Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Happy Holidays

Some of my friends have been asking me why I haven't updated my blog in a few weeks or written about my iPhone 3GS.

Unfortunately, I've been busy with studies, work, and my personal life as well as nursing a cold so I haven't had a chance to finish or finalize my iPhone 3GS post enough so that I can post it.

I'll be blogging again regularly in January and I will publish my post on my iPhone 3GS. I'll also post some other reviews and my thoughts on hardware/software products.

I wish everyone Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Blackberry Bold 9700 Review

I've had my Rogers Blackberry Bold 9700 for a little under a month and it being my first Blackberry, I'm very impressed with it. My Blackberry Bold 9700 came with but Rogers recently released and even though I didn't experience any issues with, I updated to the newer version and still didn't experience any issues. If it makes any difference in terms of my review, my Blackberry Bold 9700 was manufactured in Mexico. There have been some negative comments about the build construction from the earlier Bold 9700s but I haven't had any issues with the construction and build quality of my 9700.

I've only been using it for under a month but what I like about it is the almost instantaneous e-mail reception as well as the chatting capabilities of the Blackberry service.

Since the 9700 has Wi-Fi, when it is configured to connect to an access point (or router), the 9700 will automatically connect to this network whenever it is within range. This saves you from using a lot of data from the carrier. The Blackberry also compresses data from e-mail, chatting, and browsing so data usage is already efficient on Blackberries when compared with other phones. With this automatic connection of previously configured wireless networks, it makes data usage even more efficient. There is one thing to note about the connection to wireless networks over the carrier's data network and that is that I've encountered 1 program that regardless of whether you're connected to a wireless network will always access data via the carrier's data network. Yes, I did check through the options of this program and there is nothing to indicate a preference for Wi-Fi or to manually select Wi-Fi in this program. I've also encountered another program where you are required to specify the data connection to use and there is no option to automatically toggle/use the carrier's data network when you aren't connected to a wireless network. This means that if you specify that the Blackberry should use the wireless network, the moment you aren't close enough to a previously configured wireless network, the program will not update. Also, if you specify that it should use BIS (Blackberry Internet Service), regardless of whether you are within proximity of a previously configured wireless network and your Blackberry connects to the wireless network, the program will continue to use the carrier's (BIS) data.

Since I haven't received my first bill/statement yet for this account (at the time of this blog entry), I'm not sure how much data I've used. Even though I do a lot of audio/video streaming, most of the time when I'm doing this, I'm connected to a wireless access point or router. I would be very surprised if I even used more than half of the 500MB that I have with Rogers Wireless (my Blackberry carrier).

I've played YouTube videos on my Bold 9700 and the videos are quite good in terms of video quality and sound quality over the carrier's data network (Rogers) as well as over a wireless network. I've also tried a few other video/audio programs like SlingPlayer Mobile for the Blackberry and I experienced similar results. The only thing with SlingPlayer Mobile for the Blackberry is that as of today, when attempting to download the SlingPlayer Mobile software from Sling Media's website using your Blackberry, their website indicates that the device is not supported. I found a link on Sling Media's website to download the software directly to my 9700 without the "phone compatibility check" and I couldn't get it to download when I manually entered the URL into my Blackberry browser. I had to click on the link from a website.

When using SlingPlayer Mobile for Blackberry, I find that the program reacts very slowly to remote control commands regardless of whether you're using a wireless network or the carrier's data network. However, the audio/video quality is excellent on the device.

What I don't like about the Blackberry Bold 9700 is that I find the keys to be a bit cramped when I compare it with the keys on the Palm Treos that I've used (600, 650, and 680). This makes it a bit difficult more difficult to type a text with the Blackberry Bold 9700 than with the old Treo line of phones from Palm.

Another thing about the Blackberry Bold 9700 is that I like the fact that it uses a standard USB cable (unlike Apple's proprietary USB cable) to not only synchronize the device but it also charges the phone as well. However, I don't like that it is a microUSB cable instead of a miniUSB cable (because I have a lot of miniUSB cables).

I do like the trackpad on the Blackberry Bold 9700. You can control the sensitivity of the trackpad via the options so if you find it too sensitive or not sensitive enough, you can adjust the horizontal sensitivity and/or the vertical sensitivity.

On the Rogers Blackberry Bold 9700, a 2GB microSD memory card is included. I found the memory card actually inserted into my phone when I purchased it. Since it was a new activation, the store had opened up my box and inserted the SIM card into the phone in order to make sure that everything worked. The instructions for removing the memory card from the 9700 is not very detailed but in order to remove it, you must push the microSD memory card into the unit (similar to removing SD cards from some laptops/netbooks) and it will eject enough for you to be able to remove it.

I find the Wi-Fi reception strength of the Blackberry Bold 9700 to be good (better than on my iPhone 3GS). For example, while in my bedroom, my iPhone 3GS struggles to access my router's wireless signal while my 9700 accesses my router's wireless signal without any issues. The Bold 9700 handles hidden SSIDs  as well as various encryption schemes. I haven't experienced any issues configuring my 9700 to connect to any wireless network where I had the necessary security credentials.

One of the first things I did after verifying for a few days that my Blackberry 9700 worked without any issues is that I unlocked it via the subsidy unlock code. After purchasing the code, it was quite easy to unlock the Rogers Blackberry Bold 9700.

In terms of the voice quality of the phone, I tested it out briefly with my Rogers prepaid SIM (since the SIM that is in my Bold 9700 is only a BIS data only account). I find the sound quality to be comparable to other cellphones that I've used. However, I would say that people have commented that the sound quality when they are speaking to me is better than when I am using my Treo 680.

I find Facebook for Blackberry (which Rogers includes as part of their default configuration) to be somewhat sluggish when I compare it to Facebook for the iPhone. This isn't really a big deal but I thought that I would mention it. The browsing experience is also better on the iPhone than it is on the Blackberry but this is not to say that the Blackberry browsing experience is bad (which I don't think it is), I just find the iPhone browsing experience to be better.

Something else that I found unusual regarding the Rogers branded Blackberry Bold 9700 is that regular MP3 files (and full length MP3 files) can be used as ringtones. With most of the other Rogers branded phones that I've used (various Nokia phones and various Sony-Ericsson phones), Rogers restricted the phone's ability to use MP3 files as ringtones.

I'm not sure what else I can write after only having used a Blackberry for slightly under 1 month (with the Blackberry Bold 9700 being my first Blackberry device) so I will end this blog entry at this point.

If you have any questions/comments regarding this blog entry, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section.