Blackberry Advice
September 16, 2004 10:39 AM   Subscribe

My gf wants to buy a Blackberry. She knows zip about them and isn't that tech savvy. She's on a Windows machine at work and plans on getting a Mac for home in the future. I know lots about Palm devices but nothing about these things. What's all the advice you got on Blackberries? Models to avoid/ get, tricks to do with them, good sites w/ reviews, best places to buy, etc. Thanks!
posted by dobbs to Technology (12 answers total)
Wait a little while. There's a new one on it's way: go very good reviews in the NYT a few days ago, it costs about half of what the older ones do.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:44 AM on September 16, 2004

I've played with various RIM devices over the years, having been one of their large institutional customers since before they even provided BlackBerry -- back when it was just a pager.

As far as I'm concerned, the only device worth purchasing is the now-discontinued RIM 950. It has all of the usual PIM features, calendaring, contact list, todo, and so on, and fits right in the hand. You may be able to get refurbished models without a lot of trouble.

All others share some awful design flaws: the PDA-like form factor does not work well at all for RIM keyboards, and the units with telephones are worse. The ergonomics on those are so bad that when you hold the telephone to your ear, your thumb sits on the "disconnect call" button.
posted by majick at 11:16 AM on September 16, 2004

The new version is the 7100t, which is supposed to be significantly better at functioning as a cell phone as well.

TIME review

Gizmodo page with links to several other reviews
posted by rorycberger at 11:35 AM on September 16, 2004

What about the Blackberry vs. the Treo? I thought they were about the same, feature-wise. Anyone have any experiences?
posted by jjg at 12:27 PM on September 16, 2004

I've got a 950 and it's nice, but you really need to have good signal everywhere you're going to take it. There's no signal in the building I work in, and if I don't remember to turn it off* the device spends so much effort trying to find a signal that it will eat two batteries a week.

*or turn off wireless on it
posted by ursus_comiter at 1:31 PM on September 16, 2004

The ergonomics on those are so bad that when you hold the telephone to your ear, your thumb sits on the "disconnect call" button.

Only if you're right-handed.
posted by jjg at 1:36 PM on September 16, 2004

I have a Blackberry 7230 (tmobile). It's very good as a portable email box. The fast email and slow web browser are so good that it can be my only computer for a few days to a week.

Great keyboard and screen
Good email and text messaging
Good HTML web browser, but 28.8-like speed
OK PIM features (I don't care about these and, even if I did, on small devices, a pim is a pim is a pim.)

Weird UI. Not even close to as integrated and functional as Dangers Hiptop / Palm Treo. Even MS Smartphone is better I think. This is a design decision to go for business users and adults (big fonts, many accelerators, road warrior focused).

No Mac Sync. Sync with Windows (Outlook, whatever) is supposed to be great. The Mac sync is third party and I've never seen it work.

It's a big phone. The shape of the 7230 is a pda form factor, not a phone. This is ok for me -- I've got big hands. But women who pick up my blackberry do the "fake talk on it" and find it big for their hands.

The 7100t (and the 7100v) are going to fix the is-it-a-phone-or-is-it-a-pda problem. I'll consider upgrading.

One question is: What does your GF want it for? A phone first and a pda second and email third? An email device that's also her phone? An email device only? There are phone-like smartphones and then there are crazy integrated devices.
posted by zpousman at 2:44 PM on September 16, 2004

You could also look at the new Sidekick II coming out in the next couple of weeks from T-Mobile (PC World Review). I did like the original and the color Sidekick, but I will warn you that it probably isn't too business-friendly at this point, if that's what you're looking for. That being said, the interface is fantastic, and apparently many of the problems with the original models have been resolved with this new design (reception, durability). More info also available on the forums at
posted by shinynewnick at 2:52 PM on September 16, 2004

"950... the device spends so much effort trying to find a signal that it will eat two batteries a week."

Update the firmware. Versions 1.6 and above of the OS fix this.
posted by majick at 6:43 PM on September 16, 2004

I have a blackberry 7750. I love it. Access to email all the time, and I check metafilter on it via lofimefi all the time. As zpousman said, connectivity is akin to a dial up modem, which is annoying, but still amazing to be able to do, say, in a cab on the way to or from work, or in a mall somewhere. Have contacts, address book, calendar, etc. Typepad is fine, and it anticipates various spelling issues to help out with the difficulty of caps and apostrophes on such a small keyboard (automatically caps "i" when it's a 1 letter word, puts an apostrophe in words like "wont" etc.). I have NO PROBLEM using the phone on this model; to disconnect the sucker you really have to hold the key down, so I have had no accidental disconnects.

That new model looks sweet, though. If the tiny tiny tiny keyboard isn't too tough to use, it might be worth waiting for.
posted by onlyconnect at 7:39 PM on September 16, 2004

I also say have her look at the Sidekick II, especially if she likes using AIM and/or Yahoo IM. The web/email experience is also better than what you get via a Blackberry. And since she's probably in Canada, she can get it via Fido instead of the awful T-Mobile.
posted by gluechunk at 12:36 AM on September 17, 2004

Thanks all. I'll forward her the thread.
posted by dobbs at 7:31 PM on September 17, 2004

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