I recently picked up a BlackBerry Passport after initially pooh poohing its industrial design but then seeing it well-rated by users. I’m happy to say, my initial reaction was wrong… after using the Passport (on AT&T), I like the Passport a lot and find its large square screen and innovative capacitive keyboard to be a breath of fresh air in the world of mobile tech.
If I like the Passport, why pick up a BlackBerry Classic? Several reasons:
- OS: I like BlackBerry10 and how it supports both swipe gestures and keyboard shortcuts (youtube link)
- Hardware keyboard: It just feels more satisfying to type out messages on hardware keyboards
- Hardware quality: Although surpassed by Passport specs, the Classic offers solid build quality
- Mobile OS Competition: BlackBerry is a mobile tech pioneer and I want to support the company in its turnaround
- Pricing: Most phones are priced at $500 or more off-contract, so $449 is an attractive price
My Classic arrived yesterday so I haven’t had it long enough to write a full review. I do like it, and here are some initial thoughts:
- Size: Its size falls between an iPhone 5S and iPhone 6 (H x W) although a bit thicker due to the battery
- Weight: After reading some reviews, I expected it to be brick-like in weight… oy! Unboxing the phone, I was surprised by how it felt “just right,” not too heavy, not too big.
- User experience: I didn’t realize how much I’d enjoy having “Back” and “Menu” hardware keys. Now, I’m nearly always clicking the Back key to minimize and then close apps (works with both BB and Android apps)
- Trackpad: It’s very cute and tiny 😉 I use it to scroll, much the way I use the Passport’s capacitive keyboard
- More pocketable: I love the Passport but it doesn’t lend itself to quickly answering when out walking the dog and I need to juggle holding the leash and the phone. The Classic’s size is more manageable for one-handed use.
Both phones use a nano-sim card so it’s easy to swap out and use whichever phone suits the occasion. I prefer the Passport’s big screen for intensive reading or web surfing (my vision isn’t great, so the larger screen helps), and prefer the Classic for running errands. Over the next few days, it will be interesting to see which phone I tend to use more frequently.
What do I say to folks who say the Classic is a 2011 phone released in 2014? Nothing. After all, selecting a phone is a personal decision — I take into account what I like and works best for me.
A few miscellaneous items that may be of interest to other Blackberry Classic / Passport users:
For desktop charging, I’m using a Belkin dock that works with each of these phones. I’d love to see Seidio release a Classic holster. I have a Blackberry holster on order.
I use a Stilgut book-type case for my Passport, which I use along with the Seidio holster that comes with a case as part of their Surface Combo.
My “go to” apps –
- BB OS OEM apps:
- Maps (I like the BB OS maps, not sure why they get bashed)
- Browser (I ❤ reader mode)
- Connect to Dropbox
- BeWeather Pro
- NY Times
- Home Screen Plus (I like how it subtly inserts weather conditions onto the home screen)
Android OS (generally installed via Snap or Amazon App Store)
I like the direction BlackBerry is taking and look forward to future products. Their current philosophy seems to be in sync with this Seth Godin post, which is a happy thing for BlackBerry users.
Posted in AT&T, BlackBerry, mobile, technology
Tagged BB, BlackBerry, classic, keyboard, mobile, os10, Passport, tech
When Amazon announced the Echo, I dutifully signed up for an invitation since I didn’t have to buy it then and had time to ponder the purchase. When I received the email notification that Echo was now available for purchase (still by invitation), I ordered nearly immediately. I wasn’t sure how handy I’d find Echo but figured there’s only one way to find out… to try it out.
Despite wintry weather the day before Thanksgiving, the Fedex guy arrived on time bearing my Echo (he said he likes driving in the snow and wants to move to Maine :-)). I set up the Echo in the lower shelf of a small side table where I’d previously had my Definitive Technology cube speaker (that I’d gotten for an amazing $180 at Best Buy… love that speaker). I was sad to disconnect my Definitive Technology cube speaker but 1) Needed a spot that would limit the chances the cats would knock over the Echo and 2) Really, just how many BT speakers does a person need in their living room?
Set up was quick and easy using the Echo app on my Blackberry Passport. After setting up the Echo, I paired my Blackberry to the speaker via Bluetooth, to stream Audible.com audiobooks to the Echo from my phone.
So far, my greatest use for the Echo has been to ask about the weather, stream music, and add items to my grocery list while in the kitchen. I’ve always longed to be able to add items to my grocery list from the kitchen as I realize they’re running out, rather than having to go back to the living room to retrieve my phone. Productivity nirvana!
As James Kendrick mentioned in his ZDNet Echo review (recommended reading), Echo makes it very easy to stream music of any genre at the spur of a moment. I like new age (ambient/chill) music and leave it streaming in the background.
The Echo app displays your Echo query history, including graphics when appropriate (e.g., forecast if you asked about weather, or album art when streaming music):
So far, I’ve found Echo to be handy, easy to use, and inspiring. In fact, I’ve thought a lot about future enhancements I’d like to see and submitted them to Amazon for consideration:
- Stream audiobooks from user’s Audible.com library (rather than need to download and then stream)
- Sync with Google calendar, to play reminders already resident in my calendar. (Note: You can add reminders to Echo independently, and that functionality works very well.)
- Adding single items to a list is super easy. I’d love to be able to ask Echo to extend her listening period, in order to add multiple items to a list. (Currently, you can use the Echo remote to make it faster to add multiple items to a list but it’d be very cool not to have to use the remote.)
Echo is cool and one of the most innovative products I’ve seen in a while. I’ve reported a few minor bugs to Amazon. I figure some bugginess is to be expected considering it’s essentially in invite-only beta testing:
- I have the Echo app set to play a confirmation tone whenever I say “Alexa” (this is called the “wake up sound”). The tone is hit or miss, and I’d love for it to play consistently.
- The day before Thanksgiving, I asked Echo when the next holiday was… she replied with an April 2015 date 🙂
I’m enjoying Echo and it’s a great deal for Amazon prime members at $99. If you have questions, feel free to add a comment.