Sunday, February 1, 2009

Blackberry Bold vs. iPod Touch

Wow, the PMP/PDA war never ends! With Act 3 in my life coming ever nearer -- less than 2 months -- I've started to pack up my last Act and started provisioning for my new life. One of the things I'll lose when I leave my current job is my Blackberry. I'm not as addicted to it as other folks are -- I hardly use 10 minutes worth of cell phone time a month, I read emails on it only when I'm in a meeting, and I never could get tethering to work on the 8800...

But, since my cell phone will likely be my top link to customers in my new job, I thought it wise to get a new one.

Let's review my current situation:
1. Cellphone -- Blackberry 8800 (owned by my employer)
2. Aircard -- USB Connect 881 from AT&T -- owned and paid for by moi
3. PMP -- Zune 16GB Flash and Apple iPod touch 16 GB (2nd Generation) -- both mine
4. Music subscriptions -- Zune Marketplace, XM Radio (two subscriptions -- one for the car and one for the Pub)
5. MP3 files -- 28,000 (yes, all owned by me -- I have more than 1,500 CDs)

Looking at that list, some things came to mind:
1. Consolidate all music down to an iPhone Touch with tethering
2. Consolidate all music down to Blackberry Bold with tethering

The problem with Option 1 is that iPhone has no streaming music subscription, like Zune. Also, I kind of like having a keyboard on my PDA.

Option 2 is what I settled on, mainly because the BlackBerry Bold 9000 is a screamer, it multi-tasks well, has a speaker phone and it has some potential that's unfulfilled...

I also canceled one of the XM subscriptions (for the Pub, I use Zune on my laptop to get any songs we need to hear on demand). I'm getting ready to sell the Zune on eBay. It's a great little player, but it's just sitting here getting old (kinda like me). I'm also contemplating selling the iPod Touch -- that's a little tougher because I LOVE the way it handles the media I own, as well as the media I'm recording on Windows Media Center -- that's a place where the Bold falls way short.

I canceled the Aircard -- and upgraded it to the Bold with tethering. I bought a 16GB microSDHC Card and I'm filling it up with podcasts and recorded video.

All in all, I really like the Bold, it's as light as or slightly lighter than my 8800, the screen is much brighter and sharper, and it's FAST! I like the speaker that's built into it, going so far as to use it as a background music running Slacker. The battery life could be better, but I bought a second 1700mAH battery for $7.

The screen is half the size of the iPOD/iPHONE, but we're talking small screens in either case. The camera is sufficient for catching a plane crashing into the Hudson, but I wouldn't want to try to take any kind of detailed snapshots for recordkeeping. The video is okay too, although a little jumpy.

So what am I missing with losing the Zune and maybe the iPod?

First of all, no FM radio -- not such a big loss since I listen to XM mostly, and with podcasts, I've got enough talk radio to last me 4 years right now. Second of all, the Bold doesn't support wireless synchronization, even though it's got a great WiFi built into it. That's a huge loss compared to the Zune and iPOD, but there are work-arounds. Third, no flash support -- or not much except for YouTube.

By the way, the Blackberry Desktop Manager locks up my workstation when I try to run the Windows Media Synch application.

The tethering works like a champ on my laptop, although I'm only getting about 400K down and 150 or so up. But that's livable in most situations (I won't be watching any on that, I know). It would be nice if it works when I get to Ireland this summer...

All in all, I think I made the right choice. I think I'll regret not having an iPhone sometimes -- and maybe I should have looked at the Storm -- but right now, it's what I need. With the XM subscription cancellations, the combination of my AirCard into my BB data plan, and the money I make from selling my like new Zune and iPod, I think I'll come out ahead in both the long and short runs.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Zune vs. iPod Touch

Before Christmas, I decided to replace my trusty old iRiver H10 with something that wasn't as fussy about USB and had Vista drivers -- and had video capabilities. Since I've never had much luck getting into the Apple flow -- (anyone want a low, VERY low mileage G5 iMac?) I decided to look past the various iPod incarnations and examine the options.

The second generation Zune sparked my interest -- especially the flash Zune 16GB. Really small form factor, great linkage to Windows, Microsoft branded, and it had Zune Marketplace which overs a Rhapsody-like subscription service that lets me load anything on my Zune any time for less than the price of a CD per month. FM radio, too!

I got the Zune and promptly managed to crack the screen - I'm not sure when, or even if it wasn't broken when I took it out and put it on the charger. But it was broken the first day I took it out at work. So I logged onto the Zune website, found the warranty repair place, typed in my problem, and Microsoft sent me a free mail-in box and label so I could send it in for warranty repair.

While waiting 3 weeks(!) for the device to be returned, I started to read horror stories that Microsoft does not consider a cracked screen to EVER be a warranty repair. Oh well, I thought -- I guess I'll have to pay to get it fixed. Sorry! Microsoft won't even FIX a broken screen. They sent it back broken. Duh?!?

I found a place that DOES fix broken screens, and shortly I had my Zune back and running. great work, too!

Then something terrible happened -- the boss gave all of his direct reports a 16GB 2G iPod touch as a Christmas gift. My wife -- always the adult in this relationship -- said, "Sell it on eBay." But I, ever the kid, could hardly do that without at least taking it out of the package.

Well, here it is, more than 6 weeks since I got the iPod and it never leaves my side. I listen to podcasts at work all day, listen to podcasts and music in the car on the way home, use the iPod to remotely access customer's PCs with LogMeIn Ignition, play sudoku on it. I'm addicted ALREADY.

The Zune? I haven't even plugged it into the charger in 4 weeks. I still use my Zune Marketplace subscription pretty regularly (you can see my Zune Tag profile at the bottom of this blog) -- iTunes doesn't offer a comparable subscription -- but the Zune PMP is almost an orphan.

...more thoughts on the iPod Touch in my next post...