Ways to communicate
If there's any one thing to call this blackberry, it'd be
'Communicator'. You have, built in:
If that's not enough, you can add more, as detailed below in the
- Direct connect (cell-based walkie-talkie)
- PIN calls (direct blackberry-blackberry email w/out central
- Basic web (WML) browser
- Instant messenger clients
- Custom apps (stock tickers, for example)
- Full blown web browser
- RSS newsreader
- Blogging software
New operating system: OS4
This is a very big deal indeed. This fixes several of my key
gripes. Here's an abridged list of new functionality, shamelessly
cribbed from PDAStreet:
There's a corresponding
RIM Desktop v4 to match, still Windows only.
- Full TCP/IP stack. Don't need BES/MDS anymore! (Note that Nextel
already had this)
- Categories for all! Major, major
win as this was a key ingredient on the Palm for organizing data.
Calendar, addressbook, to-do list, notes; they all have categories now.
- Multiple addresses per person in Addressbook. This also helped
quite a lot with PocketMac
Blackberry; it can now sync work and home addresses. Much nicer,
and it means that my mobile data is now complete. Before, I could only
sync work or home, not both.
- Better web browser. Dunno about this one.
- Backlight timer is adjustable. Hey, it's almost like they read my
review! I set mine to the max, 2 minutes.
- Improved data performance. If so, I can't tell.
- Photo album application. Not sure why this is useful. You can
also set a picture to be the screen saver and/or backdrop.
- Themable. So they say; it only comes with a single theme.
- Password keeper. This has replaced CryptMagic for me, so there's
$20 in your pocket. Nice to have it in the core OS.
- Updated APIs. MIDP/2.0 now supported. This means we now have free
OS4 notes and caveats
However, if its out for your device, I'd say back up and then upgrade.
It's a lot better than OS3.
- OS4 is only released for a few devices and carriers as of 1/5/05.
Blackberry forums for updates and supported hardware.
- All of my applications had to be re-registered and reconfigured.
Make sure you have the keys and serial numbers handy before you start.
Moving to Blackberry, the first thing I noticed is the Model-T
philosphy evident in the unit. Very few things are configurable to the
extent I expect on Palm. Colors, icon sizes? All
hardwired. Designed for a very different user community, it would seem.
I've read some articles that Java midlets will work on this, so that
opens up more avenues for code; I will be looking into it and will post
The first thing you notice is that the built-in programs are much
simpler than their Palm equivalents.
As of OS4, Calendar has categories and is pretty usable. Simple
(day/week/agenda view) but effective. The agenda view works
particularly well. Takes several seconds to open
with a small-size calendar. No color coding, no icons either.
Only three priorities, sorting is too simplistic,
display impossible to customize as I like. Difficult once your list
Basic but functional. Not sure if it has a size limit like Palm's
infamous 4K cap.
Yep, they include one. However, as you can see from this
Nextel page, it's classic walled garden. Only works on sites
they've added, which kinda blows. News, sports, that sort of thing.
There's more on the web on the BES/MDS/BWC page.
This really is the
killer application for the Blackberry, and it's the
most impressive of the programs. You can use Exchange, and their
'Blackberry Enterprise Server', netting desktop inbox integration. Or
you can Webmail, which is a new email account.
I chose webmail, since my mailer of choice is IMAP over SSL. You
can tell the webmail account about existing email accounts, and it does
an automatic poll-and-copy trick to put it onto the blackberry. I tried
this and got lots of duplicates. In the end, I asked our sysadmins to
just copy all my normal mail to my new account at
nextel.blackberry.net. I now have to delete stuff in two places, but I
can live with that.
Attachments work, although I've not explored this much.
As noted on the BES/MDS/BWC page, I've now switched to BES mode from
BWC. I'm not an MS Exchange fan, but both modes seem to work.
Pretty good, excellent incremental search (just start typing to find
someone). As of OS4, you can have home and work addresses, which helps.
Oddly, the pop-up menu doesn't invoke
Direct Connect; you have to know to press the special button while
highlighting an addressbook entry - lame.
Nextel special note: At
least in my desktop integration setup, the field
for Direct Connect has to be called 'Direct' or the phone won't
Almost as impressive as the email capability. From the phone screen,
you can dial by name (i.e. search the phone book), easily select which
number to call, call voicemail, etc. A call log is displayed, and you
can easily use it to call someone again. Once the call has started, you
can jump to the program launcher and use the other applications (except
the web, which doesn't work during calls), or change to speakerphone.
Volume is set by the wheel, both simple and effective. The speakerphone
works well, with no echo or feedback.
The shape takes some getting used to; it's kind of like holding a
spatula to the side of your head. Also, until you acclimate, it can be
tricky to line the small speaker up with your ear just right.
The included handsfree set is average, and works fine. As mentioned
above, I wish it'd had Bluetooth so that I could reuse my Jabra
Data is suspended during calls, so emails are queued up until calls
I've gotten some complaints about audio quality. I can hear them
fine, but apparently they get sub-par audio and breakups. My co-workers
have similar results with Motorola phones, so I am assuming that it's a
Nextel problem. Try a few calls in the store before you decide.
Misc bundled applications
Calculator, Breakout, etc. Adequate.