Monday, September 26, 2011

Blackberry Bold 9900 Breathes New Life for RIM

As a smartphone user of many years, the Blackberry has been a staple on my belt since the early days. Research in Motion (RIM) has been one of those companies who over the years were considered the darlings of the Smartphone industry and the maker of the email junkie's most prized possession. Crackberry came from the term Crack addiction where it's hard to put the Blackberry down once it's in your hands. However the fall from grace for the Waterloo, Canada company wasn't something anyone expected. Over the past couple of years, smartphone makers like Apple, Samsung, HTC & LG have all but eaten RIM's lunch, and now have their sights on their dinner.

For the most part of the past two years, other smartphone makers have been innovating and creating smartphones that users love to use more than a the Blackberry. While Apple and others focused on the user interface, RIM was asleep at the wheel not doing much to change it's square boxy look or it's user interface. With the new Blackberry Bold 9900/9930, RIM finally brings something new with both a touch screen & keyboard. Having owned just about every Blackberry T-Mobile has ever offered, I'd have to say that the Bold 9900 is the best Blackberry ever to come from RIM. It is sleek, thin, light, and has a vidid screen that is eye-popping. They keyboard is the best ever as well. While I also carry an iPhone4 as my primary phone, the Blackberry has always been my texting & email phone. Browsing on a Blackberry although supposedly better on the Bold 9900, isn't that much better from previous models in my opinion. This is the first ever 4G Blackberry, but keeping 4G on requires lots of battery power and charging before the day is out regardless of how you are using the Blackberry.

The real test for me is if this finally does away with what I consider to be the most annoying thing about the Blackberry, the dreaded black clock that pops up out of nowhere and pretty much brings anything you are doing to a screeching halt. Much like the hourglass on a PC, this can appear & lock up the Blackberry for minutes at a time rendering your BB useless until it runs it's course. Sometimes it can be a few short seconds, other times it can go on for minutes. Adding insult to injury is if you get a call while this is on-screen, you're caller is out of luck in reaching you because pressing the answer button is all but useless. Every blackberry since OS 4.0 has had this problem, and I prayed that with OS7 RIM finally got this one right. They didn't. In contrast, my iPhone rarely has anything remotely similar to this flaw. I call this a crash because sometimes I get a message telling me a certain BB module had to be closed by the OS due to some kind of failure. Most of the time I'll be in the middle of typing a BBM, text message, or Facebook post when this dreaded clock appears to stop me in my tracks, as if to say "do you really want to write this?" Yes I do as a matter of fact I do!

Overall, the Blackberry Bold 9900 is a nice effort from RIM. But will it turn the tide and stem the bleeding of users who have sought refuge in Apple's iOS or Android? Probably not. Blackberry's marketshare has been sliding over the past two years and it continues to lose customers as well as market capitalization given it's stock price has dropped dramatically over the past two years. Blackberry hoped by introducing it's new Torch 9810, Torch 9830, & Bold 9900/9930 ahead of the new next Gen iPhone expected to be available in October. Personally this will probably the last Blackberry I ever buy, and am thinking of giving this one up altogether. For a $350 ($299 after $50 rebate), this phone shouldn't be still acting like something from 2008 which is when BB OS4 was introduced. With more memory, faster 1.2Ghz processor, and a new OS, this Smartphone should scream, not screech. Sorry RIM, but fool me once, shame on you. Fool me three times, shame on me.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ipad2 Sends The Competition Back To The Lab

Apple has done it again kids! Putting out the thinnest most sought after tablet computer. Less than one year after introducing the world to TRUE tablet computing, the core of computing is once again sending the competition back to the drawing board with it's latest offering. Thinner, lighter, faster, sleeker, and more feature rich. This biggest difference between the first generation iPad and the iPad 2 are the disappointing quality dual cameras for taking both photos and videos, but also for video-conferencing or Face-Time calls between iPads, iPhones, and Macbook laptops that have webcams. Face-Time is Apple's no nonsense software that easily allows two face-time enabled iOS (iPhone Operating System) devices to connect & talk to one another. Other new options on the iPad2 is the fact you can get it in a White or Black Bezel, Choose 3G Models sporting radios from either AT&T or Verizon (original iPad was AT&T only) if you wish to have the option to connect to a cellular network on the go where this is no WiFi available. Both companies offer varying plans that are pretty much similar, so choose the company that has the best coverage in the areas where you will use the iPad2. You have a choice of 16GB, 32Gb or 64Gb capacity for $499, $599, or $699 respectively--Add $130 if you want the option to add 3G to your iPad. If you currently own an iPad there is no real compelling reason to upgrade from that unless you want the cameras or video-chat. Who really wants to hold up a 10" device to take a picture especially when most of us carry camera-phones with built in cameras that are much higher in quality than those Apple decided to use in the iPad2. Yes the iPad2 is noticeably faster given it's faster processor and speedier graphics chip, and it is slightly lighter and thinner, but these are not reasons to dump your old in favor of the new-wait for the iPad3 where significant changes will come to the display (some say retina high-density displays) that will be worth the wait and upgrade cost. Although the price of the iPad2 is in line with the original iPad, most retailers have followed Apple's lead in cutting the price of the original iPad by $100 while supplies last, so if you don't need the cameras, you'd do well enough to buy & save on that. What does the future hold? iPad3 of course, but don't look for it for at least a year--why would Apple rush to update something it already can't keep on the shelves of retailers, especially when there is a 2-3 week wait to get one!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Drobo FS: The Ultimate Storage Device

So you ask, what's a Drobo? Drobo is a simple no frills device made by Data Robotics that allows you to store your important data & files using a storage device that can hold anywhere from 4 to 8 hard drives of any size. What is special about this disk array is it is better than any Raid setup. You can use any four drives of any size, and your data can be protected against the failure of any single drive without losing a single byte of data. As your needs expand, so can Drobo. Simply replace any drive with a higher capacity drive on the fly and in a few short hours you have more space to store more data. Should any drive fail, the Drobo will notify you by displaying a different color light next to the drive that needs replacing. It's that simple. We've been using Drobo for years & can say that it has never failed us or my company, and our clients all swear by it for low cost data backup. There are several models, one of my favorites is the Drobo FS which can hold up to 5 drive with capacity up to 16 Terabytes if you populate each bay with a now available 3Tb drives. See the video below for a better look at how it works.

Learn More About Drobo

There are several models of the Drobo which can meet every need with various interfaces to suit any system including USB 2.0, eSata, Ethernet, Firewire 800, and even iScsi. Pricing starts at $399 without drives, and you can buy them populated with drives or without them. Visit for more information and pricing.