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WMExperts Takes On the BlackBerry Bold

Here we go, folks the Smartphone Round Robin begins today as we at WMExperts take a look at the BlackBerry Bold (See CrackBerry.com's full review). As you can tell from the video above, I'm very impressed with the hardware of the Bold, it's first-rate. The OS is where the action of the Smartphone Round Robin is, though, and I'm here to say that the OS improvements RIM made on the Bold since last year are impressive. Fonts have gone from circa-1997 styling to something more modern. More importantly, the OS is still very snappy.

A bit more after the break, including contest details!

More BlackBerry Thoughts

I have my gripes, of course, which I'll really dig into in my full (text) look at the Bold on Friday. If you're looking for a preview, a lot of them are going to be the same things I wrote about last year in Part 1 and Part 2 of our look at the BlackBerry 8310.

The short version is this: while the BlackBerry does what it does very well, right now it's difficult for me to adapt it to my preferred way of doing things. Instead I'm adapting myself to the “BlackBerry Way,” which isn't necessarily a horrible thing, but it does mean that a lot of the workflows and habits I've been able to adapt Windows Mobile to may not be possible with the BlackBerry. In other words -- while you can (and sadly sometimes must) adapt Windows Mobile to suit your habits, so far with the Bold I'm spending more time adapting myself.

Things I'm missing so far: True threaded text. True IMAP support (namely: the Bold sucks down email and leaves it as unread even if I've read / archived a message in gmail). The Today Screen's ability to pack a TON of information in the home screen. Multiple hardware button shortcuts.

Things I'm not missing so far: OS lag. Windows Media Player. Pocket Internet Explorer. 320x240 screen resolution.

Huge thanks to everybody at the CrackBerry.com Forums who have chimed in to help out this BlackBerry newbie!

Contest!

We'll leave it at the video and these short thoughts for now. In the meantime this is an Official Round Robin Contest Post. Every day you reply here, you're automatically entered for a chance to win WMExpert's prize in the Smartphone Round Robin:

The HTC Fuze and the Celio Redfly Mobile Companion.

That's right, we're not just giving away a Fuze, but also the excellent Celio Redfly Mobile Companion. The Redfly lets you extend a Windows Mobile device by giving you a large screen and a real keyboard to work on without having to muck around with any syncing. (Redfly fans take note: the fact that we're giving these two things away together (in January) is a hint about future Redfly Device Compatiblity).

There's also a runner-up prize in the offing, a $50 coupon good at any SPE store, including the new Smartphone Outlet, where you can find refurb Smartphone Accessories at very (very!) low prices.

Full Contest Rules

Finally -- be sure you go help Jennifer out with her Fuze at our WMExperts Forums! Every day you post is another chance to win.

WC Staff
WC Staff
71 Comments
  • Nice review but still not convinced by the Blackberry OS!
  • The new BB's look nice. So does Android. But what they all lack, and what I've really grown to use more than I thought I would, is the Today Screen.
    Really, most of the non-WM smartphones remind me of the Palm OS--or at least how I had my Treo set up--with easy access to programs. However, they don't tell me what my schedule is, or how many tasks I have to do as soon as the phone is turned on. This is one of the reasons that I have eschewed the ROMs with Manilla from XDA-Devs.
    Until they get that, I'm inclined to take the wait-and-see approach.
  • I suspect the idea tha Blackberry does not have a today screen option is coming from the fact RIM failed to provide users with it in the Bold OS.
    Their is indeed a multitude of options for today screens with the BlackBerry that come in the form of themes (plenty of those available), granted some of them do not show as much info as say a WinMo device may, but really that is based on the theme it's self and your choice to use that theme, choose one with lots of info or very little info, the option is there.
  • @ Bla1ze,
    I did not know that. Thanks for the info!
  • @sharpja
    No problem at all here is a example..
    First icon is messages, thus showing messages when highlighted.
    Second of course is calendar and whatever is in your calendar at that time will be displayed when highlighted.
    Third icon would be your call log, like the others..will display your call log when highlighted.
    But these are all based on this theme, of course other options are available.
    [CENTER][/CENTER]
  • Ladies and gentleman, the man, the myth, the legend... the VOICE of Smartphone Experts... Dieter Booooooooooohhhhhhhn!
    Killer video, almost makes me wish I was getting this higher in the rotation!
  • I just made the switch from 6 years of Pocket PC/Windows Mobile use to a BlackBerry Bold. I have to say, the transition has been pretty smooth for me. Prior to the Bold, I had a Tilt which I thought was the end all, be all of mobile devices.
    I do have to admit, I miss true IMAP support as well. I miss being able to put my emails into my folders and choosing which folders I wanted synced to my device.
    I thought that I would miss having my calendar appointments on the home screen like I did on my Today screen of my Tilt. Honestly, not so much. I have Pocket Informant for BlackBerry as one of my six icons on the Home Screen and find it easy enough to just scroll and click on it.
    The one thing I do wish about the OS is to have the icons labled at all times, instead of when you highlight it with the trackball. Kind of like how Palm, WM and until recently, the BB Storm.
    Overall though, the BlackBerry Bold has been extremely stable for me, the battery life has been fantastic compared to my Tilt, and the user experience has left me happy.
  • Well I have a few comments on the WM vs. Blackberry. I was rolling it old school with an HTC xv6700 from Verizon before I switched to a blackberry and have definitely seen the pros and cons of both devices. One thing I don't miss is the complete and utter control windows mobile devices have over your life. Months after I bought the thing I was still tweaking it. The main difference between a Blackberry and a WM device is efficiency. Blackberry is focused on productivity and being as efficient as possible at doing what it's supposed to do. Windows Mobile on the other hand gives you infinitely more customization and utility, but with less efficiency (yes mostly an opinion). They really target different people, though both OS's are trying to bridge that gap. I hope this can help give a little more perspective to those Blackberry and Windows Mobile fanboys alike. Choose your phone for what you use it for, not because of the name of the OS. By the way if you have any questions about your Bold feel free to email me, though I may be too preoccupied with my Storm after this Friday...
  • Dieter:
    For the lack of shortcut keys, really their is a list that could go on forever, but here are some of the more common/useful ones.
  • I appreciate that each device might have its own "way" of doing things. And I could probably figure out how to leverage the BB "today screen" and even get used to how it handles email, but what about the "killer" applications?
    Is there a media application that does what Kinoma does? Is there an equivilent to WMWifiRouter? These two apps (aside from phone, calendar, email, contacts, and browser -- in that order) are the most important. I'm assuming that Instant Messaging (BeeJive is my favorite), camera, and texting (is it true there isn't threaded SMS on the blackberry) is fairly similar.
    I can adapt to another platform, but its far harder to adapt to a loss of functionality.
  • Just admit it, you love the Bold and now are a crackberry addict
  • You only need time to become a crackberry! all the people who try Blackbeery os for a while, they love it!
  • @ eJonny:
    Agreed - any device I use MUST have WMWiFiRouter, or an equivalent program. My Mogul is my primary modem at home because - get this - I have great EVDO revA coverage from both Sprint and Verizon where I live, but both DSL and Cable are unavailable. It's either cellular internet or satellite internet or, god forbid, dialup.
    However, Razman makes a good point: there's not the endless process of tweaking a blackberry like there is with WinMo. I both love and hate the endless upgrading of WM. It'd be great to have the best of both worlds.
  • On the Today screen--you can download a Today theme. These don't pack all the info a WM phone does, but does put the calendar, messages and depending on the theme, some other info. As for Service Books, these are how the device connects to the infrastructure of RIM. For instance, email and internet for a few.
  • If you don't want another piece of hardware, I believe you are stuck with bluetooth, or good old fashioned, tethering.
    I haven't used Kinoma before, but as far as media is concerned check out Mobiola. I have heard good things about it from others. Another downside to Blackberry is you have to be prepared to pay for many of your programs, though on average I feel like they are better put together because of it. If you want a free solution, since this is only temporary switch, I'd just stick with the default media player. If your change it to WAP it should be able to stream most videos you see on the net and is better than the default WMP mobile at handling music.
  • Their is no WMWiFiRouter application per say that can be used with a BB that I personally know of, but any BB device can be used as a modem one way or another, wether it be via your carriers connection software or be it through a 3rd party application or even a DUN connection.
    The options as far as Kinoma goes, sadly..I wish I could say their was an all in one application that would do what Kinoma does, but alas..their is not...it would take 2-3 applications to meet EXACTLY what Kinoma does but with the recent changes and focus on the consumer side of services with BlackBerry, enhancements are forth coming and to use Dieters own words against him "The OS still has life left in it" and will be expanded to meet more of a consumer need, a lot of this was addressed at the recent developers conference and new applications and the new "openness" from a dev standpoint is sure to open doors to allow for an all in one media application to be developed.
  • Hey, I already own a Blackberry. Everyone who sees me doing something cool with my Verizon Q9c always asks, "Hey, is that a Blackberry?" To some I just say "yes," because the explanation is sometimes too painful.
    Great review, can't wait to play with one..or win one? Hmmm...na, I will stick with WM I think.
  • I really love all the info you guys give eachother and the awesome community over here.
    Hopefully if I win I'll be able to be a part of it.
  • Im not a BlackBerry fan, but this is pretty nice.
  • The BBOS is essentially a smartphone OS. RIM customized their OS to bring out the strengths of the device and maximize efficiency. The BBOS is designed so that, any time someone is free, they can take out the BB and start using it to accomplish whatever they need. The OS is flexible but it has a fundamentally different design philosophy than WinMo. WinMo, like its namesake, is an OS that can run on all different kinds of hardware and is basically a scaled down computer: a blank slate to which all kinds of apps can be written and added. But it's a tradeoff; a WinMo phone is powerful, but it's also a lot less efficient, buggier, slower, and less integrated. On my home PC, I run Linux because I love tweaking, customizing, and playing around with the OS and find Vista too restrictive. But that's my home computer; on cell phone, I want somethig powerful, flexible, but still easy to use, and fundamentally a cell phone. In 20 years, we won't have cell phones and we won't have laptops, UMPC's, desktops, netbooks, or any of these distinctions. We'll simply have one (or two) convergent device(s). But that day has not yet come, and I love my BB for what it is and what it can do.
  • Blackberry, iPod and the like all have a compelling UI but I'll be damned if I'm going to let a device I buy dictate how I use it if I can help it. They're great at what they do but if you want to do something not designed into them you are either locked out or made to jump through (sometimes expensive) hoops.
    I bought one of the old Sharp Zaurus back in the day. It was a rotten PDA but with the ability to flash community ROMs on it I ended up with a pretty nice primitive UMPC.
    For me, the ability to install software of my chosing makes Palm OS and WM devices the only option.
  • Nice Review - The bold is big leap for the Blackberry.
  • In regards to the Multiple hardware button shortcuts remark.
    If you turn off dial from home then you have a plethora of shortcuts for the BB OS.
  • I am happy you liked the blackberry dieter. When I tried it I loved the high def screen on it.
  • I'm a BB user, and fan of Windows generally. I really think the WinMo legacy, from the pocket PC is illustrative. WinMo devices are more like pocket PCs. You can do more with them, and customize them more completely. Most Palm and BB devices are more a legacy of the old Palm Pilot. They are organizers, with phone and e-mail added. That's it. That's what most users spend 95% of their time doing. Even the media stuff that has been added will most go unused. BB's do they things they do quite well.
  • I can't imagine what it would take for me to switch to the BBOS, but their hardware is right on in form factor. If the front-facing qwerty phones on WM looked like the BB ones I'm convinced they'd have more market share. Nice big keyboards, super-usable trackballs, all in a tight little package. The BB versions make WM look very industrial (Epix) or very toyish (Treo Pro). Give me WM in the Bold body and I'm sold!
  • Having used both a WinMo for personal and the BB 8830, I definitely liked the WinMo capabilities better. I'd be willing to check out the new OS on the Bold, though. The hardware definitely looks good.
  • Well, winmo still has the advantage of being on more hardware and being tweaked by the makers(htc, palm), so you might have a better probability of finding a device right for you.
  • I agree the in the area of customization winmo has the edge... NOw give me a fuze :-)
  • "Things I'm not missing so far: OS lag."
    That's why I'm a Blackberry user. I do miss the customization though...
  • @ Cascade, WinMo on a Nokia E71, that would be an instant choice for me. Better HW than the Bold (apart from the screen), with shortcuts that would work for WinMo.
  • I liked some of the points brought up, especially regarding the today screen. I wonder how I'd feel if forced to use things the WM way. I haven't used a WM device since the 8125, and I vastly preferred my 8700 to it.
  • I wish my usage needs fit within the Blackberry model. There is something to be said for properly married software and hardware. I have recommended this phone at work to people closer to the center of the bell curve.
  • I've tried to make the swith from WM to BB, but I just can't get past no touch screen. I have a tilt with BB connect and I'm enjoying both worlds. The Fuze would probably eliminate the current lag with BB connect.
  • It kinda seems like you had to look pretty hard to find some faults with the Bold......it's pretty easy to convert ya know?
    In a seriousness, thanks for the WMExperts insight to the Bold. It would seem RIM is on the right track.
  • Wow, this review has really opened my eyes, and now i want a blackberry bold so bad! Thank you Wmexperts for reviewing this phone from a windows mobile users perspective!
  • I am so very torn between a new HTC Fuze or the Bold. I just don't think I can make the change to the Berry OS. The Bold Hardware is truly a dream however!
    -THP
  • Hmmm... Never thought I would remotely consider a crackberry! I am warming up to a change though to something that just works. I have even considered the (gulp) IPhone! If I had a phone that simply worked without unending tweaking, what would I do with all my spare time? Oh, I know, maybe be more productive! Now with my Celio Redfly on the way I suppose I will stay with WM for a bit longer. At least until I see if the Redfly makes a difference on a daily basis. I will give it a couple of weeks.
  • rr4him, if you're coming from a WinMo background and you want a phone that's kind of tweakable but mostly "just works", I'd definitely advise you to take a look at the BB. Even though you want a phone that "just works", the iPhone is too far in the other direction. Only get the iPhone if you want a phone that "just works" and doesn't really let you customize or tweak it to your liking at all. But wait, you say, can't I jailbreak it and/or hack it and make it do all sorts of neat stuff? Well, sure, but then you're right back to where you were with WinMo: an OS you constantly have to hack to get working to your liking. The BBOS offers a middle way: it doesn't have cooked ROMs or jailbreaking, but it does offer a lot of flexibility and customizability.
    I'd advise you, and this goes to everyone even remotely interested in the BB, to check out Crackberry.com, particularly our wonderful forums and see what these devices are truly like. And guys, don't think I'm a BB fanboy (Disclaimer: I own a Curve, and love it.); I'm posting here so I can win a Fuze ;)
    Disclaimer: I own a Curve, and love it.
  • Blackberry, iPod and the like all have a compelling UI but I'll be damned if I'm going to let a device I buy dictate how I use it if I can help it. They're great at what they do but if you want to do something not designed into them you are either locked out or made to jump through (sometimes expensive) hoops.
    I bought one of the old Sharp Zaurus back in the day. It was a rotten PDA but with the ability to flash community ROMs on it I ended up with a pretty nice primitive UMPC.
    For me, the ability to install software of my chosing makes Palm OS and WM devices the only option.
    That's a great point. It all depends on what you want in a smartphone: do you want a device that primarily handles messaging and voice calls, with web browsing, somewhat limited media capabilities, and a small amount of 3rd-party apps, or do you want a scaled down UMPC? We have a tendency to assume we always want the device with the greater potential for functionality but we have to consider what we truly need and will derive the most use out of. For me, a BB fit my mobile needs almost perfectly. It would have been great in theory to have had a Nokia N810 that could also make voice calls, but that's not how I use my phone.
  • bold or fuze. just want one
  • Great review Dieter! I think I see the beginning of a crack addict!
  • thats cool and all, but i still like windows mobile
  • Dieter
    Check out the full qwerty speed dial. It's freakin' awesome. Also when you were talking about quick keys. Think about the keyboard itself. When you're in the browser hit the b to get to the bottom, t for top, and so on. In the media player hit p for previous and n for next. It's all the little things like that that make the blackberry so efficient to use. Your local crackberry buddy probably has the sheet from bb with all the shortcuts that you can use. check it out.
  • Welcome to the world of blackberry.. Last winmo phone I used was the diamond and I got tired of chasing the white rabbit of flashing roms to get a unit that "Just works" I will admit that I miss some of the things I would change but to have a rock solid communication device.. cant be beat.
  • I like the non touch screen interface, but want to stay with Windows.
    It would be nice if the standard version would run all the applications available for Pro, but I also realize that would take some development rework on the software so that all could be done with out touching the screen.
    I also like the trackball on Blackk Berry, how are you adapting to it Dieter?
  • Maybe somebody can answer this for a BB user, what kind of flexibility does Activesync provide when working with Exchange. Currently, I have my BB set up so that I do not get e-mail when it is connected to my PC. If I delete e-mail on my BB, there is no impact on my Exchange inbox. Can I do that with WinMo? On the other hand, would WinMo allow my to truly sync and mirror both inboxes. I have tens of thousands of e-mails stored in folders in my mailbox. Could I move them using WinMo and have the same effect as when I use webmail for exchange? It's an intriguing option I have not considered.
    Lastly, does anyone know how the other Exchange sync apps handle this, say for the iPhone or Nokia's email for exchange? This is really a key productivity issue.
  • Nice review, I like the new direction RIM is going with a less pure-business approach.
  • Wow! If I had 3G coverage I might actually consider getting the Bold. Dieter, awesome review.
  • The Bold is intriguing, but I don't know, I still don't like the Blackberry OS all that much.
  • I'm here to get information on the WinMo OS and try to understand it. Then view the difference with the BB OS I plan to get a smart phone but don't know what to get.
  • Thanks for that really informative and well-thought-out review. I really like the fact that all these round robin reviews have such constructive (rather than gratuitously cricital) comments. I was considering jumping ship to BB OS until I read the particular comment comparing it to the Treo 650. I myself am one of the remaining hangers-on of the Treo 650, desperately waiting for my favorite OS to be updated (but resigned that it will never happen), so I don't want another device at the end of its OS rope. It's still going to be Fuze vs Treo Pro for me...
  • @sharpja
    No problem at all here is a example..
    First icon is messages, thus showing messages when highlighted.
    Second of course is calendar and whatever is in your calendar at that time will be displayed when highlighted.
    Third icon would be your call log, like the others..will display your call log when highlighted.
    But these are all based on this theme, of course other options are available.
    [CENTER][/CENTER]
    I need that option on any phone I use.
    I have to have all my appointments staring at me.
  • I use a Q9c (use to be an Q9m, but I upgraded to 6.1 software woo hoo) and a Blackberry Curve. The Curve is my work phone. The Q9c is my phone. I like both devices, and I would prefer to use the Curve because the battery life is so much better than my Q. I cannot download podcasts to my Curve, I can only stream which is useless on the metro where I do most of my podcast listening. Streaming is also hell on battery life. Even Blackberry battery life.
    Blackberries also lack the ability to stream NPR archives. I know this is a very obscure need. But, I man do I love it! Media is generally not as good on the Blackberry. I hope this changes because I don't like being tied to one platform, but the Blackberry's OS and it security safeguards seem to be standing in the way.
  • What do you use to keep all your contacts, email, & calendar synced OTA?
  • At least you guys picked the right BB to pass around. Storm didn't brew for long enough, apparently.
  • Do you have to have a BB plan to use data?
  • I think RIM has evolved in the right direction including a decent MediaPlayer and Browser.
    Still they have a long way to reach the level of integration HTC has achieved .
  • You don't see a lot of people building custom roms for BB.
  • Do you have to have a BB plan to use data?
    I got my answer in the BB threads.
    My concern was more $$$That's good to hear.
    For some reason I thought the BB plan was more.
    Maybe it has came down.
  • Do you have to have a BB plan to use data?
    Got my answer in another thread.
  • Hey, I already own a Blackberry. Everyone who sees me doing something cool with my Verizon Q9c always asks, "Hey, is that a Blackberry?" To some I just say "yes," because the explanation is sometimes too painful.
    Yeah... while most times I say something anyway like "let me check my Treo," I did have one case... I was on a bus, looking stuff up on my Treo, and this guy referred to it as "your BlackBerry"--even after I'd been using the stylus! Correcting him on it just didn't make sense.
    I probably wouldn't just say "yes" if asked like you have--probably "something like that"...
  • I was asked back when I had a 650 and the BB's were still the size of a Ping-Pong Paddle.
    Like I said; I was proud of my Treo. :D
  • Great... I've already been having a hard enough time deciding on a successor for my aging 700wx (iPhone, G1, Touch Pro), and now I'm seriously considering a Bold in that mix. Argh...
  • I'm not sure which I like better, the bold or fuze.
  • Very easy,
    1- If you work for corporation who check on you 24/7 and you are more interested in sending and receiving e-mails than anything else and want a huge phone the tallest and the widest with the smaller screen of all, get the Bold
    2- If you like the freedom to spend days and nights tinkering with settings, and want to smear the screen with your fingers until finally you get each one of your thousand apps running, get the Fuze. (like me)
    3- If you answer yes to both of the above questions Your are crazy:D
    Merry Christmas
  • thanks for the tip!
    though i will prefer fuze for the touch screen, which is excellent for browsing.
  • I had previously overlooked this:http://www.treocentral.com/content/Stories/1968-2.htm
    Kinda nice Visual Comparison.
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  • absolutely brilliant phone looks very good MP3 powerful Internet you can expect - there is a high specification phone.