There is no question though about its design. The phone looks really nice, and the details and black finish are beautiful. The "pearl" is easy to use for scrolling and clicking, but I didn't like the SureType keyboard that much.
Everyone loves the BlackBerry because of its e-mail capabilities, and that's where I think it has really performed badly.
First I wanted to install the BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server), which is now free for one licensed user, with up to 15 users per server (the additional licenses are not too costly). But after reviewing the 28 page installation manual I decided not to mess with my Exchange Server, which is running perfectly well, thanks... Instead I decided to use IMAP.
IMAP simply is not good with the BlackBerry solution. The way it works it will only synchronise the Inbox, and since I have server rules moving incoming e-mails to different folders, I lost the ability to see those messages. Then whatever I read on the BlackBerry wasn't marked as read on the server. Neither deletion synchronised between the device and the IMAP server. I couldn't move messages from the Inbox to any other folder, and other problems.
In summary, the e-mail functionality was completely broken for me. There was no way to organise my constant flow of messages with that e-mail client and (lack of) synchronisation.
So, I guess the BES experience could be better, but if folder support is not there, then I will pass... I would just want a BlackBerry Pearl design with a Windows Mobile engine and Exchange Server MSFP under the hood.
You see, I have decided to adopt a laptop as my work machine, thus making way for my current desktop to assume the server role in the house, and the old server box now being sold.
The "old" box is based on an AMD Athlon 2100 XP+ 1.7GHz with 60GB HDD. That box was running Windows XP Pro SP2 as a host, and with Virtual Server 2005 R2 I had two Windows Server 2003 virtual machines (for my Exchange Server and for my Microsoft SQL 2005 testing). This machine is being replaced with my desktop, an Intel P4 HT 3GHz with 160 GB SATA HDD and already running Windows Vista Ultimate RTM. I am also using a 1GB SD card for ReadyBoost.
Virtual Server 2005 R2 runs perfectly well on Windows Vista RTM, and booting the Exchange server is now mere two minutes instead of the previous nine minutes required to have the server fully operational. Also browsing some of the menus and options on the Exchange Server is much faster.
The new Acer Ferrari 5000 (AMD Turion 64 bit dual core 2GHz, 160GB SATA HDD, 2GB RAM and Windows Vista Ultimate) is replacing the Toshiba M200 Tablet PC (Intel Pentium Centrino, 1.5GHz, 60GB HDD, 1GB RAM with Windows XP Tablet PC Edition) and it too has a 1GB SD card for ReadyBoost.
The Acer Ferrari 5000 outperforms my desktop (now the server), with a Windows Experience Index of 4.8 compared with the desktop's 3.8.
The main reason for this change is because I wanted a solution that would provide me full mobility. While I used the Tablet PC a lot while out and about, I always had to synhronise its contents with my deskop, and the laptop wasn't powerful enough to be my main work machine. But the Acer Ferrari is grunty enough to replace the desktop and provide me with the mobility I need.
A couple of things regarding drivers for Windows Vista though... While most (not all) existing drivers may work on Windows Vista 32 bit, it is really hard to find signed drivers for Windows Vista 64 bit. Things are looking good though, with the release of Hamachi's new version with proper signed drivers - this is one of the most important applications for me, allowing secure private access to my LAN at home and to the Geekzone server, which is hosted somewhere else in the cloud.
I am still waiting for proper signed drivers from Vodafone for its Merlin XU870 HSDPA card (so far I've seen the new VMC release, but drivers are not ready for Windows Vista 64 bit) and I am worried about the Disc Stakka not working even with Windows Vista 32 bit.
Another annoying problem is a compatibility problem between Skype 3.0 and the 64 bit OS. I was told this was already reported, but I haven't seen any update yet.
Not too bad, and as pointed out by NotGartner, the Processor index might not be optmised for 64 bit.
So here is my pick for the best mobility technologies in the show:
The Qool Labs SkyQube2 gets the top prize. It's a Skype GSM gateway and has the potential to save you lots of money. Just before you go out travelling you remove the SIM card from your mobile and insert into the SkyQube2. You then configure it to use SkypeOut to redirect any incoming calls to your mobile number to a another mobile number (hopefully a prepay SIM card in the country you are visiting) through cheap SkypeOut calls.
This will save you the roaming call costs. And you can plug the SkyQube2 into a landline and have your fixed line calls redirect as well. Sweeeeet!
The next item I liked most was Agere's BluOnyx. This is a credit card-sized device that works as media storage, media distribution, media server, media manager, media everything. You can connect to the BluOnyx through Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and USB.
My last meeting during the 2007 International CES with with Agere's product managers and engineers, and they put an extra effort to show a good product. I am really looking forward to have one to play with sometime in the future.
Then we have the fabric interfaces... Eleksen manufactures the fabric and the platform for these. Two examples are shown here: the messenger back compatible with Microsoft Windows Vista SideShow technology, and a UMPC bag that doubles as a keyboard:
Next in the list would be the S-Xgen, a Windows Mobile Pocket PC device with a fully foldable QWERTY keyboard. Unlike other Pocket PC the S-Xgen comes with ethernet, USB client, USB host, and dedicated media player keys.
Visiting the AMD stand also revealed some interesting cases:
And just so that we don't forget game consoles, this "Xbox 360 flower" is pretty cool too:
Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of worldwide iPod marketing, has confirmed that while the company is encouraging third parties to design peripherals for the iPhone, as is the case with the iPod, “There is no opportunity right now for third party development”. He told Macworld: “Right now the opportunities are limited to the accessory market.”
This does not mean that companies are exempt from approaching Apple with ideas for applications for the iPhone. Joswiak emphasized that Apple has already worked in partnership with both Google and Yahoo on such applications, but essentially it will always be Apple who releases the software.
Steve Jobs told MSNBC the iPhone won't have third party applications because...
“You don’t want your phone to be an open platform,” meaning that anyone can write applications for it and potentially gum up the provider's network, says Jobs. “You need it to work when you need it to work. Cingular doesn’t want to see their West Coast network go down because some application messed up.”
What about all those Symbian, Palm and Windows Mobile devices out there already? Are they actually a threat to networks?
The market will obviously dictate where this design is heading. There are no doubts the device looks good, and it joins the iPod functionality all users love, with the base feature set expected from a smartphone. So why not go ahead and make it a full fledged smart device, with the possibility of application install, and user management?
We already know that operators are keen to customise devices to suit their brands. We have seen this happening before with Windows Mobile and Symbian devices. In addition to the very cool voice mail interface provided by Apple, I'd expect a set of policy management tools, just to make enterprise and operators happy.
But if it doesn't happen, I want to see the Apple fans come out now and say the Mac OS is an open platform, when comparing with other proprietary mobile OS platforms.
Certainly the market in the U.S. and overseas are going crazy over a 2.5G (GPRS/EDGE) phone, with a non-replaceable battery, and a non-existent developer community. But only time will tell us if this will redefine mobile computing, or just add another competitor to the feature phone market.
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Let's ask some good questions folks!
The following from the Wikipedia entry on OLPC:
The rugged and low-power computers will contain flash memory instead of a hard drive and will use Linux as their operating system. Mobile ad-hoc networking will be used to allow many machines Internet access from one connection.
The laptops will be sold to governments and issued to children by schools on a basis of one laptop per child. Pricing is currently expected to start at around US$135-140 and the goal is to reach the US$100 mark in 2008. One thousand working prototypes were delivered in late 2006 and full-scale production is expected to start in mid-2007.
Marvell (famous for acquiring the XScale technology from Intel in 2006) is responsible for a couple of items in the bill of materials for this laptop, including the wireless networking components.
The device is interesting, but I am not sure about the "rugged" part of its description. It did feel fast enough for browsing the Internet and loaded and rendered Geekzone without any problems. The chiclet keyboard seemed responsive, but I am not sure how comfortable fast typing would be on that.
Alas I couldn't use it for more than a couple of minutes, and even so I am told things can still change since this was an engineering sample only. Check some of the pictures: