Thursday, July 16, 2009

The 'Berry Best Time Ever


Of all the mobile platforms, the Blackberry has historically been the one I've been least interested in. I thought it seemed stoic and archaic, and meant for the email-addicts only. In January 2008 my cousin got a Blackberry Curve and when she came for a visit that March she brought it with her to have a showdown with my Ubi. Sadly, she left the loser, and even ended up ordering a Jasjar just to enjoy some of the WM goodness she felt she was missing. A washed-out screen, and unexciting UI was to blame, and even though she still had that Curve up until last month (when she upgraded to an 8900).
Then in May I laid eyes on the Blackberry Bold and it was love at first sight. I couldn't convince myself to switch my OS, but a lot of what I didn't like about the Curve seemed to be fixed in the Bold- an exquisite, hi-res screen, a revamped UI that focused more on the eye-candy, a body that didn't look like a cheap top....it was the total package. But I was deeply invested in the Windows Mobile lifestyle and resisted the transition. From the Ubiquio I moved to the HP 910 for about 3 months, then another 3 months on the HTC Fuze. After admitting to myself that I couldn't hold back the longing anymore, I ordered a Bold and started using it at the the end of this January. I wish I could say I took to it like a fish to water, but it took at least one start and stop before I fully got on the bandwagon.
In the 6 months I've been using the Bold, I've realized that a number of developments in the RIM world have made it a more pleasurable experience. For me, a few of them have been:
-FaceBook 1.6: With the latest release of Facebook, you can have more of a 'synergy-like' experience and also view newsfeeds, which is something I've been wanting to have mobile access to for ages.
-Multi-tasking made even easier: In the earlier versions of the Bold OS, the 'task-switcher' had to be manually mapped to one of the convenience keys. That meant you'd only end up with one button, and since I had that mapped to the clock app, I was stuck without a quick way to launch the camera. Ever since .247, the 'task-switcher' is accessed through a long press of the Blackberry button.
-Bedside Mode: Remember last September, when I McGyver'd a bedside clock solution using my HP910 and SPB Time? It worked decently, but I remember the glare from that screen would light up the entire room. Well, the charging pod for the Bold works perfectly, with the added convenience of just dropping it into the pod, plus the screen dims making it a perfect bedside companion.
-App World: It might not seem like much, but this is a pivotal point for RIM, where the Blackberry is no longer just seen as the email-only device.
-Today Plus: Plazmic (the Blackberry theme-builder) started supporting TodayPlus in version 4.6 last September. TodayPlus is the layout that allows you to see your upcoming appointments (and messages preview) right from your homescreen. To me, this could have been a deal-breaker!
-Custom LED: The incessant flashing LED was driving me a bit nuts when I first got my Bold. I was grateful to have the notifications from 3rd party apps (which is something I never had on WM) but I longed for an easy way to figure out without turning on my Bold what was causing them. BerryBuzz came to the rescue, with the latest version 2.0 able to give me custom color LEDs for Facebook and BBMessenger. Now I have Emails flashing blue, SMS-Orange, Facebook-white, Beejive-Purple, BerryWeather- Green, and SocialScope stays with the default red.
-QuickLaunch: one of my initial peeves about the layout of the Blackberry OS was that the clock was not visible from all screens. As a solution, I mapped one of my convenience keys to the clock and was opening the clock app whenever I needed to take a quick look at the time. Now, with QuickLaunch, I don't have to open the fullscreen clock to see the time. And by mapping it to convenience key, I get the added functionality of a neat shortcut launcher.
With the release of the Tour and word of the upcoming Storm2, it seems like this is the best time to be in the Blackberry ecosystem. Things are happening, and RIM is quickly transforming the reputation of the Blackberry from a business device to a life one.

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