ReviewsPage 4 of 55

First Impressions of the Bold 9900, Torch 9810 and Torch 9850/9860

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BlackBerry 7 fan night
More pictures from the event available from PhotoJunkie.ca.

First of all, can you believe these model numbers? RIM couldn’t have made them more confusing. I have been writing about BlackBerry for years and I simply cannot remember what device they’re talking about when they say 9850, 9860 or 9810. The 98xx doesn’t even represent the same device anymore. You used to be able to write 97XX and you knew the 9700 and 9780 both looked the same, but not anymore. From now on, we’re going to refer to the devices by name only. The following seem most appropriate:

Bold 9900 = Bold Touch
Torch 9810 = Torch 2
Torch 9850/9860 = Storm 3

Recently, we attended the BlackBerry 7 Fan Night in Toronto and we had an opportunity to get some quality time with RIM’s upcoming BlackBerry 7 devices. There are a lot of things to say about these devices with some Pros and Cons for each of them. Generally, these devices are everything we saw last year but turned up around 40%. The user experience is faster, with homescreen switching and app launching all happening much faster (Liquid Graphics), and the web browsing experience is also much faster. The Torch 9850 and 9860, aka the Storm 3, seems to be RIM bringing back the all-touch experience (with trackpad), and it’s probably the most risky of the BlackBerry 7 devices.
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First Impressions of BlackBerry 7: Great Performance, Better Web Browser and More

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blackberry 7

BlackBerry 7 looks just like OS 6 but the software performance is tweaked and the overall experience is much faster. When you’re browsing the homescreen and switching between screens, the device performs really well. One of the downsides of OS 6 was the lag you experienced when perusing the apps; but this is gone now. BlackBerry 7 also brings with it the new APIs that will help developers make more engaging apps such as Augmented Reality apps. Another major advantage in BlackBerry 7 is the updated web browser. Browsing on a BlackBerry 7 device is much faster and the browser is around 40% better than the browser with BlackBerry 6.

The real downside to all of this is that there are still a few major issues we have with the BlackBerry Platform and its user experience that are simply not addressed in the latest OS. For example, the devices still take a long time to boot up and downloading apps still makes your device nearly unusable. Alsop, while it’s great to see new APIs being released for BlackBerry 7, there doesn’t seem to be any news around improving the developer tools. BlackBerry developers are still stuck with some major frustrations such as having to use the awful simulators.

Click through for a few reasons why you should or should not care about BlackBerry 7.
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A Quick Review of 50 Applications for the BlackBerry Torch

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blackberry app list

How many apps do you have on your device? Turns out I have 50. I thought I would go through each one of them with a very quick, one sentence review of each. If you go through the list and know an app that’s better than the one I have, please recommend in the comments. I wouldn’t recommend this many apps as I find the device a little on the sluggish side. If you want your Torch running at full speed, it’s probably best to keep it to a minimal number of apps that you use on a constant basis. Click through for a quick review of 50 apps for the Torch:
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Pachacuti’s Gold: Possibly the First BlackBerry Theme with a Fully-Integrated Game

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pachacuti gold

The problem with saying “the first theme to…” is that there are so many themes out there and it’s hard to keep track of them all. We’re going to start the conversation with saying this is “possibly the first…” because we haven’t come across anything like this at BlackBerryCool. Pachacuti’s Gold is a BlackBerry theme with a fully integrated game.

The theme includes a hidden object game and you go through the various levels unlocking a new wallpaper with each level successfully completed. There are four levels and your goal is to find for yourself to find the long lost Inca gold of Pachacuti. Decipher the captain’s notes to find the items you need to progress through 4 treacherous levels. Overall, this theme is incredibly innovative and brings the customization of themes together with the fun of casual gaming.

UPDATE: It looks like Pachacuti’s Gold was taken off Bplay a couple days ago. It’s still a very innovative theme and hopefully they bring it back.

The major downside to this theme is that it’s only available for Storm series devices. Grab your copy at this link for $1.99.

5 Features Needed for the PlayBook Video Chat App to Really “Work”

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video chat app

The PlayBook hardware rules but the software still needs work. The Video Chat app is a perfect example of this. The hardware is all there, with a front and back HD camera, but the app itself lacks the features needed for it to really be useful. There are five main features that need to be implemented in order for the PlayBook Video Chat app to actually work like you need it to. Here they are:

1. See when contacts are online/offline: A tablet isn’t something that’s “always on”. In fact, the tablet is off a lot of the time. Especially because it requires a WiFi connection. Since you never know when your contacts are online or offline, calling your contacts is really hit or miss. There must be a way for RIM to implement an “Online/Offline” mode for contacts, so that I won’t waste my time calling people who aren’t there.
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