Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Why and how I use my BlackBerry Tour

Just like the TicTac commercial; could I breathe without my BlackBerry Tour?  Of course, but I wouldn’t recommend it! 

First, I’ll explain my history with PDAs.  I’ve been and intense user of mobile devices ever since my first Palm Pilot back in 2000, the Palm VII X.  $400 gave me a device that looks like this:

 palmviixlarge [320x200]

Upgrading to the Palm m505 wasn’t a huge upgrade, but it added color and a more slick looking device w/a little more features:


I won’t keep boring you with pictures, but in 2002, you can see why getting my HP iPaq 3835 was an exciting move forward:


From then on, I had the iPaq 5555, the iPaq hx4705 (w/a beautiful 4” VGA screen (not QVGA)), then a WM Treo 700W, and finally a Samsung i760 running WM6.1 Pro.  Oh yeah, and now, the BlackBerry Tour 9630.  Before moving on, I must say, I used my iPaqs with a folding keyboard for years with no complaints.  I used them for work and college.  Great for taking notes, emailing, and running various applications. 

So, moving on to what I use my BlackBerry Tour for:

  1. It’s a pretty good cell phone first.  I use my Plantronics bluetooth ear piece as well as the speakerphone sometimes, and I’m happy w/it.  Something I thought was neat, is that although the Tour has a Qwerty keyboard, if you dial a number such as 800-BEST-BUY, it auto translates those numbers as if you used a dialpad.
  2. Texting is great on this device.  It’s quick and easy, and you almost have to turn the spell checker off for shortened words.  I have shortcut keys enabled so from the home screen when I hit ‘Q’ I am taken to a blank draft text ready to go.
  3. For email, the Gmail app is excellent.  It keeps your email in conversation threads which I love, and you can view all of your labels (folders).  The only thing I wish it had was the push email function.  The built in email client on the device is push, so I just setup my Gmail account in there, so I’m still notified when I get new messages.  Also, that way if I take a picture or want to email something, it uses the devices email client to send those.
  4. The camera is beyond what I need, but I still love that it’s there.  With 3.2 million pixels, a flash that you can turn on, off, or to auto, digital zoom, image stabilization, white balance, and color effects, there are plenty of features.  Even when the phone is on silent, though, it still makes the shutter sound, so I got a simple app called Peek-A-Boo.  Oh, and the video camera is handy to have as well.
  5. For music, this phone has some neat features.  First, you can hook it up to your computer and use media sync, which lets you sync your iTunes playlists to your microSD card.  I sync a few of my playlists, and some audio podcasts.  There’s a free app that came preloaded called Slacker Radio that lets you search and listen to pretty much any song, and create custom music stations.  Oh yeah, that the headphone jack is a standard 3.5mm so any headphones will work.
  6. I’m a to-do list freak (it’s how I manage my life professionally and personally), so I use Remember The Milk, and I installed MilkSync, which keeps my native BlackBerry tasks in sync with the online version of Remember The Milk, fully equipped with both plenty of shortcut keys, as well as Google Gears for offline support.  I set mine to sync both ways automatically, once each hour.  This is probably my favorite feature.
  7. I like having my Bible with me every where I go, and now I do, using Laridian’s Bible Reader.  I have my ESV (English Standard Version) and can look up verses quickly. 
  8. Another great Google app I have is the Google Sync app.  This is because I use the calendar on the device, as well as the contacts, and what luck; they both sync OTA (over the air) automatically.  This way everywhere I go, I have all of my contacts and calendar appointments.
  9. I have two push apps installed: the Fox News app alerts me when there’s breaking news, and the WeatherEye lets me know my current, daily, and weekly forecasts.
  10. The Gtalk client is nice, because I can leave it on all the time, so anytime someone wants to chat w/me they can.  This helps make the world even smaller.
  11. Youmail is a neat free visual voicemail app.  It alerts me when a caller leaves a voicemail, and lets me retrieve the message from the Youmail application, or from the MP3 it sends me as an email attachment.
  12. Evernote is great for note takers like me.  It allows me to create and edit notes on my device, and then I can view them from any web-based computer.  I do keep the Evernote desktop software installed on my laptop because it’s easy to add notes there.  Sometimes if I really want to make sure I have access to a note, I’ll create one in the resident memo pad, then copy it to Evernote.  Evernote mobile requires an internet connection.
  13. Because this device has GPS, Google Maps is a must have app for me.  Not only does it pinpoint exactly where I am, but I can get turn by turn directions to anywhere.  I can lookup local restaurants either by name or cuisine.  Using Google Latitude I can broadcast my location and see where my friends are as well.
  14. UberTwitter is my favorite Twitter app.  I’ve tried a few of them, and I like this one best.  It’s fast, free, and allows me to do everything I need to (DM, RT, upload pictures, etc…).
  15. Last but not least, is called SmrtGuard.  With this software, I can track exactly where my device is if it is lost or stolen.  From the web interface on any web-based computer, I can track my device, lock my device, have my device call a phone number I’m at to listen, remotely self destruct the device (and microSD card), and audio ping the device.

There are other apps I have installed, such as MaxMem and Facebook mobile, but I don’t use them all the time.  Same with the built in web browser.  Nice to have, but not a deal breaker and certainly not the best browser.

What device do you use?  Why don’t you have one of these?  :-)



Rob said...

My contract won't give me a new phone until March. :(

Author said...


Deacon Pepper said...

How do I get one of these Darin? Looks like you do everything with it.