After using a Palm organizer for a few years, and then a Treo smartphone (the big bulky kind with the fat stubby antenna) for 4 years, I finally down-sized to a Blackberry Pearl last year, and I ABSOLUTELY LOVED it! I spent the next few months in awe at how small it was (same size as Cheryl's regular cell phone), yet it could do 99% of what my Treo could.
Eventually the shine wore off, and I've found myself looking around at other phones. Some have full qwerty keyboards, others have better cameras, and a few others have sexy touch-screens & lots of apps. And these don't even count the new "android" phones about to hit the market - phones built by Google and expected to rival iPhones in form and function! But since my phone excels for business (phone, email, text), I was reluctant to jump ship. Instead I spent some time playing with it and "tricking it out."
Here's what I've done:
Memory Card ($25). Doing anything fun, or extending your business use, is going to require memory. I had a 2gb micro sd card, but I just upgraded that. An 8gb micro sd card (with an sd adapter so you can plug it directly into a computer) is only $25, maybe less if you shop around.
Movies & Videos w/ any dvd converter pro (free demo or paid version). Last year I downloaded an application which allowed me to copy dvd movies onto the kids' mp3 player. Doing this for myself, I can now watch Wedding Crashers, 300, or an episode of Entourage on my BB.
Custom Ringtones w/ Audacity (free). Audacity lets you grab any part of a song (just the chorus, or the guitar riff, for example) and turn it into a ring tone. You can then assign different sound-bytes to different callers.
Blackberry iPod w/ Blackberry Media Sync (free). Send your iTunes' playlists to your BB with a couple of mouseclicks. I now use my Pearl as my iPod, with the added functionality of a built-in speaker if I don't have my headphones with me!
Blackberry Radio w/ Pandora (free). Sign up for a pandora account, then download the pandora app to your BB. You now have a smart-radio; you get a chance to give each song that plays a thumbs up or thumbs down, and Pandora will customize a radio station to suit your tastes.
Tethering. Use your BB as your laptop modem to access the internet when you're out and about. Verizon charges $30/month for this feature. Or you can call Verizon and have them activate the service only on the days you need it. They'll prorate the charge ($1 per day), but they'll only let you do this once or twice per billing cycle.
Google Sync (free). I moved to Gmail a couple of months ago, mostly as a way to deal with spam. Once there, I didn't like having to use Outlook for some things and Gmail for others, so I moved my contacts, calendar, and tasks to Google. Now my email, contacts, calendar, and tasks sync automatically without me having to do anything! I haven't opened Outlook or my Blackberry Desktop Manager in over a month - this is faster, easier, and just as accurate!
Voice-activated Google, and Google Maps with "you are here" w/ Google Mobile Apps (free). One-click access to your own personalized Google Apps Suite, along with the ability to voice-command a google search (or google maps search). In addition, when I open Google Maps it displays a little blue dot showing me where I am, a nice feature when I'm driving around an unfamiliar part of town.
Big Sound w/ little capsule speakers ($50). These speakers are tiny and amazingly loud. They can be used individually, or together for a bigger stereo sound. And best of all, they contain a rechargeable battery & plug into your usb port to charge. It takes about 30 minutes to charge them for about 4 hours of sound.
Alarm Clock w/ BBSmart Alarms Pro (<$10). A heavy-duty timer and alarm clock with an unlimited number of alarms and the ability to use songs (and custom-built ring tones) as alarms.
Blackberry App World. one-click access from your BB to hundreds of other apps (some free, some not), allowing you to customize your BB to your liking. This is where I found the Pandora app. (and the FaceBook app, too!)
New Battery ($30). Part of my desire for a new phone was because my battery had gotten old and my talk-time on a full charge was less than an hour. One new battery later and my BB is like new; I can get through most of the day on my initial charge again.
Super Cool Sticker. Well, super cool to a 5-year old. I took J to Ridemakerz for his 5th BDay, and when he decked his dragster out with flames stickers, he put one on my phone. I'm pretty sure it makes by BB a little faster..
What else? OK Blackberry fans - what are you doing with your BB that I haven't mentioned? I'd love to hear your tips!
Your happy to have new love for an old phone Realtor,