Second, I have some more features that I’m loving about the Storm which had not mentioned in earlier posts.

    This past weekend, I inadvertently convinced my 18 year old brother to get a Storm.  He is due for the Verizon “New Every Two” upgrade, and the Samsung Glyde was in his scopes.  While he and I were out Christmas shopping, I let him check out my Storm (and of course, I kept talking about it’s features).  After telling him the data plan on the Glyde would be higher, he’d get less included memory, and not a “real” smartphone OS, he walked over to the Verizon store at the Natick Collection and ordered a Storm.  I didn’t intend to sell him on it, in fact I tried to talk him out of a smartphone all together…c’mon he’s only 18.  Does he really need to get obsessed like us, at that age?

    The second sale came from one of America’s finest.  As I was leaving the gym yesterday, listening to music on my Motorola S9’s and Storm, a young Air Force captain (dressed in his camo) stopped me and asked if I was using a Storm.  He told me he was on his second Motorola Q (had the original, now rocking the Q9c) and looking to break contract if the Storm was good.  I let him play with my Storm for about five minutes, and we talked about the good and bad.  Good: 9GB of memory & good media player (i.e. no need for an iPod any more), good phone, excellent Bluetooth.  Bad: You will miss the QWERTY keys, no Wifi (you won’t miss that since it’s not on the Q).  He said, he’s going to order one and give it a 30-day try.

    The third sale was my employer buying me one.  Yup, I will soon be in possession of not one, but TWO Storms!  My employer will not let personal units connect up to the corporate BES, that’s BlackBerry Enterprise Server for you new guys (me included).  So, they are waiting on three demo units to arrive from Verizon for testing.  Once testing is complete and (hopefully) approved, they will order me a “corporate” Storm.  At that point, I have lovingly offered to sign my personal Storm over to my dear wife.
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    Now, on to some more features that I love about the Storm.

    • Voice Dialing via Bluetooth. This is something the Palm OS could never figure out.  Some 3rd party apps did ok, but never perfected.  On the Storm voice dialing via Bluetooth is awesome.
      • To you iPhone and Windows Mobile guys, how does Bluetooth voice dialing work for you?  (That’s an honest question, not a dig).
    • 3.2 Megapixel camera/video with Flash.  I’ve never had a flash on my mobile phone before, and the flash on the Storm is bright and awesome.  I set it up to ‘always on’ for video, which allows for nighttime video (and photo) shoots. Plus is doubles as an excellent emergency flashlight.
      • I know the iPhone lacks a flash, and has a lower quality camera.  What about the AT&T Tilt?  I’m thinking the Storm wins here too.
    • Visual Voice Mail.  So, I sucked it up and tried the $3 a month Verizon Visual Voice Mail feature.  Basically, all your voicemails get downloaded to your phone (like MP3s) and you can play them without dialing into your voicemail.  It allows quick on-screen rewind and fast forward, as well as caller ID, and callback.  It’s quite cool, but not sure it’s worth $36 a year. I like it, but will probably cancel it in a month.
    • Standard Headset Jack. I have been stuck with 4 years of Treo’s and their non-standard headset jack, which forced me to buy proprietary headsets or adaptors if I ever wanted to connect.  It was such a pain.  The Storm has a standard 3.5mm jack, and all headsets, cassette adaptors, etc just work and well.
  • $99 iPhone??

    Posted on December 4th, 2008 Pabel No comments

    So there’s a new rumor floating around at Engagdet that Wal-Mart will be getting a 4GB iPhone for $99.  They cite a BGR post and the Wal-Mart training materials spied above.

    Now obviously 4 GB isn’t that much storage, but this certainly seems like a viable option for smartphone users who don’t mix their phone and music player.  Would anyone interested in having the mp3 player/phone combo even consider this option?  Personally, I have an 8 GB iPhone and am currently using 1.07 GB’s.  Admittedly, I’m not a heavy music/media consumer, but 4 GB wouldn’t really be all that bad for my use.  I know that as my wife continues to develop the iPhone bug, this would definitely be an attractive option for her.

    I’m assuming Apple will move a good amount of product at this price, and ATT could care less since the plans are all the same, but how do tech savvy people feel about this possible development?

  • iPhone 2.2 Update Available Today

    Posted on November 21st, 2008 Pabel 3 comments

    In a pretty underwhelming response to the BB Storm, Apple has released the 2.2 software update for the iPhone.  The following is included:

    • Google Street View
    • Public transit and walking directions
    • Display address of dropped pins in Maps
    • Share location via email
    • Improved formatting of wide HTML email
    • Improved stability and performance of Safari
    • Podcasts are now available for download in iTunes application (over Wi-Fi and cellular network)
    • Decrease in call set-up failures and call drops
    • Improved sound quality of visual voicemail messages
    • Pressing the Home button from any Home screen takes you to the first Home screen
    • Preference to turn on/off auto-correction in Keyboard Settings

    So nothing earth-shattering, but honestly, it’s nice to see a device actually get some good software improvements as opposed to the dreaded “it’ll be fixed in the next version of the product” response companies are usually good at.  I know this is definitely something the Storm-watchers will want to see RIM do w/ it’s new flagship device.

    Anyway, I haven’t gotten the update yet, but am looking forward to it.  The email fetch and wide HTML issues were annoying and will definitely be nice to see disappear.  The new Google Maps functionality will be cool, but nothing I’ll be ultra anxious to use.  Probably the biggest feature I like in this release is the over the air podcast downloads.  Very nice feature.

    Overall, a lot of this probably should have been there from the beginning and I imagine the Storm’s release lit a little fire.  Hopefully this new rivalry will lead to two great phones and two satisfied user bases.  You know, after all the verbal jabs….

  • Video: BlackBerry Storm vs. Bold vs. iPhone 3G!

    Posted on October 23rd, 2008 Shawn 1 comment

    Very relevant to what we talk about here. Thanks to our friends at CrackBerry, we have the first throw down between iPhone 3G, BlackBerry Bold, and BlackBerry Storm. Check it out below.

    Come back here soon as our writers plan to do our own iPhone 3G vs. Storm Smackdown in the month of November!

  • BlackBerry getting Slacker Media Player Application

    Posted on September 25th, 2008 Shawn 1 comment

    OK, CrackBerry addicts probably already know about the announcement since it dropped at CTIA 10 days ago.  I’m here to clear up things, and answer questions (as well as jump up and down like a giddy school girl).

    First, BlackBerry has never been known as a media powerhouse (until now).  Full disclosure, I have yet to spend more than 5 minutes with a BlackBerry in my hands.  The world renowned media powerhouse of course is the iPod and iPhone, that’s not going to change.  For me, I’m all about convergence: phone, PDA, media, etc all in one device.  This is why I’m writing this.

    I am a Slacker user, and have been since the day Slacker opened it’s doors.  “What is it?” you ask.  Slacker is a few things.  First, it’s a web site with online free customizable radio stations, been rocking since early 2007.  Slacker is also a desktop client that does the same thing, plus also can manage your personal music (MP3, WMA, AAC, etc).  Third, Slacker (what they have strived for) is a personal media player.  Yes, an iPod competitor…with a big-ass twist.  The personal player stores online radio stations via WiFi on the player that you can take with you (disconnected from the internet) wherever you go.  So, it competes with not only iPods, but also internet radio and satellite radio.  The player also has storage for your personal media files too (MP3, WMA, etc).  If it wasn’t for lack of Bluetooth audio (A2DP) support, I’d have one of the personal players right now.

    For some history on Slacker the company: The people at Slacker are the same people that made the very popular desktop media player MusicMatch Jukebox popular in the late 90’s / early 2000’s.  They sold it off to Yahoo and Yahoo killed it off with some bad builds and rebranding.  The Slacker people have some solid history on the online / PC music player business.

    NOTE: I’m not affiliated with BB or Slacker in any way.  I’m just a Slacker fanboy.

    Now, the announcement has come out that BlackBerry will be getting a Slacker client.  I’m psyched!  I had been asking the Slacker guys to build a client for Palm OS (since that’s how I’ve rolled for the past 4 years).  They never officially announced players other than their desktop, web, and personal player devices, until now.

    In the coming months, you BlackBerry owners (and soon me) will have the ultimate converged device.  I can tell you from almost two years of use, the Slacker apps are great, and the music (selection & quality) is top notch.  To have this app on a BlackBerry is going to be killer!  To have it on the upcoming BlackBerry Storm (if marketed correctly) could be an iPhone killer.  (I doubt it will really make an iPhone dent, but it is possible).

    Slacker for BB, will allow you to download radio stations via WiFi or data plan connection, then play those stations back when you are out of coverage.  Means, it downloads the music compressed to your BB’s internal (or memory card) memory.  So, FREE music (or subscription for unlimited skips / ad free) just like Pandora, with album art / bios / details etc.

    BlackBerry Software Advertisement: Pintones Ringtone Loader For Blackberry.

    I can’t contain my excitement for the Storm and Slacker combination coming in November.  Great move RIM, and I look forward to becoming a customer soon.  And thank you Slacker for teaming up with them.  NOTE:  I’m under the impression that not many people have known about Slacker, and this partnership is a desperation attempt on Slacker’s part for more market share. As a Slacker user, music aficionado, and converged device junky, this is an incredibly good announcement.

    For those of you unfamiliar with Slacker (but are music lovers), I’m telling you, get excited!  For those of you who are familiar with Slacker, leave some comments on your opinion of it.

  • AT&T scared of Verizon’s BlackBerry Storm?

    Posted on September 24th, 2008 Shawn No comments

    Well, lookey here. AT&T is showing signs fear, due to Verizon’s upcoming BlackBerry Storm release. If you don’t know, the Storm is the closest thing to an iPhone killer to be created. Thanks to BoyGeniusReport and CrackBerry for tracking down this supposed internal AT&T announcement.

    It is directly a hit to develop the Anti-Storm movement. It doesn’t even infer anything, it’s a direct hit on Storm, very interesting. Smells like someone (i.e. ma bell) is shaking in her shoes.

    Here’s my take, then I want to hear yours.

    The photo says Storm does not have multi-touch, but BB and Verizon marketing disagrees. The Storm is listed as a multi-touch device. So, WTF AT&T with the possible lies?

    Pintones Ringtone Loader For Blackberry.

    Sure, iPhone has a central store, iTunes. No dispute, Apple has a centralized controlling location to get iPhone apps…though that’s limiting, since Apple does not officially allow any 3rd-parties to create/distribute iPhone software. With BlackBerry, you can get software form several 3rd party developers/distributors. So, I do love the iTunes model, but I dispute that Apple being fully governing is better for consumers.

    iPhone is integrated with iTunes for on the go. Big F****ng deal. BlackBerry is going to have Slacker support, Rhapsody support, and others out of the box.

    iPhone has WiFi.   In a word, “ouch”.  Point iPhone, and finally something accuracte from AT&T propganda.

    iPhone has three bands.  So what?  Storm with have CDMA and GSM coverage.  It’s a WorldPhone, so both have full coverage.

    iPhone has GPS and maps.  C’mon AT&T, have you done any homework?  Storm has GPS and Google Mape, plus other GPS software options.

    iPhone has rich HTML email.  OMG megatons, so will the Storm.  Man, this ad is terrible, and filled iwth mistruths.

    iPhone uses Safari (which is based on webkit).  So, the Storm browser is built on webkit too.  Again, no win for iPhone.

    You know, until now, I was not a fanboy of the Storm, but I was interested in it.  Now, thanks to AT&T’s BS fest, I’m now really looking forward to hands-on iPhone / Storm head-to-heads.

    Rant over.  What say you?

  • iTunes Rumor

    Posted on September 8th, 2008 Pabel No comments

    Alright, so as you’ve heard 8 million times by now, Apple is supposed to make some big announcement tomorrow related to the iPod, iTunes, and potentially MacBook. Normally, I don’t like posting on rumors, but….wait who are we kidding…rumors are the most fun. One in particular for tomorrow’s announcement is a source of big debate.

    Quick disclaimer: I own one Apple product (the iPhone) so I’m not what you’d consider an Apple fanboy…

    So the rumor is that tomorrow Apple will introduce the first iTunes subscription service. For an annual fee (around $120), you can listen to as much music as you want. I’ve not heard any concrete details as to whether or not this also will allow for downloads and transfers to an iPod or iPhone, so if anyone knows, please do tell.

    Is this a big deal or appealing to anyone? My wife has a Sansa .mp3 player and the Napster subscription service and loves it. She pays $11 a month and goes in and grabs all the music she wants and has it on her .mp3 player for her car, the house, jogging, etc. I don’t consume that much music to be honest, so this model works for me as well. The idea of unlimited music (bundled w/ unlimited transfers to iPods and iPhones) is probably something I’d give a serious look. Of course, that would mean I’d have to get my wife an iPhone and switch her over, but that’s a different post.

    I know there’s a huge crowd that absolutely detests subscription music and want’s to “own” their stuff. Does this still apply? Why is this such a big deal? Not necessarily knocking it, just wondering what the arguments against subscriptions are from all you music lovers out there…

  • More Thunder Pics

    Posted on September 4th, 2008 Pabel No comments

    The Thunder v. iPhone wars are getting ever closer. More details are being reported for the Blackberry 9500/Thunder.

    These details were given back during the iPhone 3G launch so I must have missed it between all the 3G activation issue reports. Nothing to earth shattering really, but I figured new pics never really hurt anyone.

    • Run on a new Blackberry OS that’s fully touch-centric
    • Extra large touchscreen TFT display with 360 x 480 pixels resolution.
    • Built-in GPS
    • Improved internet browser to compete with mobile Safari
    • A carrier music store (similar to iTunes) that will allow users to purchase songs directly from their device.
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