Drew Rattray : Design vs. Functionality
Drew Rattray
| News and views on design vs. functionality balance across the communications and technology space.


The BlackBerry Storm 8 Months Later

August 18, 2009

I really wanted to like this Smartphone.  I've tried so hard.  People ask me on a daily basis how I like the Storm.  I can't tell if they ask out of general curiosity, or pity, but I lie either way and say it's great.  It's terrible, but I have my reasons.  Primarily, I really hate to admit failure in my investment of time and money.  Secondly, I really did hope things would get better with upgrades. It's now been 8 months.  There's been a few OS upgrades, and there is reports of a new model possibly surfacing in November.  It's time to set things straight.

Official review from someone that used the BlackBerry Storm extensively for 8 months:
Run, don't walk away from this BlackBerry.

It had so much potential, so much promise... so many bugs.   When I wake up to the alarm on my BlackBerry Storm every morning (that it decides to work), I glance over at my night table and all I can think about is the "F" word.


No wait...  Failure.  No, maybe Flop.  Or maybe... nahhh can't say that here.

As soon as I depress the screen (multiple times for it to register) to activate snooze for the 5th time, I know all I have to look forward to with my hand-held headache is a full day worth of cursing as my little black and chrome friend refuses to work, lags out, hangs up, or just turns off for no reason.  Sometimes I don't even get to hit snooze.  Those are the mornings I wake up on my own due to the failure of the device overnight.  Those mornings are my favorite.  And by "favorite" I really mean the phone is lucky to still be in one piece at that point.  Those are the mornings that some type of battery or hardware failure occurred overnight and I am greeted with a white screen and an icon of a battery with a blue lightning bolt through it.

Those are the special mornings that I get to take the next couple of hours trying to get the phone to take a charge, pulling the battery, and holding buttons on boot screens, until finally I hit the perfect combination of random events that tell my BlackBerry Storm to come back to life.

Speaking of battery pulls, it's a daily occurrence.  Sometimes multiple times a day.

Verizon Redeems Itself with

June 5, 2009

If you read this blog semi-frequently, you know about my love / hate relationship with my BlackBerry Storm.  I'm normally fairly quick at announcing my reaction to the latest releases regarding this phone, but I purposely did not announce the release of BlackBerry Storm OS last Sunday.

Why you ask?  Because I don't trust Verizon anymore, and I didn't want to suggest downloading anything that could drive a BlackBerry Storm user closer to launching this phone off a cliff.  I wanted to put in a few days of testing and see if this really is the update we were all waiting for. 

Time to Abandon the BlackBerry Storm?

May 15, 2009

I've been a strong supporter of  the BlackBerry Storm since it's announcement last year, but it may be time for me to cut my loses.  I expected a buggy phone with it being the first generation model.  But... I also expected RIM and Verizon to fix said bugs with OS updates. 

BlackBerry App World is Here!

April 1, 2009

They missed their March 2009 launch by a day, but who cares... it's here.  RIM and BlackBerry® take their next step in the ongoing competition with Apple and the iPhone.  Finally an application store for our BlackBerry's, which is something I've been envious of that iPhone users have been waggling in front of my face for a while now.

If you have a PayPal account, and if your BlackBerry smartphone meets the system requirements, then you're ready to start.

Pandora Available For BlackBerry, But Not The Storm

March 19, 2009

Google Latitude is Just a Bad Idea

February 19, 2009

For those of you not on the up and up with Google Latitude, it's a free application that works with Google Maps and basically allows mobile users with GPS to upload their exact location to friends, family, and anyone else they allow.

Google has recently released a new version of Google Maps that now supports GPS for BlackBerry which includes the Google Latitude application.  I decided to try it out with my Verizon BlackBerry Storm and after about 30 seconds of letting everyone know where I was, I freaked out and turned it back off.

I'm addicted to my BlackBerry now, but it took a lot for me to finally upgrade to a smartphone.  I like being accommodating but not instantly and entirely accessible.  Even with those feelings, I can currently be found with my BlackBerry Storm by calling, text, AIM, Yahoo! Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, BlackBerry Messenger, Google Talk, Facebook, and E-mail me at 4 different accounts.  I admit, it's a bit much, and I find myself living in this phone.

The times I don't want to be found... I ignore that flashing red LED.  But, with Google Latitude I won't have that luxury.  If I don't pick up, I could potentially find that persistent (and now forever creepy) person tapping me on the shoulder minutes later.  I've got enough common sense to not allow questionable people to have my GPS fix in the first place, but sometimes you don't realize who the creeps are until they do something pretty creepy.  What's that quote you always hear on the news from the old lady who lived next to the mass murderer?  Something like, "He was such a nice man. Very normal...

Slacker Radio Beats Pandora to the Punch

February 9, 2009

I'm a Pandora addict.  It's always playing in the background on just about every computer I sit down at.  I have been dying for Pandora to release an app for my BlackBerry Storm because I've recently gotten myself back in gear and into the gym 4 or 5 nights a week.  It'd be nice to just bring my Storm and some headphones while I work out, and get a nice variety of music that I didn't have to purchase or spend hours organizing into "perfect" playlists.

Well Pandora dropped the ball, even after myself and others have repeatedly harassed them over the past month or two. Slacker Radio beat them to the punch and is now available for the BlackBerry Storm.  It's a sweet little application for streaming internet radio, and even has a function to cache a song to listen to later offline.  You can get artist bios, album reviews, can ban artists from your stations, and the music continues to run while you use other applications on your phone.  It also has a nice landscape design that works well with the touch screen functionality of the Storm.

Honestly, I'm very impressed, and have even switched my computer over to Slacker Radio to really test what it has to offer.  Who knows, the switch may be permanent.  It really appeals to me when a company tries to stay on top of new technology, and makes sure it's accessible across all formats.

Who's the slacker now Pandora?

Weather the Storm

January 27, 2009

I'm exceptionally bad at checking the weather, and with the way this winter is going, I'm bound to get into trouble as a result of it sooner or later.  There's been a certain buzz  today about the snow and ice coming tonight and tomorrow, and honestly, if my fiancée hadn't said anything while I was walking out the door, I probably wouldn't have known about the storm until I found the roads covered in 4 inches of snow in the morning.

It made me realize that I really should start using my Verizon BlackBerry Storm for this type of thing.  It's always on me and has the functionality to keep me in the know with a simple touch of the finger.

I've found that it's not too difficult to check the weather using the browser on the Storm, but it's not very smooth either.  On the BlackBerry Bookmarks Home Page, there's a weather link that navigates to WeatherBug.  Once there, you plug in your zip code and you can get pretty decent reports and alerts.  But as always, I'm looking for a better, faster, and easier way.

While browsing for Storm 9530 Apps, I managed to find a unique WeatherBug application.  The application has a simple design and utilizes the touch screen functions of the Storm fairly well. One feature I found helpful, is that it will find your location through a GPS fix.  If for whatever reason your GPS is on the fritz or you don't want to wait for it to find your location, you can plug in locations as favorites and slide through them with a quick touch of your finger.

The application also features an icon that updates itself to tell you what the current conditions are for your area (if you're not near a window), the current temperature, and the high/low of the day.  Basically, you actually need to open the application if you just want a quick update on the weather outside.  Well... you could do that or just get off the computer for a minute and walk outside. 

Inside the application there is a current conditions page that tells you anything you want to know including temperature, wind speed, dew point, and much more.  You also get a 7 day forecast, which if you slide further too the right has detailed descriptions for night and day forecasts for every day including precipitation percentages and possible accumulations.  There's also a radar feature to see the conditions around your area, an option to view the conditions through the camera of the weather station you selected, and a weather advisory button to display alerts for your area.

The app is free and you can download it here.

The PerfectStorm?

January 18, 2009

Pandora for the BlackBerry Storm?

January 7, 2009

I usually have Pandora, the internet-based radio station, running in the background while I work, and I see the ads showcasing the Pandora application for the iPhone just about every time I log in.  In fact, Pandora for iPhone just went 2.0, adding new functionality to an already well designed application.

So I have to ask...  where is version 1.0 for my BlackBerry Storm?  Why can't I join in to the Music Genome Project from one of the most advanced mobile devices on the market?  I can't even access Pandora through the web browser on the Storm.  Pandora Mobile already supports Sprint, AT&T, and Windows Mobile phones.  Why not support the latest and greatest from Verizon, the soon to be largest US Carrier?

When emailed a request for a Pandora app for the Storm, this was the reply:

Thanks very much for writing.

Each version of Pandora software for a portable device needs to be separately developed and approved by the cell carrier. We're currently working to bring Pandora to more devices including the Blackberry.

I don't know exactly when it will be available for the Storm but I would encourage you to stay tuned to our "On the Go" page for updates: Pandora Radio - Listen to Free Internet Radio, Find New Music for updates.

Thanks for listening in the meantime!

Tom K@ Pandora

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