Thursday, September 30, 2010

BlackBerry Torch 9800

I recently decided to buy a BlackBerry mobile phone when a friend sent me a copy of his book Learn BlackBerry Games Development.  As a computer programmer, I was pleased to see that BlackBerry provides full support for the cross-platform Java programming language standard.

I became a little worried about my decision when I heard that BlackBerry was being asked by dictatorships to provide decrypted access to communications within their nations so that they could spy on their citizens.  Then I realized that this was not an issue with the other mobile phone manufacturers because they did not bother to encrypt.

I wanted to get a BlackBerry with both a touchscreen and a keyboard but my wireless carrier AT&T was pushing iPhone instead.  I was just about to switch to another carrier when AT&T came out with the BlackBerry Torch 9800.  I was able to get it for just $150.00 because I was due for an upgrade discount on my mobile plan.  That seems like a pretty good deal given that Amazon.com is selling this phone for $729.97, a $30 increase from the day before.

In the past I have had smartphones but I did not bother to use their features.  I let my kids figure out how to set the wallpaper and ringtones for me.  I rarely responded to text messages with text replies as it was just too tedious to use the condensed keypads.  I stopped paying the extra fee for Internet access after I found that I did not want to surf the Web or watch videos on the tiny screen.

Now I am reluctantly paying the extra $25.00 a month to AT&T for up to 2 gigabytes per month of mobile data usage.  Fortunately I figured out how to configure my application to only download my podcast subscriptions when a Wi-Fi connection is available which does not count against your 2 gigabytes monthly of mobile data usage. I am enjoying the NPR science podcasts.

Convergence has finally arrived for this late adopter.  With this mobile phone I decided to dive into it and learn how to use all of the features.  It just seems to have crossed that certain threshold for me personally with regard to the screen size, user interface, and the potential for becoming an important tool in my daily life beyond just serving as a phone.  I am now using my BlackBerry for the following:
  • Phone
  • Texting
  • Ripped CD MP3 music player
  • Jump drive
  • Still and video camera
  • Web
  • Facebook
  • Locating nearby restaurants
  • Audio and video podcasts
  • Streaming audio from Pandora over Wi-Fi
  • Personal e-mail
I was going to use it to connect to my work e-mail but the BlackBerry Enterprise data plan from AT&T would have cost me an extra $15.00 a month.  At that price, I decided I needed to maintain my work-home personal boundary.

I avoided earbuds in the past but I am getting used to them now.  I accidentally figured out that the BlackBerry earbuds have a built-in microphone and that I can initiate voice dialing just by squeezing the cord in the right spot.  I know I look like a schizophrenic talking to myself when I use them but the phone call sound quality and privacy is just so much better than holding the phone up to your head.

I definitely see the need for neuroprosthetic interfaces for devices like this.  A Bluetooth cochlear implant seems like something they should have now.  Retinal input would give you virtual screens of any size.  Peripheral nerve output would give you fine control of the cursor.  Given the future possibilities, I continue to entertain the idea of getting a degree in Biomedical Engineering.  I am currently enrolled in the introductory course Anatomy and Human Physiology and I am enjoying it.

Thus far I am pleased with my purchase and I can recommend it.  Check out the BlackBerry Torch website.

I am just waiting for a touchscreen iPhone user to admit their envy of my touchscreen plus slide out full-alphabet keyboard.  So far this has not happened yet.


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