AfterThought: Hating to love the BlackBerry
After a strong debut last week, it’s nice to see our pal L.M. Lloyd back in the saddles with his second edition of AfterThought. This week, L.M. gives a rundown as to why he hates to love the device we all love… to love. Another strong showing. Thank you, sir.
Ah, CES! All the new gizmos gathered together. A million seductive whispers promising you everything you could ever dream of, sometime in the next two fiscal quarters. CES always reminds me why I hate the BlackBerry, but also reminds me why it is the device permanently attached to my hip.
At CES you see all the dreams of what a mobile device could be. GPS, 3G, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Wi-Max, VoIP, desktop-class processors, amazing displays, voice recognition, millions of desktop-grade applications available, DVD quality video, CD quality audio, video conferencing, gigabytes on gigabytes of storage, expandable, programmable, easy to use devices that can get your mail from anywhere instantly, browse the web effortlessly, and still fit in your pocket!
It is a dream that makes the BlackBerry look like a drab piece of plastic, sitting uselessly in my pocket. It sounds wonderful, and I want to know where I can buy the dream soon as possible!
Of course then the drab reality sets in. How much will it cost? How long will the battery last? Will the device get too hot to touch while I’m using it? Can I see the screen outside on a sunny day? Will this work with my service provider? How is the reception? How much more will the additional service cost? Does it come in any other color? Will it work with my existing headset? On, and on, and on, until all the magic has been banished, and all you are left with is a pile of moribund compromises.
The device that does everything you could ever want, for two hours and then the battery dies. The device that lasts all day, and looks really exciting, but crashed three times in the ten minutes they were demonstrating it. The device that is everything you had hoped for, but costs $3000. And that, my friends, is exactly where the BlackBerry comes into its own, as the king of the boring compromise *sigh*.
You see, I’ve been using handheld gadgets practically as long as I can remember. Dating all the way back to the days of odd Japanese clamshell electronic organizers, I have always had some little bit of portable computing I had to take everywhere with me. I have been a sucker for more devices than I can even keep track of, and every time I have hoped that this would be the one that would deliver on all the seductive whispers of a perfect mobile device.
Unfortunately, they never do. Some have gotten close, but there is always something ‘wrong’ with them. Something that overshadows all those great features, and makes the device an unbearable pain to carry around. The BlackBerry has more ‘wrong’ with it than most devices I have ever carried, yet it is the only device I have returned to after trying other alternatives. It is a device that there is very little to get excited about, a lot to be disappointed about, but there is very little to actually hate. It is almost the definition of safe and boring.
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