It is an age old debate; form over function or function over form? Why can't we have both? Well, sometimes we can - but usually we gravitate towards one or the other. There are lots of classic examples of this debate; BMW or Honda? Armani or Levis? Timex or Rolex? You get the idea. Now, the tough question is: "Which are you - a form first or function first kind of person?"
I like to believe that I sort of straddle that line between form (style, panache and coolness) and function (usability, dependability and value.) In the great Smartphone debate, it was always a "no brainer" for me - function trumps form - after all, BlackBerry does trump the iPhone, right? The iPhone is sexy, flashy, "fun" and full or form over function. The BlackBerry is solid, reliable, predictable (some might even say - dull.)
This all changed with the Storm - now we BlackBerry lovers could have our form and a slice of function alongside in the same device. It was too good to be true. Now, I wrote in my last column how I loved my Storm - and I did, or still do, or whatever - I stick by what I said. I used my Storm for everything and I felt pretty cool doing it. I love touching the screen, pressing and clicking and swiping and all the fun stuff that I can do only on the Storm.
I also found myself getting a little snobby with my Storm - it was unique - only on one carrier, yet "un-lockable" to be used on the others. It was new, revolutionary and.....buggy as all hell. I have never upgraded operating systems so many times so frequently - in search of the stability and usability that this thing should have given out of the box. But, somehow I didn't mind - it was sort of fun to take two hours out of my busy day and try to make my BlackBerry behave better.
Then, it hit me like a ton of bricks...it was a brand new BlackBerry Curve 8900. The first time I held it, I was unsure. It felt like it weighed half as much as my Storm. "Could this thing be sturdy and stable?" I wondered. Then, I started to use it - I took out my SIM card from my Storm to give the 8900 a chance. Almost instinctively, I found myself trying to press the screen and swipe through web pages - to no avail. I wondered if I could ever go back to the trackball after the tactile experience of the Storm.
Then, it all started to happen. I remembered the pre-Storm days when I could use my BlackBerry with one hand. "Wow!" I thought out loud - I can read my emails with one hand. Then I realized that my basic tasks were getting accomplished about 40% quicker using the 8900. Part of that was the speed of the device, the wonderful keyboard, the OS and the Wi-Fi - oh yes, beautiful, speedy Wi-Fi. Part of it was that I could once again use those trusty "hot keys" in my applications. Going to "Options" now just meant pressing the letter "O" as opposed to pushing the Menu key on the storm, scrolling with one hand while holding the device in the other then finding the "Options" icon and clicking.
Getting to the bottom of a long web page was as simple as pressing "B." Seeing my bookmarks was as easy as pressing my trusty "K" key. Everything was just easier. Then I put the two devices side by side - I could not believe the difference in weight. I had been carrying my Storm in a holster because it was really too big for my front pocket - but the 8900 just slipped right in - barely noticeable. I remembered how easy and efficient things used to be on my BlackBerry - PMS (pre my Storm.)
Then, I began some real soul searching about me and the way I live. Sure, I have some expensive suits and ties - but I really try hard not to wear them all that often. When I do, the first thing I do when I get in the house is look for my Jeans and flannel shirts. I don't drive fancy European cars - I drive a Honda Civic - and a hybrid to boot! I am a pretty practical and un-assuming guy - I like things to be comfortable, reliable and functional. I am like that in pretty much every aspect of my life - should it be so surprising that I would feel the same way about the thing I use most in my day - my BlackBerry?
I am still doing all the cool stuff I did with my Storm - I use Slacker, I use the Slingplayer, I have a bunch of music and movies, I text my kids, I BlackBerry messenger with my wife and, now I am back to using Wi-Fi and UMA calling and saving money on my phone bill. All with an operating system and a device that just plain "worked" right out of the box. I don't look at the CrackBerry forums hoping against hope that I will find as OS upgrade or a fix for one of the myriad of problems that other devices seem to give their frustrated owners.
I look at my 8900 and a little voice over my shoulder says "this thing is kind of boring and predictable." Then, the other little voice over the other shoulder says: "Hey, Maximus Jerkius, this thing works....all of the time." Well, that little voice is right - it does work. My 8900 is hands down the most dependable, functional and powerful BlackBerry I have ever used. It fits in my jeans pocket and I rarely have to pull the battery or clear my event log. I type quicker - way quicker than I did on my Storm. Do I miss the "coolness" of the accelerometer? Sometimes - I really liked the Storm Level Pro App - but I can live without it. I am getting more done, doing it more quickly and rarely wondering what "surprises" my most important business tool will throw my way on a given day.
I guess, for now, I have made my choice - Function trumps Form. So, my unlocked, very cool BlackBerry Storm is headed to EBay and my somewhat boring and predictable 8900 is headed into the front left pocket of my favorite pair of Blue Jeans....for now.
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