Think about planning a trip to the beach. You'll need to figure out a good time to go for everyone in the group, so that will mean lots of phone calls and emails. Don't forget to pack your GPS navigator so you can get there and your computer so you can browse the internet and check email when you do. MP3 player for tunes on the road. Extra batteries for the digital camera. Extra tapes for the video camera. And a USB cable so you can send those vacation photos to friends and family.
As you may have guessed, your BlackBerry can handle all of these tasks and more. Getting your new BlackBerry to this level of cool doesn't take very long at all. Here's a quick overview of how to do it.
Register your device on the mobile network
Registering allows your BlackBerry to contact the world. In most cases, your phone was registered in the store or at the office. Otherwise, your phone will generally automatically register once it's connected to the mobile network. This process depends on the carrier; if you run in to any problems, be sure to contact your carrier's customer service. Once complete, you'll get an email saying your device is registered.
Add an email account.
BlackBerry smartphones make it simple to access existing accounts. Find the email setup.
OS5: Open the Settings folder and then click Email Settings
OS6: Open the Setup application located towards the bottom of the All tab. Click Email Settings
The first time you open this application, you will be prompted to create an account. Follow the onscreen instructions to create your email account and/or login. Make sure to remember user names and passwords.
OS6: You will be prompted to login to your email settings. Use the user name and password you created. Once logged in, choose Internet Mail Account.
Press the BlackBerry key to open the full menu. Select Add Email account. From here, select the type of email account to add. AOL, GMail, Windows Live, and Yahoo accounts can be added automatically. The only information you need to provide is your email address and your password. For other email addresses, your BlackBerry can still automatically setup many email accounts. Expect new messages to start arriving almost immediately.
For more information, see our 101 Lecture: How to Setup Email
Send an email
Open the messages app. The icon looks like the back of an envelope. Press the BlackBerry key and choose compose email. In the To: field, type your recipient's email address. If you already have an email address saved as part of a person's contact information, you can simply type that contact's name. You can add more and more recipients by pressing enter after each email address or contact. When your missive is complete, press the BlackBerry key again, and choose send.
Make a call
Say you're on the phone with Mom. You can find her in the contacts list or just start typing "Mom" from the home screen. But you were different. You found her by using voice dialing. More on that in another article
While on the phone you can do a lot of things. You can activate the speakerphone so everyone can hear mom's story about that woman in the store. (BlackBerry key -> Activate Speakerphone). You can mute yourself so mom can't hear you roll your eyes (moms can hear this.) (BlackBerry key -> Mute). You can even continue your call with mom while you look through your email to find the address of your hotel at the beach. (Back Key -> Select "Yes" when prompted)
OS6: Speakerphone and Mute are also buttons in the call screen.
For more information, see our 101 Lecture: Top Ten ways to make a phone call
Plan your route.
My favorite navigation program, Google Maps, is available for free from m.google.com/maps. Open your web browser and type m.google.com/maps into the address bar. Click "Install Now" and then "Download." Once it's completed, you may be asked to set permissions. The program will prompt you for the permissions it needs. Make sure you grant these permissions, as the program won't work properly unless you do. Choose save from the menu (BlackBerry key) to continue.
Open up Google Maps; it is most likely in your Downloads folder. Here, you can enter an address or search for a location. Google Maps also supports voice search. Hold down the green phone key and speak. When you release the key, Google will search for the address you looked for.
Getting directions is easy. After searching, just click the trackpad/trackball. You'll be given options to get directions, view on map, and check out an on-the-ground image in Street View. If you've searched for a business, you can even get a short review about your destination as well as the option to call.
Google Maps for BlackBerry offers step-by-step directions and the ability to see the view on the street at each turn.
For more information, see our 101 Lecture: Getting apps for your BlackBerry
Your BlackBerry can play any number of different music and video formats. You can also view the hundreds of pictures you're likely to take on the trip. Music and video can take up a great deal of memory on your device. I highly recommend getting some expandable memory. A 4 GB microSD card can store a lot of information without breaking the bank. More expensive 8, 16, and 32 gigabyte models are also available.
Depending on your model of BlackBerry, you may have a 2, 3, or 5 megapixel camera. The higher the number of megapixels, the more detailed your photographs will be. Also available is a video camera; again, the quality of your video images depends on the quality of your camera lens.
The easiest way to open your video and camera apps is to find them in the media folder. While browsing your pictures, you can open the still camera; and while browsing your videos you can open the video camera. Once the app is open, using these cameras is simple.
The screen shows you exactly what you'll be taking a picture of. Once you selected your subject matter and framed the picture artfully, just click the trackball/trackpad to take the picture. In OS5, the camera will take a brief moment to focus before taking the actual picture. Your right-side convenience key is a two-stage key. Push it in half way and your picture is in focus; push it in the rest of the way and the BlackBerry takes a picture. This is quite similar to the way focusing and taking pictures works on a digital camera. Photos you take can be found in your Pictures folder.
Recording video is just as simple. After opening the video camera (through the video media folder), all you need to do to record is click the trackpad/trackball. Your indicator LED will flash, letting you know that you are recording. To stop, click the trackball/trackpad again. Recorded videos can be found in the Videos media folder.
For more information, see our 101 Lecture: Video and still camera
And now for the coup de grace of BlackBerry coolness. Sharing your photos with your friends and family. Let's say you want to send mom a picture. If you were using a digital camera, you'd need to connect your camera to a computer and transfer the photo. Attach the photo to an email and then send it. Not sending? Is your computer connected to the internet? Better find your Ethernet cable or hope that your hotel has Wi-Fi.
Your BlackBerry can accomplish this in a few short steps. Find the picture on your BlackBerry that you want to send. Press the BlackBerry key to open the menu. Select Send and then email. Type mom's email address in the To: field or just type "Mom" if you have her email address stored with the "Mom" contact. Then send. Mom will love it.
Presented here has been but a small sampling of what your BlackBerry can do. There are many, many other features to explore: web browsing, music and podcasts, calendars, apps like Facebook; Twitter; and Foursquare… There are also many settings and options to customize your smartphone to your exact specifications.
You'll find all of this and more in the BlackBerry 101 lecture series.