Chronicles of a Windows Mobile User Gone Blackberry: Part 1

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Today I received a T-Mobile Blackberry 8820. It’s my first attempt at really getting to know a Blackberry device. I have not even gotten through setup of email or syncing or anything. After installing the desktop software it told me I need to reboot and I can’t do that yet so it will have to wait.

Here are my first impressions:

I was pretty confused when trying to navigate the Blackberry operating system. It is not remotely intuitive and I expect I will need to consult the user manual. I suppose the one “menu” button is simple enough to learn, but sometimes the menu is pretty long and you can’t see all of the options at one time. It’s good that you can type the first letter of a menu item to jump to it, but a lot of the menu items begin with the same letter, and you still have to press the middle action button to activate the command.

I did figure out how to launch the “Maps” application, but quickly encountered problems. First of all there was no indication of what I can do with this program. It just shows a full screen map. I pressed the Blackberry button again and it brought up a menu. I selected “Find Location” and then “Where I Am”. A dialog showed up saying “Searching for satellites…” and stayed there for hours while I was walking outside. It never found my location. However, if I cancel that and go to the “Start GPS Navigation” menu item, it shows a different “Searching for satellites…” dialog and then quickly shows my location on the map. I thought I’d go back to the “Find Location” option and see if it worked now that I knew the GPS hardware was working. Alas, it still would not work.

The next problem arose when I tried to get it to direct me home from work. There’s no “Enter Destination” command so I figured maybe I needed to do the “Get Directions” command. Since the “Where I am” option doesn’t work as a start point, I entered the City and State. It wasn’t easy to do this since I would press the middle trackball button after I was done typing thinking it would “apply” the text as an enter button might. Instead it brought up a paste menu, and I would choose “Close” thinking that it would close the menu that I just activated. Instead it closed the whole dialog and I lost everything I typed. Then once I got an address typed, I would accidentally overshoot the “OK” button with the track ball and hit the Cancel button… again losing everything I just typed. A little bit frustrating. Anyway, after I finally got some directions, I selected “Show on Map” and then “Start GPS Navigation”. All it did was show a little red arrow of my GPS location and a purple highlight of the directions it calculated. It did not give me any voice prompts for turns, nor recalculate the route if I took a different street. So.. this doesn’t seem like it’s a very good GPS navigation device for people who drive cars. Maybe it’s better for walking. Are there any “real” GPS navigation programs available for Blackberries?

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About The Author
Adam Z. Lein
Adam has had interests in combining technology with art since his first use of a Koala pad on an Apple computer. He currently has a day job as a graphic designer, photographer, systems administrator and web developer at a small design firm in Westchester, NY. His love of technology extends to software development companies who have often implemented his ideas for usability and feature enhancements. Mobile computing has become a necessity for Adam since his first Uniden UniPro PC100 in 1998. He has been reviewing and writing about smartphones for Pocketnow.com since they first appeared on the market in 2002. Read more about Adam Lein!