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Review – Pocket Express

Pocket Express 5It’s just about that time to have another go at Handmark’s Pocket Express. We’ve been covering these guys on the ‘Cool for nearly three years now, and we can certainly start taking a look at the long-term evolution of their software. In a nutshell, Pocket Express is a suite of mini-applications that are all accessible from a single page, called PageOne. They offer a few of their channels for free (Travel, News, Sports and Weather), and the rest (like Stocks, Entertainment, 411 Search, Maps, Extras and a cool feature called MobileCierge, which puts you on the phone with a live person who can help you find information on just about anything you need) will cost you $9.99/month. Sounds good, right? Let’s take a look.

Pocket Express 1Presentation
The software is laid out rather neatly in a three by three square, allowing for quick access to services either by keypad or scrollball/wheel. An Extras tab features games, ringtones and other downloadables from Handmark while news headlines scroll along the top. These Associated Press top stories focus almost exclusively on American issues, which are of incidental consequence if you live anywhere else. Since I downloaded the GPS version of Pocket Express, one would hope location detection might include more pertinent content delivery.

Pocket Express 2When checking out any given channel, you’ll also have a banner ads running beneath the headlines. Now, for the free version of the software, it might make sense to throw ‘em in, but if you’re shelling out $10/month, you’d think at very least ads might be taken out. There are a lot of existing subscription models that function on that basis alone (i.e. pay up and you can get rid of the ads).

Integration
Pocket Express 6Pocket Express’ angle on integration is an interesting one. Instead of attempting to work with existing software on the device (such as BlackBerry Maps), Pocket Express is entirely encapsulated, attempting to have all the most useful applications for your mobile on the same screen. After having a chat with the Handmark folks, their big selling point for Pocket Express is the interoperability of each of their channels within the program. To be honest, beyond the convenience of having everything under one roof, the only real talking in between functions is with 411 lookups and mapping directions. Everything else (stocks, sports, news, weather, flights) doesn’t benefit much from being bundled with one another.

(…) Read the rest of Review – Pocket Express (800 words)


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Sneak peak at Sprint’s BlackBerry 8130

Sprint BlackBerry 8130Engadget’s got their hands on some shots of Sprint’s upcoming Q4 lineup, including a BlackBerry 8130. Sprint’s poster confirms that the next-gen Pearl will have GPS, and previous reports have led us to believe that you won’t find both Wi-Fi and GPS under the same hood. Beyond that, the BlackBerry 8130 will be sporting stereo Bluetooth, EVDO compatability, as well as being able to work with Sprint’s streaming TV service. Guess that talk about streaming video support in the upcoming 4.3 OS update was well-founded. The rest of the rumored features are likely to hold up, like 3.5mm headphone jack and external microSD card slot. Keep an eye out for it before the end of the year, as expected.


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Mobilis launches Algerian BlackBerry support

MobilisAlgerian carrier mobilis has recently announced their inaugural BlackBerry support, kicking things off with the BlackBerry 8100 and BlackBerry 8700. Alcatel-Lucent is lending a hand with the launch and support of the devices – if Alcatel’s work is anything like their network expansion in India, mobilis shouldn’t have too much to worry about. As for the Pearl and 8700, they’re solid choices for getting initial footholds in both consumer and enterprise markets.


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Telstra fights to shut down CDMA

Australian carrier Telstra has been trying to bring their Next G service to the continent, which entails shutting down their existing CDMA network by early 2008. However, Australia’s Communications Minister Helen Coonan has blocked the shutdown until it has been definitively proven that Next G will provide equal or better service than the CDMA network, which means Telstra would have to run both for an indeterminate amount of time, which they claim they can’t afford. The whole mess has resulted in Telstra taking legal action against the minister, citing “the Minister has breached her Ministerial duties by making up her mind about the imposition of the license condition to block the closure of the old CDMA network – an integral part of the Next G network plan – even before receiving submissions and evidence from Telstra as to why such a license condition was unnecessary and bad for the bush”. So, who’s right here? Does the minister require an actual side-by-side comparison to tell if Next G will be an acceptable replacement, or is it good enough to have it all on paper?


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New BlackBerry 8300 charging cradle available

BoxWaveMiblackberry just spotted a new BlackBerry 8300 desktop cradle from BoxWave, featuring an optional extra battery recharge slot. This cradle will do the job, sure, but where’s the style? Just take a look at the BerryBuddy, and you’ve got something that does your device’s good looks justice. (Speaking of which, the BerryBuddy charger for the BlackBerry 8100 is set to launch on the 17th.) BoxWave’s deal will cost you $52.95 for the spare battery charger model, and $32.95 for the standard.


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RIM helps you find free software

Built for BlackBerryRIMarkable has pointed out a new minisite RIM has launched called Built for BlackBerry, which points surfers to some grade-A software that’s either entirely free or has a 30-day trial. You can browse by software category, such as Games, Navigation, and News, but if you’re looking for a full-blown reference, you probably want the BlackBerry Solutions Guide. Built for BlackBerry seems geared towards hooking folks in who are new to BlackBerry software and are still figuring the full capabilities of the device. And hey, our buddies at Viigo are on there, too.


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Reliance launches CDMA BlackBerry network in India

Reliance is breaking out a ton of BlackBerry action in India today, announcing a whole new network for their devices. Spearheading the push is the BlackBerry 8830, allowing India’s corporate users to get better coverage than existing GSM. A CDMA BlackBerry expansion has been in the cards since May, and now that it’s come to fruit, we can see what was going on earlier with that massive expansion. Reliance will be offering the BlackBerry 8830 for Rs 33,990 on their shiny new network.


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Etisalat unleashes the BlackBerry 8300

EtisalatFor any of our United Arab Emiratian readers, we’ve got some news that the BlackBerry 8300 will be headed your way soon, complete with Arabic language support. Given the pace of new device releases these days, it’s impressive that Etisalat is just one short step behind the folks at the other end of the globe, like with the BlackBerry 8800, and it probably won’t take much before Etisalat starts carrying a few of the newer incremental upgrades. For anyone in the neighbourhood, the BlackBerry Curve will be discounted until Wednesday at retail outlets across the UAE.


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BIS service hiccup on Friday

There were reports on the 7th. of a slowdown or full-on blackout of BlackBerry Internet Service e-mail across several carriers and countries. About half of BlackBerry users were affected for up to 8 hours. All’s well now, of course, but the memory of the major outage last spring is still fresh in many people’s minds and has them concerned for RIM’s service stability. Information on network status was still solely through carriers, even when the problem was on RIM’s end. What do you think, guys? Is it RIM’s responsibility to communicate to the end users in these situations, or should their attention be entirely on the carrier? It seems silly to have to wait to get information second-hand from your service provider, when a single page on RIM’s website could save people some confusion…


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BlackBerry 8820 on sale through Amazon

AmazonIf you don’t feel like waiting for AT&T’s soft launch of the BlackBerry 8820 to catch up to your store, Amazon is offering the Wi-Fi BlackBerry to US customers for $199.99. That sounds alright if you’re in a rush to get some Wi-Fi action going, but Amazon has some conditions you have to meet for 3 months in order to enjoy their subsidized cost. For one, you’ve got to pay your monthly bills. We’re presuming you were going to do that anyway, but if you miss just one, you’re liable to be forking over another $250 to Amazon. Second, you can’t disconnect from AT&T and switch over, since AT&T presumably has an exclusive on the device. Third, you can’t switch to another AT&T line of service, or drop down to a lower data plan, and finally you can’t replace your existing account with this one. Yeesh. Might as well just wait for it to hit the stores.


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GSM and HTC share a birthday

BirthdayTwenty years ago today, the Global System for Mobile communications was signed in as a wireless standard which would blanket Europe and put an end to a few niggling incompatibility issues. Little did those 15 operators in Copenhagen realize, by 2007 there would be 2.5 billion people using GSM technology. 1.2 million new people connect to the GSM network every day, and at the given pace, 4 billion people will be cruising the GSM airwaves by 2010.

Ten years ago today, High Tech Computer began their business of quietly outsourcing to the likes of Microsoft for their Windows Mobile devices. Now HTC is the quintessential innovator in smartphones and Taiwan’s most profitable listed firm after weighing in at $1.34 billion in sales over the last three quarters. To commemorate their birthday, HTC cut the ribbon at a new world-class headquarters in Taoyuan, Taiwan.

Happy birthday to these two mammoths of the wireless industry. Hope you have as much fun as these guys.


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RIM was actually the one to rock the summer

iPhoneAlthough we were talking primarily about penetration numbers when it came to iSuppli’s report on the iPhone’s summer performance, apparently some folks were interpreting other comments to mean that the iPhone was outselling RIM’s entire lineup. The opposite is actually true: all of RIM’s phones combined have outsold the two iPhone models 2-to-1 this summer, but the iPhone did manage to outsell any individual smartphone (which is still pretty awesome). iSuppli has clarified the issue thusly:

“iSuppli’s sell-through research and the subsequent press release indicated that the iPhone outsold all smart phone models in July in the United States on an individual basis. While iSuppli stands by this analysis, it is important to note that iPhone’s retail sales did not exceed the combined retail sales of the entire BlackBerry line of smart phones (approximately twice that of the iPhone if taken in total) in the United States in July.”


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