I've been quiet for a while, what with Conversion here at work, and overtime, and all that good stuff. Considering all the news on the forums, and clamoring over battery-door sloppiness and screen distortion, I decided I'd put my 2 cents in. I don't mean anything personal by what I say, so don't take offense.
I'm coming from a Storm, and I agree with BBCrackman that the Storm and Tour are two completely different devices, but since people target those two phones in these reviews, some of my stuff will relate to my experience with both.
As typical, pros in blue and cons in red.
Amazing Contrast/Resolution on Screen, text is super easy to read in any condition (direct sunlight/indoors/should be sleeping but someone sends you a message)
Quick, really quick. I don't care what version of 151 my Storm ran, (no offense to the amazing hybrid builders), but there is no way my Storm could keep up.
Excellent call quality - I've only made a few calls on it, but so far, with all the same settings as my Storm had, the call quality is noticeably different.
Speakers are suprisingly loud - this is one thing that kinda got me down about my Storm, it was loud, but never sounded good loud, my Tour does high volume with little/no distortion.
Running these apps: pandora, berryweather, IM+, Facebook, Myspace, Google Sync, Google Maps, VVM, App World, Mobihand App Store, Quick Launch and a few others (yes, I like my apps), my Storm would boot at 42 megs free, within 2 hours, would be at 10 or less. My Tour with the same apps boots at 104 and after a full day of use is at 102... seriously... that's almost an inexcusable amount of memory leak compared. And granted, the Tour is newer equipment with more app memory. Understandable.
Running those same apps, on both phones, cause I've done that since Tuesday to get a feel for battery life, taking both phones off the charger at 10:00 a.m., my Storm will be dead by 8:00 p.m., and my Tour will be at about 30%, and I use my Tour all day, consistently, since I get bored fairly easily at work when we do slow down, like we have now. My storm just sits there, for curiosity's sake
The battery covers are coming undeniably a little loose, however, this is by no means a dealbreaker, I've touched around 15 Tours now from the people I know who have gotten them, and their battery door movement ranges from... moving a non-measurable amount to moving a non-measurable amount. In all honesty, each one I touch does move, but I would hardly call it a deal breaker, or even unacceptable. Every review I've personally read makes it sound like a really huge deal, I guess I just don't get it. But, it is there, I'll agree.
Screen Distortion from button pressing - this I have noticed, and it does bother me, not enough to switch back to my Storm because it doesn't happen all the time, but I do notice when it does.
My "i" key seems to be missing presses, or I just haven't had enough time to resituate to the keyboard.
Overall, I gotta say I love my Tour. I look at it this way, with the last hybrid, my Storm was pretty alright, and the colors were looking great, but let's face it, I shouldn't have to install a Hybrid to make me want my Storm. I shouldn't have to load the OS every week to see if I can control the memory leaks without losing an app. I did it because I wanted to love my Storm. And yes, it has a big screen which is good for watching movies on your phone, but to me, I enjoy watching movies on my Tour - smaller screen, but every movie I had on my Storm that was on my SD card looks better on my Tour's screen. I also don't sit and watch movies on my phone for long periods of time, 15 minutes here, 30 minutes there - no lengthy flights or waits at the airport or anywhere else. Maybe if I did, I'd prefer the Storm to watch movies on.
I haven't had to do anything to my Tour to make it good, it just was, right out of the box. Yes, there are some bizarre quirks about it (the screen for one, and evidently some people getting some really wobbly backs), but it isn't near as quirky as my Storm was right out of the box, not even comparable.
The Tour is going to be a solid replacement for 8830. It will be the trooper in the business world for a few years to come I'm sure.
The Storm is flashy, stylish, it is the Touchscreen that everyone desires nowdays, but to be honest, it is not a business blackberry. It isn't reliable (with the Carrier Supported OSes) because, as many people have said before, every Storm is like a snowflake... you can't base your business around hardware that can be as dramatic as some of the people who use it.
For those happy with the Storm, I'm glad you are happy. Use the device you enjoy.
For those looking into a new blackberry, look at your options - for fun, personal use a Storm is probably your choice, but if you're all about business, the Tour is what you are looking for.
Welcome back and may I say very well done on your summation of the Tour.
It was just 2 days ago that my wife was concerned that her 9530 was just a little to much for her.
After reading your review alongside our resident mods reviews, I have come to the decision that we will be exchanging out her 9530 for the 9630.
I needed a bit of time to see how others were adjusting to move. I felt like I have been a beta tester from day 1 with my Storm so after a week of reviews I think I'll be adding a new addition to the family today.
Thanks for the welcome back, and I'm glad I could help someone see the light that is the Tour in my mind. I will post my continuing views on both devices as long as I have both Tour and Storm in my possession.
As for the battery life for me so far, about 2-3 hours for a full charge (from a dead-state battery), I haven't exactly timed it, but will tonight. My battery life with heavy BBM usage/txt usage is about 12 hours. My phone seems to really hang onto 20% battery tho, I will say that.
The Blackberry Tour is my 3rd Blackberry SmartPhone. My 5th Blackberry device if count Blackberries prior to Smartphones. I have also owned Windows Mobile, two iPhones and an iPod Touch, and a Treo 650. So that breaks down to something like this:
ē Treo 650
ē Blackberry 8800
ē Blackberry 8310
ē iPhone (EDGE)
ē iPhone (3G)
ē Motorola Q9h (WinMo 6.1)
ē Blackberry 8310 (Simply returned to my old Blackberry)
ē BlackBerry 9630 Tour
And thatís just the Smart Phones. If we were to go into PDA land, this list would be a mere 20% of the actual size it should be. Iíve owned well over 6 PALM devices, 2 BlackBerry PDAs, 2 WinCe PDAs and believe it or not, many more including a Blackberry fortified with Yahoo and AIM based Blackberry devices back in the old days.
My employer sees these devices come and go. And one day he asked me why all the different devices? Why not settle on one? And I tried very hard to explain mobile nirvana. And how hard it is to find a mobile device that actually does what you need it to do. It seems like such a simple task. And yet itís so far proved to be absolutely impossible to find a single device that actually does what I want. This is in sharp contrast to my PC. I have a NetBook and a Verizon MiFi, and it does exactly what I want. It is the perfect duo for travel. I like it so much, I often use that duo rather my much larger, more powerful, and of course faster laptop which sits on top of a 18MB/down, 2MB UP broadband.
Getting what you want in mobile devices is seemingly too much to ask for. And as a result, I tend to switch as newer devices release. The most notable SmartPhone I have owned; my favorite in other words, was the AT&T Blackberry Curve 8310. I liked this device so much, I returned to it after 2 iPhones and 1 WinMo phone. I actually looked all over the place for it and re-activated it one day. And when I did I breathed in that sigh of relief that is so rare. If you have ever been lost, and looked around for something familiar to give you guidance and not found it, then you know you are lost. And if and when you do find a familiar landmark, you breathe in the feeling of relief because at that very instant it doesnít matter that you donít have a clue where you are. You know that landmark, and if you walk towards it you know you will find your way eventually. Just the sight of it is a relief. Thatís how I felt after my conversation with AT&T to re-activate my 8310. I knew I would soon be home again. But does that mean I would be in SmartPhone nirvana? No. It just means I was in the possible proximity to SmartPhone nirvana. Perhaps SmartPhone Nirvana is a myth not meant to be sought after because given our state of technology itís simply not a reality. More and more I believe that, which leads me to the BlackBerry Tour.
The BlackBerry Tour
As time marches forward those that make the devices we come to depend on must re-invent those same device in order to convince us to discard old reliable for something even better. It would seem this is a difficult task, but in reality all of these soon-to-be-former devices were made at a time when their respective technologies were less mature than those same technologies are today. Our dear manufacturers have the head start of being able to give us higher resolution screens, faster network access, greater storage capacity all at the same price or perhaps even less. That leaves our manufacturers with yet another task. That task is to make the experience even better. To take full advantage of these more mature technologies.
So without further delay, I looked for those changes in the experience and found a few that make the upgrade worth the money. I also found a few things that disappoint me and make me wish I was a man of unlimited means so that I could travel to Canada, knock on the doors of RIM, demand to speak with those that believe their work is done or even acceptable, and ask this one simple question; What were you thinking? And of course, after waiting for them to take the bait and come clean, which they never will, I would have to just tell them what they did wrong, as if they donít already know.
First the good, and then the disappointment.
The Screen / Interface:
The first thing anyone will notice about a new SmartPhone is how it looks. We are drawn to a great looking device and we hope the phone lives up to that great look. With the Tour, we have a far better display than that of the Blackberry Curve 8310. The screen is crisp, and operating system updates give the theme a more refined look. We have more space for the sake of having more space. Just one row on the bottom for the items we need to see all the time. I have Messages, Visual Voice Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Tasks and MemoPad as my bottom line. As I am an Exchange / Outlook user, these are the applications I will use the most. Everything else is secondary and RIMís realization of these two tiers is perfect. It gives me a cleaner look. Itís less clutter, a little visually stunning, and yet adds to functionality at the same time.
More than skin deep:
But once you go deeper into the organizing body of these icons in the interface you find more refinements. The IM clients have their own place in their own folder, bit the way folders are defined is more refined in itself. The folder blends more into the interface and feels less like a folder and more like organization. In the past I hated to leave an IM client in a folder, insisting it be on the Home screen. Not this time. The folder is the perfect home. And I must admit it is largely due to the ascetics of folder. Folders have become a pleasing place to visit and organize your applications.
There is now a Download folder which brings the BlackBerry closer to a true OS. And in fact, I came from version 4.3x of the BlackBerry OS and into 4.7. This OS from my perspective fills in quite a few gaps. In the old days if I had an item attached in email, the only way to get the item to someone else was to forward the email. Now I can detach the item, store it in my media card, create a new email and attach it. Thatís one step closer to SmartPhone nirvana.
Like all computing devices, itís all about the software. Iíve used a few ActiveSync devices, but in the end I had to admit to myself, for sanity reasons of course, that the BlackBerry BES method is the best. And I couldnít go on with lesser technologies. Itís one of the bigger reasons I left iPhone and WinMo for the Blackberry (again). Itís very difficult to accept less than what we already have. Thatís not progress. Progress is to move forward. But not just forward, itís even more than that. Itís forward in a meaningful way or in the way that means the most to you. You can move forward in 9 of 10 ways. But if that single tenth way is the one that truly matters and the others all combined do not offer as substantial a reason as that tenth, then even that one tenth is more meaningful. This is why any review that gives equal weight to all features is a review not worth your time. Different features carry more or less weight of importance. They are not always equals. In fact, they are seldom equals. Having BES over ActiveSync is a huge feature. It trumps quite a few features on other phones. Even great games, superior eye-candy and fun media-based applications. All of that doesnít matter if an email in which you have a $31,000 commission gets to you 2 hours later than it should. If a $199 phone can cost you $31,000 is lost earnings, I think youíd agree that the eye-candy isnít worth it. The number-one feature any SmartPhone can have is reliable delivery of email. Your millage may vary of course. But in Stale Pancakeís book, this is not just a rule, it is THE RULE.
Are you a task or a calendar?
My tasks are very important to me. There is a new feature where I can tell my tasks to show up in my calendar. If this was there before, I never noticed it. This puts much needed context around my tasks. Itís one thing to know that something is due. But to know that the something is due on a Thursday is meaningful, because I work with clients all over the world. My 5:00PM pacific time is 9:00AM in Hong Kong the next day. That means, Thursday at 5:00PM my time is really 9:00AM Friday in Hong Kong. Thursday night is the last chance I have to work with my partners in Hong Kong before their weekend starts. And on Sunday at 5:00PM my time, I can catch them on their Monday at 9:00AM right at the start of their work week.
I donít think in North American Pacific Time. I think in terms of Hong Kong, Taipei, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States. And to make things a little more interesting, I am an avid investor who needs to pay attention to extended hours, pre-market hours, and the standard trading hours. Living on west coast as opposed to my peers in New York makes my life that much more interesting (difficult). If I wanted to make a trade at the start of extended hours, Iíd have to be up at 4:00AM my time.
One of the great features of the Blackberry is the blinking indicator light. Lesser phones force you to actually pick up the device and check for messages. I thought we got past that when answering machines of the mid-80s started to have message indicators. Absolutely a plus of the Blackberry and a negative of all other (almost)SmartPhones.
Clock / Alarm:
Yet another great new feature is the clock. Again, a seemingly small feature, but not at all. I have my alarm set for weekdays. If I run the clock on Thursday I see easily that the alarm is set for Friday. I see the time it is set to. I donít have to look for this setting, I just see it like a real alarm clock would normally tell you that yes, you did set the alarm so no worries go to sleep and I will wake you up. Look at the clock again on a Friday, and the alarm is not there. I set it for week days only, and itís smart enough to show me that no alarm will bother me on my Saturday morning. I adore little things like this. If youíre going to pretend to be a clock, do it right. And RIM got this right.
Visual Voice Mail:
Oh yeah, this $2.99 a month option from my new carrier, Verizon, is great. If you canít see your messages, how do you know they are there? I suppose you could call your service and check, but thatís not an organized thing to do. The phone should show you what you have. Itís as fundamental as knowing you have email in my humble opinion. Thatís why this icon is to the right of my email message icon, which is my first icon.
The Phone app:
Notice that the phone app is gone. There is no app with a phone on it. And if you liked to use a convenience key for that, you donít need to anymore. The green phone key is the phone app. Click on the green phone key, then the option key and you will have the option to call into voice mail if you donít have visual voice mail. Itís a very quick and easy way to get to your messages. Not as quick as Visual Voice Mail, but better than what was. And you can save that left convenience key for something else.
More Memory Space:
Perhaps one of the best new features is the much improved application space. One of the single most important updates there is on this device is the amount of free space left to the user. Gone are the days of having less than 22 MBs of free space. And for power users, often less than 6 MBs left. On top of that, each time I buy a new BlackBerry I get a little more included at no charge in terms of software.
Applications are there:
Once you turn on the new Tour, at least from Verizon, you will find many applications ready to install and in place in the phone. Go to the IM folder, and there are ready to install icons for MSN, YIM, AIM, GoogleTalk, and BBM.
There is a GPS enabled map app that is no longer locked out of GPS functions from Verizon. You donít have to use the VZ Navigator. Flickr, Facebook, MySpace, Calc, Documents2Go and more also included at no extra cost at all. The calculator is actually awesome this time. And as for games, you a little more than just BrickBreaker. You also have Word Mole, Texas HoldíEm, Sudoku, and Klondike.
Need to send someone else a contact from your contacts? No problem. How about see the contacts address in a map? Easy as pie. How about send the contact card via BBM. Very easy. Spell-check is there, unlike other SmartPhone which claim to world-class. These are the features every business person needs. You donít need 3rd party software as these functions are built right in there.
Extra Crispy Please:
I used to pull my hair out over the low quality of trying to view PDFs and JPEGs. Those days are over. The screen is higher resolution, which results in a far sharper image. And the built-in PDF viewer allows us to zoom in which then re-renders the PDF at that magnification. No more blur and itís truly a thing of beauty. In the past, I wouldnít dream of authoring artwork mass printing solely by what I saw on my BlackBerry. Today, thatís all changed. I can view PDFs and JPEGs with confidence.
Of course with a faster processor, more memory and sharper / higher resolution display, we have all the benefits those baseline-features suggest. Your applications look better. You see your emails in more detail than ever before. Videos, and pictures are that much better. A 3.2 MP camera with autofocus and flash certainly help as well. The quality bar has been raised substantially. And depending on your prior vantage point, this well could be quite the upgrade. It is for me.
But like all honeymoons, there is always something left to strive for. Something you hoped would be and is not. For me that was this whole business of music management.
Remember I wrote that Iíd like to fly to Canada? I said I needed to knock on the door of those who felt their job was done and done well, and I just want to ask them what the heck they were thinking. Thatís how I feel about the music management.
On what planet does RIM actually believe ROXIO resembles anything good in life? This is easily the worst. In fact, itís so bad, I have to say it again. Itís the worst. No, I still feel more needs to be said. Roxio is the worst. The worst. The worst. Oh my God, itís the worst!!! Maybe if I shout that from the roof tops Iíll feel better. ROXIO IS THE WORST. No, I still canít seem to articulate how awful Roxio is. How much disdain and hatred I feel towards that loathsome, horrible, disgustingly worthless software called Roxio Media. Please, anyone tell me why it isnít better to simply drag and drop music right in the folder than to use that disgusting, awful, lousy excused for programming?
Why RIM? Would you ever think this is a good thing? Why would subject your customer, the life-blood of your very existence to this horrible, awful, disgusting worthless software? WHY?
Verizon / Rhapsody:
I couldnít get this to work. I got up to the 4th level at Verizon this morning trying to get this application to work. At the forth level on RIM support the guy told me point blank, just copy your music over. Itís what he does. I said, I wanted something to manage playlists. A few seconds later, he said, try iTunes with BBís own Media Sync. I tried this on 3 different PCs and each of them came up with an error which caused the app to close.
So RIM, I have one question. Who is it that works there that is responsible for making the Blackberry more consumer-ish? I ask because I am curious to know why this person is not unemployed. You wish to get your product in more consumersí hands, correct? Then why would you stop so short of doing this the right way? Do you know why Rhapsody has failed to gain any consumer marketshare? Because it is awful. So you try to attach to iTunes. Makes sense, except why is it those three separate machines fail to work? Let me ask something, did you do your testing with only MP3s loaded in the iTunes or Windows Media Player, or did you even bother to see what happens if high-duration media is in there? Because no customer is constrained to tight controls such as having media less than one hour and of a certain type only. I read that many believe the problems stem from content over 60 minutes in duration, which is why I raised that specific issue. Why do your customers have to do so much testing? Donít have Quality Assurance Testing at all?
Learn from others:
Apple is successful in the media space because their product works in that space. And I believe RIM is successful in the business-class space because their product works so well in that space. RIM, you based your whole company on your NOC and your ability to reliably deliver messages to the device. What if you decided as a company that you would put even 10% of that effort into music? Donít have 3 music apps; instead have one that works. Have one that you cannot break. Donít base it on .NET or anything else easily broken and difficult to fix. Users donít know .NET. They donít know where to uninstall it and re-install it, so donít use it. Use a real app that actually talks to the Blackberry. Make sure you cannot break it. Make sure it manages music, playlists, podcasts, and video. And make sure itís not iTunes. Make it your own app so that you have absolute control over it. Make sure that whatever playlists I make in your app are replicated to my BlackBerry. You do that, and the world will recognize you as a media contender instead of someone who partners with the worst the industry have to offer. Why do you believe your customers deserve less than this?
Luckily for this reviewer, the phoneís other features trump the lack of music capability. And so the device is a great device for me. For music I carry a Creative Labs Zen Mosaic. Often I like to listen to the investorís shows like CNBC on my Pioneer XMP3 radio. So the importance for me is not so much. But I still recognize extremely poor software when I see it. And if I worked at RIM and released such low quality music software Iíd blush in embarrassment. Iíd feel guilty cashing my paychecks. The reality that Research In Motion continues to release such poor quality consumer music software should be called out. RIM should strive to do better. I understand your businessmen and have no clue what constitutes quality music sync software. But come on, how hard is it to hire someone who does recognize the correct path to take? You make billions and yet you canít make a music app of your own that syncs? Why? The reason is RIM is careless. Stop being careless and start being careful. Itís how you make something successful even more successful and into a leader. Do you wish to lead or follow? I would think you wish to lead.