CrackBerry Idol - Kerri

BlackBerry Torch 9800 Review - Power Mom

I am a BUSY person and by that statement I don't just mean the normal kind of busy. I'm talking about the I'm so insanely swamped with things to do or places to go that I actually repeat things I've said or doing things I've already done. As a military spouse, mother of three, consultant, assistant at an in-home daycare, association board member, neighborhood watch coordinator, welcome committee coordinator & CrackBerry Idol contestant you can imagine what my daily schedule looks like. Between work, meetings, playdates and my older children's activities, I barely have a moment to breathe. Now that I have the BlackBerry Torch 9800 and OS 6, my daily routine runs smoother.

Startup

In all honesty the boot up time alone on the Torch would almost be reason enough for me to purchase it. No more wasting five or more minutes for my BlackBerry to start up. The Torch takes 3 minutes from the start of the reboot till your back up and running. I was pleasantly surprised that I only had to do one battery pull and that was while trying to get SMS messaging to work when I first got it.

Call Quality

Having a phone that allows me to talk to the person on the other line without them hearing my youngest singing along with Barney is a godsend. I didn't have any problems hearing the caller or vice versa even while using the speakerphone.

Touchscreen/Trackpad/Keyboard

I'm all about options and the Torch delivers.

Touchscreen - I've always said that I despise touchscreens and would never again own one after my Palm. Now I may have to eat those words. I loved (that's right, I said loved) having the touchscreen for the quick scrolling through of emails, websites & the different menu screens. Saying the screen is large compared to my Curve would be an understatement. Everything was clearer and easier to read. I loved having the option to flip the device between portrait and landscape especially while using the camera. I'm a bit OCD about fingerprints and found myself wiping the screen all the time with the handy little cleaning cloth it came with. It's very responsive which did take me a bit to get use to. The onscreen keyboard was perfect for quick SMS responses. When in portrait view, using the onscreen keyboard was a little difficult since the keys were a bit too close together (particularly the keys along the edges) and I found myself typing the wrong letter.

Trackpad - The trackpad was useful when needing to scroll through an email looking for something specific. I was actually shocked that I didn't use it as much as I thought I would, finding that it was easier to just use the touchscreen.

Keyboard - Having the option of the full physical keyboard allowed me to type those long emails to teachers, clients and my daily tasks quickly and efficiently. The only issue I had with the keyboard was with my case on the top half, my fingers would sometimes hit the underside lip of the case.

BlackBerry Torch 9800

Battery

I don't have the time to stop and plug my phone in throughout the day so I need my battery to last. The Torch didn't disappoint. My BlackBerry useage is constant throughout the day (BBM, several applications running, email, texts, etc). I cycled my battery the first day like usual and had my battery last an average of almost a full 2 days before even getting close to needing a charge.

Memory

Since the Torch comes standard with 512MB internal flash memory and 4GB built in memory plus the included 4GB microSD card, I have more than enough room for all of my pictures, videos, and more.

Camera/Video

A camera that takes great pictures is a must for me. I'm constantly snapping pictures of all the things my kids do that my husband may have missed. I tested it in several different lighting situations and the results were fantastic either way. The 5.0 MP is more than adequate for the candid shots that I usually take. When comparing pictures taken from the Torch & my Sony Cybershot, I couldn't tell the difference. It was much nicer to only have to carry one device instead of two. Video quality (last part of the intro video was filmed with the Torch) is actually better than I thought it would be but I did find that in certain lighting the videos appear a little grainy.

BlackBerry Torch 9800

WiFi/Browser

WiFi - On my BlackBerry is all new to me but I love it especially since AT&T's data plans can get a bit pricey. Once I had setup my home network or any others that I frequently use, my Torch automatically switched from AT&T to my WiFi connection saving me money.

Browser - Quick and fluid while entertaining my 3 year old daughter with cartoons so mommy could get the grocery shopping done in peace. I didn't notice any lag or glitches while watching them as I had on my previous Blackberry. I was previously on a Curve 8330 and OS 4.5 so while this new OS was a huge improvement for me it may not be for others.

BlackBerry Torch 9800

Calendar

Between my work schedule, my husband's work schedule, all the kids' school activities, playgroups, social engagements, as well as doctor & vet appointments, I have to keep us all organized or chaos would reign. My calendar is how I make sure we all get to where we need to be. With the reminders and alarms that the calendar allows me to set, I'm even able to get us there on time (with three kids that's a huge accomplishment)! This is by far the most used item on my BlackBerry. We use the Google Calendar to coordinate all our schedules and then I simply sync it with my BlackBerry calendar. This allows me to see at a glance if my husband will be home in time for dinner or if my oldest daughter has a babysitting job already scheduled for Saturday.

Social Applications

When you're a military family who moves every couple of years staying in touch with all your friends & family can be difficult and a bit daunting. When you include all the committees, spouse groups and playgroups, it's next almost impossible. With my Torch, I'm able to upload images and videos to Facebook & Twitter on the spot. Having all my social feeds in one place keeps me from having to switch back and forth between them when I get multiple notifications. BlackBerry Messenger is by far my favorite feature of the BlackBerry devices. On the Torch I've noticed group chats don't take as long to open and multi-person chats are quicker than ever. Being able to chat with my husband, oldest daughter and son all at the same time keeps us on the same page. BBM is also great for cyber-nagging (as I like to call it) my children when I want them to get something done and I'm not there to enforce it.

Other Applications for Parents

Some must have applications for a busy parent to have on their BlackBerry are listed below along with brief explanations of what each application does.

Mobile Checkbook - It's exactly what the name says, checkbook for your mobile device. You create your accounts and enter your transactions. This way you'll always know what your true balance is even when the schools take forever to cash your checks. This is the best application I have found for balancing my accounts. Available for purchase via BlackBerry App World and ShopCrackBerry.com for $4.99.

OurGroceries - This application keeps the family grocery list up to date. Once installed on everyone's device, you can sync the lists. OurGroceries automatically updates everyone's list when items are added or deleted. Available for purchase via BlackBerry App World for FREE.

DriveSafely - This application reads SMS messages & emails out loud while keeping your hands on the wheel. You can even set and automatic reply to let those emailing or texting you that you aren't able to reply at the moment. Available for purchase via BlackBerry App World for FREE.

CardStar - Allows you to get rid of all those little keytags on your keychain for preferred discounts at certain stores. Available via BlackBerry App World FREE.

Fandango - Quickly find showtimes & purchase tickets for movies at local theaters. Some theaters even have mobile tickets that send a barcode to your BlackBerry (no more wasted paper) that the ticket taker can scan. Available via http://www.fandango.com/mobilemovietickets.

BerryWeather - Quickly see what the day's weather will be. Very handy when rushing kids to get ready for school in the wee hours before it's even daylight. Available for purchase via ShopCrackBerry.com for $9.95.

Any of the flashlight applications - One , they're great trying to see the lock when trying to insert a key. Two, perfect for when the power goes out and you have to locate the extra flashlights in the house. Three, use this while checking on sleeping children without waking them up. I use this application at night to do a bed check since my youngest likes to sneak toys up onto her bed. Available via ShopCrackBerry.com and BlackBerry App World for $0.99 - $2.99.

Accessories

This is the part that I love whenever I get a new device. I can't wait to try out the accessories. First thing I purchase is a case since I have a nasty habit of dropping my BlackBerry. I went with the Case-mate Barely There case. The smooth exterior is soft to the touch without being slippery. I did notice a slight gap/lip when the device is closed (see picture below).

BlackBerry Torch 9800

The included USB charging cable and removable wall plug made charging anywhere possible. I can charge my Torch in the car using the cable and a USB cigarette lighter adapter, the laptop using just the USB cable or by just plugging the USB cable into the wall charger.

Power Mom's Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Solid device, doesn't feel flimsy even with keyboard extended
  • Fantastic camera
  • Fast browsing
  • Optional keyboards (onscreen and physical)
  • Touchscreen is extremely responsive
  • Tons of memory space

Cons

  • Video recording not quite up to par yet
  • Fingerprints!
  • Case doesn't fit correctly (although this has nothing to do with the device itself)