Blackberry home
Built-in programs
Add-on programs

Ways to communicate

If there's any one thing to call this blackberry, it'd be 'Communicator'. You have, built in:

  1. Email
  2. Phone
  3. Direct connect (cell-based walkie-talkie)
  4. SMS
  5. PIN calls (direct blackberry-blackberry email w/out central server)
  6. Basic web (WML) browser
If that's not enough, you can add more, as detailed below in the software section:
  1. Telnet/ssh
  2. Instant messenger clients
  3. Custom apps (stock tickers, for example)
  4. Full blown web browser
  5. RSS newsreader
  6. 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.

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.

Bundled Software

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 results.

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.

To-do list

Only three priorities, sorting is too simplistic, display impossible to customize as I like. Difficult once your list gets very long.

Memo program

Basic but functional. Not sure if it has a size limit like Palm's infamous 4K cap.

Web browser

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 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.

Address book

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 recognize it.


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 instead.

Data is suspended during calls, so emails are queued up until calls end.

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.