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Smartphone Round Robin: First Thoughts on the BlackBerry 8310

Microsoft and Windows Mobile clearly have a primary focus these days - and that focus is business (opens in new tab). From adding a slew of business-oriented features to Windows Mobile 6 (opens in new tab) to their recently announced device management suite, Microsoft is serious about gaining some marketshare in the enterprise space.

If they're successful, they'll likely be taking that marketshare away from one company: RIM. So I'll admit to feeling the pressure this week in the Smartphone Round Robin. Sure, people enjoy pitting Microsoft against Apple, but it seems like the place where there's really direct smartphone competition is between Microsoft and RIM - and both companies talk enough trash to back that up.

While I can't comment too intelligently about advanced enterprise and business features, I do feel like I'm getting a pretty good feel for the BlackBerry from a Windows Mobile user's perspective. This week is actually the first time in the Round Robin that I've been using a brand new interface - with the 680 and the iPhone I had some experience. So I need to give a gigantic shout-out to the incredible folks over at the CrackBerry.com forums, without whom I would have felt awfully lost.

Read on for my initial thoughts on the BlackBerry 8310!

Hardware

There's no doubt about it: the 8310 is a sexy little gadget. We're using the Burgundy color, which looks very nice yet still seems business-like. Around the sides the slick red plastic is replaced with a matted / soft-touch black plastic which helps with gripability quite a bit.

I also think that the weight of the 8310 is great, it's light and well-balanced, it feels great in the hand and isn't too “slabby” like some other QWERTY phones I know (cough MotoQ cough).

This would be the place to get into specs, too, I suppose - but honestly I don't really feel like “specs” matter as much to me here as just the basic (and totally new to me) BlackBerry experience. Battery life: very very good - though that's not too surprising given that they 8310 is EDGE-only (boo) and does not have a touchscreen. The spec that's most interesting to me is the built-in GPS, which works very well (more on that below).

Comparison Shots

There is such a wide array of Windows Mobile form factors that it's difficult to choose which ones to compare it to - so I'll just pick a couple semi-randomly so that folks who are more familiar with Windows Mobile can get their bearings here:

BlackBerry 8310 vs. the Tilt

BlackBerry 8310 vs. the Shadow

Keyboard

One of the biggest strengths of the entire BlackBerry line is their excellent QWERTY keyboards. Typing on the 8310 is quick and easy. I'm especially impressed with the software-intelligence behind the keyboard. You can hit the spacebar twice to get a period, which is cool. What shocked me in a big way was that the 8310 recognizes when I'm entering an email address - the first “space” you enter in an email address automatically switches the space into an @ symbol, the 2nd switches it to a period. The same happens in the built-in browser - space maps to a period. Smart, cool.

Input on the keyboard is quick, but I'm surprised to say I don't think it's the best QWERTY keyboard I've ever used. It's very close (and with more use I might change my mind), but I think I prefer the Treo's keyboard. Some pictures are necessary here (click the thumb for the full image):

The differences between the buttons on the Treo and the 8310 are subtle but important. The 8310's buttons are “flat” where the Treo's have Palm's patented “Rounded, with the 'top of the hill' slightly on the upper right” finish. The Treo's buttons also seem a bit more “grippable” whereas the 8310's are pretty slick. Finally, the 8310's feedback is more “clacky” than the Treos.

The upshot is that I find I make slightly (very slightly) fewer mistakes on the Treo's keyboard - the buttons are easier to feel beneath the thumb and also feel spaced apart more (even though they aren't) because their topmost surface is more spaced apart. The gripability of the buttons also helps keep my thumbs from sliding across to the next key. The “clackiness” of the 8310 actually isn't bad - it's nice if you like that sort of thing.

In any case, the keyboard on the 8310 is darn good, it's certainly better than 95% of the other QWERTY keyboards there - it puts the keyboards on the MotoQ, Q9, Blackjack, and Dash to shame. I slightly prefer the Treo's physical buttons to the 8310's. However, when you include the sofware improvements, I guess I'd have to admit that it edges out the Treo.

Scroll ball

Although I've never used a BlackBerry at length before, I do remember the minor tempest that ensued after RIM switched away from the scroll wheel to the scroll ball. I was initially worried that the thing would fill up with gunk, get pressed accidentally, or that I would be constantly accidentally doing a “Scroll-press” instead of just a straight press.

I'm here to say that my fears were unfounded - the scroll ball is pretty neat. It certainly feels a lot better than your standard push-button 5-way navpad. The only gripe I have is that there's not a way to do an “infinite scroll” with the scroll ball - you have to scroll, move your thumb up, scroll again, etc.

The thing I'm learning about the BlackBerry platform, though, is that there are little keyboard shortcuts hard-coded into the device darn near everywhere. So although I can't just “hold down” a 5-way to scroll down, in most apps I can just hold down the space bar instead.

Setup

Setting up the BlackBerry was very easy. I'm happy to see that RIM offers basic Mac sync functionality via PocketMac. I also am happy to see that the BlackBerry asks if you'd like to mount your storage card when you plug into the computer - which makes managing media files much easier.

The other piece of setup that was easier than I was expecting was getting my data plan and BlackBerry Internet Service set up. I griped about data plans and praised AT&T yesterday, but it's worth repeating: the reps at AT&T knew the BlackBerry, knew what I needed to set it up, and were able to get it done with a minimum of hassle. Although I was initially a little confused about the differences between a straight internet plan, BIS, and BES, Kevin's CrackBerry 101 “Lecture” on the subject set me straight.

Really, the only complaint I have about setting up the 8310 is how freaking long it takes the thing to boot up. I've been told that it's because BlackBerrys have magical communication powers that need time to percolate, talk to their server, and so on - but that explanation leaves me a little dubious. On the bright side is that the device seems rock-solid, so a reset should be a relatively rare occurrence. With WM I found myself resetting once a week or so, though that's likely because of how often I mess around with it.

Email

Ok, I lied. I have another complaint and it's one that I've hinted at before: I flat-out don't understand how email works on the BlackBerry. I think it's an issue of basic email philosphy religion. So the below is my wandering thoughts, trying to “get” the BlackBerry philosophy of email. Think of me on my knees, praying to the god of mobile data, trying to understand the doctrine of email. Where I am wrong, please correct me in the comments!

Let me adapt an idea from Italian writer and semiotician Umberto Eco, writing about the DOS vs. Mac divide in the 80s:

The fact is that the world is divided between users of the Macintosh computer and users of MS-DOS compatible computers. I am firmly of the opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant. Indeed, the Macintosh is counterreformist and has been influenced by the “ratio studiorum” of the Jesuits. It is cheerful, friendly, conciliatory, it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach - if not the Kingdom of Heaven - the moment in which their document is printed. It is catechistic: the essence of revelation is dealt with via simple formulae and sumptuous icons. Everyone has a right to salvation.DOS is Protestant, or even Calvinistic. It allows free interpretation of scripture, demands difficult personal decisions, imposes a subtle hermeneutics upon the user, and takes for granted the idea that not all can reach salvation. To make the system work you need to interpret the program yourself: a long way from the baroque community of revelers, the user is closed within the loneliness of his own inner torment.

In this case, the Catholic smartphone is the BlackBerry, the Protestant Smartphone is Windows Mobile. Basically, the BlackBerry takes all the work of setting email up and moves onto the priests of BlackBerry - the BIS servers. You punch in your email address and your password, wait about 20 minutes (actually, I never waited more than 5), and your email magically starts getting pushed to your BlackBerry. Compare this to most Windows Mobile setups - where everything is handled device-side. Sure, WM can often (usually) auto-detect your email settings, but everything is pretty such client-based.

The problem here is that how exactly my email is set up via BIS is mysterious to me - those details are handled by the priests in the temple. With some awesome help from the folks in the CrackBerry.com forums (thanks Bla1ze!) I was able to get BIS to look at my Gmail accounts as IMAP instead of as POP3 accounts -- but that didn't make my BlackBerry email client look like a standard IMAP client! I set up a standard mac.com account too with similar results.

I'm pretty sure that the idea here is that BlackBerrys are designed to let you absolutely blast though emails, as Mike noted in his look at the 8310 at Phone different. The BlackBerry does this and does it well - emails come in quickly, responding to them is easy and fast, and keyboard shortcuts like “shift for select” mean I can select a whole buncha them at once and do an action on them. I am also a big big fan of the unified inbox - which is surprising to me because initially I thought it was a horrible idea and would get me into all sorts of trouble from mixing and matching my personal and work lives.

It seems to me that one way that RIM lets you blast so quickly is they pretty much stripped the concept of “folders” out of email completely. There's just one “box” for your email and this box is basically the inbox with a few caveats (it seems to show sent message notifications in there). So, for example, I have Gmail auto-label and auto-filter certain messages into subfolders (or at least Gmail's version of them) right on the server - these messages never appear on my BlackBerry. That's fine - I auto filter them because I don't want them in my inbox - but I don't have a way to access them at all via BlackBerry's email client. Worse - deleting emails in my inbox on either desktop or on the BlackBerry doesn't seem to sync up properly, ditto read/unread.

Now, I want to say here that it's possible - likely - that I may have misconfigured something in BIS or that BIS and Gmail's IMAP aren't are friendly as they ought to be. That's the way of things on the cutting edge and it's the way of things with new devices. What's frustrating to me is that I don't really know for sure - those settings are hidden away by the priests of BIS. Sure, I can access some apocrypha like “Send Service Books” or “Register Now” for the “Host Routing Table,” but I'm pretty sure that's not what I'm looking for.

What I'm looking for is choosing which IMAP folders I want my email client to subscribe to, setting which IMAP box my sent-mail should go to in case the default isn't working for some reason. I'm looking for the “protestant” version of email, where you are in charge of your own salvation setup and can get it just so. With Windows Mobile, they definitely aren't as good at automating and simplifying email, but Outlook Mobile feels like it has more power under the hood than the BlackBerry's email client.

Ok, enough kvetching. Let me be crystal clear: once you accept the “BlackBerry religion” of how email works, it's perfect for getting emails in and out quickly and efficiently. It handles attachments well (both sending and receiving), although I'll admit I wish I could edit Office Docs natively.

I do think that BIS's simplified email setup is the bee's knees for a 90% of people. Yes, Exchange Server does push email, but unless your company support it you're stuck trying to find one on your own and setting it up. Ditto for the other push email solutions for Windows Mobile out there - if you have corporate support, they're easy, if you don't, it's not. BlackBerrys are impressive because they make push email easy for everybody.

There is no easier way to get reliable push email than with a BlackBerry, period.

Sorry to go on so long there, but BlackBerry's main strength is email so if I'm going to knock it, I'd best have a darn good reason for it. My darn good reason is that I don't like mystery in my smartphone setup - whether it be memory management on the PalmOS (see “Gripe 1”) or email setup on my BlackBerry.

The BlackBerry OS

I was expecting the OS on the 8310 to stink, since my understanding is that the apps are all basically a version of MIDP for running Java Micro Edition (sometimes known as J2ME) apps. If your head is exploding because the previous sentence is completely inaccurate, I feel your pain. I don't understand much about the BlackBerry OS and need to say that from the get-go that I was expecting it to be primitive, since everything J2ME that I've used to this point has been slow and buggy.

Yeah, I was wrong - the BBOS is pretty nice.

The UI took awhile for me to get used to - I don't think I'm fond of the idea of “themes.” It seems like a theme should just change the wallpaper, colors, and icons on a device - not move icons into different folders, change settings for inboxes (you can adjust that manually, though), and so on. All that said I was happy to get advice from CrackBerry Kevin: stick with the default AT&T theme, move everything out of their subfolders, put them in the order your want, and hide the stuff you won't use.

Basically, I'm really fond of having a single home screen that acts both as a dialer (just type to dial) and an app launcher. While I miss being able to pack information in ala Windows Mobile's Today Screen, the trade off of being able to manage my app shortcuts in a way that makes sense to me is a pretty good one. I'm sure with a little more work / theme hunting I could be made even happier.

The only thing I'd wish for is a more efficient way of switching apps one-handed. There are just two “convenience buttons” for me to map and I wish I could have just one more: One for inbox, one for profiles, and one for camera. I'd like to be able to map the “mute” button, which seems completely useless to me.

Stability-wise I have no complaints. It's very responsive all around - the 8310 probably has the fewest delays in app switchnig of any of the Smartphones in the Round Robin. I experience an odd pause from time to time, but rarely.

The built-in browser froze a couple times (but righted itself eventually) and I am finding that sometimes alert-tones seem to not happen. The latter issue is a little (ahem) alarming, but I'm not positive this is a bug yet. Interacting with the device seems to cancel it making noises so it's possible I've just happened to be toying with it when it wanted to beep at me.

Apps

Standard Apps

I've got no beef with the standard apps. I'm happy to see a real alarm clock (weird that I jumped on that first). The PIM apps do their job nicely. The built-in Facebook app is neat. The browser kinda stinks, but then again so does Pocket Internet Explorer, so I can't really complain much about that.

I haven't had a chance to delve into any sort of multimedia yet - look for that in my next article.

TeleNav

TeleNav is built-in and costs 10 bucks a month for an unlimited plan. GPS is built-in to the 8310 and unlike Windows Mobile it requires absolutely no configuration. In fact, I have yet to see any sort of setting for GPS at all.

Anyhow, TeleNav is really sweet - much better than I expected it to be. I've always been a TomTom man myself, but this is just as good as TomTom and better in some cases (great traffic support). I do wish I could save maps locally on the microSD card, though, in case I am ever in a spot without data.

Third Party apps

Opera Mini was the first 3rd party app I installed and I think it's near perfection on the 8310. If ever there were a browser designed to be used with a scroll ball, this is it. I love the RSS reader feature for quickly reading sites (so much more common and more efficient than mobile versions of pages). The zooming is great, it's pretty fast. Opera Mini on the 8310: an absolute must.

Also in the category of “absolute must” is JiveTalk. It's 20 bucks (with a 30 day trial) for what might be the best mobile IM client I've ever used. Thanks again to the folks at CrackBerry.com for aggressively recommending it, because it's aggressively recommendable. :)

Conclusion

There you have it, my first impressions after 4 days of full time BlackBerry usage. Could I make the 8310 my main device? I quite possibly could, but it would mean changing (email) religion, by which I mean I'd have to restructure how I deal with email both on my mobile device and on my desktop. I could do it, but I don't think I'd like it.

For folks who aren't as persnickety as me, though, I don't really have a problem recommending the 8310. It looks good, lasts a long time on a charge, is stable, handles most email like a rock star, and has GPS built-in.

Somehow the 8310 seems less powerful than the other smartphones in the Round Robin. It certainly can't do as much as Windows Mobile; I suspect you can't find nearly the number of 3rd party add-ons as are available for PalmOS; and it lacks the whiz-bang of the iPhone. I could be wrong about all three of those assumptions, but I don't think I am. However, what the 8310 lacks in power, it makes up for in utility: the BlackBerry “just works” at smartphone tasks whereas the others need a little 3rd-party push from time to time.

As I've said before, I personally prefer to get a device to “work” the way I want it to instead of “just work” in a way I don't, but I have to give credit where credit is due. The BlackBerry 8310 just works.

I need to spend more time with it - I should install DocsToGo to see how that works, look into finding a real file browser, and of course get into its multimedia capabilities (sneak peek - love the camera!). Keep an eye out for my last look early next week!

So: what'd I get right? What'd I get flat-out wrong? Comment on this post for an entry in the Round Robin Contest!

WC Staff
WC Staff
40 Comments
  • Nice touch with the myspace-ish picture
  • Ah, shoot. I just realized I forgot something. I'll mention it in the next article - I love the old school square cursor. :)
  • Great review on the blackberry. I have to be honest with you, i'm a Treo owner and have been researching between the various smartphones out there. This round robin gig is sweet!! Great Idea! I've narrowed down my search to the Tilt and the Curve. My treo, being my first foray into smarphoneworld has been fun, but certain bugs within the phone have kept me from loving it. I think I just got a bad apple from the stack, not pointing the finger at Palm. I'm heavily leaning towards the tilt just for it's immense capabilites,..but this curve sure looks sweet. Functionality over Aesthetics...I'd appreciate any advice anyone out there may have on making my final selection. I recently came across these sites, Crackberry, TreoCentral and WMExperts.....i'm hooked. I must admit that I'm a self confirmed gadget geek. The first step with any addiction is admitting that you have one.
    Looking forward to future posts... :0)
  • Yea, the BB email religion is pervasive but you can change a few things:
    - hide sent email from the unified inbox with Options->General Options->Hide Sent Messages:Yes
    - hide server-filed email with Options->General Options->Hide Filed Messages:Yes . You can always see the individual folders with View Folders-> at least with BES service. I can't say for BIS/IMAP.
    - separate home page icons for SMS and Email with Options->General Options->SMS and Email Inboxes:Separate
    - to have deleted email delete on both sides be sure to have Options->Email Reconciliation->Delete On:Mailbox&Handheld set. Realize that by default the reconciliation happens at worst every 15 minutes so it might take a few minutes to reflect the change. Otherwise do a Reconcile Now to force it to happen immediately.
    I pretty much stick with one theme but do know that each theme saves your icon arrangement and subfolders so that's why you saw them change.
    Try Nav4All as a free voice-guided GPS-based nav app. Pretty sweet on my Curve and works as well as TT on my 700p.
  • Ah, shoot. I just realized I forgot something. I'll mention it in the next article - I love the old school square cursor. :)
    I agree. Sometimes that yellow circle backdrop is hard to see under some of the icons - especially if the icon has yellow in it.
  • Great review of the curve. Almost makes me want to switch from my 680. You mentioned D2G for the curve. Has Dataviz released that already?
  • Hmm, pretty spot on article Dieter, while reading through it, I found myself agreeing with you at all points, even the items which you would be considering "bad" points, especially regarding the IMAP feature and not being able to sort the emails as you would like, I understand that especially when you have become accustomed to utilizing your emails that way, I personally don't have the much organization going on in my inbox, so it has bypassed me as being a limitation on the BB devices, I'm noticing the sync problem you were having has been addressed somewhat by a fellow CB.com member tomvb2000, but a crucial step has been missed in that direction as well, while logged into your BIS account, tap on the edit icon on an individual email and under the General Settings you will find "Synchronize deleted items between this mailbox and my device." that will need to be addressed for sync to work correctly...tomvb2000 beat me to the punch on this one (*shakes fist*) lol,...you really didn't leave much for us to comment on other then the normal "Great Article", "excellent read" stuff that you would normally see in a post..anything that was left out, you already stated you would be addressing in the next article..so alas I wait..cause by reading this article I think you pretty much hit it home and any BB user that reads this, is pretty much gonna agree with any faults you have found.
  • This round-robin is a great idea and comes at a perfect time for me. I'm contemplating my next device (corporate env) and my Treo 650 with Goodlink is ok..but oooold. The Curve is a major frontrunner with the Palm Centro close behind.
    The religion of email is my main issue. I just don't get how our BES runs things. Will I be able to setup a separate IMAP personal email account along with the Exchange connection I will have via BES? How about text messages...also go through BES? That just doesn't feel right.
    If anyone can comment on how I can accomplish something like my current setup with a Curve/BES setup I'd be grateful! Setup is as follows:
    --Currently on the Treo 650 I have Goodlink with it's own cal/email etc that links directly to our Exchange server.
    --I also have Chattermail setup for my personal IMAP accounts.
    --The native palm address book and calendar are for personal contacts & schedule (although I could live with a single calendar and contact list).
    Main question:...how would I do separate email and text messaging and would it all go through the BES?
    Great review...looking forward to the rest of the roundup.
  • Main question:...how would I do separate email and text messaging and would it all go through the BES?
    The option is there to have SEPERATE in boxes for individual email accounts, and SMS and MMS are lumped together, the system as it breaks down is this
    Corp Email goes through- BES
    Persoanl Email goes through-BIS
    SMS and MMS goes through-Normal services ie..your carriers GSM/GPRS Netwrk.
  • Fun article! I probably won't consider BB seriously - been using Palm for awhile and playing around with WM - but this was a lot of fun to read nonetheless. Funny, informative, and in the end make me realize BB is much more capable than I ever gave it credit for. Well written, Dieter!
  • SMS and MMS goes through-Normal services ie..your carriers GSM/GPRS Netwrk.
    That was my assumption, but I've read a few things about BES that talk about the BES ability to audit sms/mms messages. This makes me think that it would have to route messages through BES first. That, and:Scroll to the bottom of this BES features page
    Is there a way around that??
  • My company is enforcing a corporate wide wireless standard which means I'll have to go with Blackberry (so long Treo 650 and Dash). My wife has a Pearl so I've had a chance to try the BB OS for an extended period. I really love the form factor and stability of the BB but I have a serious problem with the built in calendar. Simply put, its primitive. The Today screen is not configurable (I really like Facade on my Dash) and the weekly and monthly views are just awful. I want a weekly grid view and a month view that has icons and/or colored categories. Is that too much to ask? I search handango and pocketgear and there doesn't seem to be ANY 3rd party calendar apps for the BB? Why doesn't a third party step in? I'd pay to get something like Datebk or PocketInformant on the BB.
  • When will Sprint get this thing?
  • Rumor is 1Q08 with EVDO rev A and will include GPS. With OS 4.3 streaming media support, it makes SlingPlayer a real possibility. Forecast is also 1Q08 for Docs2Go native Blackberry support per DataViz here. That'll probably for a Pro version since this forecast indicates Doc2ToGo Standard Edition support.
    That would close all the gaps between the 700p and the Curve IMO.
  • Rumor is 1Q08 with EVDO rev A and will include GPS. With OS 4.3 streaming media support, it makes SlingPlayer a real possibility. Forecast is also 1Q08 for Docs2Go native Blackberry support per DataViz here. That'll probably for a Pro version since this forecast indicates Doc2ToGo Standard Edition support.
    That would close all the gaps between the 700p and the Curve IMO.
    Thanks...my wife wants this phone bad. She has been holding out for 2 years with her A900 and is overdue for an upgrade and we aren't leaving Sprint for a device.
  • ...I have a serious problem with the built in calendar. Simply put, its primitive. The Today screen is not configurable (I really like Facade on my Dash) and the weekly and monthly views are just awful. I want a weekly grid view and a month view that has icons and/or colored categories. Is that too much to ask? I search handango and pocketgear and there doesn't seem to be ANY 3rd party calendar apps for the BB? Why doesn't a third party step in? I'd pay to get something like Datebk or PocketInformant on the BB.
    I find the POS and BB Calendar apps very comparable and the weekly/month views virtually identical, but it sounds like you have a need for a more advanced view.
    The closest thing to a POS Today screen I've found is the free BB app called BBToday which you can OTA d/l here. The Stock tracker function doesn't work but you can turn it off - everything else works perfectly. I've mapped it to a side button for easy access.
  • Thanks...my wife wants this phone bad. She has been holding out for 2 years with her A900 and is overdue for an upgrade and we aren't leaving Sprint for a device.
    Same here. My grandfathered unlimited plan for the whole family is too good to pass up. As long as I don't make any changes to my account, Sprint won't screw up the billing. Right now I have a ATT Curve for work and the 700p on Sprint although I find myself using the Curve for almost everything. I'd like to get back to just one device - especially something stable with BT 2.0 that fits in my shirt pocket that doesn't reset or lag but has multiday battery life, yada, yada, yada.
    I'll miss the selection of 3rd party apps but find most of that functionality is already builtin on the Curve.
  • Treo 650-->Treo 700p and Curve
    Just curious...would you comment on your experience moving from the 650 to 700 and Curve? Where you on Sprint (CDMA) or ATT (GSM)? Thanks for any insight. I have the 650 w/ Sprint and am looking to upgrade.
  • Hah! Your post just before my reply answered most of my questions. How would you rate the ATT vs. Sprint voice quality and data rates on the two devices.
  • In my experience the voice quality between the two is the same - very good. The only dropouts or static I get is when I'm on the edge of a cell - very rare but yet predictable.
    Data rates can't really compare - EDGE is slow compared to EVDO. With EVDO I can easily get >200kbps as measured at dslreports mobile site. Can't get equivalent numbers from that site for the Curve due to the way dslreports speed tests work and what the browser/BB network supports. From other ATT users, I think EDGE tops out around 130-140K as measured by dslreports. The speed really makes a diff for an app like SlingPlayer.
    I've been a Palm fanboy for a very long time, but they haven't innovated and let their lead slip away. I'm pretty happy with the Curve and look forward to 1Q08 for their next OS updates.
  • Seems like a fair review, I'm still a little suprised you prefer the treos keyboard.
  • "keyboard shortcuts like ?shift for select? mean I can select a whole buncha them at once and do an action on them"
    Ahhh! I didn't know this! Disregard my comment here.
  • In my experience the voice quality between the two is the same - very good. The only dropouts or static I get is when I'm on the edge of a cell - very rare but yet predictable.
    Data rates can't really compare - EDGE is slow compared to EVDO. With EVDO I can easily get >200kbps as measured at dslreports mobile site. Can't get equivalent numbers from that site for the Curve due to the way dslreports speed tests work and what the browser/BB network supports. From other ATT users, I think EDGE tops out around 130-140K as measured by dslreports. The speed really makes a diff for an app like SlingPlayer.
    I've been a Palm fanboy for a very long time, but they haven't innovated and let their lead slip away. I'm pretty happy with the Curve and look forward to 1Q08 for their next OS updates.
    CDMA, EVDO, and the Curve seems like a good recipe for me. If it does indeed come out some time during Q1 2008, after getting it for my wife and using her as a guinea pig I want to see if its capable of pulling me from Palm. I am so hell bent on waiting until Q4 2008 for Palm/Linux.
  • Seems like a fair review, I'm still a little suprised you prefer the treos keyboard.
    Same here. Whenever I (rarely) need to use my Blackberry, my thumbs feel like they're on vacation compared to using my 750's chicklet keys.
  • I just got a curve 8300 from AT&T Premier for a friend, and it's a nice device overall. The screen is great and the thoughtful features are awesome. But, it seems to lack the important features for my needs, and I won't have a hard time parting with it.
  • Is the Sprint Curve a sure thing for Q1 2008?
  • Like many others I have been using Treos devotedly for several years (and Palm PDAs before that) but have grown tired of the company's inability to advance the line. I continue to shop around but have yet to find another smart phone that is attractive enough to make me abandon my tired but faithful Treo.
    The Curve is one device that caught my eye. The two things that make me really uncomfortable with it are the email system and the lack of a touch screen. Dieter discussed both of these things in his excellent First Thoughts but didn't do much to make me feel better. I'm going to have to stick with the Treo a little longer.
  • arw4f - Definitely can't say the Curve on Sprint is a "sure thing" for 1Q08 - rumors are what they are - just rumors. I believe it's very, very lifely though.
    Geo-Treo - I understand the hesitance over the email religion on the Curve, but having used Good on my 600/650/700p for years, you can definitely get used to it on the BB. I thought I'd miss the touchscreen as well, but the trackball and menus go a very long way to make up for it. If it means better battery life in a thinner device, it's an easy tradeoff for me.
  • Having to use both regularly side by side, the difference between Sprint's EVDO network and the slower Edge is astounding. Network speed is a prerequisite to changing devices.
  • Having to use both regularly side by side, the difference between Sprint's EVDO network and the slower Edge is astounding. Network speed is a prerequisite to changing devices.
    I don't live in a Sprint EVDO area and don't travel enough to make EVDO an must have. I'm guessing that the ATT EDGE network on the Curve will be faster, or at least as fast as the normal Sprint data rates on my old Treo 650.
    Anyway, I think I'm going to try out the Curve for a while and see what I think. My main concerns are around how the BES works with my company and if I can setup other personal accounts through the BIS ... still wish I could get some details around what exactly goes through what B(I/E)S. Oh well...guess, I will have to test it out on my own.
  • One reason I never see myself getting a BB is the whole BES issue. If I were to get a BB I would want to receive my work mail and calendar on it. I currently admin 1 Exchange and 1 Domino BES with about 750 users. As an admin I have come to realize if you use a BES you don't really "own" the BB. At any time an BES admin and restrict what you install on it, lock you out of it, or completely wipe it.
  • webdave...honestly, that is my largest overall concern. I have Goodlink on the Treo and can somewhat control the level of intrusion that software has. I still have a mandatory password policy that's a PITA, but other than that it's ok. I guess my time of trying out the BB will help me see if our corp. restrictions are too much.
    A question though...since you're an admin, can you see the following on your Exchange BES devices?
    1) sms/mms messages including content
    2) phone call log/time etc.
    3) application inventory for a particular device
    4) other content on the device?
    5) anything else along those lines?
  • 1. This is controlled by a policy. We currently have it disabled but you can enable it. My understanding is once it is enabled the device is queried every so often and any MMS/SMS messages are uploaded and logged on the BES.
    2. Yes
    3. Yes
    4. I can see all apps, versions, device uptime, battery life, if it is in cradle or out of cradle.
  • Having used a Palm for 10 years, with corporate email access for about 5 this is the one thing I despised about the Blackberry.
    I have serarate icons on my theme for my Comcast account, University of Phoenix Account, and use Empower BES Mailbox for my Exchange mail.
    The issue you are seeing with improper syncing of items when you file is another pet peeve of mine with BB. If I move a message out of my inbox to a .pst file it stays in my inbox. I have set up a seperate exchange folder "To Be Filed." I move everything in to this folder before moving it to a .pst and all works fine. I am not sure why the BB does not handle this well, but I can live with it.
    Last complaint about the device I love (BB8800 on Cingular/AT&T) is the poor third party PIM support. That should be solved soon as both Iambic Software (Agendus) and WebIS (Pocket Informant) are in the process of developing items for the Blackberry.
  • ...The issue you are seeing with improper syncing of items when you file is another pet peeve of mine with BB. If I move a message out of my inbox to a .pst file it stays in my inbox. I have set up a seperate exchange folder "To Be Filed." I move everything in to this folder before moving it to a .pst and all works fine. I am not sure why the BB does not handle this well, but I can live with it.
    I believe that was fixed/enhanced in OS 4.2 (possibly earlier). Not positive, but it might need a certain BES version as well.
    I just confirmed I *do not* have this problem with my Curve running 4.2. FWIW, also make sure you have email deleted on both sides with Options->Email Reconciliation->Delete On:Mailbox&Handheld set. Moving mail off the server and into a .pst is in effect, deleting the mail from the server folder, so I think this option is critical to making things work more naturally.
  • This was a good review. I have a Treo for my personal use and am a long time RIM BB guy for work. I credit this Round Robin for forcing me to take a closer look at the Blackberry (being a Palm guy). One thing I discovered on the BlackBerry was how they assigned some keyboard shortcuts as part of the OS on the Blackberry: 'R' opens the alarm page, 'U' opens the calculator, 'O' does options, 'A' opens the address book. All only when you're at the destop- but it does show some thought went into ease of use. I'd much prefer configuring myself and having the ability to access from within other programs...but that's why I'm posting this from a Treo. Still, credit is due to Blackberry and I can see why people like it.
  • Ah, shoot. I just realized I forgot something. I'll mention it in the next article - I love the old school square cursor. :)
    This prompted me to play with my custom themes (like skins, but not as flexible) some more. By default, the focus icon underlay is a yellow shaded circle. By adding a yellow square around it that was 25% bigger and making it's border a 3 pixel blue line, it's made a huge difference in being able to very, very easily tell where the cursor focus was (image below).
  • For BES email, you can use other program "Empower BES MailBox".
    It will shown only BES messages.
    But it look like you use the BIS.
    You can separate each icon for each email account.
  • I have owned blackberry handsets ever since they were launched and was very happy about their performance until recently when my 8310 curve would not charge.I sent it in for repairs and was told that I had vandalised the phone because the charging pin was broken.It was more upsetting when I was informed that blackberry would not repair the phone as it was their policy to do so and I was offered a refurbished handset(8310)at a cost of R2771.00 which I paid after much hesitation.I am now with a phone that I am extremely unhappy with as there seems to be a problem with the tracking ball.I have to press down on the tracking ball a couple of times before I can access an icon.I am extremely upset with the service and the unit I got from blackberry.Can somebody please advise or help me as I am at my wits end.
  • This is the best smartphone I've had. I bought the 8300 but switched to a 8310 when available. GPS works great with Google Maps and TeleNav service. PTT Off if you do not use the phone will go much faster. Multimedia functions do the job and Roxio makes managing your music easier.