I was a Blackberry addict for five years. My first Blackberry was the 8700 which, at the time, was an enormous improvement over my previous “old fashioned” flip phone that didn’t even support text messaging but did have a 1 megapixel camera. I needed more than just making phone calls on the go. I needed access to emails from my clients. And Blackberry / RIM did that for me.
It also allowed me internet access, albeit a fairly antiquated, very slow, and virtually useless function simply because the pages weren’t in HTML and it was difficult to even assess what I was indeed looking at once the page had loaded. Internet browsing became a function I used as little as possible because it was just plain aggravating.
Blackberry was originally introduced as a business phone simply because of its email capability. The RIM push technology allowed emails to be “pushed” from the server to your phone immediately, rather than signing into an email account to check each time you were waiting for an email. And the real beauty was that it supported enterprise email systems, in other words, you could check your company email as well as your personal email; a big boon for business people away from the office.
However, RIM never seemed to take into consideration the fact that even dull business people would like more than just checking emails and surfing the web. My original 8700 came with one game similar to PacMan with colors that was impossible to play because without a touch screen or a trackball, the only way to play was to use a multitude of the keys on the fully functional QWERTY keyboard along with the ALT key. Too much trouble.
After a few years I realized that I needed more technology than what the 8700 could offer. I needed a camera phone because of some of the assignments I had. I also needed more reliable web browsing and a higher level of HTML in my emails so I could see what my clients were sending me.
I then upgraded to the Blackberry Curve with WiFi. Not much of an improvement in the web browsing arena unless I was connected to WiFi. It had a trackball which did allow me access to some games to keep me busy hanging around airports. Emails looked slightly better with a few software upgrades over the one year I had the phone. It also came with a camera and a video recorder, both of which produced some very poor quality results.
What I really needed next was a larger screen. I now needed to have much faster and more reliable web access because of my job, and I needed “real” web pages to work with. I considered the iPhone but after months of research I decided on the TMobile G1 Android.
The concept of Google actually having a phone based on its web offerings seemed a bit strange, but I did like the larger screen with touch and move capabilities, and the even larger QWERTY keyboard. The G1 has a slide out keyboard that, when pulled out, will change the screen view from a “portrait” to a “landscape”, or wider, view.
The G1 is a little thicker, a bit longer, and a few ounces heavier – but it’s all worth it. Making the transition from a Blackberry using the slow Edge network, but was totally compatible with all Microsoft Outlook functions, took a few days to get used to, but it was time well spent!
One of the first differences I noticed, which is not a big deal in the scheme of things, is that all applications on the Home screen are in alphabetical order and there is no way to change this. The Blackberry gives you the ability to arrange and hide icons to suit your needs. Unlike the Blackberry, there is no way to add “folders” such as Games, etc. On the G1, if you download an application, its icon simply gets inserted alphabetically with no regard to the type of application it might be.
Like the Blackberry, the G1 allows you to set up five email accounts. You can use accounts that are not Gmail based, however, you will need to provide all server routing information in order to establish the connection.
One feature I loved immediately was the fact that because I was only going to use my Gmail accounts, there is no need to sync the phone with my computer! All new contacts and calendar events you add or edit on your phone or directly in your Gmail account on your regular PC are automatically picked up on both devices. This is a great time saver since everything is web based and not PC back up based.
One issue I had was the fact that the G1 is not compatible with Outlook. Whereas the Blackberry will use the same contacts and calendar, G1 only uses what you have in your Google accounts – contacts, calendar, etc. This did take some time to re-enter. (Note: Even though Gmail says you can import contacts from Outlook by exporting to a file, it’s very tricky and even after a few hours with tech support, it just wasn’t going to happen.) However, I chose only a select group of contacts and appointments to add to Gmail knowing that I still had access to everything else on my computer.
Another thing I needed to get used to, which I did quickly once I understood it, was that in Gmail all “conversations” are grouped together. An odd concept for which I personally don’t see much if any value. I am used to seeing one email at a time, even in instances where I and someone else may be emailing back and forth with the same subject for an entire day. On the first day I used my G1 phone I was convinced I was missing emails. I never used Gmail itself, however. Everything was imported directly into Outlook so I never got familiar with its inherent functionality. It took a while to understand that I wasn’t missing emails, I just needed to pay attention to the number next to emails I already got. And that leads to another problem…. If you delete an email, you are really deleting an entire string of emails.
With these little issues aside, the look of the emails is “real” HTML. No different than on your computer. It’s simple to maneuver around the screen with you finger as you slide your way through from side to side and top to bottom.
Need to click on a link? No problem! G1 is connected to a 3G network which is like going from dial up to DSL. Much better than Blackberry’s Edge even on WiFi. (The new Blackberry Tour will be on a 3G network, but it’s pretty late to the game.) You are presented with a real version of a web page that is easy to get around using your finger.
There are a ton of applications, just like the iPhone, but the one problem I see is that they don’t come with user friendly instructions. Games are sometimes confusing but then again, they are usually free. Other applications provide instructions at installation, yet if you have other questions once you get going, the only way to get an answer is to go back to Marketplace on your Home screen where you downloaded it from, find the application again, click on it, and you will get the developer’s email.
The telephone provides excellent quality sound and is easy to dial using the screen or voice commands. Its built in camera is a very acceptable 3.2 megapixel that provides some surprisingly clear photos. It doesn’t have a video recorder, but you can view videos with no problem, especially with its direct link to YouTube, a Google owned subsidiary.
All in all, the G1 is absolutely hands down a better technology solution for than any of the Blackberry models.