In this case study, Bill from Lawrence, MA shares his experience with the BlackBerry Pearl 8100. (By the way, if you would like to contribute your case study, please e-mail it in the same format as shown below to firstname.lastname@example.org with Case Study in the subject line). Here is what Bill has to say about his BlackBerry.
The Information about the device you are using now:
Model? Pearl 8100
Desktop Operating System? Windows XP Pro
How do you rank the device and the related services in the following areas (rankings are 1 to 5, where 5 is the best)
Overall satisfaction? 5
Compatibility with your desktop? 5
Technical support? Not needed
Would you recommend this device to others who have similar needs to yours?
Your industry, size of your company, and role within your company?
Publishing and Conferences; 12 people; Director of Web Development and Marketing
What specific things do you like about the device and related services?
Where do I start? This phone is a dream! The Blackberry Pearl seamlessly integrates phone and PDA functions, and has the most elegantly implemented email and web browsing I've ever used on a device of this size. Everything is fast and responsive, and running multiple programs (6 running as I write this) has never been an issue. It's the little things, the polish of all the main features, that make this device so compelling.
The voice-activated dialing with voice recognition (ie it doesn't need "tags" or need to be "trained") is a huge plus. There's no more useful feature than this when you need to make an emergency call on the road, want to use a bluetooth headset, or just don't want to bother with searching your address book.
The media player is a welcome addition, and being able to play videos has been surprisingly fun! It's not replacing my dedicated DAP (see notes for improvement) but it has its usees. The MicroSD support also lets me carry around all the files I meet need at any time, as well as save and send attachments in email, which has come in handy multiple times this week.
I know I'm not in the majority on this, but I really find typing on this keyboard much easier than any of the smartphone QWERTY keyboards, like those found on the Q or Dash. The keys are much wider and set at an angle so you almost never hit the wrong key, and the SureType software is so good you have to experience it to believe it. It takes a leap of faith that words will come out right, but once you take that leap you find you can write very quickly on the Pearl. I've even spoken to people who've had one-on-one typing competitions between the Pearl and the Dash, and the Pearl won.
Since I make 90% of my calls to the same 4 or 5 numbers (work, home, etc.), the T-Moblie MyFaves plan suits me very well. I signed up for the cheapest available voice plan and will still have minutes to spare since 90% of my calls won't count toward my minutes.
Lastly, at $20/month, the unlimited data plan for Blackberries on T-Mobile is the cheapest on any major carrier for any device. Compared to $30/month for the Dash on T-Mobile, or $30/month for the Pearl on Cingular, that is a great deal.
What things don't you like or that can be improved and related services?
The media player has a lot of room for improvement. The addition of sorting by navigating by ID tags (Artist, Album, etc.) and more file format options would go a long way toward making it more useful. And the ability to stream audio and video formats (esp. Flash) is sorely needed.
I've already been using the camera on the Pearl a lot (it was Christmas, after all) and while it's perfectly usable, an upgrade to a 2 megapixel camera with a macro mode would make it possible for me to toss my other camera. As it is, I've still taken more photos in this past weekend with the Pearl than I've taken with my camera in 6 months.
There's nothing about the Pearl I dislike, but these are definitely areas for improvement. Thankfully, most of it can be done with a software upgrade, so if RIM decides to make these changes, they could make them available to current and future Pearl owners with a simple download. Here's hoping ...
Which devices have you used in the past? Please list them starting with the most recent device and then going backward and answer the following questions about each of these devices:
Device Manufacturer/Model/Carrier? Motorola RAZR V3 How long did you use the device? 1 year
Why did you switch? I wanted to integrate my PDA and phone
Device Manufacturer/Model/Carrier? Palm III
How long did you use the device? 3-4 years
Why did you switch? Though it worked just as well as the day I bought it, I was embarrassed to still be using a PDA with a black and white screen! I also wanted a PDA with some good connectivity options.
Device Manufacturer/Model/Carrier? Philips Nino How long did you use the device? 1 years
Why did you switch? Windows CE was too clunky and error-prone.
Device Manufacturer/Model/Carrier? PalmPilot Personal
How long did you use the device? 2 years
Why did you switch? I broke the screen, and replacing it would have cost as much as a new Palm.