14 October, 2011
I will state right in the beginning my view that Blackberries continue to be the leaders when it comes to security, data efficiency, reliability and and practicality. My company-issued Blackberry does not do games very well and I'm not using it to play movies (I prefer the 73" screen in the living room for that) but it's amazingly good when it comes to getting my email and quickly composing new messages or replying to the incoming. Also great at integrating the enterprise email with any Web email services I'm using, Bluetooth-paired devices and the phone features be they 4G or Wi-Fi.
Current Bold users should be happy and almost certainly happier with the 9930 because this is very much the 'old' Bold only sleeker, faster or, in other words... bolder. When it comes to new users, it's a crowded marketplace out there. Those who prefer great physical keyboards may want to look into this Bold because you could hardly find a better 'phone' keyboard anywhere and that includes other Blackberries. I am currently a Torch user but I've been given the opportunity to try out a couple of the newer models: this new Bold and the new Torch 9810. The Torch has a slightly larger screen but, in fairness, few phones come close to the new Bold when the factors considered are elegance, the quality of the build and, naturally, the keyboard.
First, the good things:
- IT'S STILL A BLACKBERRY - This is important to the many BB users who want their Blackberry to change only slightly from one generation to another, at least as far as the physical form and the user interface is concerned. While Blackberries evolved from the little 'wheel' to the track ball to the current touch-sensitive pad to touch screens, they are still recognizable and I bet that if a time traveler from, let's say, 2002, popped up in 2011, he/she should be able to use the 9930 in no time. All buttons are at the familiar locations and, at least when comparing it with the previous generation, the 9930 responds very much in the same way with 'touch' added if needed but never mandatory to accomplish anything. I find myself using a combination of touch, buttons and sometimes to track pad to operate it.
- IT'S SMALLER, LIGHTER - While the screen appears to be (very slightly) larger on the 9930, its bulk is significantly reduced. This model is thinner and it appears to weigh less than its predecessor. Not everyone may appreciate this in the beginning and I was one of those but I got used with the lighter device quickly and I would consider it an improvement now.
- TOUCH - Not the first Blackberry with the feature and it's not as good as iPhone's but, for what I'm using it, it's just right. The new Blackberry OS allows me to 'touch' just about anything on the screen and trigger... something. Gestures are also supported including 'pinch-zoom' in and out. And, related...
- BUTTONS - Maybe this should have been at the top of the list. This Blackberry does not force me to do everything by touching the screen. Just about everything can be done by either pushing/clicking a button and controlling the cursor with the little trackpad or by interacting directly with the screen (tap virtual buttons) or a combination. Most of the time it's 'a combination' for me and it's always the way I feel most comfortable about doing things. I appreciate the ability to use physical buttons when I want it.
- IMPROVED PICTURE QUALITY - Very much on par with what's current 'best in the business', the picture is significantly better as far as brightness and resolution. I would not use the Bold to watch movies or read books with the Kindle app but this is because I don't use Blackberries that way. I could if I wanted to. To me Blackberries are expected to do: email, voice, enterprise integration. Everything else is 'extras' - my employer wouldn't like to see me watch movies, play games or update my Facebook wall on the company 'phone'.
- BETTER KEYBOARD - Believe it or not, this Bold's keyboard is even a better design that the predecessor's. The keys are slightly larger because keys now stretch from edge thus gaining maybe an extra 1/8 of an inch to distribute among the 10 or so keys on each row. I noticed the difference immediately.
- EXTRAS - Of course, you get cameras with geolocation which I'm not likely to use a lot but it's good to know it's there, you can get video for free or subscribe to some pay services, have the ability to store various media and so on. It's good to have them but I'm not likely to spend much time with the 'extras' except maybe with the Web browser which, by the way, is very good at handling HTML5.
- IMPROVED WEB BROWSER - This is good news. The built-in browser may not be as good as, let's say, Opera but it's coming pretty close and it's a major improvement over what Blackberry used to offer. This one is, of course, touch enabled.
- Bluetooth, WI-FI - they work great and pairing with a Bluetooth device can be done literally in seconds.
In addition to the above, on the 'the same' or not necessarily 'improvements' category, I noticed no significant change as far as battery life is concerned. Hard to measure it but I would recharge it every couple of days if used for phone/email only and at least daily if a lot of web browsing or video is involved.
On the not-so-good or 'really annoying' side, I really hated the abundance of bloatware - I call it 'crapware' - that seems to have invaded the Blackberry world. There is an abundance of little pre-installed apps and services that, shortly after you click on and go to the trouble of activating them, it turns out that they are 'pay' things, ranging from Pac-Man to TV services, and it's either impossible or very difficult to remove - I didn't have the time to waste so I was able to quickly hide them but... there SO MANY of them. If RIM is listening, they should know that I do NOT love Blackberry more for turning the BB desktop into some apps and services peddling space. Blackberry's app store continues to be difficult to navigate, overpriced and quite unattractive.
When it comes to rating this new Bold, within the context of Blackberries, it's probably one of the best and I am now hesitating between this and the Torch. It's lighter, brighter, sharper, faster and provides more functionality than previous models so it's a five-star.
And, yes. The Blackberry is not an iPhone or an Android. And the reverse happens to be true: iPhones and Androids are not Blackberries. I'm using a Honeycomb tablet for personal entertainment and there is an iPad in our household but what I've been using a Blackberry for 'business' quick, efficient and reliable communications for the past 10+ years. They never let me down.
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