Thursday, July 02, 2009

Blackberry Bold likes and dislikes

  • BB seems to acknowledge that their browser sucks at javascript by providing the option to enable or disable (beyond default settings) java on specific bookmarked pages. Works great when you want to run with java enabled, but a few bookmarked sites are slow, or running with java off, but a few bookmarked sites require java (like (there is also a keyboard shortcut to turn java on and off)
  • Shortcuts are a necessity. Because the Bold doesn't have a touch screen, you have a trackball that can interface with every menu item on the screen. While this is good, it's really not as good as a straight touch interface. To make up for that, they added keyboard shortcuts (you need to disable fast dialing from the home screen) to hit all the primary applications. This way you can just pick it up, and open the program with a keypress, whether it's on the home screen, in the extended menu, or buried in a folder. The shortcuts make navigation a breeze, but they are limited to the applications blackberry selected. If there was a way to customize shortcuts, navigation would be near perfect.
  • It was frickin' sweet to pause Pandora internet radio to record a voice note while google maps queries my GPS to track my location down to 3 meters. Multitasking kicks ass.
  • It has a voice note recorder that can be set to an external button and doesn't require excessive interface. I can pick it up, press the external button to wake it up and open the program, press the trackball to start recording, press it again to stop, click to the right to open the menu, and click to save. I like being able to record quick voice notes while driving without taking my eyes off the road. If there was integration with the clicky in the mic unit on my headphones where I could just hold the click until it beeps, speak, then click again to stop recording and return to the previous application, that would be the ultimate.
  • The extended "button" menu keeps the last selected item highlighted even if it's different from the item highlighted in the non-extended menu. There is a short menu on the "home" screen, and an extended one when you press the menu button. Having the extended menu start with the last item you selected still selected is convenient. One of those nice little things.
  • While I'm not using blackberry's e-mail system, I like that I have the option of opening one of my separate e-mails, or open the main one with all of them combined into one primary mailbox. You also have the option of including SMS messages to make it your one-stop-icon for messaging.
  • The application switcher (which works like alt+tab) can be set to an external button for quick switching between the last two applications. Clicking it opens a menu of the open applications and the primary apps, with the selector on the last one you used. From there you can click the same button again to go to the previous, or scroll the trackball to select another one.
  • You have a multimedia button in addition to individual media buttons. So if you want a home shortcut to just photos, or just music, or all multimedia, you can have it.
  • The weekly calendar, scrolling right across the days, full week view, notes at the bottom, awesome, awesome, awesome.
  • Symbol selection is quick and easy to do.
  • The "leather" back seems odd at first, but it turns out to be just rough enough to not slide around on smooth surfaces, and just smooth enough not to stick to everything it comes into contact with. Strange, but a winner.

  • There seems to be some lag in the OS when flipping between networks, but this became less pronounced after the first day (???)
  • The built in browser sucks at life. There are alternatives, but after I turned off javascript, it sped up to a tolerable speed. Not quick, but tolerable. I have yet to try another since I haven't been using the browser enough for it to really slow me down.
  • The "hourglass" (a ticking clock) comes up, usually in browser, and while it's up, the entire phone is non-responsive. This reveals either resource hogs, poor program resource limiting, or non-true multitasking. It's rare, but when it happens it seems to happen multiple times before it stops. Possibly associated with switching networks?
  • I had a crash today, I'm pretty sure it was limited to the Pandora app, since I went back to the menu screen when it was done taking a dump, and Pandora wasn't running. While this isn't BB's fault, it smacks of bad memory allocation to allow a 3rd party app to lock up the entire OS. What is this? Windows 3.1? Windows 98?
  • Nitpick; the click on the wheel is a little too hard to push with the pad of my thumb. Maybe my thumbs are just soft.
  • Lacking complete integration of the accessories. My headphones have a click button on the mic that can control the music and phone, but 3rd party apps seem to ignore this peripheral functionality. Note that this is the single advantage of Apple's monolithic hardware/software/accessories architecture. (except BIG TEH MONIES FOR STEVE of course) Likewise other 3rd party apps that do not take advantage of keyboard shortcuts, or lack documentation of them.
  • Calendar reminders can only be "snoozed" for one length of time. You can set it to whatever you want, but when an alert comes up, you can't snooze one for an hour, and another for 15 minutes.

All in all, I'm impressed with it. I'm growing quite certain I made the right decision.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bold does have a touchscreen, as well as the trackball. (Most of them do at least)

Granted it barely EVER works, so it feels like it doesn't.