Well, the BlackBerry Bold has finally seduced me into the dark recesses of the Crackberry community. Coming from a Treo 750, I’m sure that the Bold is going to kick a lot of ass. If there is a device that will convert me from Windows Mobile to BlackBerry, this is the one.
My first foray into the realm of smartphones started roughly three years ago. Buying a cellphone was foreign to me until I saw the Nokia 8800. It was still relatively new at the time, and the consumer in me consumed me, blinding me of logic. It was carefully crafted. It was a svelte slab of stainless steel. It was an aesthetic angel. I loved it, and I had to have it. And have it I did, at the astronomically absurd price to the sound of $800.
I was the only guy around who had it. I was the proud and rare owner of a Nokia 8801 (the US version) for three or four months before I started noticing that T-Mobile was offering it. I was rather displeased that this luxury icon was being marketed to the general public. Then I damn near had a heart attack. One day, I was walking with my friend around Steinway Street where all the hookah bars were. It was around midnight, the air slightly moist but with a cold bite. The ground was still wet from the light rain that had passed over several hours ago, the pavement glistening with the red and green of the traffic lights. Plastered into the ground were flyers. And one of these soggy sheets of advertising caught my eye.
It had a picture of my phone on it. My beautiful Nokia 8801. That was disturbing enough. But then my eye was drawn towards some white text. I saw a dollar sign, followed my two nines and two more miniature nines. It dawned on me that my phone was whoring itself out for a mere hundred bucks. An eighth of what I paid for mine. I felt like I just got cheated on. Could that really be my Nokia? Could something so beautiful and so rare be suddenly available for everyone to grope and finger? I was enraged. The frustration and disparagement in my “Goddammit!…” was quite evident to my friend. A more economical fellow, he took some pleasure in torturing me for the next month or so and pointed out every Nokia 8801 he saw. Luckily, there still weren’t all too many around. But nothing could heal the pain of my phone’s infidelity. I cringed every time I saw her in the hands of another man or woman.
I still hadn’t learned my lesson though. I’m a tech junkie. And as such, I eventually got a T-Mobile Dash (or the HTC S620). Within a week I hacked it to get it working the way I wanted. I loaded it up with a handful of applications. I was quite happy with the keyboard. It was wide and open enough for my fingers. The UI was definitely an improvement over the antiquated 8801’s clunky fonts and generally outdated interface. I could use microSD cards to play my music on it. It opened up a whole new world to me. I was able to get on the Internet and get my push e-mail, all for very low cost. It was a $6 charge for T-MobileWeb and $7 for an Exchange account from 1and1.com, making it only $13 a month for unlimited e-mail and web (albeit at pokey EDGE speeds). It was sufficient for my needs though.
Technology is always progressing. There are always newer devices that are faster, that have new features. And lo and behold, out came the T-Mobile Wing. I was getting tired of the T-Mobile Dash’s lack of a touchscreen. I grew up on Palm devices. I started off with the Palm m100 in high school. Following my pattern of poorly timed purchases, I very quickly moved on to a Sony CLIÉ T415. Shortly after my purchase there were newer models that had glorious color graphics. Itching for a more visually appealing screen, I sprung for a Palm Tunsten E. My final PDA purchase was the Palm TX. So having gone through four PDAs, I became rather attached to the touchscreen and the easy to use PIM functions. The T-Mobile Dash was lacking in the intuitive interaction of a touchscreen.
I started doing a little bit of research, trying to find my perfect Smartphone. I came across the T-Mobile Wing. It had an expansive high resolution screen, the touchscreen that I yearned for, and everything else that I liked about the T-Mobile Dash. I ordered one off eBay for around $350. It arrived the next day since I was excited to get my hands on such a device and paid for next day air shipping. Unfortunately, the excitement wore off after a month of using it. Though I thoroughly enjoyed the crisp touchscreen, the damnedest thing annoyed me. It was the slide-out keyboard. The keyboard was just way too wide. I couldn’t type quickly enough on it. Not only that, I often sent text messages that were only half way composed: my finger, while jabbing at the ‘R’ key, would hit the right soft key. The right soft key corresponded with, you guessed it, the Send button. I ended up selling the Wing on eBay for a small bit of profit. Coincidentally, the buyer was located in New York City and we worked out a local pickup.
With the money I got from that sale, I ended up getting a Palm Treo 750. It was unlocked, but it was also Cingular branded. I felt that the Treo 750 met both of my requirements: a touchscreen and a small enough QWERTY thumb board. However, I soon discovered that I couldn’t get it to go online with T-MobileWeb. I tried and tried, only to finally give up. I decided that I would have to go to AT&T. I headed over to the mall and signed away a huge chunk of money. I chose the cheapest voice plan and the cheapest PDA package. It came out to $40 for the voice and $40 unlimited 3G usage plus 1500 text messages. I walked out of there with a working 3G connection on my spanking new phone. I proceeded to pimp it out with SPB Shell and Weather and all sorts of other enhancements.
However, it started to dawn on me that I was paying out of my ass for some barely used functionality. I was paying damn nearly a hundred bucks (after taxes and all those other surcharges) a month to use my phone. I barely made any phone calls, so my minutes, though rolled over, were going to waste. My data plan was unlimited, but after checking into it, I found that I rarely used anything over 20MB of data. 90% of it was for e-mail, the other 10% for surfing the web. I couldn’t justify that kind of money going to waste.
Then my brother asked me if I had heard of the Blackberry Bold. I had not. In the past, I considered using Blackberries. I have always liked and preferred the Blackberry form factor. The business-oriented devices were appealing to me. My usage consists mainly of e-mail and texting, barely any phone calls, and the occasional web browsing. However, I had read terrible things about the Blackberry web browser. I also didn’t particularly appreciate the interface. I gave it a couple of test runs in cell phone stores, but still couldn’t bring myself to extract myself from the comfortable world of Windows Mobile to transplant myself in what I considered an inferior user environment.
That all changed when I saw the BlackBerry Bold in some videos. The interface looked clean and visually appealing. The screen appeared to be much higher in resolution. I was intrigued and ended up spending about five hours that night doing research on the Bold. I followed link after blog link, and I finally ended up here. And it was there that my fate was sealed.
I read with great interest all four parts of the review. The Bold’s 624 MHz processor is more than twice as fast as my Treo’s. The screen is significantly higher in resolution. It has more on-board memory. The camera is superior and includes a flash. I can listen to music on the Bold with my Audiotechnica headphones because it has a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. Omitted from the Treo 750, the Bold has Wi-Fi so I don’t have to compromise on speed if I don’t have a 3G connection available. The interface looks snappy and responsive, not to mention prettier than what I’ve got going on my Treo.
What are the trade-offs? I’ll be losing the touchscreen. I noticed that I don’t really use the touchscreen too much. I just prefer Windows Mobile 6 Professional over the Smartphone edition. But that’s all. Everything else is a step up, most more than just a step. I think the BlackBerry Bold is the device that’s capable of pulling a lot of people into the Crackberry world. The updated and significantly prettier interface lures you in, and then the technical specs blow you away.
My only remaining concern is the email service. Keeping economy in mind, I feel that T-Mobile’s Blackberry Minutes & Mail plan is most appropriate for me. It’s easier on the wallet and hits the sweet spot for data-heavy/voice-anemic users like me. At $60 a month, I save $240 a year over AT&T’s plan. That’s four months of service on T-Mobile every year.
And so now the waiting begins. Seeing that T-Mobile has apparently come out with 3G in New York, it’s only a matter of time before I plunk down yet another chunk of green for yet another tech gadget. It’s supposedly going to be available in September for T-Mobile between $300-$500, though I don’t know if those prices are 2-year contract prices. Doesn’t matter either way, because I’m going to get it one way or another. This angry young man is going to be a little less angry and a little more happy once he’s got a BlackBerry Bold in his hands.