Thursday, December 3, 2009

Blackberry Pearl Flip Makes Me Flip

Technology Review

PearlFlip I’m not sure I can call this a technology review, so much as a technology re-review.  The Blackberry Pearl Flip (model 8220) was first released in Fall of 2008.  I didn’t purchase it until Sprint of 2009.  In fact, I’ve been using it for just about eight months now, but I now have a better perspective about the pros and cons of the phone that excludes the initial new-ness impressions.

What I Don’t Like
I believe the phone was designed with the light non-business user in mind.  When I look back at how I selected this phone, I remember some telltale signs that I’d have trouble with it.  Aside from the initial online reviews which were mostly positive, I also decided to try the phone in store.  It worked great there.  The only thing I noticed was some lag when typing an email.  I assumed this was because the phone was using predictive text technology.  I kick myself for discounting this lag.

You see, I use my phone heavily for email.  I also have many contacts and calendar items.  In fact, I have about 2000 people, businesses, and online services contact entries in my Outlook that I synch with the phone.  So, browsing through that list typing one character at a time is not that pleasant.  There’s a big lag between what I type and what shows up on the screen. 

What’s worse is that as the keyboard is getting more use, it’s not as sensitive.  So, I have to very distinctly press each character.  The character display lag doesn’t help much in assuring me that I, in fact, have pressed a button.  This means sometimes I have to erase everything I just typed in order to enter a particular character.  That’s annoying and a big productivity drain.

Given that I receive anywhere from 50 to 200 emails a day, I see an enormous lag switching in and out of the email application on the device as well.  The typing lag I mentioned appears here also, though I’m not sure why. 

I also keep a detailed calendar with anywhere from 1500 to 2000 events scheduled.  I see the same lag switching in and out of the Calendaring application as I do for emails.

Then there’s the synchronization between Outlook and the phone.  I can tell you that I’ve spent more than a few hours on the phone with T-Mobile and RIM trying to figure out why the synch fails sometimes.  The answer in almost every instance is that I have to flush my profile (delete it) and create a whole new one.  I now do this about twice a month.  That is twice too many times. 

Keep in mind, I’m technically inclined and I’ve worked with PDAs ever since the Palm III.  So, I know there can be synch issues and profiles may need to be flushed from time to time, but twice a month? Come on now!

What I Like
With that out of the way, I can tell you there are some things I really like about this phone.  I like the fact that the phone is a flip.  I don’t have to worry about accidentally dialing 911 (which happened about once every other month when I had the original Pearl and dropped it in my pocket – AFTER locking the keypad). 

I also like the larger keys compared to the Blackberry Pearl.  I have bigger than usual thumbs and need a little more room to type. 

I like that there are various applications available for the phone, like Google Maps, Facebook, and the video camera app that comes standard with it.  I admit, I don’t use the video or the picture camera for much, except that the video camera feature allows me to use the built-in flash as a light.  This light has been immensely helpful at night when I’m out in the yard or searching for the occasional pen or paper I drop under the car in a parking lot.

I love that you can set multiple alarms on the phone, and that the phone wakes when the alarm goes off.  So, there’s no need to keep the phone on at night and hear the multitude of emails coming in. As a result of this, I no longer use a bedside alarm.  This is especially handy on trips.

The clock and email indicators on the back of the flip are very helpful too.  Given that I don’t wear a watch on the weekends, I can check the clock without having to flip open the phone. The same is true for seeing how many emails, Facebook and text messages I’ve received.  I can even view various reminders that have popped up on the phone.

Summary
I’ll sum up my view of the phone in this way: I despise this phone. After all, many of the positive points about the phone aren’t distinct to it.  So, I’m afraid I’m moving on and away from Blackberry after using their various models for close to five years.  It’s a pity since I’ve relied for so long on a Blackberry to get my emails on the go.

I’m extremely thankful that I share my plan with my wife. I added her phone to the plan six months after mine.  So, her phone is coming up for an upgrade.  This way I can get an upgrade and give my flip to her.  She hardly has any contacts (24) , doesn’t use the tasks list nor the Calendar, and only wants the added feature of seeing emails.  What’s more, she loves flip phones. This phone is perfect for her.

So, I’m looking into alternatives that T-Mobile offers.  I’m considering one of the Android phones like the T-Mobile myTouch, Motorola CLIQ or the Samsung Behold II.  Has anyone had any good experience with any of these?

What Do You Think?

Please feel free to share your thoughts below.

 

Photo Credit: cnet