BlackBerry



20 Oct 11

Yes, it has happened!  Over the past two years I’ve converted to a completely Mac household.  In March 2010 I bought my 17″ MacBook Pro.  In March I bought my iPad2 (followed up by another iPad 2 purchase after leaving first one on an airplane in August).  And most recently, October 16 I made that leap I said I would NEVER make.  Yes, the iPhone now resides in my pocket, on my bedside table and next to me at work.

For those who don’t know my history AGAINST everything iPhone, it’s been a long hard-fought battle.  First putting the iPhone up against my far superior BlackBerry for so many years.  Then in 2010 I started in the Android craiz.

Here is the SmartPhone history of Richard Wood: 2005 – BlackBerry 7100 (AT&T), 2006 – 7130 (Verizon),  2007 – BlackBerry 8830(Verizon),  2008 – BlackBerry 9530 (Verizon), 2009 – BlackBerry 9550(Verizon), June 2010 – HTC EVO 4G WiMax (Sprint), April 2011 – HTC Thunderbolt 4G LTE (Verizon), September 2011 Motorola Bionic 4G LTE (Verizon), October 16, 2011 32gig White iPhone (AT&T).

My first SmartPhone - BlackBerry 7100 on AT&T

As you can see from the above, I’m a device junky.  I don’t dare attempt to tally up how much dough I’ve dropped on SmartPhones over the past 6 years, but I suspect we’re pushing $10k.

 

I’m going to layout likes/dislikes of each device and why the change from the previous device.

  1. AT&T BlackBerry 7100 – This was a love/hate relationship from the start.  At the time I received this device it was issued to me by my company and it was supposedly the most advanced BlackBerry on the market at that time.  AND since my firm issued ONLY BlackBerry devices my hands were a bit tied on selection.  I hadn’t owned a SmartPhone before this one so I was actually thrilled to get it!
  2. Verizon BlackBerry 7130 – I recall this creating an amazing amount of termoil in my homelife.  I had convinced my partner that when I received my 7100 (above) that he should convert from Verizon to AT&T so we could talk for free.  Well, I couldn’t handle staying with AT&T.  At that time he and I both had terrible call quality and phone calls dropped left and right.  That was the primary reason for jumping to the 7130 on Verizon.  I knew the call quality and dropped calls would essentially go away!  And they did.  It was a very solid device.  Still small like my 7100, but much more reliable.
  3. Verizon BlackBerry 8830 – I was now going to be playing with the big boys!  This thing was HUGE.  And in my mind it was the bee’s knees!  Big beautiful color screen, high(er) speed data network and the OS was leaps and bounds more advanced than the 7130.  The ONLY thing this baby was missing was a camera and I didn’t feel like waiting for the 8330 to be released.  I needed it and needed it NOW!  This was a “World Phone” and even made a trip to Mexico with me.  One disadvantage of this phone was the keypad.  I never fell in love with the VERY flat difficult keys.  It was also VERY difficult to see the silver keypad in any sort of dark(ish) environment.  I remedied this problem by swapping out the keypad from an AT&T 8800 (black).  Worked pretty slick even though it looked like crap.
  4. Verizon BlackBerry 9530 – The infamous “Storm”.  Eeesh, where do I start.  I had to love it!  It was my first phone without a physical keyboard, which means there was screen real estate to do ALL sorts of things with. Unfortunately, this phone was fraught with problems, although I rarely had the significant issues most people had with it.  For starters in order to select an icon or type the letter “A” (or any letter) you had to physically depress the glass screen until it clicked.  It seemed like an ingenious idea at first.  But it was really annoying when you figured out that it was not Multi-Touch and thus you couldn’t easy or quickly transition from one letter to the next while rambling in an email.  I saw this “bright spot” being that I would have to be more concise in my emails (everyone always wishes that I would have adopted that years ago).  Never happened. I eventually learned to type like a champ on there.
  5. Verizon BlackBerry 9550 “The Storm 2” – the physical form factor of this device was very similar to the origanal 9530 Storm.  But they did make some significant improvements, the biggest one I recall was the glass actually went to the edge of the case!  Because both of these devices had depressable glass screens they needed to be able to move.  However on the original Storm there was a lot of play with the glass in that it would often shift side to side and up and down.  No longer on the Storm 2.  Second major improvement was the multi-touch capabilities.  You could finally touch two different parts of the glass and have them recognized as individual touches.  This wasn’t so helpful in typing (after all, you still only had one piece of glass you were pressing on), but instead it was helpful in highlighting text.  You could place one finger at the beginning of what you wanted to highlight, then your other finger at the end of the desired text.  Pretty slick!  Processor speeds and a Rev. A CDMA chip also helped process information and data faster over their network.  I loved plugging this baby in on the train ride to work everyday and tethering my laptop, logging into work an hour before I even got there.  She was a work horse!
  6. Sprint HTC EVO 4G WiMax – By the time 2010 rolled around BlackBerrys were quickly become obsolete to the elite in the tech community.  BlackBerry was falling behind significantly with hardware AND software being rolled out.  After meeting a Sprint Store Manager and District Manager at a Social Media Club social event I was curious about what else might be able to shift my attention from BlackBerry to an alternate and better device.  This is where the EVO came in.  Sprint was JUST rolling out their 4G WiMax network and I had the great fortune of living in one of the first cities who rolled out WiMax.  I had just moved into a new condo and had EVERY intention of using this new AMAZING speed as my full-time home internet connection.  It didn’t take long to figure out that (at least at that point) WiMax was a flawed network that had VERY difficult time penetrating buildings and even windows for that matter.  So, you could easily get 10-15mbps downloads OUTSIDE, but the 4G would drop to about 0.2mbps once inside the condo (10 feet away, wooded structure).  I suffered this for 9 months, complaining a lot and ended up dumping the WiMax (which for 98% of the time I owned the EVO I kept the 4G turned off because it sucked the battery dead within hours).
  7. Verizon – HTC Thunderbolt 4G LTE – In 2011 Verizon rolls out its first 4G LTE network (technically started in December 2010, but that was only for a data-only dongle).  This network in and of itself was being sworn to promise 15+ mbps uploads with testing sometimes hitting in the 30mbps range (yes, I experienced this as well).  This was HUGE.  A giant leap forward in USA mobile networks!  Better yet Built on a beautiful HTC platform I was already familiar with because of my EVO.  This change did not come without its own issues however.  Two days into having this new phone, the highly anticipated 4G LTE network had a three day data outage!  Granted I could still use their 3G network, but these devices obviously favored the new LTE network because they did not work quite as reliably on 3G.  My only other problem with the device happened to come when I was traveling to Orlando, FL in May 2011.  I couldn’t get ANY service, 3G or 4G, at or around the hotel!  PANIC! I was at a conference for a week!  Verizon promptly overnighted me a new Thunderbolt (which the hotel charged me $10 to RECEIVE the package).  Same issue!  So, there must have been another outage of some sort, but “we” never did figure it out.  All I know is that it was fine when I got back to Seattle.
  8. Verizon – Motorola Bionic 4G LTE – The hardware on this device was suppose to change “everything”.  Duel core processor, 8mp camera, 1080p video shooting, weird dock thing that made it operate like a real computer, plus xGA display. This SHOULD have been a fantastic device.  However, after a month of owning it, I had too many issues.  Data connections being dropped several times per day, continued 4G data outages (not sure if it was phone or network, assumed phone), music would randomly start playing when it connected to my car’s bluetooth.  Mostly I just couldn’t rely on the data… and that’s why I had a SmartPhone… DATA!
  9. My most recent - iPhone 4S, 32gb White on AT&T

  10. AT&T – Apple iPhone 4S White 32gb – My roommate and I both had Thunderbolts at the same time.  After a few months he started grumbling that he just “wanted it to work… just work… no fiddling with it, no reloading roms, no rooting… just WORK!”  I thought this was kinda funny since I loved tinkering with the ROMs and software, but it wasn’t until I got my Bionic that I understood what “just work” means.  Do what I want, when I want it. WOW, novel concept. So, in hearing all the hype about the new 4S I decided to cut my losses and pride.  It was time to complete my metamorphosis into the next Apple Fanboy.  I would be sacraficing LTE 4G speeds and I COULD have stayed on Verizon’s network, but here’s why I didn’t, a) 4G LTE had been pretty problematic from the start (albeit less problematic than WiMax), and b) Verizon’s 3G CDMA network for the iPhone was SUPER slow compared to AT&T.  From what I read it was something like 0.75mbps on Verizon vs 7-10mbps on AT&T.  And since I rarely ever talked on the phone my hangups about call quality and dropped calls were moot.

So, there’s my SmartPhone history.  In the next segment I’ll review my iPhone 4S comparing some of its awesomeness to the awesomeness of my past devices.


Filed under: BlackBerry,Droid,iPhone,Mac,Mobile,Technology

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17 May 10

I love my BlackBerry.  It does (most) everything I want.  With that said, I get technology envy.  It’s not a healthy condition to have, but like alcoholism and bulimia it’s something that requires professional help to overcome.

I’m about to give in to my technology envy after having my BlackBerry Storm2 for only 6 months.  My Storm2 is wonderful!  Best BlackBerry I’ve ever owned!  With that said, BlackBerry is quickly falling behind in technological advancement.  That’s NOT to say it’s not the most trustworthy and secure device on the market.  You’ll never hear me argue that point.  It is, everyone knows it.

So, what’s the latest/greatest allure?  The HTC Droid EVO being released by Sprint on June 4th.

I have to give it a try!  The specs for the device tell a general reader that if it performs they way it’s promised to it will be the “perfect, most advanced device” on the market.

Here’s a rundown of the specs that make me drool:

  • Main display: 4.3” WVGA (800×480) 65K colors (HUGE!!)
  • 3G/4G capability (4G only in certain markets right now, mine is one of them)
  • Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ QSD8650 (1GHz) processor (fastest mobile processor on the market)
  • Google Goggles (Search the internet by taking a picture instead of typing words)
  • Google Navigation (FREE navigation software powered by Google Maps) (Also comes with Sprint Navigator for free)
  • 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot capability – connects up to eight Wi-Fi enabled devices
  • 4G data speeds (WiMAX) – peak download speeds of more than 10 Mbps; peak upload speeds of 1 Mbps; average download speeds of 3-6 Mbps
  • Capture and share HD-quality video (720p) from your phone
  • Live video sharing with Qik
  • 8MP autofocus camera with dual LED flash and 1.3MP front-facing camera (DUEL cameras, one front, one back to do mobile video conferencing!! WOW! 8MP on a mobile device??)
  • FM radio and Amazon MP3 store

Crazy, right?

So, what am I worried about losing?

  1. Worried about Microsoft Exchange integration – I know it’s technically possible natively and through third-party apps, but not nearly as seamless as BlackBerry
  2. No “memos” integration between device and Microsoft Exchange.  I use the Notes feature in Outlook a lot, which shows up on my BlackBerry as “Memos”.  I have yet to find a way to sync those to my anticipated Droid
  3. Nervous about lack of applications developers – I KNOW what apps I have for my BlackBerry and have been able to acquire them over years, porting them from device to device, but I’m just not sure about the thoroughness of apps available to Droid
  4. I promise to miss you Verizon!  I have friends here in Seattle who work with Sprint and who are active in the local Social Media community.  I’m really looking forward to supporting them and their efforts to integrate into the local community.  I have yet to meet anyone from Verizon supporting events or participating.
  5. BlackBerry Messenger has become a staple in my life.  Instant communication with other BlackBerry users without the device battery drain of “normal” instant messaging systems (thanks to the superior “push” technology of BlackBerry)
  6. I promise to miss you Verizon! I know I’ve already said that, but I made the mistake once of switching carriers and suffered for one year with AT&T before returning home to Verizon’s superior coverage and clarity.  I can’t say that I’ll be affected by “poor” Sprint coverage or service or clarity.  I’ve never had Sprint, but I do know they don’t “have a map for that”.  I’m relying on my best friend who tells me he’s always had Sprint and has never had issues with service in the greater Seattle area. (He also enjoys the more inclusive pricing structures with Sprint)

Ok, so there you have it.  I’m going to give my BlackBerry the ol’ heave-ho!  I never thought I’d say that… but yet again, there’s always the possibility of buyer’s remorse.

So, should I just ditch my BlackBerry and fully commit?  Or should I keep it during the 30 day trial period knowing I’ll be able to switch back if for some reason the Droid fails me?  HELP!


Filed under: BlackBerry,Droid

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19 Dec 09

First off, let me just say that I’m a Verizon junky.  I love Verizon.  They DO have a Map for That!  Great service, great devices (I have the BlackBerry Storm2) and reliable connections and speeds.  That’s my disclaimer!  (I hate AT&T, dislike T-Mobile and have never really thought much about Sprint except that they run on the “same” network technology as Verizon, just not as thorough of service coverage).

On December 8th I went to the Social Media Club Seattle event on the Microsoft campus.  Well, there was an “after party” sponsored by Spring 4G.  I’ve never been much of a Sprint guy, but thought I’d go and check it out anyway.  I’ve heard some good things about 4G WiMax and really wanted to see what it was really like.  That evening they had a 6 computer work station setup with Sprint U300 4G dongles (aircards that plug into your USB port) and I could not believe it when I did a speed test (the first and only thing I went directly to do) and saw it clock at 3.2 Mbps.  At the time I was told that was “a bit slow” by the Sprint rep, since apparently “good” signal strength can yield around 7-9 Mbps!!  That’s INSANE!  That’s 2x-3x faster than my home cable internet service… and it’s over the air!!  So, fascinated by the speed I experienced, I introduced myself to Jon (District Sales Manager) (@WSthHouse)and David (Store Manager at Northgate Way) (@Bonjour206).  These two are amazing guys.  Very nice, very straight shooting all around fun to hang out with.

So, I kept up twitter conversations with the two of them and a few days later David came to a #ColdPavement event in Belltown to hang out and so I could pick his brain some more.  I was basically digging for the weaknesses of 4G.  I did find out that some buildings do have penetration issues, so in those situations you’ll really need to be closer to windows (not so appealing an idea).  Other than that I couldn’t tell what the downsides could be since the service is only $59.99 a month (and completely mobile, unlike my home service).

After some thought of the subsequent days I decided that Friday night (last night) I’d take the plunge, go to the Sprint Northgate Way store and grab me some 4G.  Why not?  I’m going to be temporarily moving into a rental condo (I own it, but it’s been rented out over the past three years) and I don’t want to sign up for TV, telephone and internet while I’m trying to sell the unit.  So, this three inch dongle (three inches of speedy joy) could make that situation a lot nicer.

HOWEVER, Friday afternoon I discovered online through several different forums that the U300 has been having driver issues with Windows 7!  Ot oh!  I have Windows 7 on my laptop! YIKES!  I shot David a text message asking what his proposed work around would be… “No problem, a new update software update was released on Dec 14 with Windows 7 drivers.  You’ll be fine!”  Phew!  Saved the day!  Just when I thought I’d have to drop the whole thing, David rushes to the resque.

So, I get to the store around 5:30pm.  David is with a customer.  One of his sales monkeys RUNS over to ask, “Hey! How can I help you guys today?” (I brought my friend Josh with me, @JoshITGuy since he’s an IT Consultant and pretty savvy on networking and computer stuff)  I just told him that we were waiting for David and would browse while we waited.  Keep in mind Josh is also a Sprint junky.  Has been with Sprint for a long time (albeit one minor blip when he jumped ship to AT&T for an iPhone only to find out that AT&T sucks… that didn’t last long fortunately).  So, of course while “we” are browsing Josh is drooling over the BlackBerry Tour on display (with a dead battery unfortunately) and frantically wondering if David will be able to upgrade his soon to be obsolete 8330 to the shiny new Tour!

So, after about 15 minutes of wait for David to finish up with a customer (found out later he had been on a customer support call for a customer for 1 hour 10 minutes), he came over and we started the process.  He took us to the display and started showing us around the speed tests and all that, but I stopped him to say I’d already gone through it and had already made up my mind.  David ran into the back room and came out with a shiny black box that had my new toy inside.   Amazingly helpful, he says, “Well, this could take a few minutes to get setup because I’ll have to activate it and there’s a ‘Welcome’ message on there that I’ll have to get removed.  For some reason, just like with our phones, Sprint puts a welcome message on the aircards.  This doesn’t affect the 3G cards, but for some reason it prevents the 4G card from connecting and can be problematic if I don’t take care of it before you leave.” (WOW, it takes guts to admit that there’s a glitch in the system, even if you know how to get it resolved).  So he takes 15-20 minutes on the phone with a support rep to get this all taken care of, he says things are working fine.  But, I had my Windows 7 laptop WITH me.  (Smart cookie I am… make him get the software and make sure it’s working before I leave the store.)  So, he tells us that the software will take a little time to download and install.

So, while the download and install is taking place the three of us run out to grab a quick bite to eat and return to my laptop within the hour to have pristine Windows 7 compatible software on my laptop.  We walk in, install the software and within 15 minutes we’re connected to 4G and smokin the interwebs!

Oh, did I mention that while David was working with the customer support on the phone he was setting up my friend Josh with his new BlackBerry Tour?  Yeah, miracle worker!  He was able to get Josh’s renew date bumped by a few days to have him walking out with a powerful new BlackBerry Tour… all while on hold for my “Welcome Message” issue.

So, I got back late last night to the house I’m staying at on the top of Queen Anne hill in Seattle, immediately cranked up my laptop and plugged in the dongle.  Immediately went to the Speakeasy Speed Test site, fired it up, hit test… ONLY 1.8Mbps.  I was devastated (and very tired).

This morning I woke up, went down to the laptop again, did the speed test three times: 2.8Mbps, 3.4Mbps, and 3.8Mbps!  WOW!  Holy smokes Batman!  I’m stoked!

(In the image above, the Green number is my tested download speed and the Red number is my tested upload speed)

So, after a thrilling customer service experience with David and a great (and fast) experience with Sprint 4G, I’m a happy boy!

Did I mention that I’m happy?  Just want to be sure you understand that.

So, just as a disclaimer, Sprint 4G is not all that widespread yet.  It does cover most of the “I-5 corridor” from Bellingham down through Lakewood (just south of Tacoma) according to the service maps.  And it’s in a few other markets around the country.  But if you have this service and this dongle, it also does connect to their 3G data service too (although seems much slower in comparison now that I’m spoiled).  Take a stroll over to the Sprint Coverage Maps to see if their 4G service is in your market yet.

Good luck and happy surfing!

UPDATE: I forgot to mention the efforts that my dear friend Brian Westbrook put into making the Spring 4G “SMC After Dark” party work out flawlessly!  Great job Brian!


Filed under: BlackBerry,Social Media,Twitter

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10 Jun 09

So, here’s the story, I have two computers. My work desktop, my home laptop. At work, I plug my BlackBerry into my machine and it connects to Desktop Manager, thus synchronizing settings each time. I do a similar thing at home with my laptop, except it just requires me to connect via VPN first, then I can open Desktop Manager and connect to the email server, again, synchronizing settings each time.

.. continue reading ..


Filed under: BlackBerry

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25 Nov 07

I’m embarrassed to say that I still know people who have a BlackBerry and a cell phone. I’m not even talking about one of the “older” style BlackBerrys. I’m talking about one of the new schwankie Curves or 8800’s. Now, I can certainly understand the desire to “escape” from work. I can also understand that the older BlackBerrys weren’t very nice to talk on as a cell phone since it actually appeared like you had a hockey puck stuck in your ear. But lets be reasonable here. These newer BlackBerrys are actually just as good (and in my opinion, better) as any regular cell phone one the market. And if your aversion is simply related to the “size” of the BlackBerry, I really doubt that the size of the newer BlackBerrys is going to be much larger than your cell phone.

So, my point here isn’t necessarily a time saver, but more of a life saver. You’ll need one less packing mule to carry around all those extra electronics.

Now, lets talk about typing on a BlackBerry. It’s not easy usually to type really long emails, especially when the content is information that you share over and over and over again, like contact information, or addresses. I know many of my friends have an auto-signature setup on their BlackBerrys so they don’t have to type it all in, but for me, I like to put a different signature on different types of messages. Since I have three personal email accounts also attached to my BlackBerry, I prefer not to use my work signature on my personal emails, and I certainly don’t want my personal signature on my work emails. So, here enters the “AutoText” feature of the BlackBerry.

AutoText is a similar feature to that used in MS Word where if you type something like “teh” it will replace it automatically with “the”. Very convenient in MS Word, no? Well, your BlackBerry has the same technology. If you can find your “Options” menu, one of the first items on the list should be “AutoText”. When you click on this item you’ll see a long list of AutoText actions. They usuall look like “acn (can)” this means, if you type “anc” it turns into “can”. The word outside is what you might type and the word in the parentheses is the word that will result due to AutoText. Take a long hard look at this list. Many of them, as you would expect, are just auto-spelling correction items. On the other hand, there are quite a few items that simply save you time typing normal informations. Examples, “hel (he’ll)” (this means if you type “hel” you’ll get “he’ll”) or “id (I’d)” or “il (I’ll)”. One good one is “mynumber (%p)”, which means if you type “mynumber” then it will change it to your BlackBerry’s phone number which is much easier than finding the brackets and dashes and all the numbers.

So, let’s bring this baby home! How does AutoText and your signature come together as something useful? Well, I’m thrilled you would ask!!

I have three “special” AutoText items in my list. My first one is “#w”, if I type #w it inserts my full work signature. My next is “#h” (I call this my “home” signature) which inserts just my full name and my cell number. And finally I use “#a” as my “All personal information”. So by typing #a it replaces it with my name, my home address, my cell phone, my work phone, and some other garbage that I would pass on to friends who would ask me for many of these pieces. I rarely use this one, but it’s nice to have…. beats the heck out typing it all out!


Filed under: BlackBerry

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