Blackberry schmackberry… Redux

I mentioned a while back how I had become a very reluctant Blackberry user.  Well, the used 7290 I bought apparently had a sensitive soul: it upped and died very shortly after I wrote that post.

Since I still need one, I had two choices.  Buy another used Blackberry, or buy a new one with a cell phone contract extension…  I couldn’t bear the thought of being chained to AT&T for another two years, and eBay didn’t work out so well, so I turned to that trusty alternative bastion of used goods, Craigslist.

[A quick diversion.  I’m with AT&T because the idea of not being on a GSM network in the 21st century strikes me as crazy.  I go home to the UK often enough & have been a GSM guy for long enough, that the idea that my cell won’t work over there strikes me as just plain dumb.  For reasons I don’t fully understand, T-Mobile don’t operate in North Carolina.  Suncom do, but when I needed a phone plan, they were very expensive.  Since I moved here, T-Mobile announced that they are acquiring Suncom, so by mid-summer, I should be able to get T-Mobile service here too…and my contract with AT&T ends in the fall.  Since T-Mobile actually give a damn about their customers, I cannot wait!]

I ended up buying a more or less new 8800 model.  I know not from whence it came.  And I’m never going to ask.  But the price was right.

It’s all shiny.  Ooooh.  The backlight comes on when you use the keypad.  Aaahhh.  The screen rivals any handheld device I’ve used, and the weird nubbly trackball thing more or less works.  They put the call end key in a much better place, and generally this thing feels less like a UI designer’s nightmare.

Possibly most sexy, it has a built in GPS.  You can run the free Blackberry Maps application and it works with Google Maps too.  Not bad for a directionally challenged individual like me.

All in all, it’s a big improvement over the 7290.

But I still have a number of issues with it.  Still no inbox/sent sync unless I’m running Blackberry Enterprise Server (although I hear rumors of an app called BBerrySync that may save me).  Still no looping on menus, so if you get all the way to the bottom of a list, your only choice is to scroll all the way back up.  And the weird trackball thing highlights anything on screen, not just links/items you can click, which seems like an obvious UI flaw.  As with the 7290, the way it handles attachments is stupid too.

But at least it looks pretty.  All in all, I’d say the 8800 is the phone equivalent of a cliched trophy wife (or trophy husband, depending on your point of view) and I moderately embarrassed to be seen in public with it…