Friday, June 26, 2009

Pearls of Wisdom - my renewed love affair with my Blackberry Pearl

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.

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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.

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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..

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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,

Chris Butterworth
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