I've been away from my Treo 680 for two weeks now. It's hard not to pick it up and I miss using it. But I'm enjoying trying out the other smartphones so I'll live. ;-) This week Dieter had the iPhone, Mike had the Tilt, and Kevin had the Treo 680. Be sure to read how they've been managing another week without their favorite device.
My first week of the Smartphone Round Robin with the iPhone went well and I had fun using it and getting to know it much better. The screen real estate was awesome and so was the web browsing. I didn't do all that great on the keyboard but I got better at typing on it after some practise. I missed the 3rd party apps, especially playing games.
This week I've been using the BlackBerry Curve 8310. Having hardly any experience with a BlackBerry device, I really didn't know what to expect of the Curve. When I think of BlackBerry, I think of email, corporations and of Washington DC. My brother-in-law traveled to DC on business recently, and he said that just about everyone he saw was using a BB device. He told me that many people working for the Government use them. I also think of people texting on them a lot because I'd read so much about BlackBerry users having "BlackBerry Thumb". And I think of the show Survivor because Shane Powers, a former contestant, missed his BlackBerry so much while away from home that he carved one out of wood and pretended that he was calling family and friends and texting them. And I think of "addiction" of course because BlackBerry users talk about being addicted to the device. And of course CrackBerry.com is a great site name for that reason.LOL!
Believe me, I know ALL about device addiction! I've been addicted to gadgets for a long time, most recently to my Treo 680. And believe it or not, I think I could become addicted to a BlackBerry device too! I was actually sad to have to send the Curve back this morning. I was just getting the hang of it and it was really growing on me. Well, it was almost love at first sight anyway because the Curve is a beautiful device.
I'd like to say a big Thank You to all the great CrackBerry folks who gave me such a warm welcome and helped me out with so many great tips!!!!
Speaking of looks, let's start with the size of the Curve. As you'll recall in my first article, the Curve was the 2nd thinnest device compared to the Treo 680 and the iPhone, with the Treo 680 being the biggest. You can certainly see in the pics that the Curve is the shortest of the three devices. The Curve is also the lightest.
- Dimensions: 4.2 x by 2.4 inches x 0.6 inches (107 x 60 x 15.5 mm)
- Weight: 3.9 ounces (111 grams)
- Dimensions: 4.4 x 2.3 x 0.8 inches (113 x 59 x 21mm)
- Weight: 5.5 ounces (157 grams)
- Dimensions: 4.5 x 2.4 x 0.46 inches (115 x 61 x 11.6mm)
- Weight: 4.8 ounces (135 grams)
The Curve is just right in terms of size. It's small and pocketable and comfortable to hold. I found my Treo 680 to feel more natural but maybe that's because it's thicker and I'm so used to holding it up to my ear. Out of the three devices so far, I'd have to say that the Treo is the most comfortable to hold while talking, with the Curve coming in 2nd, and the iPhone last. I think the iPhone is less comfortable to hold while talking due to how slick the sides are. I'm sure if I had a rubbery case on the iPhone, it would feel much better to hold.
That reminds me, whenever I had the Curve and I was reading on the CrackBerry site one day, I noticed the CrackBerry Store adds on the right hand side of the page. I saw some nice looking cases. I was thinking, "Mmmm, this case would look great on the Curve." Then I caught myself and came back to reality and remembered that the Curve I had wasn't mine. ;-(
With the Curve being so small, it's very easy to text and get around on the device via the hard buttons. You barely have to move your fingers when using the trackball and the Menu button because those buttons are placed perfectly. And those two buttons were the main ones that I found myself using. Hit the Menu button and see the options and then scroll with the trackball until you see what option you want and press the trackball. The trackball and Menu buttons were my friends for sure and helped me to appreciate the Curve even more.
Rules We Had to Follow
As I mentioned with the iPhone last week, all the editors participating in the Round Robin had to follow the same rules and had to attempt 10 different things with the smartphone in use during the week. Here's how it went with the Curve:
- Editors must use their assigned smartphone as their "main brain" and may not use any other smartphone OR music device (such as an iPod) for one full week:I did it. It was hard being without my Treo for a 2nd week and also not being able to play with my iPhone. I let my Mom borrow the iPhone so I wouldn't be tempted to use it. I have lots of music on my iPhone so it was hard not having access to all that. I also have music on my Treo, plus lots of games and ebooks that I miss.
- Editors must attempt to sync their phone to their computer, syncing all PIM data: I put the BlackBerry Desktop Manager on my laptop computer and used that to sync my Outlook email, calendar, notes, and contacts. It worked great. I had no problems syncing anything. I could jot down a note to remind myself of something and it would sync straight to the Curve and vice versa. I could even set the note with an alarm and I got the reminder right on time.
- Editors must attempt to set up their email on the smartphone: This was easier than expected. The Curve has an email setup icon on the Home screen. I just followed the instructions and was able to easily set up my gmail, yahoo mail, and my work email accounts. The Curve rules at sending and receiving email! It was soooo fast!
- Editors must attempt to use their smartphone to get directions at least once: I set up Telenav and used it via the built-in GPS. I got directions to a friend's house and drove there using Telenav. It was fun seeing the directions all mapped out and following the audio turn by turn directions.
- Editors must attempt to use their smartphone with a bluetooth headset: I paired the Curve with my BlueAnt Z9 BT headset. Pairing was a breeze and didn't take long at all. The Z9 worked great with the Curve.
- Editors must attempt to install at least two 3rd-party apps (if possible) on their smartphone: I installed Opera Mini 4 Beta. This was a much better browsing experience than the browser that comes with the Curve. I also installed Viigo, which is an RSS news reader. I enjoyed looking up tech news and it worked very well.
- Editors must attempt to play a game: I downloaded the trial of the game Card Pack Gold. I did it over the air and put it on the Curve and had no problems. I mostly played BlackJack. For this game, you use the trackball and the menu key. When you bet, you hear coins dropping. When you deal the cards, you hear the sound of cards flapping. When you win or there is a draw, the Curve vibrates. Pretty neat! It was really fun and easy since I only had to use two buttons.
- Editors must attempt to browse the internet: I browsed the internet but enjoyed it better after downloading Opera Mini 4 Beta. I hit a snag when trying to download Opera Mini but it was my fault. After reading the download agreement and scrolling all the way down the page to click on "Yes" or "No", I never saw the options. I was supposed to have pressed the Menu button at that point which would have brought up the option to agree or disagree, but I didn't know that. So I never agreed since I didn't see where to agree. Evidently that messed up everything because even though the Opera Mini app icon was on the Curve's home screen, when I clicked on it, it would start to download but would get hung up everytime. So I asked the folks over at the CrackBerry forums what to do and they kindly told me about the Menu button bringing up the Yes or No options. Thanks! I ended up deleting Opera Mini and starting over. This time I knew what I was doing and everything went smoothly. Opera Mini 4 Beta was cool. It was nice being able to move around on the page and zoom in on things.
- Editors must attempt to add music to their smartphone and use it as their music device: Marcus or Mike put a Kingston microSD card in the Curve so I was able to put some music on the device. Roxio Media Creator 9 comes with the Curve. There is a Roxio Media Manager on the BlackBerry Desktop Manager. It was pretty simple to use. I put a music CD in my laptop and the CD showed up in the Roxio program. I chose the songs that I wanted to put on the Curve by dragging them into the BlackBerry's music folder, which was at the bottom of a split screen. Then the songs were synced to the Kingston card in the Curve. After I unhooked the Curve from my laptop, I clicked on the Media app on the Curve and went to Songs, and there were the songs I'd transferred. Nice! The music sounded great too! The speaker on the Curve is nice and loud. I then put the earbuds in and listened and that was great also.
- Editors must attempt to watch a video on their device: I used the Roxio for this too. I didn't know what video to try so I looked around online for something simple. I found a funny but dumb video of some zebras
farting, uhh.., sorry, I mean passing gas at iLoaded.com which was free. The file was like 8MB and I was thinking that it was probably way too huge to put on the Curve. But one cool thing about the Roxio program is that it will convert your videos for the Curve with the simple click of a button. It was so easy, even my peabrain could do it. ;-) The video looked and sounded great. Hey Dieter, I left it on there so you could see it!teehee!
I was very impressed with the Curve overall. It looks great and is the perfect size. The keyboard is wonderful and has great tactile response and is a pleasure to type on.
The Curve is greatest at email which is no surprise since that's what the BlackBerry is probably known for. I appreciated how easy it was setting up all my email accounts. I couldn't believe how fast the Curve churned out those emails. It was very impressive! I could send something from one of my email accounts to another one on the Curve and the emails would show up in the email accounts on the Curve before they would on my desktop computer. It was lightning fast and those little red stars would immediately pop up on the little envelope icons on the Curve as soon as I sent the mail. I enjoyed using the trackball to delete email from the Curve. I'd hit the Menu button, then scroll down to Delete with the trackball, and press the trackball. A box would pop up and I could choose to Delete from Handheld or Delete from Handheld and from my computer. Then I would sroll and choose one of those and press the trackball again.
I found the battery life on the Curve to be really good. I always had Bluetooth turned on and used the Curve all throughout the day, writing text messages, emails, making phone calls, and surfing the web. The battery didn't really go down much during all that time.
The CrackBerry site has lots of free Wallpaper and Ringtones for BlackBerry users to put on their devices. I browsed around and saw some beautiful wallpaper. I like how you can get them on your device. You can choose to download a wallpaper to your computer or you can send the wallpaper to the device via email. That's the route I chose as it was simple and saved me some steps. The first wallpaper I chose was a beautiful purple daisy. I sent it to the Curve via email. And there it was in the gmail account. When I looked at my email, there was a link to click on so I clicked on the link and it allowed me to download the wallpaper on the Curve. Next I opened the image on the Curve and then simply saved it as my wallpaper for the Home screen. Before I even saw the purple daisy as the background, I had a feeling that it would be too dark and busy for the icons to show up. And I was right. But that was okay, because there were many more pics to choose from. Next I chose a frozen shoreline and it was a perfect background for the icons.
I downloaded some ringtones the very same way; emailed them to myself and clicked on the link in the email and saved the files to the Curve.
I enjoyed using a smartphone with a 2MP camera, and thought the flash was a great bonus. There have been so many times when taking pics with my Treo that I wished I had a flash because of poor lighting conditions. I wish all smartphones with cameras had flashes. Here's a pic I took of Charlie, my Orange Tabby. He is one of my three Tabby cats. Boomer is a Brown Tabby and Haji is a Blue Tabby. Most of my Treo pics are of my cats. They make good subjects because they're always with me, especially Charlie. He's always in here on my desk when I'm working. No matter how messy my desk is, he'll find a place to snooze or watch me work. Snoozing in this case as you can see.
So in wrapping up, I'd have to say that I really like the Curve. A lot! In fact, I could really see myself becoming a CrackBerry addict. I was sad to have to ship the Curve off today. I wanted to keep playing with it and taste it some more. The web browser isn't so great but you can get Opera Mini. I play a lot of games on my Treo and I didn't see nearly as many games available for BlackBerrys. But my favorite games are word games and I saw some of those and some great card games also, which I love. If I didn't already have three phones, I'd get a Curve in a heartbeat to use as an extra phone. But I just can't afford to add another line to my account or to buy a phone without a 2 year agreement. But there's always tomorrow. Or the next day or the next. Right now I'm really missing my Treo. I've come to depend on it for making calls, checking and making appointments, looking up information, and playing games for some downtime fun. Two more weeks and I'll put the battery back in my Copper beauty! But I'd say it's been worth missing the Treo since I'm getting to experience these other smartphones, which have all been impressive and fun so far.
I'll have the AT&T Tilt come Tuesday so look for my initial thoughts on that sweet looking device!
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