It actually happened. I did drop the BlackBerry 8800 on the floor today. As I was pulling the BlackBerry 8800 out of the holster, the thinner and slicker BlackBerry 8800 slipped out of my hand, and I found myself trying desperately to save it, each hand reaching to grab it after the other, only to miss it and cause it to bounce in the air even further, until it finally happened—the BlackBerry 8800 smashed into the floor. The scene was quite entertaining for the crowd who was waiting in front of the elevator--but not to me.
To my surprise, the BlackBerry 8800 was still in one piece. To my surprise once again, it had no scratches whatsoever and was fully functional. This incident has proven a couple of things. First, as I mentioned in yesterday’s blog entry, the BlackBerry 8800 does not give you the same firm grip that the earlier models did, so you probably want to be more careful when handling it. Second, this incident answered my concern about the sturdiness of the new and slick design of the BlackBerry 8800. It seems that the thinner and slicker BlackBerry 8800 is just as sturdy as the earlier models.
The pictures below show yet another comparison of the BlackBerry 8800 with earlier models—this time with the BlackBerry 7230. You can see that the BlackBerry 8800 is a major departure from the earlier designs:
The BlackBerry 8800 is a driver friendly device
With the voice note, voice dialing, and speed dialing, and not to mention the GSP capabilities, the BlackBerry 8800 qualifies as a driver friendly device which lets you focus on the road, and yet be able to do a fair amount of communication. In addition, when you’re in need of road directions, it can easily guide you to your destination.
It all sounds good, and the above features function fairly well, except for the voice dialing and the GPS which are sometimes very helpful and sometimes somehow disappointing. The voice dialing worked well initially, but as I continued to use it, I discovered that with certain names it was taking several tries to find the contact, and occasionally it wasn’t able to find it at all.
Similarly the GPS worked extremely well when it worked, but on several occasions downtown San Francisco, and in the south bay on Skyline Drive, I kept getting the “Cannot get GPS data error”. Obviously this is not the function of the BlackBerry 8800 itself, but if these are important capabilities for you, it is good to be aware of their limitations.
Make the pledge and say NO to typing and driving
On a different but related topic, as smartphones and e-mail and text messaging are becoming ubiquitous, the habit of typing and driving seems to be developing and spreading just as quickly. Whether typing text and e-mail messages, looking up contacts and calendar, or browsing web pages, obviously these activities take the driver’s focus from the road and represent real danger for the driver and others. A few weeks ago, I made a commitment to “no typing while driving”. This means limiting my use of the smartphone to the tasks that do not require taking my attention off the road. This means voice dialing, voice notes, speed dialing, and taking calls. I invite you to do the same!
The BlackBerry 8800 and the service providers
The BlackBerry 8800 is now available from Cingular, and expected to be available soon from T-Mobile. However, I haven’t found yet any official information as to whether it will be available from Verizon or Sprint and when-there are some rumors though about a Verizon version that is in the works.
Using the BlackBerry 8800 as a modem for my laptop? Not
What I found out today is that in order to get the BlackBerry 8800 to serve as a modem for my laptop, I need to upgrade from my $29.99/month blackberry data plan, to another plan that costs $74.99/month. Knowing that my Vaio SZ390P comes already with the Cingular 3G card that can connect to the Cingular network at a higher speed, I opted to try the Laptop Connect plan which costs $59.99/month (instead of using the BlackBerry 8800 as a modem for my laptop).
The Laptop Connect has several advantages. First, it is faster (upload speed of 400 to 700 kbps, download speed of up to 3.6 mbps—assuming 3G coverage is available and otherwise it will drop to EDGE speed). Second, this would allow me to still use the BlackBerry 8800 to make voice calls. Third, it is more convenient—in other words, I don’t have to connect the BlackBerry 8800 to the laptop every time I want to connect to the Internet.
So let us see how Laptop Connect and 3G will perform in the next few days.