Why BlackBerry?

Advantages of BlackBerry: Why BlackBerry?

Thanks to Mark Rejhon For Creating this FAQ
BlackBerry is only for businesses? Not anymore! BlackBerry can now be for everyone – individuals, consumers, kids, even hackers and hardcore computer users. BlackBerry can be fun too – You can now run chat software today more efficiently than many other handheld wireless devices, for example! MSN, ICQ, IRC too!

Yes, other handheld devices have email. But what makes BlackBerry stand out? Why is BlackBerry called Crackberry by addicted users? There’s push available for other devices such as Goodlink for TREO. Unfortunately, all of them are more proprietary — you have to pay a huge arm and leg for these solutions. Apart from the big $$$$ you have to pay for other push email solutions, don’t forget the other BlackBerry advantages:

(Note, this list below applies to full BlackBerries, not the 7100 series)

Longer battery life:

Blackberry consistently lasts longer than other handhelds like PalmOS. Example, on the 7280, you can even run instant messenger software for 100 hours nonstop always-on, untethered, with the screen constantly turned on (with backlight turned off). PalmOS: Certain models of PalmOS machines have excellent battery life. PalmOS handhelds have much faster CPU’s which drain batteries faster

Ruggedized (Is this really a word?):

Blackberry handhelds survives drops much better than other handhelds such as Treo’s or iPaq’s. PalmOS: There are some models that are ruggedized, but on general, BlackBerry is far more ruggedized – The 62XX and 72XX series easily survives drops from waist height to asphalt, and often survives worse accidents than that too.

Data Loss Prevention:

You can yank the battery out of your BlackBerry for a full week and put it back in one week later, and all your data is still there. Everything is written to flash ROM on the fly, even your email drafts, so you don’t need to make backups like you would with Palm or iPaq. PalmOS: The new Tungsten T5 now works this way; using Flash ROM instead of RAM. This may become a more common feature in future handhelds. This is a SORELY needed feature for us who hate the Palm/PocketPC tendancies to lose data occasionally.

Security:

All connections use 128-bit encryption. Therefore the applications need to be signed before they can be accessed. The Blackberry comes with the capability for a remote-controlled lobotomy in case your Blackberry is ever stolen. Blackberry also requires cyptographic signing by RIM before the application can access the BES or databases, assisting with the prevention of viruses or spyware.

Email Software:

The email on the Blackberry is superior to the other wireless push email software, even the recently available Treo push email software; PalmOS: You can use Goodlink to improve things on the Treo platform, but it’s still a Palm platform with the included disadvantages listed elsewhere.

Stability:

Uptimes well over 60 days are getting common on BlackBerry nowadays. Not nearly as common for Palm and iPaq handhelds. PalmOS: Much harder to have this stability especially after adding lots of third party software that runs 24/7 in the background.

Always On, No Connecting Needed:

The BlackBerry is like a wireless Cable/DSL connection. It’s always there. No connecting needed. It may not be as fast as a home cable/DSL connection, but it’s always-on. PalmOS: Most models require you to manually reconnect especially after it’s been in standby for a while, or you turned it off. It is improving though.

Configuration Free:

No need to worry about configuring email software to automatically start up when resetting a Palm; no need to worry about whether the email software is running in the background or if it has crashed. The RIM handheld ensures that email is running at all times; by making it impossible to exit the push email software by accident. PalmOS: If you accidentally exit the email software, oops. This is impossible on BlackBerry — you cannot exit the email software. There is no “QUIT” menu item in the BlackBerry email software at all!

No power button needed:

Unlike on Palm/iPaq handhelds, on the Blackberry, it uses so little power, you just put it down — no need for a power button at all. You can electronically turn off via menus, for those times like airplanes, etc, but with email reception of 4 to 9 days (assuming data-only usage) there is almost no need to turn off the unit. You get email, the email shows up immediately on the screen, and you can put it away immediately without touching a button or screen, if email is not important. No need to click “Do you want to read this message?”, the email is automatically displayed pager-style when you pull the BlackBerry out of your holster. PalmOS: There’s often a power button. This is an advantage if you eat up a lot of battery power, but the BlackBerry uses so little battery power, that all models of BlackBerry (Except BlackBerry 7100) has no standby or power button at all, you can just put it down or holster it.

More Idiot Proof:

Using a touchscreen is lots of fun! But, some people argue that a touchscreen is a disadvantage when it comes to a mission critical pocket device. It takes more steps to correct mistakes caused by accident caused by a stylus tap, than caused by an accidental button press. It’s very easy to execute sequences of memorized button keypresses to do specific things, and it’s easy to correct an accidental wrong-button press. So that’s why some of us believe touchscreens are a big hassle for a mobile device — because of accidental taps messing things up, especially when you put it inside your pocket with the screen turned on. PalmOS: Usually, more problems occurs more quickly on a Palm handheld with random stylus taps … than with random button presses on a BlackBerry. Yes, PalmOS is more flexible but there are over 10 open source applications written recently for the BlackBerry and it is starting to explode.

BlackBerry Explosion

In Year 2004, BlackBerry software went through an explosion. At the beginning of 2004, there were only 2 chat software programs available for BlackBerry. At the end of 2004, there were over 15 chat programs. The BlackBerry software explosion continues in 2005 and beyond. Software that did not exist 6 months ago, now exist! Even scientific calculators, word processors, spreadsheet software, photo viewers, are now available on BlackBerry!

For the hardcore computer users, BlackBerry is getting more and more open source software too — It’s just a matter of time before Linux sync is available. Most applications do not even need RIM to sign it. And even so, RIM recently signed open source applications, including BlackChat (to permit it to hook into Notifications; something you don’t want a virus to do). Please see the Developer Forum for a listing of open source J2ME software; we need more open source developers for BlackBerry!

While iPaq/Palm may have more software, and better multimedia handhelds (GPS navigation, MAME emulator, 3D videogames, MP3 playback), they don’t make very good wireless productivity handhelds. I, myself (Mark Rejhon), have both a BlackBerry and an iPaq. Currently, my BlackBerry gets over 90% usage and my iPaq gets less than 10% usage.

BlackBerry PIM

Don’t forget — BlackBerry PIM is no longer inferior to the default Palm and PocketPC PIM, ever sinceBlackBerryOS 4.0. You can now out-manage a Palm/PocketPC using a thumb keyboard with shortcuts found in BlackBerry Calendar Tricks and other BlackBerry Tips and Tricks. There is now even a third party “Today” style program for BlackBerry, if you like such a PocketPC feature! BlackBerry PIM is not inferior anymore nowadays – this is now finally a myth. For more information, see BlackBerry Myths Busted: The Modern 2005-Era BlackBerry

If you are a Sidekick user comparing a BlackBerry to a Sidekick, you should check this BlackBerry Versus Sidekick post

Tip For Computer Programmers: If you are a programmer, and prefer a certain feature such as Linux compatibility, here’s an idea. Instead of looking at inferior “push email” alternatives, I urge you to help us write a Linux synchronization utility for BlackBerry, now that it is technically possible to do so! Why not write your own open source sync software for BlackBerry? The PocketMac people successfully reversed engineer the BlackBerry synchronization, they may be able to help!

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