BlackBerry RIM - Still worth the
Last year the BlackBerry RIM was
in the height of its dot.com geekdom. If you were an executive of
an up and coming dot.com that ran a world wide online mapping website of
Starbucks franchises chances are you got your email on a Blackberry. Whether you were
away from the office getting a decaf at the competition, or in a plane over
North America, you were receiving and sending important company email
Blackberries are small pager sized devices which enable
people to send and receive email wirelessly from just about any location in
the world (where subscriber service exists). By using both thumbs and a
small button keyboard users can type in messages rather quickly, so the
Blackberry is simple to use, and quick to learn. There is no learning
curve for writing like the Palm.
The question is, in this time of economic downturn, mass tech industry
layoffs, and busted dot.com's is the Blackberry still worth getting? The answer
in short is yes, but the motive and user has changed slightly. Where the
Blackberry used to exclusively be the toy of twenty-something execs, it has now
been spun off onto the masses of AOLites, and general connectivity freaks
Now, in addition to IM, ICQ and AIM, the mobile freak on the go has email.
Email is of course the killer app of the Internet, and given the opportunity to
send and receive email from anywhere, at any time, users are quick to embrace it.
From our perspective, we picked up a BlackBerry several months ago, and have
been using it almost continuously since. Its' usefulness as a sort of mobile
notepad is phenomenal, and its transformation of otherwise wasted commuting
time (drivers not included) into valuable email answering time is superb.
I don't know about you, but as an editor I get on the order of
100-150 emails a day. Sorting, answering and dealing with requests usually takes up a
good portion of my mornings. Any way of trimming down that time
is more than welcome.
And what happens
when we have to pack up and go to a trade show for a few days to report
on the newest and greatest from the computer industry? With the BlackBerry set up
for US roaming we can continue to receive and answer important emails
without skipping a beat.
The ability to import address books, message folders and the like into
the BlackBerry means that users can effectively take their email programs with
them. The Sony jog-dial makes indexing through large lists of email addresses or
folders of messages a quick and painless task. With a bit of practice, typing on
the small BlackBerry keyboard can become quite a speedy endeavor, and it's a hell
of a lot simpler than any WAP enabled phone will ever be.
The only downside that we can see is in the batteries. Where Handspring uses integrated rechargeable batteries,
the BlackBerry uses a standard alkaline power source and a
non-recharging cradle. In most cases, battery life is about a month, but if you
are a heavy user it could be less. Auto power-off features help to extend that
life span, but sooner or later you will find yourself faced with a dead
BlackBerry and wishing RIM has used rechargeable batteries.
Despite this, the BlackBerry is very will designed for what it does. It has
not suffered the fate of so many other devices by trying to cram in as much as
humanly possible till the device becomes too large to carry around. The
BlackBerry is small, not much larger than a pager, and optimized to do what it
does. The display is black and white LCD, the backlight would be better if it
were Indiglo, but isn't however.
In any case, the BlackBerry has taken the place of pseudo ICQ or IM, and with
the additional address book features offers an incredibly powerful way to
maintain email communications on the go. As other PDA's begin to pick up and
deliver similar services with equal simplicity, the BlackBerry may eventually
fall to the way side, but for the moment that level of electronic convergence
has not realized.
If you live an die by constant email communication, the BlackBerry will be a
welcome addition. If you already have a PDA, and cell phone you'll probably
be dismayed at the prospect of carrying yet another $400 device around with you
everyday, and might be better off sitting this device out. In the end I suppose
it comes down to personal preference, but rest assured if you decide that a
BlackBerry is right for you, RIM have delivered an intuitive and proficient
device that will prove its worth rapidly.