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Old 04-18-2006, 10:18 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Thoughts re. BB, Palm Treo, and Windows Mobile

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I've been using a BB 7100t for over a year now. It's a great little device for e-mail and it syncs (mostly) with my Mac using PocketMac. I constantly compare the BB, Palm phone devices, and Windows Mobile devices. As yet I have not found a unit with a well-rounded feature set. I suppose it depends what you need to have but here are some observations.

--- Blackberry ---

Third-party Blackberry support lags far behind Palm and WM. Maybe I haven't spent enough time trolling through BB software sites but the excellent utilities I have found are really expensive ($50/year for an IM client?) and/or buggy.

The BB is not only a data device but a phone and it should do those functions as well as any other phone. It does if you compare it with phones from 4 years ago. No voice dialing? No camera? From a PDA perspective there's no w-fi and no modem support - what a waste. I suppose these last three features aren't requirements for everyone but they're becoming, if not already, standard on a number of competing devices.

The BB 8700 is a blazing fast device and runs rings around my 7100 - in the GUI and EDGE. If only we'd get a Skype client, an improved Mac sync solution, and more affordable software.

--- Windows Mobile ---

The UI is a mess but there's no mistaking they throw in everything but the kitchen sink. Standard apps are excellent (well, good anyway) and third-party software overflows.

Too bad certain carriers don't opt for the 300, 400, and 600 MHz CPUs (*cough* T-Mobile's MDA) or Verizon's superfast but still clunky MDA sibling.

Until Microsoft gets the UI right we'll keep watching the horizon for a decent device.

--- Palm Treo ---

I was a Palm user for years. It's an easy interface to use, tons of software, and excellent sync software for PC or Mac. Too bad the Treo 650 forgot to include wi-fi, included a crappy camera, had spotty performance, and allowed some carriers (Sprint) to disable useful features.

As a company Palm seemed to just give up the ghost and let Microsoft's awful Windows Mobile take over the market. Perhaps they'll get it right with the Treo 700p but will Palm be around in a few years for it to matter?

--- Future? ---

I feel the 8700 platform can propel the BB into a more capable device. Forget the "government security" speech and just give me the option of having a camera and voice recorder. Pricey third-party software (and little to no open-source going on) leaves it an expensive choice for what you _don't_ get with the device.

Windows Mobile hardware is wonderful - too bad it runs Windows Mobile. I may look at the upcoming HP iPaqs or even the Motorola Q but the former will have terrible battery life or reception while the latter is (yet another) Verizon-only device.

I may start holding my breath for a Palm OS-based Treo with wi-fi. I could pull out my dusty software collection and do everthing I'd like at a fraction of the cost of BB software.

It seems every year the manufacturers miss something that would make a good device an excellent one.
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Old 04-18-2006, 10:40 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Instead of the standard good-fast-cheap triangle, I'd say that it seems that the triangle for these devices is cheap-full featured-reliable. Every feature that you add comes at a price, whether it's in dollars or otherwise.
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Old 04-19-2006, 06:35 AM   #3 (permalink)
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i have to support pda's in a large doctor's office. we have half using treo 650 and the other half on blackberry. maybe we are getting the wrong cd's sent with our treo's because "excellent" would never be word to describe their syncing software. we have support calls all the time and most are syncing problems. i despise the treo 650 because i am always fixing them. the blackberry users only need help when they first get the device (how to use them efficiently) and then i almost never hear from them again. if there are any problems with the blackberry devices it always turns out to be user error.

i really do not know much about the new windows mobile, but when the announcement of the treo 700 was released i pass it around the treo 650 users and joked that palm found the fix for their problems.

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Old 04-19-2006, 07:30 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I think that you're forgetting what RIM's primary market is. Corporations. We want a device that is reliable. MP3 players and cameras don't belong on a phone. The BB does what it does extremely well. So far nobody has come close to that functionality. And it's not only 'government security'. It's also a lot of corporate security. It's also becoming just security. Many gyms and community centres will require you to leave your cell phone at the reception des these days.

I support 10 BB. Had to replace 1 in the past 2 years. Every 2-3 months, I have to reboot the BES because it gets stuck. Counting the time I spend here, I spend about 1 hour a day supporting the BBs. Can't say the same thing about WM or Palm devices.
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Old 04-19-2006, 07:58 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Canuck, you're right, but there's another market out there that wants the same thing as corporations: small business. This market is gigantic.

I'm talking about businesses with 20 or fewer employees that can't (or won't) make the investment in BES and exchange or notes. This market wants BES-like functionality in BIS - OTA calendar sync as well as full email functionality. To me, BB is *almost* there. I have high hopes for the Yahoo deal.
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Old 04-20-2006, 12:11 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CanuckBB
I think that you're forgetting what RIM's primary market is. Corporations.

Agreed.

I see the BB appealing to a wider audience (i.e.: mass consumers) because in many cases it's a better device than Windows Mobile or Palm.

Maybe what's confusing to me is why there is no third-party application to fill the gaps. I hate to harp on that voice recorder feature but I tried leaving myself a voicemail and it's a pain in the neck. Perhaps it's not possible to write such an application due to the security features of the device.
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Old 04-20-2006, 12:55 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I used a Treo 650 on Cingular once, I'll never use it again regardless of what improvements they claim to make... I've ranted enough here about Treo's but let me tell you a blackberry just works!
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Old 04-20-2006, 01:05 PM   #8 (permalink)
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For foolish reasons I won't bore you with, I bought a BB and a Dell Axim 51V at much the same time. The Axim came first, with its wi-fi and Windows Mobile. It was AWFUL. A real struggle to set up, never got the email working well outside of the office (which is what I wanted it for, as I travel a lot) and setting up the wireless connections demanded a degree in IT - and a creidt card!

Two weeks later my 7100t arrived. Yes, it's clunky. Yes, it's not pretty. But - it WORKS and it has been a fairly simple learning curve (thanks to this forum). The Axim forum is dreadful.

And I think that's why the BB wins. It does what business users need - email, internet and diary. And it does it anywhere I can get a signal - which is most places - without having to do a complicated set-up and buy usage time. So I can get on with my business. And that's just terrific.
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Old 04-20-2006, 01:52 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mistermix
I'm talking about businesses with 20 or fewer employees that can't (or won't) make the investment in BES and exchange or notes. This market wants BES-like functionality in BIS - OTA calendar sync as well as full email functionality. To me, BB is *almost* there. I have high hopes for the Yahoo deal.
Actually, this opened up an alternative market. I have at least one friend and know of a number of companies who are making a killing by hosting applications and support for small business, which includes hosted BES and Exchange servers. They effectively create large-corporation entity at the small business level (in much the same way hosted telephony companies are creating large-pbx impressions.) To my way of thinking, RIM had exactly this in mind, and it would not surprise me in the least if they didn't release a small-business edition BES precisely to meet this market segment.
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Old 04-21-2006, 10:03 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I think that trying to equate these tree mobile platforms is an excersise in futility. They are way too different from each other and designed for different purposes.

If you want rock solid and secure email, all the basic Outlook folders sync'd in wirelessly, and a decent phone, then Blackberry is it. Nothing else comes close, especially behind BES. Anything else is either cobbled together or is a security and infrastructure mightmare at this point. Just don't expect to do much else (although with the 8700 that might be changing).

Windows Mobile is the swiss army knife or leatherman tool of the PDA set. It literally is a PC for your pocket. PC style UI, file system, etc. And like a PC, you can do most anything with it. It's a jack-of-all-trades and while not quite a master of any of them it usually gets the job done.

I'm not sure what Palm wants to be. Between their Palm OS devices, the Life Drive, and the Treo 700w I'm not sure they know either.

Now if RIM would just release a 7100 style Blackberry that could be used as a wireless Bluetooth modem by a Pocket PC mobile life would be grand. Having an unlimited data plan trapped in a Blackberry is a serious waste of potential, I think.
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