Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Accessory for the BlackBerry Torch 9800

Now this wasn't strictly purchased for the Torch. Originally, it was intended for a new BlackBerry Bold 9780, but as discussed here previously, I went the directional change of the BlackBerry Torch 9800.

What is it? Well, it's called a SmrtWallet and in a nutshell, it combines the functionality and practicality of a wallet (for your cards and cash) and a protective case for your BlackBerry. Let's face it, if your wallet was attached to your BlackBerry, would you ever forget your wallet? I think not :) Genius!

It was a tad tight when I first tried it (in fact it used to pull my Bold 9700's battery cover off when removing the BlackBerry from the SmrtWallet), and in fact I thought the Torch wouldn't fit easily. But there is a fix...

I left my Bold 9700 in the SmrtWallet for a few weeks (I was by then using the Torch, so the Bold had become a spare), and it simply stretched the SmrtWallet. The Torch now fits (albeit it snugly). Brilliant!

And so there you have it....

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The first full working week with my BlackBerry Torch 9800

I'm on my way home to Brisbane, from Melbourne, on a Thursday evening, sitting where I usually sit (either row 4 or 5, in a Virgin Blue Boeing 737-800) a day earlier than would be normal, so I guess the title is not quite accurate. That said, I don't expect to discover something amazingly different to what I had already experienced so far.

I've now been using the Torch since last Friday night, and from Monday to Thursday, it received a solid workout. These are my personal findings.

Battery life:
I did the normal setting changes one would normally be expected to:
• Reduced screen brightness to 20%
• Switched off wifi (very rarely do I have a need for it, but good to have)
• Screen lock when placing in my pocket or just carrying

And what have I found? To be honest, I can get through 2/3 of a day without charging. Thank goodness for the mandatory spare battery I have made a point of purchasing since my BlackBerry Bold 9700 days. Luckily the Torch boots noticeably quicker than the Bold2, so I am off the air for a much shorter time.

Now in fairness, a colleague purchased a Samsung Galaxy S at the same time, and with similar settings, she can only get 1/2 day without charging (yay for the Torch).

When I originally saw leaked shots of the Torch, a lot of people scoffed at the form factor (vertical slider), but the one thing I cautioned people, via twitter, was quite simply, if the keyboard was right, who cares if it was a vertical slider, rather than the more trendy side slider.

And I believe I have been proven right.

For all intents & purposes, the Torch's keyboard is about the same as the Bold2's, and coming from a Bold2, that for me was a good thing!

The main differences of the Torch's keyboard are:
• Raised side edges
• Bottom concave lip
• Slight cramped feel along the centre part of the top row

Incredibly, even though the trackpad is raised and a little further away, it remains very accessible.

Touch Screen:
Well this is something new to me and an area that traditionally has been a no go zone.

The Torch was more of a business decision for me, and not a passionate one (I did want a Bold 9780) as discussed in a previous post.

This being the case, the keyboard of choice is the hardware one not the touch/virtual option (I am very clumsy with the touch screen keyboard).

But I am really warming to doing some things on the touch screen:
• Finding and activating an application
• Reading emails, RSS feeds, twitter feeds etc
• Viewing photos (and a quick thumbs up for the 5mp camera), hunting through music

I have found the need to have the touch screen set to quite a high degree of sensitivity, but still adapting myself to it.

And finally, I am enjoying the size of the screen and the ability to view things in landscape mode :)

Convenience key:
well something happened and we lost one, and unfortunately for left handers like me, the left convenience has gone awol!

Micro USB slot:
Not a happy camper here, and with the placement of the Micro USB charging/syncing slot low on the left side, makes it awkward to type while charging. If it was placed higher (ala Bold2) it would have happily sat between fingers 1 & 2 on my left hand, which cradle the Torch fairly widely splayed.

As it is hardware, I can't see a fix here.

OS 6.0.0337:
I like the current rendition of the BlackBerry Operating System, and I believe new members of TeamBlackBerry will adapt to BlackBerry a lot quicker and much more seamlessly, than on previous OS versions.

For long time users who have seen and used OS versions from say 4.2 onwards, you may find some things are more straightforward, where as other things are more hidden.

Overall though, a good job.

Applications and transferring from a Bold2:
Ha! What a week it was. Bricked the Torch 5 times in a week!

Why? Quite simply:
• I was a little too casual in my approach
• I didn't check all applications on my Bold2 would work successfully on the Torch
• I didn't refresh my apps from a Bold2 version to a Torch version.

But on the upside, I developed a new found love for good old Jl_cmdr (the windows PC/laptop app that wipes your BlackBerry (especially one that states on the BlackBerry white screen of death, App Error 603.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I am now running a slightly smaller list of apps than I did on the Bold2, on a device that has twice the internal memory. I am sure that memory will be put to good use in the not too distant future.

And right now, I have 253.24mb of free internal memory waiting :)

Dimensions and feel:
Well you certainly know when you have a Torch in your pocket, over a Bold2....she does feel heavier.

But also, the Torch has an air of solidness, and a sliding function, one of definite actions. I like it.

Apart from that, the Torch is a tad thicker, but nothing here or there to cause worry.

I am warming nicely to the Torch. Could I go to a pure touch screen BlackBerry (Storm 3 anyone?)?..... No, definitely not yet.

I personally think RIM have come close to the mark with the Torch 9800, one that comfortably has its feet on both sides of the great mobile device divide: on the one side, a hardware keyboard and on the other side, a responsive touch screen.

And for me, using both to aid in getting things done, is quite nice thank you :)

I see the Torch as RIM's front foot fight back against the likes of Apple and Android, and personally, I am rooting for RIM, and very pleased they are now on the offensive.