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.