Month: June 2009

Blackberry storm: First couple days.

Well, i’ve had my storm for 4 days now. I’m going to try to put some of my initial impressions and experiences down in writing now.

So far, i very much enjoy this phone. I’ve had one or two little quirks that I’ll touch on, but so far, i like it.

How’s the sure-press screen work? I like it. I’ve even had an iphone user or two comment on how the sure press screen is nice. None of them are rushing out to get a storm, but they didnt puke when they tried to use it. I really like the feedback from the screen. Its subtle enough that it doesnt feel gimmicky, and it feels solid. Some of the apps that i’ve used dont work well with the touch screen. This is probably a compatibility with older apps thing, and not necessarily a flaw in this phone. I can see how that may have been a sticky subject at blackberry’s R&D lab. Do we reject the use of older apps, and make developers re-write every app on the market? Or do we tack on clunky touch screen usage for older apps? I can see both sides of that, and i can understand why they did what they did.

I’ve run into an issue or two with free resources on the phone. The phone will slow down to a crawl, and i’ll have to reboot it in order to free that up. I think this is more due to how i’m using the phone, and not necessarily a problem with the phone. It seems like if you exit an app by using the back button, it doesnt close, rather it goes to the background. I haven’t found a way to find out what’s running, but it seems that if i hit the bb menu, and select close instead of backing out, it works well.

I’m not crazy about how they handle e-mail. I know why they do it, but i dont really love it. When you setup your e-mail, they pass it all through their BIS. You put in some very basic info into a wizard, and it somehow guesses the information, and enters it into their service. Then your mail is passed through their service to your phone. Well, if you use this wizard, it apparently sets up your bis account, but doesnt actually give it a username! I had to call verizon’s support to get that worked out (which i just did). I tried to add my work account, with uses imaps, rather than clear imap. So it takes some advanced settings to get it working. You cant enter these settings on the phone, you need to do it on their site. Once i got into the site, it was actually detected properly, which surprised me. It also let me take the verizon branding out of the signature line of all of my e-mails, which is nice. I dont want my work e-mail being sent out branded.

I’ve dont some fiddling with about 50% of the stuff i see on the main menu of the phpne. I’ve also added a few apps. One of which with google maps, another was a media player which supports shoutcast streams. Pretty cool. Never thought i’d be able to play The Blast on the go. I’ve also run across a few cool free apps, like games and whatnot.

I’ve also been toying with a BES like open source package. It may, if i can get it working, get me my calendar from Zimbra sync’d on the storm. I got it working tonight for email, but it was buggy as hell, and kept crashing the phone. The contacts/calendar app (which is a separate sync app) seems stable, so i’m going to continue to pursue that. The app is called Funambol. I could probably post an entire entry on that later.

So far, i give this phone a big thumbs up. It’s cool enough to be a fun phone, but.. erm.. Blackberry enough to be a good business phone. Exactly what I needed.


Blackberry Storm. Before Purchase.

Tonight I aim to walk into a Verizon Wireless store, and upgrade to a Blackberry Storm.

I’m currently using a Samsung SCH-U740, a phone that has recently been re-branded as the “Alias”. If you were to go to Verizon today, you’d find it on the shelves/website as the Alias. A good phone no doubt. It’s held up well to my abuse, and general use. I’ve recently moved into a position where communication is a bit more prominent than it has been. We have enough of us working on a team that E-Mail and Calendaring is much preferred over the SMS messaging that i’ve been doing primarily on my current phone. It’s served its purpose well, with its dual-flip and full keyboard.

I plan to post again after I’ve purchased the Storm, and used it for a day or so, to give my initial impressions. Then again after a month or so of usage. Assuming that i don’t hate the phone, and have given it back to Verizon. I dont expect that to happen. but who knows.

Today I’m going to talk about why i picked the storm, and what my expectations are. Be aware that i may be be incorrect on some of these assumptions, but you’ll get to see that once i post my first follow-up.

Why the storm?
I want a touch screen phone. I don’t really want to leave Verizon. The Storm was the ONLY touch screen phone offered by Verizon that does not run Windows Mobile. Windows mobile is a horrid piece of trash, and I will not purchase a device that runs it. I’ve heard in the past few days that Verizon now offers another touch screen phone without Windows mobile. It’s an LG, and has a full keyboard when it’s flipped open. I hear that it does not handle e-mail well, and some of its features are locked unless you subscribe to them. I’ll touch on that in a second.

Touch screen aside, i want a phone with email, calendar, and web. We run Zimbra Collaboration Suite at work, and although the storm does not currently support zimbra (which uses activesync to sync over the air) I feel that a popular platform like the BlackBerry is more likely to have some addon written for this functionality, than something that runs a proprietary OS like the LG does. The Storm also has a larger community of folks writing apps for it. Now, the iPhone, and Windows Moble both talk to Zimbra already, but like I said, i have reasons for not going with either of those options.

Features… This phone is packed with them. Including (or so i’m told) an unlocked GPS feature. Which allows me to go and download something like google maps, giving me a fully featured GPS right on my belt at all times. Something that most (if not all) other verizon phones force you to pay monthly for.

I expect that I’ll like this phone. I think that’s obvious, otherwise I wouldn’t be buying it.

I expect that I’ll be able to tweak the storm to make it a little more personalized than is possible with some other phones.

I expect that I’ll be able to find applications to do most of what I’d like to do on this phone. Some things I’d like to do are: Listen to music (including streams, like shoutcast if possible), get directions, and of course, email and calendaring.

What makes me think that this phone will do all of that?
Well, honestly, I dont think it’s going to do every single thing i’d like it to, in fact, i expect that it wont, but if it does, i’ll be VERY pleased. The bottom line is, if it does all of the things that i’ve heard it can, i’ll he happy with it.

What about this Sure-Press screen?
I’ve done a little homework. It seems that the biggest complaint regarding the Storm is the screen. If you’re not familiar with it, I’ll sum it up. The entire screen seems to be mounted on one giant button. When you touch the screen, it responds by hi-lighting things, or scrolling, depending on the gesture of your finger. If you press on the screen slightly, the entire screen clicks, like a button. This makes me wonder about the longevity of the phone. Will this button start to wear out? Will the screen start to get loose? What about dirt and whatnot getting in the crevices around the screen that allow it to move? All i can say to that is.. I’m going to be careful with the phone, and see how it goes.

As far as the operation of the screen goes. I stopped in at a verizon store, and had a look at a powered up, but not activated Storm. I brought up a new text message, and started typing. I like it. I think it’ll work out just fine. I was able to type a sentence with just as much speed and accuracy as i do on my SCH-U740.

That’s it for now, see you in a few days!


New software…

Well i finally gave in, and replaced my custom written blog software with a prebuilt package. Serendipity. It’s still free/open, and i can modify it as needed. It also offers a bunch of cool plugins. It has more functionality out of the box than anything i could have written in as much time. I took…