BlackBerry or CrakBerry? Is the BlackBerry Pearl as addictive like its predecessors? Is it going to spread the addiction to the masses instead of being limited to the high-paid professionals who walk from conference room to conference room while staring at their BlackBerry screens looking for answers? Well if you want to learn more, and if you haven’t yet seen Wilson Rothman’s latest article in Time magazine about the BlackBerry Pearl titled “A Smart Phone for Dummies”, you can still see it online at:
What is a smartphone good for if it doesn’t let you multi-task? So you’re talking on the phone and you want to take notes, or check calendar, or lookup a contact, or conference call with a third person? Or maybe you’re composing an e-mail and you want to look up calendar or check your notes or browse the web for some information? The BlackBerry Pearl does all this quite well.
Taking notes while on the phone?
Just to give you an example, when you’re on the phone (obviously while on the go and without the luxury of having your computer or a piece of paper handy) and decide that you need to capture some important notes, this capability is just two clicks away when you are using the BlackBerry Pearl.
You press the menu key, and from the menu select Notes. The call screen extends and allow you to type your notes. Well that is not all. When you finish the call, your note is saved, and it will appear in the Messages list where the call is logged. When you want to view or forward your notes to someone later, you know exactly where to look for it (by the way, for calls to be logged, you need to first enable call logging from the phone application options screen).
Browsing and the internet
So far the browsing on the BlackBerry Pearl has been fairly smooth, and as I described yesterday, the EDGE network that the BlackBerry Pearl by T-Mobile uses, seems to be 2 to 4 times faster than GPRS—not as fast as the EDVO network used by Verizon and Sprint but satisfactory for normal surfing.
Today, I tried to do the not-so-normal surfing which consisted of filling out a Web form (the same survey form that I used with the Treo 700p, Treo 700w, and Motorola Q earlier in the experiment). First of all the browsing experience and moving from link to link and field to field were quite pleasant. The BlackBerry Pearl browser takes you through the links and fields smoothly highlighting clearly the one that is currently selected. In addition, the Trackball makes this process easy and efficient.
The option buttons and checkboxes on the Web form however presented a problem. I wasn’t able to check them. I tried to select them and then click on the Trackball and I also tried the space key but neither of these worked. This wasn’t a problem for the Treo 700p and Treo 700w because of the stylus and the touch screen (I was able to use the stylus to click on the option button or checkbox on the touch screen) but it was a problem for the Motorola Q which did not have a stylus. This issue will probably require further research.
The Excel spreadsheet attachment I received today was easy to work with. I could easily zoom, navigate around, and move from sheet to sheet. Editing attachments though such as Excel, Word, and PowerPoint documents is not possible on the BlackBerry Pearl out-of-the-box. In the past, with previous BlackBerry modules, we used a third party add-on application called eOffice to edit such documents. I haven’t checked if this application is already available for the BlackBerry Pearl, but I imagine that such add-on’s will be available sooner or later.
The PDF attachment however took some time to download (the text downloaded fairly quickly but the images took a while as you would expect). I am not sure if the EDGE network is suitable for such downloads. For most users this is probably not a problem, but if you are expecting to view large images on your handheld, the EDGE network may not be your first choice.
The Voice Dialing capability in the BlackBerry Pearl is very similar to the one in the Motorola Q (see day 26). It was difficult for the voice recognition system to differentiate between Susan and Susanne, but otherwise, it was able to successfully pick up some contacts from the address book and dial their numbers.
Sending Voice Notes
Another nifty little application on the BlackBerry Pearl is the “Send Voice Note” application. I just sent a voice note via e-mail to someone and now waiting to see what will come back!
Was the BlackBerry Pearl designed with drivers in mind? Actually this may be true for many of today’s smartphones. As I was experimenting today with voice dialing and voice notes, this “driver friendly smartphone” idea came to mind.
With the BlackBerry Pearl, and smartphones with these capabilities, you can dial someone’s phone number with voice commands, or use a speed dial to check your voice mail (see day #32), send a voice note instead of typing an e-mail, find your way using the Maps application when you’re stranded someplace, and quickly type a short message using your AutoText abbreviations when you are stopped at a red light (even though this last one is not necessarily recommended).
With the BlackBerry Pearl, not only you can do all of the above, but you can do it with one hand. I find it actually more challenging to use the device with both hands, so it is almost assumed that you are using it with one hand.
One last thing I did today is to move the “Keyboard Lock” application to the top of the application menu, so that I can lock the keyboard quickly before I slide the BlackBerry Pearl in my pocket (instead of having to scroll down to the bottom of the menu).
Tomorrow is the last day for the BlackBerry Pearl, so I will be summarizing the last 9 days and then moving to the next device!