The BlackBerry 8800 served me well today and on several occasions it saved me the effort of getting my laptop out and searching for a hotspot.
Can the BlackBerry 8800 be also a laptop replacement for you?
It depends on what you do on your laptop. If your main goal of carrying your laptop is to write e-mail, lookup calendar, and browse the internet “lightly”, in this case the BlackBerry 8800 can play the role of a laptop replacement very well. If your main goal is to create and edit documents, and do some significant work on web applications that includes logging on to your accounts, filling out forms, searching web databases, I am not sure that the BlackBerry 8800 will do the job or at least not out-of-the-box (even though some of the 81-day-experiment blog readers reported that they used add-on applications on the BlackBerry devices and were able to turn their BlackBerries into true laptop replacements with document editing capabilities as well as access to their corporate networks and databases).
Are smartphones true laptop replacements?
In my view, even though some smartphones (like the Treo 700p and Treo 700w which I reviewed earlier in the 81-day-experiment, the T-Mobile MDA, and the more recent Cingular 8525 and its broadband data speed) can serve virtually many, if not all, of the functions that laptops do, I still don’t believe that they can be true laptop replacements while you’re on the go.
There are many functions that we perform on the go that still “require” the larger laptop screen, its full-size keyboard, and faster performance. This is not only from a practicality perspective but just as importantly from a “mindset” perspective. When I am viewing and analyzing the latest corporate data that was generated by my team, I would like to see the big picture all at once, instantly navigate to further details, then back to different views of the same data. In other words, I need my laptop.
May be in the next generation of smartphones, the smartphone will be able to plug into an ultra light and foldable laptop-like accessory that has the large screen, full keyboard, and maybe supplementary processor and storage. For now, I will continue to pack my laptop together with my smartphone as I head out to the world of business.
Browsing with the BlackBerry 8800
The full QWERTY keyboard of the BlackBerry 8800
With the BlackBerry 8800 full QWERTY keyboard, I don’t hesitate to compose and reply to e-mails--something I did when using the Cingular 3125 keypad and even the BlackBerry Pearl. So even though the keys are closer together than earlier BlackBerry keyboards, it seems to be easy to get used to them and become proficient at typing. As you would except though, my e-mails written with the BlackBerry 8800, or any other smartphone, tend to be more concise. One of my colleagues once said: “I wish everyone was using a BlackBerry”—referring to the fact that e-mails sent from a smartphone tend to be to the point and tend to omit unnecessary details. The downside of course is that they sometimes omit the friendly greeting and closure, and can be perceived as unfriendly (or even cryptic if they are not well written).
I do miss the camera though
Having been using smartphones with cameras during and since the 81-day-experiment, I got used to this ability to document business and social events quickly and easily by taking pictures. But again, the BlackBerry 8800 remains primarily a business device, and not necessary targeting the “camera” types, and not “wanting” to be run the risk of being confiscated by security when you visit your next corporate customer.