Requiem for a BlackBerry

DingedBerry

DingedBerry

(The trouble started long before this unfortunate minor accident — a waist-high plummet to cold, hard pavement last month…)

Today I pause in memory of Canada’s mobile success story and the 8700-series handset that’s now sitting in my drawer. I might still be using it today if weren’t for PocketMac, absolutely the worst excuse for synchronization software that I’ve ever endured. And I’m not alone.

Admittedly we Apple snobs are spoiled by software that plays nice with the Mac’s many built-in resources, like the SyncML-compliant copy of iSync that comes pre-installed on every computer they sell. But PocketMac will have none of that, spreading a mountain of crud across my MacBook’s hard drive in order to work. And by “work” I mean nothing short of hard labour — it absolutely astonished me that my computer’s dual-core processors and fans would kick up to full speed while syncing calendars and contacts to a wireless PDA — you’d think I was plotting the trajectory of a moonshot, for chrissakes!

Not that the result was in any way worth the effort… After more than a week’s worth of un-undoable syncs I suddenly discovered that, unbeknownst to me, PocketMac had been quietly deleting phone numbers and email addresses from my contacts! It got so bad that soon I could only sync one-way to my BlackBerry, which as any good grammar student knows is not really “sync” at all.

Now I could pony up some cash and switch to the reportedly better Missing Sync for BlackBerry, but I shouldn’t have to on principle — PocketMac is, after all, RIM’s official sync client for Macintosh. And even with The Missing Sync there are still some shortcomings with the actual device when it’s not tethered to my Mac.

Let’s just say that Nokia has opened up my eyes to what a smartphone can be, and in comparison the BlackBerry diminishes in stature to a mere messaging device. The selection of available software for it is relatively thin when stacked up against what’s on offer for users of Symbian and Windows Mobile. Of course most people with BlackBerries don’t ever go beyond email, but me? As you can probably guess, I demand a little more.

And so I’ll be hanging on to my RIM stock, but bidding my actual Blackberry a curt “buh-bye”…

What I’ll miss:

  1. The set it and forget it (almost) push email. Except for the software forcing you to top-post, this is honestly the best implementation of mobile email I’ve ever had the pleasure of using, hiptop included!
  2. BlackBerry’s global inbox. Email from multiple accounts, text messages, even missed phone calls and message alerts, all lumped together in a searchable list — and everything older than 30 days is automatically deleted.
  3. BlackBerry Maps. I can’t compare it to Nokia’s own mapping software as the latter is not compatible with my E61i, but I’ll bet it wouldn’t integrate with my address book like on the BlackBerry!

And not so much:

  1. The disaster that is PocketMac. See above.
  2. BlackBerry’s on-screen fonts. No matter which one I tried at whatever size I still felt like I was looking at a computer terminal in a public library in 1979.
  3. The dearth of add-on apps. See above.
  4. The web browser. Faster than the one on my hiptop but still pretty pokey.
  5. Looking like every other tool on Bay Street when I had to whip it out to take a call or reply to a message.
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About Andrew

Mobile phones, Linux and copyright reform. Those go together, right?
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4 Responses to Requiem for a BlackBerry

  1. Ed Miller says:

    AC:

    What I’ll miss is you using the Blackberry’s back-lit screen to cue the NeutrinoPlex standups at the end of their set times!

    Speaking of Mac sync issues… this week, I tried syncing my flashy LG Chocolate cell (the Bell model) with both my Mac (G5 with USB bluetooth) and my Palm E2. The phone didn’t play nice with either one, so I’ll stick with syncing my E2 with the G5 and referring to it for appointments and contact info (rather than the crappy LG calendar or the barebones LG contact manager).

    Ed

  2. AC says:

    Hey Ed,

    The trouble with your LG isn’t surprising — it’s not officially supported by Apple’s iSync:

    http://preview.tinyurl.com/bvb74

    Just out of interest, are you using iSync, Palm Desktop or Missing Sync with your Palm?

  3. Ed Miller says:

    AC:

    I’m using iSync with the Palm. I didn’t like the Palm Desktop interface –very Windows-esque. I have Office 2004 and tried Entourage (via iSync) for about a month, but I went back to iCal and Address Book after all the sync problems. Entourage never deleted anything from my Palm, but it added duplicate bookings to itself and the PDA and I got tired of deleting.

    I don’t use my Palm for e-mail, so I’m saving myself a major headache there, I think –I’d need Missing Sync for sure.

    Ed

  4. AC says:

    And if I remember correctly, there is some Palm stuff that doesn’t sync over with this set-up, like notes and voice recordings? It’s been awhile since I’ve used it…

    I’m certainly grateful that iCal will accept exported events from Palm Desktop for Mac. My current calendar goes back to April, 2001 — and when I get back from vacation I’ll extend it back into the last millennium!

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