It wasn’t long ago that early shots of new BlackBerry 8100 colours for T-Mobile emerged, and now blue, light gold, and red Pearls are all available for the more fashion-conscious among us. Alongside the announcement is confirmation of the aforementioned $9.99 e-mail-only plan, for the casual BlackBerry user. Up here, we’ve had the red Pearl on Rogers for awhile now; maybe we can hope to see a spot of T-Mobile’s other colours elsewhere soon…?
We all have fond memories of NTP, don’t we? That’s right, those guys who sued RIM for patent infringement last year, and eventually settled? Shortly thereafter, they moved on to Palm. Well, now they’ve turned their sights onto major U.S. carriers AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile, armed with grievances of the wireless e-mail patent flavor. The lawsuits were filed in a Virginia District Court on September 7th., and will prove to be yet another long, drawn-out legal battle. Man, these guys have got some cajones, going after industry giants like that. NTP doesn’t do much beyond sit on patents, which is clearly proving to be a lucrative business.
Empower, the guys who did the HTML Mail Viewer, have opened up a beta for their next project: the Empower BES Mailbox. It’s a simple little app that keeps your BES e-mails in a separate area from your personal and SMS messages, making sorting through e-mails much easier. They’re offering a free 10-day trial of their beta, for those in the BES boat and are tired of getting business and pleasure all mixed up.
It’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.
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.
When 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).
Pocket 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)
Engadget’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.
Algerian 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.
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?
Miblackberry 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.
RIMarkable 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.
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.
For 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.
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…