Blackberry 9790 Review

The Blackberry Bold 9790 is the latest to be released by RIM. The 9790 is an evolution of the popular 9700/9780 model. RIM has taken it’s flagship 9900 and scaled it down to a smaller form factor.  This device is marketed toward the emerging markets and for users who want to use a smaller device such as women and people with smaller hands; at least that’s what RIM is saying.

There are several improvements over it’s predecessor (9780). The device is thinner, faster processor (1 Ghz), more ram (768mb ), OS 7, and it has a touch screen.  Since the phone’s screen is only 2.44 in the touch screen plays less of a role when compared to it’s bigger brother, 9900.  I find myself using the trackpad more often on the 9790. But the touch screen is great for macro movements such as scrolling through a webpage or a lists of media files, and messages.

Even though the 9900 is touted as the flagship Blackberry there are a couple of features that the 9790 has it beat. For some reason RIM decided to not implement the autofocus on the 9900, but has it on the 9790. Autofocus is very important if you want to take closeup shots or take photos of varying depth of a scene.  But for video, the 9900 is able to record at 720p whereas the 9790 can only record at VGA resolution.  The second is battery life.  The battery life on the 9790 is superb, but for the 9900 it struggles to last a whole work day. To be fair the latest OS updates has helped the 9900 in that department.

So if you’re looking to get a new Blackberry 9790 you’ll need to look outside the US as it’s not sold in the states yet.  Be sure to get it unlocked so you can use it on your GSM carrier. If you’re deciding between the 9790 and the 9900 you’ll have to ask yourself the question; is the trade off of the camera and battery life better than the luxurious and spacious keyboard on the 9900? If it is, then go for the 9790.  For those who prefer the classic curve/Bold 9700 size Blackberry the 9790 would be the best Blackberry to date for them.  For me, to get the true Blackberry experience one must try the 9900 keyboard. It’s hands-down the best mobile phone keyboard by a mile. But then again everyone has their own preferences so it’s best to get these phones in your hands and try it out yourself.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

Excellent battery life
Fast and smooth UI
Autofocus camera

VGA only video recording
Not available in the US yet
Keys can be stiff at first use

Playbook Review

Now that I’ve had a full week with the Blackberry Playbook in my hands I must say it has been a very interesting experience.  The Playbook is Research In Motion’s (maker of Blackberry) foray in the tablet market. Unlike the popular iPad it is a 7 inch device and it is marketed as the first “Professional” tablet because adding “professional” makes it sound so much cooler.  I’ve been anticipating this Playbook for over six months, and as a fan of their phones I had high expectations for it. So did it live up to the hype?


First, lets look at the hardware. The Playbook is solidly built. If you take away the Blackberry logo from it you may mistaken it for a device that could have been built by Apple. There’s a slight heft to the device and seems to weigh more than it looks which adds that solid feel to it.  The 7 inch form factors usefulness is subjective and depends on how you use your device. If you like to carry your tablet with you everywhere then this form factor is hands-down the best choice. If you’re a media junkie the Playbook will satisfy your needs; visually and auditory.  The Playbook’s screen is amazing. With a 1024×600 resolution jammed into a 7″ screen it packs quite a bit of pixels that makes pictures and videos look very sharp and crisp. As for the speakers they’re perfectly placed on each side of the screen to give that stereo sound. When it comes to sound quality the Playbook speakers have no competition in this department in the tablet world, at least not yet.

Many reviewers out there and people on the forums have complained about the power button being too flushed to be usable. The power button on my Playbook works great and I can hit it every time to turn off the screen. I haven’t had a problems with it. Maybe there’s a bad batch that are giving some of these owners headaches.

Battery Life

According to RIM, the battery should last around 8-10 hours. From my personal experience 7-8 hours is more likely the norm. That’s decent and is average compared to other tablets. And like any other devices watching videos and listening to music can quickly drain it. Fortunately for Playbook owners, the device comes with a plug-in charger that can recharge your Playbook pretty quick. For me it seems like the included charger charges my Playbook 2-3 times faster than using my Blackberry phone charger or when connected to a computer with the micro USB cable. It’s most likely due to the higher amperage in the Playbook charger.

Web Browsing

The Playbook is touted to have the best web browsing experience, and my conclusion to that statement is unfortunately “No”. It’s better in some areas and not so much in others. The Playbook supports Adobe Flash right out of the box, so now those who are looking to watch flash videos on your tablet you now have an option that is not an Android device. One of my favorite websites to watch videos is South Park Studios. You can watch all your favorite South Park episodes right from the browser. The downside of having flash is you’ll also have to deal with the ads made with Flash. These ads can sometime slow down your browser, but for me its not much of a difference to be of any concern. But you have the option to disable flash quickly from the settings in the browser.

There are a few annoying glitches with the browser. Some times when scrolling through pages with Flash Ads the Playbook can’t distinguish scrolling from actually clicking on the Flash ads. The browser will inadvertently open a new tab from that Flash ad. Another annoying part of the browser is its Bookmarking. You’re unable to edit or manage the bookmarks. Basically, you just add the bookmark and the browser will save it randomly to your list. You can’t rename it or organize it. The browser also lacks the ability to automatically scroll to the top of a long webpage where as the iPad can by simply tapping the top of the screen. So RIM, “best web experience?” Fix these little glitches then we’ll talk.

OS and User Interface

The Playbook uses a brand spanking new OS from QNX. This OS also happens to be the future of RIM as it will also be used in their upcoming phones. The Playbook OS is liquid smooth and rock solid. The only time I had to reboot the device was when I was updating the OS. What makes the Playbook fun and efficient is its bezel gestures. The swipes to close an app, to switch to an app, go to the home screen, to bring up the contextual menus/options, and swipe to turn on the screen is very intuitive. It’s without a doubt the best feature of the Playbook. What supplements that awesome feature is the Playbook’s multitasking abilities. Having multiple apps and tasks running in the background gives your piece of mind that its doing what it’s suppose to do and when you’re doing other stuff. Some times I find myself just swiping between apps just for fun and swiping back to the home menu to see if I can load any other apps. It goes to show that the QNX OS is powerful and efficient. I can’t wait for it to be on RIMs phones.

Apps, Apps, Apps

One of the big negatives for the Playbook is the lack of Apps in their AppWorld store. One could argue that compared to the initial release of other tablets they didn’t have as many as well, and that the Playbook has more apps than the other tablets for their initial releases. For typical users, they’re not going to care. It’s like a car manufacture releasing a new model that doesn’t have airbags, air conditioning, AM/FM radio, power steering, and power windows then argue that when the Ford Model T was release it didn’t have those features either. RIM really dropped the ball on this one. They haven’t even released a Native Developers Kit for the Playbook. Most developers now are just porting over Adobe Air apps which aren’t all that great.  Apple has shown that having high quality apps are essential to the usability of the tablet. RIM is banking on their browser to pick up the slack on this one until their NDK is released, and they better do it soon. People who are trying the Playbook and looking to switch will look for their favorite apps, and if its not there they’ll go elsewhere that has it.

Blackberry Bridge

Some of you maybe shocked that the Playbook doesn’t come with a native Email client or calendar (RIM promised those natives apps will be coming soon). RIM expects you to get those features by connecting your Playbook with your Blackberry phone, they assume if you bought a Playbook you’ll have a Blackberry phone as well. Then again, if you don’t, RIM expects you to use their “awesome” web browser for access. The Playbook as a feature called Blackberry Bridge. But you need to install a simple app on your Blackberry phone where you’ll then setup a connection with the Playbook. It uses a secure Bluetooth connection where it allows your Playbook to act like a window that can peer into your emails and calendar on your phone, and at that point your Playbook will seemingly feel as though you have a native email and calendar app, which in fact you don’t. If you lose your phone or get far enough from your phone the Bridge feature will be disabled until they can re-establish that connection, but in fairness re-establishing the connection is seamless and transparent. It’ll automatically connects once you’re phone is close enough. But there’s a feature that I think would be a game changer, if RIM can actually get it to work, called the Bridge Browser. It’s a dedicated browser that can be used to access the internet using your Blackberry phone’s cellular connection. The feature is free, it uses your existing phone’s data plan, and doesn’t require a seperate tethering plan. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work as it should.

At this time, AT&T has not approved the Blackberry Bridge App for their Blackberry phones, but there’s a workaround for getting the app HERE.


The Out-of-box-experience is more or less typical. You don’t need to connect it to your computer to get it going unlike the iPad which requires iTunes to activate it, but the Playbook does need a Wifi connection. Without one you’re not going anywhere pass the setup process. So those who rushed out to get the Playbook quickly realized that setting it up in the car on the way home wasn’t possible.

With the Playbook you can manage the data backups with the Blackberry Desktop Manager. You can also use it to sync up with your iTunes media on your computer. What’s great is that you also have the option to just use the drag-and-drop function to copy over your media to the Playbook. But there’s a catch. When you plug your Playbook into your computer your system will install a driver and set the Playbook as a network drive rather than an external drive like with your Blackberry phones or USB flash drive. So if you’re using a restricted computer that prevents you from install drivers you many not get access to your Playbook.

My Verdict

The Playbook on it’s own will have a hard time convincing it’s a worthy competitor to the existing tablets out there. But coupled with a Blackberry phone the tide changes dramatically. And if RIM can get the Bridge Browser to work it will even turn the tide even more. As for the Apps, it’ll come, and the minor glitches will be fixed with patches and updates. I love the 7″ size of this tablet and I’m sure those who are always on-the-go will love it too. I think if Apple made a 7 – 8″ iPad it’ll probably end up being more popular than its 10″ version. When it comes to the build and hardware RIM has got it spot on, but the software is where they need to do some more work.

I’m confident that RIM will get the Playbook where it needs to be as they have already pushed out several updates, its too bad they couldn’t do it on release day.

Rating: ★★★★★★½☆☆☆

NOTE: With the right updates from RIM an 8 out of 10 is very possible.

Thoughts on the upcoming Blackberry Playbook

The Blackberry Playbook has been talked about for months. Ever since its announcement last September many Blackberry users have been waiting the Canadian company to release a tablet to compete with the popular and super successful iPad. It felt like an eternity, but finally a definite release date of April 19th has been confirmed.

I have the original iPad and it’s a great device. The form factor, long battery life, and the vast of available apps is why the iPad as sold millions world wide. Even though the iPad has established itself in the tablet market why should someone who is looking for one consider a Blackberry Playbook?

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Flash Support – Yes, that’s right the Playbook will be able to play all those flash animation on those websites you visit. If you want a desktop browser experience on a tablet then the Playbook is the device to get.
  • QNX OS – QNX is a robust and powerful operating system. The potential with QNX is tremendous. The fact that the OS is in many systems in many industries for many decades speaks volumes about the effectiveness of it. RIM owns QNX and it represents its future not just for the tablet market, but for their phones as well. QNX on the Playbook has been developed for the tablet first whereas others were ported or modified from a phone OS.
  • Android App Support – RIM just recently announced that they will be supporting Android 2.3 apps on the Playbook. That means it’ll instantly add thousands of apps into its portfolio. But a caveat is the lack of detail of how it will be handled. Will the apps just be emulated over a Java VM environment on the Playbook or do they mean that RIM will provide some kind of support to transfer existing Android apps to the Playbook without any major re-coding. Maybe someone can provide some more insight for me.
  • 7″ Size – Yes it’s a smaller size, but it doesn’t mean it’s a disadvantage compared to other larger size tablets. When it comes to carrying a tablet around the 7″ inch size is much more suitable. With my iPad it rarely leaves my bed room let alone leaving the house.

If you’re in the market for a tablet device than you’re in luck. A slew of new devices will be released in the next several months from Samsung, HP, LG, HTC and others. The Blackberry Playbook will be one of them vying for your hard earned cash and to chip away the large chunk of market share that Apple’s iPad now holds. RIM knows it will need to knock this product out of the park, its future depends on it. With QNX in their future RIM will have what it takes to compete and beat it’s competitors. I hope the Playbook becomes a big success, not because I’m a fan of Blackberry but because it’s always nice to have competition. And we, the consumer, gets to benefit from it.

RIM’s new tablet: Blackberry Playbook

RIM has just announce their new tablet. The Blackberry Playbook.

Specs listed on

  • 7″ LCD, 1024 x 600, WSVGA, capacitive touch screen with full multi-touch and gesture support
  • BlackBerry Tablet OS with support for symmetric multiprocessing
  • 1 GHz dual-core processor
  • 1 GB RAM
  • Dual HD cameras (3 MP front facing, 5 MP rear facing), supports 1080p HD video recording
  • Video playback: 1080p HD Video, H.264, MPEG, DivX, WMV
  • Audio playback: MP3, AAC, WMA
  • HDMI video output
  • Wi-Fi – 802.11 a/b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • Connectors: microHDMI, microUSB, charging contacts
  • Open, flexible application platform with support for WebKit/HTML-5, Adobe Flash Player 10.1, Adobe Mobile AIR, Adobe Reader, POSIX, OpenGL, Java
  • Ultra thin and portable:
    • Measures 5.1″x7.6″x0.4″ (130mm x 193mm x 10mm)
    • Weighs less than a pound (approximately 0.9 lb or 400g)
  • Additional features and specifications of the BlackBerry PlayBook will be shared on or before the date this product is launched in retail outlets
  • Every manufacturer and their mother are getting into the tablet foray. It looks like the iPad won’t be  alone any longer. Samsung and their Galaxy Tab will also be hitting state side soon as well.  So far the Blackberry Playbook has already exceeded my expectations, which wasn’t all that much to begin with as RIM is known to be very conservative with their Blackberry phones. That’s why I’m surprised by their hardware specs, and I’m very interested in their new QNX OS.  RIM will need this device to be impressive (and magical) if it wants to bite a chuck out of the iPad’s market share. Yay, for competition!

    Blackberry Torch 9800 Review

    I’ve been using the device for a solid 6 days.  And I must say this device is the best Blackberry yet.  When I initially got the device I had to get use the the new OS 6. I was so use to the previous OS that my Blackberry reflexes had me pressing the wrong things on the phone. As I setup most of my apps and all of my settings on the phone it began to shine. Let’s break the device down and see what we have.

    Screen size and quality:
    The screen has a standard resolution of 480 x 360. By comparison with the new iPhone and new Android devices it is very underwhelming. But it’s adequate for what typical Blackberry users do; email, text messaging, and casual web browsing. The 3.2 in screen is just big enough for us Blackberry users, but I wish the resolution was a tad bit higher especially when we want more data on the screen. When it comes to media such as video the Torch loses by a mile against the iPhone 4 and the series of brand new Android devices (Droid X, Droid 2, Samsung Captivate). Their screens are bright and as sharp as ever and it’s one area where I’m envious and wish the Torch had. The colors for the Torch tend to be a slightly washed out, but it’s brightness makes it very visible in bright rooms or outdoor environments. But before you trash the low res of the phone keep in mind that the Torch has a higher resolution and pixel density than the previous generation of iPhones which is only 480 x 320.

    The camera is quite good. At 5mp it takes decent pictures and the LED flash is sufficient for taking pictures in dark or low lit areas. One of the could-be-better areas is video recording. Most newer phones are able to record at 720p, whereas the Torch can only do 640 x 480. So if you’re looking to record some decent family videos you’re still going to need to carry a seperate HD cam. I’m sure it’s not hard for RIM to implement HD recording. It’s probably due to the underpowered CPU that runs the phone (more on that later.)

    OS 6:
    One of the reason to get the new Blackberry is that it’s the first model to come with the brand new Blackberry OS 6. This new OS tries to simplifies access to apps and settings. What RIM really wanted to is to reduce the amount of searching for commonly used settings and options. So with OS 6 many of the apps and options can be access with much fewer clicks and taps. The best feature for OS 6 is how they combine the touch and keyboard usage of the phone. You can use the phone entirely based on the keyboard and trackpad or just from the touchscreen. You can forgo all the touch screen stuff and still be productive. But the magic is when you combine the physical keyboard with the touch features. Keyboard shortcuts plus touchscreen access makes working on the Torch much more effiecient and quicker. If you thought you were fast on your old Blackberries, then you should get your hands on this device. Granted there is a little learning curve for this new OS, but experienced BB users will feel right at home. New BB users may get frusturated and confused at times, but it’s all part of the learning process for any new device.

    One of the downfalls of the OS 6 is its fixed pages. You get 5 pages; All, Frequent, Media, Downloads, and Favorites. These pages can’t be deleted and there’s no way of creating your own custom ones. I’m a minimalist and I like to hide and delete all the stuff I don’t need and just have shortcuts for all my apps and tasks. So having a bunch of those pages that I don’t use is an eye sore and inefficient use of space.

    Build Quality:
    I’m actually on my second Blackberry Torch. My previous one had the front button plate coming off. The top part of the device (the screen) wiggled up and down slightly which made a ‘clacking’ sound when I typed on the screen. After replacing the phone the button plate is still on and there is no clacking noise at all. My old Torch may have been from a bad manufacturing batch. Who knows?  So far the replaced device is great. The sliding mechanism is solid and it’s as good as any sliding phone can get. There’s no looseness or play present when the device is opened or closed. But there’s one thing that stands out from previous Blackberries is that the device is heavy for its size. It weighs in at 5.7 ounces. By comparison the iPhone 4 is 4.8 ounces. You can definitely feel the heft of the Torch in your hand, and it’s one thing to be careful of when weilding the phone in your palm, ala Ari Gold-style, you need to make sure you keep a good grip on it otherwise it can be a dangerous projectile. The weight of the device can go both ways, as for me it adds more of the industrial feel to it and for others it can feel like a bulky phone.

     Web Browsing:
    The other reason to get this phone is that it comes with RIM’s newest browser based on Webkit. It’s a million times better than their previous browser and it was the one thing that RIM was seriously lacking on their phones. The new browser works similar to Apple’s Safari and Android’s browser. You can pinch zoom in and out, scroll up and down, and pan webpages. Their tabbed browser feature is equally just as amazing. It’s simple and easy to use.

    Final Thoughts:
    Like I said before, there will be a learning curve because of the new OS. BB veterans will pick it up quickly, but new users will need some time to get acclimated to the layout and UI. The device uses the same 624 Mhz processor as with the 9700 model. The only only internal components that are different is that it has double the internal memory and a 5 MP camera. I would have expected RIM to throw in a much more powerful CPU, but they manage to use their existing chip to power their latest device. Even with all the new features and higher requirements of OS 6 the Torch runs pretty smooth. But it’s not to say that it runs smoothly all the time. There is some noticeble lag, but they aren’t show stoppers. The lag appears depending on what you’re doing with your phone and how many processes and apps are running in the background. The Torch is a great device if you’re looking to upgrade. If you want the Blackberry experience but with a better browser then the Torch is it. But if web browsing is not important to you than upgrading is not nesecessary. I think if you currently have a 9700 or a 9650 getting the Torch will enhance your experience slightly. It’s the browser where you’ll be getting the most of it. So if you’re still running a BB that still has a trackball then the Torch is a worthy upgrade for anyone. If you’re looking for media and gaming focused device than the iPhone or an Android would fit the bill.  The Blackberry is hands down best in handling text messages and emails. It’s a communication driven device and that’s what the Blackberry known for.

    Rating: ★★★★★★★½☆☆

    OS 6 – good use of keyboard and touch
    Efficient interface for accessing apps and settings
    Physical keyboard
    Webkit browser

    Slight lag during usage
    Unable to change/delete or add homepages
    Underwhelming screen resolution and quality

    Thoughts on the new Blackberry Torch 9800

    Research In Motion announces their newest Blackberry device, the Blackberry Torch 9800. Unlike their traditional models or even their Blackberry Storm this new device has a touch screen with a slide out keyboard. In addition, RIM has also updated their OS which this new device is running. New hardware and software, this is RIM’s chance to stick it to Apple and Google.

    I’ve been a Blackberry fan for a very long time. Fortunately for me I have two phones. A work phone and a personal phone. One being a Blackberry and the other is not. For the past few years I rocked the iPhone along with my trusty BB. Recently, I picked up an Android device and couldn’t be happier. With Android and all its beefy specs and nifty features I still can’t imagine myself without my BB. Its hard to explain, maybe its the tapping of a physical keyboard, the quick press of shortcuts to my apps and functions, the reliable push email, and the good ‘ol Blackberry messenger. Call me crazy, but if I could only have one device it would stick with my BB 9700. Sure, my Samsung Captivate looks awesome, it has boat loads of apps, and runs on an OS that has tons of potential. But for me it does what I need it to do and it does it well though there are some caveats

    Let’s get to the point. This BB Torch looks great and I’m sure their new OS 6 is better than what any current BB owners have, but if this is the best RIM can do to compete with Apple, Google, and Microsoft then they are going to be in for a rude awakening. This new BB would have been a fantastic device if it was released a year and a half ago. But with the current releases of the new iPhone, Android phones, and upcoming Windows 7 phones RIM will just continue to play catch-up.

    The BB 9800’s specs reads like a phone that was made 2 years ago. Some would argue that the phone doesn’t need a 1 ghz cpu, 4.3″ screen, or a retina display and that’s fine and these people can buy old cell phones off craigslist, but as the average consumer increases data consumption and rely more and more on their moble devices companies that meet those needs will thrive. And for those defending RIM and excuse them from releasing a medicore device probably don’t own their stock.

    This new BB doesn’t add anything significant. A slight increase in RAM and a 3.2″ touch screen is anything but revolutionary and is barely considered an evolution. Why couldn’t RIM increase RAM or increase the screen’s resolution. A front facing camera isn’t necessary but it would have been nice.  Many people flocked to Android because it has lots of potential. iPhone users love their phone because it pushes the technological envelope and bakes it in an aesthetically pleasing design. And RIM seems content to just rehash their existing phones. If RIM wants to sell more phones and maintain their market share they need to be innovative and take some risks.

    I can only hope this is just a start to bigger and better things to come from RIM. This device will sell well and all the Crackberry addicts will be getting one, including myself. This device won’t be a game changer for RIM, it’ll just keep them in the game for the time being.