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PERSONAL TECHNOLOGY

 

 

July/August 2006 Issue | Volume 32 Number 5 | Page 44
Features

 

By Adrienne C. Nelson

Over the years, I have known many people who have BlackBerrys and other handheld devices, but I have never felt the need to own one. I am one of those people who reluctantly got a cell phone and to this day doesn't know how to use its features, other than to answer calls and send messages. I am also a person who didn't want to get a PDA. I felt organized and efficient enough with my address and memo books, with their numerous Post-It notes and torn slips of paper inside. So when I was offered the opportunity to review the new BlackBerry 8700c and actually agreed to it, it was a leap for me.

But everyone should try to learn new things? Right? Right.

Here, step by step, is my firsthand experience as a new BlackBerry user.

 

Out-of-the-Box Basics

As soon as I receive the BlackBerry, I open up the box and make sure that I have all the information and items I need to "properly" use this strange new device. In the package, I have the BlackBerry 8700c (with a SIM card for a service provider of my choice), along with a battery, AC power adapter, USB cable, hands-free headset and BlackBerry 8700c holster. I also find a BlackBerry desktop software CD, as well as the BlackBerry safety and product information sheet and the software license agreement and warranty booklet.

Having assured myself that the box contains everything I need to begin using the device, I read through the "Getting Started" guide and learn what all the buttons and icons mean. As I read the section on how to set up convenience keys, I chuckle to myself because I think that it will take me some time to decide whether I want to change the preset convenience keys, let alone decide what I want to change them to and to actually do it. But I'm excited as I go through the guide and figure out how to use the track wheel. I can use it to scroll or if I push it in, it will be an entered button. Now I am ready to use the BlackBerry.

 

A False Start Out of the Gate

Thinking that I'm good to go, I turn on the device … ugh, it doesn't come on! What to do? I get a technical service representative on the phone in a relatively short time and she is very helpful and understanding. Once I describe what has happened, she determines that the battery was dislodged during shipping and asks me to turn over the device. I think to myself, she must be a risk taker because I'm not technologically astute—but I'm open to new things. Right? Right.

So I take a deep breath and attempt to take the back cover off of the BlackBerry. Wow, it comes off with little effort. Then I take the battery out and put it back in, put the back cover on and turn the BlackBerry off, then push the power button and the device turns on. Yeah!

The representative, sensing my lack of experience with the BlackBerry, then walks me through its features as well as the programs that are pre-installed on it so that I will be comfortable exploring it. I also learn through the conversation with the representative that many of the programs, such as AskMeNow, and numerous games, such as Bass Assassin and Texas Hold 'Em King 2, are free after a nominal one-time fee. I thank her for her time and patience, and we end the call. Now I'm ready for the tryout.

 

It Gets Put Through Its Paces

After I install the desktop software, I start to carry the BlackBerry with me everywhere. I use it to make calls and check e-mails. I get on the Internet at a moment's notice and have questions answered using the AskMeNow feature. I can make a to-do list as I'm walking around or waiting for my next daily task. I feel increasingly confident as I use my new toy. I get bold enough to change the wallpaper.

I like using the BlackBerry. It is convenient because I don't have to carry a cell phone and PDA. And it is more efficient because I can sync it with my desktop and can update it with my work calendar, so I know where I should be and at what time. The cell phone reception is great, and I can use the Web with ease. Plus, I like the fact that when I'm on the Internet, I don't have all the advertising and pictures like I do on my computer screen. (Although as technology improves, I'm sure they will show up on the BlackBerry, too.)

The rest of the house chimes in. Interestingly, my teenage daughter and my groom-to-be showed an interest in using my BlackBerry. Both of them are much more comfortable using gadgets than I am, so I was curious what their opinions of my new device would be. My daughter (who's a sophomore) took it to school with her and liked using the Internet for school research. She also liked the size of the device. But she has not shown any other interest in it— while the BlackBerry is helpful, it is not as necessary to her existence as her iPod or cell phone.

My fiance is an engineer and almost instantly became one with the BlackBerry. Before the BlackBerry, he would talk to me in the car and while we were doing various tasks. Once he had the BlackBerry in his possession, though, he was constantly typing some inquiry, using the Web, checking his e-mails, using the AskMeNow feature to keep up to the moment on the NBA playoff scores and who knows what else. I have to admit that I didn't like his change of focus—it is weird to be in the same vicinity as a person who's so focused on typing on a device that you seem invisible. But I did realize that he really found the BlackBerry mine.

The bottom line. As for me, I think the BlackBerry is a very useful device that can be used to navigate all the various parts of your life. With its light weight and small size, it is the closest thing in technology to carrying your computer with you. And I have to admit that I like it.

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