While I was sick in bed, with no word from Sony Ericsson regarding the status of a repair for my K790a, I dug around on eBay for BlackBerries. After following a few items to completion, I realized that purchasing BlackBerries on eBay was not much cheaper than buying it in-store locally and ran the risk of being dinged by duties and customs fees, as the majority were from the United States. Most recently, I had the opportunity to pay over $35 in duties and fees for a $25 copy of Pzziz. That’s left a sour taste in my mouth for international purchases.
So after some research, I ended up with a new unlocked BlackBerry 8310, purchased from SN Traders. My questions about the device were answered promptly and service was very satisfactory.
In a sentence, I am extremely pleased with my purchase. The side effect, paying Rogers more for BlackBerry service, I’m less pleased with, but that’s a bit unavoidable. I didn’t know what I was missing when I bought the non-QWERTY keypad Sony Ericsson K790a. The BlackBerry’s an absolute joy to use and I’m able to jot down notes of thoughts I’ve had for further musing, at a later time. Did I mention it’s one sweet looking device too?
Predictive text tools, like T9, are nice ways of making it less painful to type alphabetic messages on a number keypad, but it’s no where close to replacing the ease and flexibility of a full QWERTY keypad. The keypad on the Curve is very easy to use, and I’ve had no trouble adapting to the small keys.
For a long time, I remember reading that holding a BlackBerry up to your ear was akin to holding a piece of toast, due to its width. That may have been true in the days of the 7200 series and older models, but with the Curve, it’s nowhere near as uncomfortable. For certain, it’ll feel wider than just about any feature phone, but given the no-compromise QWERTY keypad, it’s about as narrow as its going to get. At 60mm wide, it’s 13mm wider than my K790a, but with its decrease in thickness (15.5mm versus 22mm), it fits into a pants pocket a bit more readily.
I’m glad for the Curve’s use of standard ports. For charging and data transfer, a standard mini USB port is used and for wired connectivity, a 3.5mm headphone jack is provided. Couple that with a microSD card slot (which is unfortunately wedged behind the battery) and the BlackBerry Curve can serve your multimedia needs as well. I have a microSDHC 4GB card installed and working without a problem.
The inclusion of the multimedia console, which allows access to music, videos, ringtones and pictures all in one place is a nice touch, but the lack of dedicated media keys means navigation in that application is a bit clumsy. If you want to skip a track, you have to bring up the menu using the menu key and then select previous or next track. Although you can start a slideshow of pictures, navigating them manually also requires bringing up the menu. UPDATE: I should’ve read the manual before I wrote – there are a wide range of shortcut keys that can be used to navigate in the media player – for example, N for next track or P for previous.
One of the things I’ve been using the BlackBerry for is text messaging and I really like the threaded messaging feature of the built-in messaging application.Â It’s very nice to be able to see what you were responding to at a glance.
One knock against the BlackBerry – the OS is not pretty. Coming from my Sony Ericsson, which had a very graphical system, the BlackBerry focuses on function over form, with page after page of text menus at times. If RIM really wants to break into the consumer market in a big way (and not just target the prosumer group) they’ll really have to do some revamping of the software stack. Most business users probably prefer the functional nature of the OS, but with Joe or Jill Smith gazing at the device sitting next to a Sony Ericsson, I think they’d be swayed to the SE based on the looks alone.
With that said, I’m more than willing to deal with text menus in return for all the advantages the device brings. I’ve found battery life to be very good. With the push BIS enabled, a few calls here and there, and some texting, I can use the device for 4 days without fear of running out of battery power. Add a couple hours of music each day and you’ll probably want to charge the Curve every second or third day to ensure you don’t run out of power midday.
It’s now been two weeks with the BlackBerry and it’s holding up very nicely. The organizational features have come in handy over the last couple of busy weeks. I’ll soon be coming into a proper case for the Curve – the holster I have now was designed for the BlackBerry 7100 series, so doesn’t fit quite right. CrackBerry addict? Not quite, but progressing nicely I’d say. 😉