Living with My BlackBerry Curve: The Hardware


It has been a little more than a week since I swapped my trusty Palm Treo 755p for a BlackBerry Curve 8330, both for the Sprint EVDO wireless network and it has been an interesting experience so far.

I’d like to start off by talking about some of the hardware differences between my BlackBerry and Treo.

The Curve is about a third thinner than my Treo. Eyeballing them both on my desk, the Curve and the Treo are the same width and height, although the Curve is a tiny bit shorter. As far as weight is concerned, the Curve is also a lighter when I’m holding both in my hands, but that so much that I notice a difference when carrying the BlackBerry in a belt case.

I miss the Treo’s ringer switch with the BlackBerry. And I like the Treo’s keyboard better. The keyboard on the Curve is usable and I am getting along with it OK, however, the Treo keyboard just felt better and more sturdy. The trackball on the BlackBerry is easy to get use to. I like it as much as the 5-way navigator on the Treo because it allows you to hold the device in either hand and use it. That wasn’t the case with older BlackBerry devices that only had a scroll wheel on the right side fo the device.

Probably the biggest thing that I miss on the BlackBerry that I used all the time on my Treo is the touch screen. It was really easy to just reach up with a thumb or pointer finger and tap an object on the screen.

Some other welcomed changes wtih the BlackBerry include a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, built-in (assisted) GPS, a mini USB port for charging and data synchronization (which is now the standard on new Palm devices), and a 2.0MP digital camera with a flash. Palm’s Treo 755p ships with a 320×320 display. The Curve has a 320×240 display. The difference in display resolution has turned out to not be as big of a deal as I expected it would. I have found both displays easy to read. That said, the BlackBerry has an auto adjusting screen brightness feature where the screen brigthness goes up in well lit rooms making it even easy to ready in a well lit room in the office or at home.

Voice call quality is good on the BlackBerry and I was able to pair my Bluetooth headset with it. The speaker phone option is loud which is good when your home with the kids, however, my not be so good if you are in your office. You will need to adjust the call volume to meet your needs and environment.

All in all, the BlackBerry Curve offers the same hardware features that I like about my Treo. I prefer a full Qwerty keyboard over on screen keyboards like the one found on the Apple iPhone and the multi-function keypad on devices like the BlackBerry Perl. The track ball is as easy to use as the nav pad on the Treo. Both devices fit nicely in my hands, however, I do miss the soft touch paint that Palm has ben using on the Treo 750, 755p, and the newest Sprint Centro smartphones.

For more information about the BlackBerry Curve 8300 series devices, check out Research In Motion’s BlackBerry website.

Opera Front End 1.1

If you like to use Opera’s Mini Java browser on your Palm OS smartphone (or PDA) Opera Front End 1.1 looks like the app for you.

“Opera Mini is the outstanding mobile browser from Opera which also works on Palm OS devices. Unfortunately, it doesn’t behave like a default browser, URL’s can’t be transfered from other apps and access to special characters is limited.

OperaFrontEnd is made to change all this: Opera Mini is now your default browser, URL’s are enqueued into Opera Mini and the access to the build-in keyboard makes it possible to enter every single character your Palm can display.

OperaFrontEnd v1.1 even allows you to fall back to good-old Blazer whenever you need it for downloads or compatibility issues.”

Opera Front End is on sale for $2.95 at MobiHand until December 31, 2008. For more details, visit the MetaViewSoft blog.

Where Have I Seen This Idea Before?

BoyGeniusReport.com has a picture of a Research In Motion BlackBerry keyboard patent that shows a drawing of a BlackBerry Pearl-like device with a fold out keyboard.

Interesting that this photo surfaced. Didn’t we see an “unidentified” smartphone that transforms to allow you to use a hidden keyboard? I wonder if these transforming phones are all the rage in smartphone OEM developer circles?

Apple iPhone Coming to Wal-Mart

Gadgets On The Go is reporting that Wal-Mart will begin selling the Apple iPhone G3 this coming Sunday, December 28. The retailer will carry both the 8 and 16GB editions of the phone at $197 and $297 with a new 2-year service agreement.

“We are delighted to bring customers this ground-breaking mobile technology,” said Gary Severson, senior vice president, Entertainment, Wal-Mart, in the press release. “Our electronics associates have been preparing for many weeks for the arrival of iPhone 3G. We are excited to now help new customers learn more about the features and services that make the iPhone unique.”

[Via GadgetsOnTheGo.net…]

Editorial: Palm App Store 2.0

I was about to write up a review of Palm’s new App Store when I saw that TreoCentral’s Annie Latham has a well written review posted. Rather than rehash what has already been written, I thought it would be a good idea to revisit my vision for an integrated, wireless, cloud based solution from Palm in which a Palm app store is a critical componant along site a Palm customer service portal along the lines of the myPalm.com beta.

As you can see from the screen shots below, the App Store icon launches a web page that is the same on a Palm OS Treo or Centro as it is on a Windows Mobile Treo. The web app solution gets Palm around a problem that they had previously had with the myPalm application which was that it was only for Palm OS handhelds and smartphones. (This was because the previous myPalm app store was based on the Bluefish Wireless AddIt application that Palm has included with their PDAs and smartphones since late 2003.) Now all of Palm’s customers can join in on the buy-it-on-the-go fun. I wrote about why I think Palm needs an integrated on device application store in the 1SRC.com editorial, “Palm Needs an App Store.”

(Tapping the green App Store icon lauches a web URL to the online Palm App Store which contains some 5,000 combined Palm OS and Windows Mobile applications.)

The app store that I envisioned when I wrote that editorial operated more like Appl’e App Store and the older myPalm AddIt application that Latham wrote about on TreoCentral here. I would like to see Palm provide an integrated solution. The web based app store will download and install the Palm OS or Windows Mobile application installer over the air (OTA) to your device and that is really cool and simple for novice users to get apps on to their devices. But what happens when the device gets hard reset? Palm needs to make sure that it is easy for customers to access their unlock codes, serial numbers, and installers. An integrated solution would make this possible. One solution could be similar to the now defunct myPalm.com portal where customers would login to a Palm customer service portal and be able to access their purchased software and find their serial numbers. An alternateive or companion option would be to use some of the features of also defunct Palm Backup application where the software prompts users to login to the Palm portal server and then be able to redownload and install their software. All over the air without the need to sync to a Windows or Mac OS X desktop computer.

This leads me back to a cloud computing portal solution that I suspect that Palm could have been looking at before the economey took a turn for the worse. A Palm solution similar to Apple’s Mobile Me offering could offer a spot to sync your PIM data to, manage OTA device backup and restores along site OTA software download and installation. A small desktop application for Windows and Mac OS X could plug-in to the cloud portable to provide a similar destkop experience that we have today only without the hassle of having to deal with wired data synchronization and USB device drivers.

In conclusion, I think that Palm has all the pieces for a new cloud based solution. The question now is when can it be implemented. Palm clearly has all hands on deck to ensure that Palm OS II / Nova is successfully launched on new hardware. Will a new cloud portal solution go live at the the same time that Nova does? What about Windows Mobile? Will the software be developed for Windows Mobile Professional 5 and 6; or will Palm focus on a new integrated on device application of Windows Mobile 7? My guess is that Palm will focus new software devlopment on Nova and Windows Mobile 7 while existing devices can still access the PocketGear web app store that Palm recently rolled out.

Now that integrated, cloud based solution (desktop to device wireless sync, customer service portal, and OTA application installs and backups) is one that I’m looking forward to. It has the potential to reduce the toubleshooting and support issues around USB drivers and data synchronization; it will give customers easy access to new applications for their devices; and all of their information (PIM data, purchased software, and device backups) can be easily accessed from anywhere you have an Internet connection.

Let me know what you think by using the comments link below.

BlackBerry Activated

As planned, I activated my Sprint BlackBerry Curve 8330 this morning. The folks at the local Sprint customer center had some trouble removing the Power Vision Pack from my account and adding in the BlackBerry personal Internet data pack, but everything seems to be working now.

The next step is to get my email accounts configured on the BlackBerry. At this point I’m not sure how I’m going to acomplish that. Looks like I’ll be spending some time with the BlackBerry user manual this afternoon.