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Berry time

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Hey there, Tech Savvy fans! This week I wanted to share my experience with the Blackberry Z10, the all-touch offering on the new BB10 OS. Although Blackberry just released the Q10 and has slated more offerings, I still believe this model is relevant in the BB world. My friends at Verizon Wireless were kind enough to lend me a Z10 and power it up on their 4G LTE.

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You may recall a while back I wrote some initial thoughts on BB, their new OS, their future and this may be a good time to revisit that too. But let’s start with the device itself.

Out of the box the Z10 seems pretty standard — power button, sleek black design, slim and pretty lightweight. The specs will back this up, too. You can find a full list of specs at www.verizonwireless.com. The Z10 has a 4.2-inch LCD 1280x768 screen, which for the screen size is more than adequate. It incorporates an 8MP camera, with a 2MP front facing version — at the time of its release this front facing beat out the majority of available front facing options, something worth noting. It is powered by a 1.5 gHz dual-core processor with 2GB RAM, which for this operating system is plenty to run the apps and programs.

I’ve talked a little about processing power and what to look for — in a nutshell each OS has different requirements and will need different processor power. In this case the BB10 OS ran smoothly and I did not experience any discomfort using it. All in all the OS ran well and it was the User Interface that took the most getting used to.

iPhones and Androids, despite being rivals, do share some commonality in the User Interface, most notably the use of buttons both hard and soft. I attribute this to the fact that they were the first ones out there — they had to keep things familiar enough for the general public to adapt to them and also by this time they have patented enough of this design element that other manufacturers need to explore other options. In Blackberry’s case they opted to rely heavily on the ability to use on screen gestures. Swiping up to exit out of a program for example. Initially it seemed like a lot to get used to but it didn’t take long to figure out the way it worked.

Using the camera I was pleasantly surprised to find the picture quality pretty darn good, with some of the features a nice add on. Time Shift is one of those features. It activates the shutter milliseconds before your picture to allow you to take the best picture possible. Sharing options were all the same as any other smartphone.

Also similar to other top of the line smartphones, the Z10 is equipped with Bluetooth 4.0, making it compatible with the latest Bluetooth gadgets. It is also NFC capable (which is available in Android, but not iOS) and has expandable memory using micro SD cards (also available in Android, but not iOS).

All in all the Z10 is a solid phone on the device end, on Verizon’s 4G LTE you also got the same consistent speed and power of their network. The Z10 worked with all the gadgets I wanted to pair it with and using the NFC was fun.

So why, you ask, did I come down hard on it before and has my opinion changed? Well, here’s your answer. The Z10 as a phone was pretty neat. Hardware and OS specs aside, there are two main questions that need to be answered — Why should anyone consider a Blackberry? And are they a viable option compared to Android and iOS?

• Answer one. Blackberry, while they were once considered the behemoth in the smartphone world (they practically started it after all), in recent years has been perceived as losing their edge, their ground and their competitive power in the global market. While no one can argue the decline in numbers, there are still some reasons to consider using BB. Because they had such market dominance there is still a large community that feels a connection to BB and what they used to offer. In that tradition, BB has maintained their BB Exchange and security, their BB Messenger, and some of the other components that made it number one. BB may not have the greatest app market out there, but they have stuck to their guns and, to my knowledge, haven’t relied on any real gimmickry to save their skin.

• Answer two. The question really has some subjectivity to it. If I was to compare the entertainment factor, as in which of these has the best app market and options, BB would be third. That being said, Android would also not be top and that hasn’t stopped me to being an Android devotee. To me, the main reason to consider BB over these others is the business aspect. I would argue, IMHO, that both BB and Microsoft may actually have the better business offerings out there when compared to either iOS or Android. WHAT? I know, I know, you think I lost my marbles, but bear with me- BB and Microsoft both took advantage of being the top platforms for office users and they also worked well together. iOS and Android have, for the most part, focused mainly on the consumer, and they are trying to blend in the business end. Unfortunately, they either create their own solutions (read: Apple) or they allow open development that allows people to create a million options (read: Google). BB and Microsoft have, for the most part, focused on business and then how they can make it fun- how to take all the seriousness of a spreadsheet, and give it a fake mustache and a theme song. My point is, there is a whole market- the business world, that has been left largely unapproached sine the iPhone emerged. The people leaving their old BB Curves were eschewing work for play with the idea that they could still be completely business with their new device... kind of. If you want a business tool, it may be worth looking where the experience lies.

Now, that all being said, I am not abandoning my Android device for a BB, all I’m saying is that there are still valid reasons to consider BB and with devices like the Z10 they are giving real options for businesses to consider them. Along those same veins, I don’t think BB will be able to remain huge competition in the general consumer market and they should focus on where they were before. For example, a report a while back said that the Department of Defense was looking to purchase iPhones for their staff, to the tune of an order that was hundreds of thousands of iPhones. BB — go after these contracts, I can’t imagine that anyone is going to volunteer how to teach DOD employees how to use Siri or iTunes.

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Phil Seibel
I've been in the Brainerd Lakes Area for the last 6 years, currently in Baxter with my wife and two little girls. We really enjoy all the activities and places to see in the Lakes area and particularly enjoy going to the beach and walking out at the Arboretum. I grew up in western MN and went to school at the University of MN, Crookston.
(218) 855-5862
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