If you are a U.S. business traveler planning a trip to Europe, don’t do what I did. While I have taken the adapter on the left, I forgot to take the adapter on the right, which is what I needed during my trip to the U.K. So I ended up going shopping for one.
Smartphone cameras and security
As I was discussing handheld devices and their use in Germany with my friend Jerg today, he pointed out the reason why he chose the Nokia 6021 which is the fact that it does have the business features he was looking for and that it does NOT have a camera. Apparently, many of the companies he visits in Germany, do not allow their visitors to have cell phones with cameras. This is to protect confidential information and for security reasons. Even though I haven’t encountered this in the U.S. myself, but I can imagine that certain organizations have similar restrictions.
So if you may be doing business with companies or governmental agencies who might have such restrictions, you probably want to consider a handheld device that does not have a camera.
Obviously the BlackBerry 8700 that I am using right now qualifies. I am also likely to use the HP iPAQ as one of the next devices in the “81-day experiment” which offers one model with a camera and one without.
The BlackBerry 8700 keyboard
Typing on the keyboard of the BlackBerry 8700 is a pleasant experience. I am finding the size of the keyboard and the feel of the keys are just right. I make very few mistakes and I can type at a reasonable speed. With the BlackBerry 8700, I look forward to typing instead of avoiding it. Even though the T-Mobile MDA has a larger keyboard, it took me longer to get used to it, and I was still making more mistakes when compared with the BlackBerry 8700.
So if I have to vote so far for the best keyboard all around, among the devices that I used so far in the 81-day experiment (The Treo 700p, Treo 700w, Motorola Q, BlackBerry Pearl, and T-Mobile MDA), the BlackBerry 8700 would be my first pick.
The Trackwheel and Escape key
If you haven’t used a BlackBerry yet, putting your hands on one (and experimenting with the Trackwheel and the Escape key) is a must before you decide on a handheld device. I find the interface simple and efficient. This is however very subjective. I talk to users who love the interface and others who don’t. So you need to find out for yourself, but here are some related observations.
When it comes to handheld devices, my experience is that devices that offer several user interface options (such as the keyboard, the stylus, the touch screen, the 5-way navigation, the action buttons, etc.) take more time to learn, require more decision making on your part, and sometimes involve additional steps to perform certain actions.
The BlackBerry doesn’t give you many choices when it comes to user interface elements.You basically operate the device with the Trackwheel and the Escape key which are located conveniently on the right hand side of the device. You hold the device in the palm of your right hand, roll the Trackwheel with your right thumb, click on the Trackwheel to make selections, and press the Escape key to exit or cancel your actions. Is this interface simple and efficient? Or is it limiting? This is for you to answer.