12-21-09 11:00 PM
- I'm spending some quality time with my new bb storm on the train from Boston to DC, an thought this might be s great opportunity to share pome thoughts on the storm, broadband. Tethered, GPS, and who knows what else.
My previous bb was a pearl that. Liked a lot, but I wanted a bigger screen. With my New every Two up on the 11th and with Verizon. Being the only carrier with the coverage I need, the Storm was the obvious choice. I read all the reviews and tried it out a couple times, so I knew what to expect.
I had booked lodging and train tickets for the inauguration back on June, so was good to go see the BlackBerry addict in Chief get sworn in.
The trip to DC:
We drove from southern NH to the Westwood, MA train station. This was my first al opportunity to use VZ Navigator on the Storm. It did not disappoint on the big screen, with a great view of the next turn and very readable text. The audio, however, was distorted and difficult to understand -- much worse than on the Pearl. That gave me an idea; why not compare VZ Navigator with Garmin when on this trip?
So, I downloaded the free trial of Garmin for the Storm and prepared to play with both GPS solutions. I decided not to look at Telenav just yet.
My first issue with Garmin was a lack of audio. This led to my first really heavy typing use on the Storm as I plumbed the forums looking for answers I didn't find any in the forums but eventually diagnosed the problem myself. I posted my fix in an appropriate thread. That was a chore because the crackberry pages are slow as molasses on a fully rendering mobile browser.
Typing was also not easy because the cursor would get misplaced in the text box and was very difficult to reposition with any degree of precision. This was true even in cursor mode, and is why I am composing this in the memo pad rather that online.
With my audio issue solved I started using Garmin. I found its maps a notch below those in VZ Navigator but its audio clearer. Also, Garmin loaded maps much slower than VZN, which was particularly noticeable when changing zoom levels. Also, Garmin's maps don't show things like railroad tracks, which made the Follow Me map pretty useless on a train trip.
The local search was another difference. I found VZN much easier to use in this regard because it includes all the search options on one screen. Garmin defaults to nearest first with city location being on a separate screen. VZN also seems to integrate its local search better with the mapping and nav functions, but that might just be a difference in familiarity.
VZN also made it easier to resume a trip if I stopped for any reason. Overall I found VZN to be much easier to use and with better maps. Garmin has better audio and a better pricing plan. No final decision for me yet, and I have more than 6 days of free trial left.
Well that's enough for part 1. Easily the most typing I have ever done on a blackberry in one siting. More on the typing experience and tethering in part 2.01-17-09 10:02 PM
- In part 1 of my crackberry inaugural account, I started my trip from Boston to DC and gave my initial impressions of VZ Navigator versus Garmin Mobile for the Blackberry Storm. In this installment I'll talk about tethering and my overall Storm experience in this, my first week of ownership.
For some unknown reason I had assumed that a train would have wifi available for computer users, but I was wrong. There doesn't seem to be any wifi on Amtrak (Free or otherwise), so in order to do any of my real work I needed some other solution. Luckily my Storm came with a free month of Verizon's BroadBand Access, and this was the perfect opportunity to try it.
My laptop is a new MacBook pro running both Mac OS 10.5.5, Windows XP under Bootcamp, and also Parallels virtual machines for ORacle ENterprise Linux and Windows XP if I so choose. I had installed Verizon's VZ Access Manager software only on my bootcamp partition, so I booted under XP to get up and running.
I initially connected my Storm to the laptop via the USB cable, but this resulted in the device not being recognized. That was odd, because it was recognized when I performed my device swap on the same system. However, I was able to pair the Storm wiht the laptop via bluetooth and use dial-up networking via VZ Access. It was really quite straightforward and simple.
Oh, and it worked. I was able to access my email from work, my email from my own domain, and I was even able to login and fool around a little in Warhammer Online with what seemed like acceptable performance. The latter shouldn't be taken as a testimonal, however, because my ability to do anythign was limited by not having room to use a mouse. The trackpad is not the ideal input device for MMOs.
So, I was pleasantly surprised by the broadband access. I don't think I would make use of it enough to justify the monthly fee, but if I was going to be in a situation where I thought I would need it (say, a long road trip in an RV) then I would probably feel comfortable adding it to my account. And it helped pass the time on this 8-hour train ride.
Another thing that helped pass the time was just typing away on my storm. I wrote all of part 1 on the Storm, and the typing was very usable. I could go back and forth between full QWERTY and SureType, and each is good for different situation. There are, however, some annoyances that I hope can get fixed. For example, I could be tying along and suddenly the cursor would jump back up a couple of paragraphs for no apparent reason. Also, in MemoPad if the cursor got out of position it was tricky to move it back because a touch didn't really have single-letter precision (cursor mode in Memopad would be a nice addition). Finally, there was this oddity where a letter would appear to be under the cursor, and be impossible to remove. I couldn't position the cursor to the right of the stray letter to delete it with a backspace.
My workaround for the latter case was to insert a whole bunch of blank lines at the end of whatever I was composing. THen, if a stray letter appeared or I needed to reposition the cursor, I could just tap somewhere in those blank lines, hit backspace a few times, and be where I wanted to go. Then insert a few carriage returns for good measure and off we go.
Of course typing on a Blackberry still can't approach keyboard speed; I've written this in about 1/10 the time it took to put together part 1 on my Storm. But, it's very usable. I really like the click screen, and would say that most of the early reviews criticizing the typing experience on the STorm were the result of people not taking time to get used to it. And by time I mean just an hour or so of typing to get a sense of finger placement relative to the touch screen keyboards.
I guess it's worth a very brief digression to mention the camera on the Storm. I'm not a huge user of cell phone cameras, but they have their place for those times when you want a quick photo and didn't bring a real camera. The camera on the STorm has the stats, (3.2 Megapixel, flash), and takes a decent picture. But, its shutter speed is so incredibly slow as to make it unusable for anything other than a posed portrait. I have read about shutter speed improvements in the leaked OS updates, and I really hope those are for real.
The final note for this day's trip is about the accelerometer in the storm. Yes, it's sluggish -- but I think I'm getting the hang of it. The main issue is that it responds much more to vertical motion than to horizontal motion. I found that it was much better at changing orientation it I was holding it at 45 degrees or better to vertical than if I rotated it horizontally. I still have to wonder how it can be so precise that somebody wrote a program to use it as a level, but relatively slow in switching orientations -- sounds like a software tolerance issue to me. I only had it flip at unwanted times perhaps 5-6 times all day, and for the amount I used it that seems pretty good.
A couple of additional GPS notes that I didn't put in part 1:
I also wanted to mention one quirk of VZ Navigator: it doesn't support SureType! In portrait mode you will get the SureType keyboard but it's in Multitap mode. There is no option in the menu to use SureType, either. This seems strang for an app that obviously has to have been customized for the Storm, but I had the sam eproblem on the Pearl. I call that lazy product development by Verizon and partners.
On the flip side, I also should have mentioned that I like Verizon's handling of preferences better than Garmin. Garmin didn't give me a choice of voice, for example (but its voice audio was better than any VZN). And, the VZ Navigator preferences are more accessible from various screens.
Anyway, so far, so good. I got to compare and contrast a couple of GPS packages, and I got to play with BroadBand Access for free. There's something cool about writing a post on the storm, then emailing it to myself using the storm as a broadband tethered modem. Sure, I could hst just transferred the file using bluetooth, but why not go overboard? The Storm is growing on me more every day. It has an excellent screen, I have no problems typing on it, and the Verizon network is simply the best where I need to be. More in the next day or so when I've had fun walking around in the crowds and trying to use the Storm as the mobile network gets brought to its knees by the influx of people.01-17-09 10:07 PM
LINK TO POST COPIED TO CLIPBOARD