Thoughts on technology, investing, marketing, and entrepreneurship.

Search for a new smart phone

Every once in a while I like to make technology device or gadget diversion on this blog as I know many readers face many of the same issues as I do. Today highlights my new smart phone plight. As I wrote almost a year ago, my primary mobile phone has been a BlackBerry 7100t through T-Mobile. Initially, I thought this phone was the perfect marriage of size and functionality. And with a $20 per month unlimited data plan from T-Mobile, I thought I was in productivity nirvana. There was one big caveat with this solution though â?? everything was contingent upon my getting accustomed to the BlackBerry 7100tâ??s modified keyboard and intelligent typing system. In order to shrink the size of a standard BlackBerry, the company removed the QWERTY keypad with their SureType technology. With a bit of practice I found the system to work well. The big problem was that you needed really small hands (or short fingers) to make this typing comfortable or even remotely fast. My hands just werenâ??t meant for this device. So, despite the fact that I had a BlackBerry that could easily be taken anywhere and fit right in my pocket, I realized I was only receiving email and never sending any. This was a big problem as I found the typing so difficult on this device that I would rather just wait to get back to my laptop before responding to any emails.

The other issues I was having with this BlackBerry model included:

  • poor attachment support (PDF, Word, and Excel all had problems that I couldnâ??t get resolved)
  • the RIM lawsuit issues – potenial for service disruption
  • OS was crashing way too often
  • sync issues with Outlook 2003
  • almost unusable web browsing
  • narrow screen made email reading difficult

With all the new mobile devices coming on the market I decided it was time to look at alternatives. My criteria included:

  • good voice plan with lots of minutes combined with a cheap data plan
  • email capability (a push system was preferred)
  • decent web browsing
  • sync with Microsoft Outlook (calendar, tasks, contacts)
  • camera phone
  • hackability (ability to add/modify the software if needed)
  • good QWERTY keypad
  • speakerphone
  • Bluetooth
  • device currently available now

With these factors in mind, I quickly narrowed my search to the following devices:

  • regular BlackBerry (models varied based on carrier)
  • Palm Treo
  • Sidekick II

I heard and read great reviews of the Treo, but after research on the phone/data plans, no carrier even came close to T-Mobile. The plan via T-Mobile I liked was the 1500 nationwide minutes and unlimited data for $60 per month (available for both the BlackBerries and SideKick). Iâ??ve also had great success with T-Mobile and have never had issues with their customer support, so there had to be a significant reason for me to switch. This all led me to decide between one of the phones available from T-mobile â?? BlackBerry 7290 or the SideKick II. Since I already knew much about the BlackBerry (especially the software side), I started researching the SideKick II. I was quickly intrigued by what I found.

To be continuedâ?¦

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