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Chris Metcalf

specialization is for insects

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A few weeks ago I picked up a BlackBerry 8800 from a friend who’d ended up with a surplus of them after a few lucky auctions on eBay. I’d traveled back to Michigan for a wedding and, after having the chance to try out his for a bit, I couldn’t resist the chance to pick one up without sinking myself into a new contract.

BlackBerry 8800

So far, I love it. Its everything I loved about my old BlackBerry 8700, plus everything I wished the 8700 could have been. Its thinner, sexier, and just simply a more complete solution than the BlackBerries that have come before it. Many of the improvements could be viewed as simple incremental improvements. But taken as a whole, the upgrades make it feel like a whole new device.

  • The new form factor is a huge step up over the previous BlackBerries. It may only be a quarter inch thinner than the 8700, but it might as well be paper thin. It fits much better in a pocket now, and with its new shiny black case, many people don’t realize that it’s a BlackBerry until they ask. It no longer looks like just a business device… it actually does look and feel like a real “smartphone”.

  • I’ve actually come to like the trackball. At first it was strange, but within a half hour I was quite proficient with it. Its not as “clicky” as the old scroll wheel was, but it makes it much easier to browse webpages and it is now finally easy to edit what you’ve already entered into an email without arcane key + scroll wheel combinations.

  • Numerous small software upgrades have improved the overall feel and usability of the system. I love the “Today” screen, and I use it constantly. They’ve made it easier to navigate between the contacts screen and the call log screen, so its easier to jump between calls and their associated contacts. They’ve also added a great media player.

  • Bluetooth modem profile!! So freaking cool! The 8800 now advertises itself over bluetooth as a dial-up modem, and its now super-easy to set up with your laptop for wireless Internet access. I’ve been using it all the time with my MacBook Pro, in airports, meetings, whatever, its always available.

  • The GPS is simply too cool. Unfortunately Google Maps is too slow to actually keep up with you while you’re driving, but it’s excellent for getting your bearings on foot in an unfamiliar city (like Boston) or for getting driving directions. And it’s an excellent conversation piece. I’m still looking forward to trying out TeleNav, but I haven’t been able to get a trial key.

  • The Micro SD expandability is pretty cool, although I haven’t been able to figure out how exactly I’m going to use up 2GB of storage on my BlackBerry. MP3s and videos on your smartphone are pretty fun, but they’re really nothing more than a gimmick.

Great device. I’m very happy with my purchase.