Community Review: Microsoft Sync with a Splash of BlackBerry Flavoring

By Guzman on 6 Oct 2009 09:28 am EDT
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Microsoft Sync

[ This post comes via our Community Review forums from member Guzman. Post your review and if we promote it to the blogs you'll receive a coupon for free accessories or apps from ShopCrackBerry.com. ]

I recently purchased a 2009 Ford F150 Lariat 4x4 truck and was blown away by all the features it has. Now lets not get into the age-old "Ford Vs. Chevy Vs. Dodge" debate as that could go on for days and it never accomplishes anything. However, there is one feature in my Ford that I think almost any vehicle owner would want... and that is Sync by Microsoft.

Microsoft Sync

I have to say that I was skeptical at first of all its claim, however it has been so easy to use along with my 8330m and all my pessimistic notions are gone! So enough of the entry, lets get into the details.

When you first pair up Sync with your Blackberry it walks you through a very simple procedure, offering you a security pairing code on the screen, and guiding you through each step in sequence. Once paired you are able to transfer your phone book contacts which the Blackberry automatically defaults its settings to allow this. Once transferred, Sync allows the operator to handsfree (well almost considering you do have to push the button with your finger) activate their phone, media choices, and give commands for each. When pressing the Sync button, I am greeted by a female digital voice... we'll call her Olga. Olga says "Sync, Please say a command" and I feel obliged to respond "Phone." To this, Olga responds asking me to say the name of the person I wish to call. I must say that I have never used a voice activated dialing system that required no setup, and had such great results! Even the native voice dial on the phone has at times left me bewildered as to who I called, knowing that person was not the intended recipient.

Sync also allows you to browse your recent calls, phone book, and redial however it prefers you do this while stationary as a safety precaution. Sync performs a Vehicle Health Report that is emailed to you and accessible via SyncMyRide.com as well as in the event of an accident automatically dials 911 through your cell phone with the "911 Assist" feature. At times when it can not understand, it offers suggestions and asks you to press or say 1, 2, or 3 (each, respectively, a different contact).

Microsoft Sync

The only negative that I have noticed in my first week of use, is that the volume on the Blackberry defaults to around 50% and I so far have been unable to change this. I have turned off and on the echo control, set the volume from previous to 100%, and restarted the phone a few times unsuccessfully. However, a small turn of the volume dial in the truck and everything is fine. Those on the other end of my invisible string-tied-between-soup-cans also say that I sound very clear and crisp most of the time.

Another built in feature of Sync is Bluetooth Media Streaming! Now I must admit at first I was unable to get this to work, however a few days later while playing with Pandora, I reset the Bluetooth Streaming setting in Pandora and it began to work. While my truck is equipped with Sirius Satellite Radio free for 6 months, Sirius is not tailored to my specific music taste. Enter Pandora with its intuitive music engine and its eager desire to serve up my favorite tunes. I also have AM/FM radio and a 6 CD changer, though I haven't used them yet thanks to Bluetooth Media Streaming (and the USB port though this doesn't pertain to the Blackberry directly).

Microsoft Sync

With all these great features Sync and the Blackberry offer me as the driver, its hard to say why I'd ever leave my truck! (Did I mention I have seat heaters and seat air conditioning?) So if you're in the market for a new vehicle, and you constantly find yourself wearing those ridiculous Bluetooth headsets or trying to keep a vehicle speaker phone charged, you may want to check out Ford and their vehicles equipped with Sync. Tell them Crackberry.com sent you!

Reader comments

Community Review: Microsoft Sync with a Splash of BlackBerry Flavoring

34 Comments

Sounds very similar to the system in my Fiat Bravo called Blue and Me (Some Alfa's also have this). This also runs on Windows Mobile and works very well, except for the woman's voice being a little too quiet when driving at speed.

Very nice to see my BB working seamlessly with systems like this, especially with Contact transfer. One thing my BB doesn't work with is the SMS Reader, which reads incoming SMS messages out loud. Once again, RIM need to work on how SMS works so awesome features like this can work!

I really like these "real life experiences with my BlackBerry" type of posts. It's essentially those everyday BB ethusiasts who have a normal job, vehicle, family, etc. that can really appeal to the masses with some innovative and interesting ways to make the most out of a fantastic device. Thank much for the post!

Wife has a focus, with Sync as well as, leather, heated seats etc, IN A FOCUS!!! She has her Dare and I have the Storm, both of which are paired but hers is the primary phone when we are both in the vehicle. But it never has any problems connecting to my Storm when ever its just me. I do have to turn up the volume like the OP experienced with his BB but no problems after a quick adjustment of the volume knob. I love it, best thing about the car IMO. Highly Recommend getting this feature on your next Ford if it isn't already standard like in most models.

My wife has it in her 2008 Focus (was the only thing I had to have in the car) We both love it, and it is so easy to use. Every car on the planet should be fitted with this system.
In fact, thanks for reminding me I need to sync up my new Tour....

Pretty good review! :) As a Curve 8330 owner and Pandora subscriber, I would love to know how the music quality sounds when you're streaming from the Berry to Sync.

How well does the volume control work when listening to tunes?

When a call comes in, is Pandora automatically paused?

Great post. I wonder if this works this seamlessly with Microsoft Zune. Does anyone in Crackberry nation know?

Again, great post.

Have the same truck but a FX4 love the sync but as most I can not get that volume up and I have to crank up the radio volume and most of my friends have a hard time hearing me if it goes to loud or I find myself yelling into the mirror mic ,looks kinda dumb ,if anyone nows the trick to get the volume up I would bet that it would work better .Just my 02

I just purchased a 2010 Ford Fusion with the latest version of Sync...and I have to say it's flat-out amazing...especially their new SYNC Services. That's a new package that you get for free...that allows for turn-by-turn navigation on your standard SYNC set up... no in-car nav is necessary! It uses a GPS chip that's already in the car. Truly amazing stuff!

I also have a 2009 F-150 with the sync system. I also have the navigation system which even further enhances your digital experience as you can display your phone book and call logs on the screen on the dash. It is awesome and I would highly recommend it.

I have a Ford Edge with the SYNC system. As you mentioned it is tremendous.

I wish there was something I could add to the BlackBerry to make it work with the Voice to Text and Text to Voice features of Sync. It appears that some of the Motorola phones work with this, but no luck with the BlackBerry devices. I looked at the Nuance website (the Bluetooth software on the phone) and it appears if the BlackBerry had version 3 of then we would be able to make it work.

Interested on hearing thoughts (and maybe ways to make this work)

As a Ford trained sync specalist, I have found almost all of the new phones coming out as of the last two quarters have had the bluetooth function switched off for the text download feature. The phone companies have followed suite do to most (not all) states have made it against the law to text while driving. Also the text service on the sync only allowed you to reply to the text's saved in the preset text section of your phone.
Hope that helped.

FYI for Storm and Sync owners. I've tested the unit with OS 5.0 and all works great.

There were a few hybrids I tried that only half worked. You could use the Bluetooth calling, but the phonebook would not donwload for whatever reason, so I went back to using some leaked versions from RIM.

OMG I LOVE SYNC!!! I use it all the time and it is pretty dang flawless. I have had 15 cars and Blue tooth in my 06 Passat and both Hybrid Prius but I am forever owning a FORD as SYNC takes it so much farther. It even can call 911 when you are in a accident. My little SUV has the Nav with SYNC so it is very easy to set up and use the featurs as the Nav screen shows you commands you can say without haveing to guess.

I'm normally more of a fan of GM vehicles rather than Fords (I know, I know... you said not to get into this). But, I've gotta say, this sure kicks the tail off that Onstar nonsense that GM has been pushing for the past few years!

My mini-van has Onstar on it and I would so love to be able to rip that crappy module out and replace it w/a more standard Bluetooth module.

I have a new 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid with Sync and the Navigation system, touch screen etc...

It is amazing and works great for me. For whatever it is worth, you can plug your iPod in to the USB port and play your playlists etc right off of there. Sweet.

I do have the volume issue as well when I make or receive a call and have not been able to change that one. Another thing is that the model we have allows for Text Message display on the screen but it is not yet supported through BT with the Blackberry. I think that is a limitation of BB and Bluetooth text message retrieval rather than the sync unit itself.

Aside from getting 34-36 mpg in my SUV, sync and the nav system have to be the best "bells and whistles" on this car!

I've been doing some research on the texting issue...Looks like it needs to support the BPP and BIP profiles. Not sure if we can add these profiles or not.

I've had sync in my 2008 ford edge for 2 years now and I love it more everyday! I was leery of getting a Ford, but my dad sells them so he convinced me to wait for the '08 model b/c of the sync, and I'm so glad I did! I will not give in a drive a non-Ford now! I love that my BB Storm streams music too, I barely ever use my ipod in there anymore. The voice commands don't work when you media stream, but if you use your USB cable and plug it in, you can do the voice commands to say "Play Track etc" or "Play playlist whatever." Its fantastic and best of all the call quality is really good, even with my massive sunroof open (although sometimes if its raining really hard, people can hear it through the phone!). I was told by Verizon that the reason the text message feature (for those that dont know, it can read your text message when it comes in - if supported) doesnt work for me is because of the Bluetooth that is in the Verizon phones. My boyfriend has AT&T and when his phone is hooked up it will read his text messages! I definitely recommend a Ford with Sync to everyone! I'm trading my Edge in around February and plan to get the newer features like Air conditioned seats (so cool -- no pun intended!)! Ford & Microsoft just keep feeding my Crackberry addiction! :)

Have to agree that Sync rocks, and having used a Palm Centro before getting my new BB Curve 8330, I must say that the Curve sets up MUCH easier with Sync than the Palm ever did! The auto phonebook download is so great, I now have ALL my numbers in the car. We have both a Focus and a Lincoln MKZ and recommend Sync to all friends a family. Anxious now to go try out streaming Pandora or Slacker without wires on the way home today - after reading how to do it here. Thanks Crackberry.com! And all y'all, of course!

The SYNC system in our 2009 FORD EDGE is phenomenal! Just for the sheer safety factor alone all vehicles should come with a "hands free" system like this.

Sound quality when bluetooth streaming Pandora or MP3s (through the media player) is excellent.

One of my favorite features that hasn't been mentioned is that (with bluetooth on) if you are on a call and get into your vehicle and start it, SYNC takes over seamlessly and you are on speaker. If you are still on the call when you get out of the car, SYNC disconnects and the call is put back through the handheld. Never been disconnected, very cool!

I've had SYNC for around a year now [08 Focus] and I adore it.

My only problem is that VERIZON does not allow SMS over Bluetooth. So it can't read my texts to me.. VZW = Fail. But other then that - I adore it. And since CA went hands free earlier this year, it was perfect timing.

For those who asked about Sync and Zune working together, the answer is yes, that was one of the main targets for the application, it also works seamlessly with iPods/iPhones last i checked. Also, the new Chevy Camaro has the same feature, or at least a very similar one. Not sure who it's developed by but it does everything that Sync does, at least everything I've thought of trying. So non-Ford owners/buyers may begin to see things like this become standard in all vehicle lineups.

Thanks everyone! To answer a few questions...the volume during bluetooth media playback is just fine. Also the quality is great. I regularly use Pandora radio to make phone calls and I believe Pandora automatically pauses when you receive a phone call just like it would if you were just listening to it on headphones and received a call anywhere else. Glad everyone has enjoyed the review. I enjoyed doing it :)

Another Sync user checking in... Have it in my 2008 Taurus, and it's simply superb.

The low default volume when making calls is a common complaint, and probably my only peeve with the system other than "Olga's" voice being loud at times (although double-pressing the Sync button keeps her quiet). Hopefully RIM will soon support text-through-speech.

Another tip: If "Olga" is too chatty for your tastes, press the sync button, and say "settings", then press again and say "set interaction mode advanced". Statements like "USB, please say a command" get shortened to "USB", and Olga will no longer confirm commands, but instead just get right to doing whatever it is you asked for.

I've got an '08 Sport Trac and agree that the bluetooth phone volume is an issue. I have to turn the volume on the radio/sync up to about 80% to hear the other party. The volume seems fine on all other functions - media player, iheartradio, etc. In fact I often have to turn down the radio/sync to 20% on anything other than phone calls. It certainly seems to be a BB issue as my previous phone was an LG and it worked great with sync and certainly didn't have volume issues. Other than that, I love the combination of my 8230 and Sync.

Nice truck! I just purchased a '10 FX4 SCab with Sync. Bold works great in Sync. Of course I have the same volume troubles as others. Have you upgraded your Sync to V3. Go to syncmyride.com

Oh bummer. I picked up my brand new 2011 Ford Edge with Microsoft Sync and was blown away by the phone integration with my also brand new Torch!! Too bad it didn't last... There seems to be some glitch that makes it stop working after a while. I went back to the dealership and they "reset it" but they can't get it to work again. They said unless BB has a solution, (since it works fine with other phones), then I will have to wait for the new release of Sync to get the Torch working. Such a bummer... The Torch doesn't see Sync at all anymore. Has anyone else had this problem? Is this dealership just not "in the know"?? Help