Articles by Al Sacco

Top 8 Reasons Why Palm Pre’s Got Nothin’ on BlackBerry

The Pre is here; Palm recently released the much-anticipated Pre smartphone to the world-and the fate of the company very much depends on whether or not the device is a hit. Palm, former king of the PDA market, is attempting to pull itself back to the forefront of the smartphone game with the likes of RIM and Apple, and the Pre will no doubt be instrumental to its success...or lack thereof.

A while back, I penned a piece for CrackBerry called "Top 10 Reasons Why the iPhone Is NO BlackBerry," in which I pointed out why Apple's iPhone might be fine for your kid brother or all the Mac-heads at school or work, even your mom, but it doesn't hold a candle to BlackBerry when the two are stacked up next to each other (I'll be weighing in on the state of this ongoing debate soon now that the iPhone 3G S has been announced).

While the Pre is certainly exciting and I look forward to some quality thumbs-on time with it, I didn't rush out to pick one up this week, nor will I be trading in my beloved ‘Berry for a Palm device anytime soon; the Palm Pre's simply no BlackBerry.

How can I be so sure? Well, I've spent some time with the Pre, read all the reviews and studiously studied that spec sheet. While it would've been ideal to spend a couple of weeks with the Pre before deeming it a second-class option when compared to BlackBerry, I honestly didn't need to.

Pop on that there jump for my reasons why.


Seidio Innocase Surface for BlackBerry Bold Review

A Hard Skin Case to Protect Your BlackBerry Bold In Style

There's no shortage of BlackBerry Bold 9000 skins and cases on the market today. Finding the one that's best for you is really a matter of personal preference. But if you're looking for a minimalistic case that offers decent protection without adding any significant bulk to your Research In Motion (RIM) Bold smartphone, you'll find a friend in the Seidio Innocase Surface.

The Bold Innocase is good looking, adds a much-needed degree of "sturdiness" to the Bold's less-than-rock-solid build, and fully protects its chrome bezel from scratches and other aesthetic damage. However, it's high price; hard, non-malleable plastic, which makes accessing depressed convenience keys and other buttons somewhat difficult; and a few unfortunate design flaws mean the case is far from perfect.

Overall, I was pleased with the Seidio Innocase Surface for Bold-it has become my new case of choice and my Bold is wearing it as I write this post-but I've got quite a bit of constructive criticism for Seidio, as well. Hit the jump for the specifics.


RIM BlackBerry Sync Pod for Storm Review: Syncin’ in Style

The official name of the Research In Motion (RIM) syncing and charging cradle for the Storm is the BlackBerry Sync Pod, though the accessory does much more than merely sync data between a smartphone and a PC. The BlackBerry Sync Pod also charges your Storm and acts as a cradle for better screen positioning while watching video clips or listening to music. And it automatically puts your device in speaker-phone-mode if calls come in while in use so there’s no need to remove the Storm from the Sync Pod to answer.

For the most part, the Storm Sync Pod delivers on RIM’s promise to provide a stylish and effective new way to transfer data, music, photos, and videos back and forth between your Storm and a PC.  But the lack of such features as an LED or other indicator to signal when syncing and/or charging are complete hinder its overall performance.

The BlackBerry Sync Pod is a worthy addition to any Storm owner’s accessory arsenal, but it’s far from perfect. Hit the jump for my reasons why.


Review: Seidio 3500mAh Battery for the BlackBerry Bold

The BlackBerry Bold 9000 , Research In Motion (RIM)'s high-end, 3G smartphone is a stunning and impressive device on many levels. Unfortunately, battery life is not one of its strong points-I consider myself lucky if the Bold makes it through a full day without a charge.

In the past, BlackBerry devices were lauded for their outstanding battery life, and anyone making the switch from an older device, such as an 8700 or an original Pearl 8100, to the new Bold is sure to notice a drastic change. That decreased battery life is due largely to the Bold's 3G support (GSM/UMTS/HSDPA), Wi-Fi and power-hungry 624-MHz processor. But thanks to accessory maker Seidio and its line of batteries for the BlackBerry Bold, the ability to go 24 hours or more on a single charge is easily within your reach.

Seidio currently offers two batteries for the Bold 9000: the Innocell 1650mAh Extended Battery, which is almost the exact size and shape as the battery that ships with the Bold, but with slightly more power storage capacity; and the Seidio 3500mAh Extended Battery with door, which provides more than double the battery life of the standard Bold battery RIM, according to Seidio, but also requires a separate battery cover.

I wanted the most Bold-battery-bang for my buck, so I reviewed the 3500mAh battery pack. (For more on the smaller, 1650mAh Seidio battery for Bold, read "In Stock: 1650mAh OEM Size Extended Battery for the Bold") And though it certainly delivers on its promise to double the battery life of my BlackBerry Bold, the extended power comes at a hefty price-and I don't just mean the $59.99 you'll need to scrounge up to purchase it. Read on for my explanation.


Wanted: Nine BlackBerry Operating System Tweaks in 2009!

The modern world of smartphones is rapidly evolving, to say the least. And this fact has never been clearer to me than when CrackBerry Kevin and the other SPE folks recently undertook their yearly Smartphone Round Robin which is now winding down -- so many great devices, each with its own cutting-edge features and functionality, some of which didn't even exist just a year ago (fyi - Kevin tells me his Back on the Bold final review is coming tomorrow and the grand prize winners will be announced Thursday!). The SPE boys (and girl!) and their toys really got me thinking that it's time for RIM to not only step up to the plate with regards to the BlackBerry OS, but to hit one (way) out of the park -- at least if the company wants to continue competing with Apple, Microsoft, Palm, Google and the other handset heavies.


Review: Case Mate Privacy Screen Pro for BlackBerry

There are countless reasons why BlackBerry users might desire some extra privacy. A businessman checking his e-mail during a flight could want to shield his device from the prying eyes of the curious teenagers seated around him; or on the flip side, one of those same teenagers might not fancy the guy in the suit with the 8830 watching as he attempts to make BrickBreaker history.  Average Joe BlackBerry, who's peeping the latest Kim Kardashian celebrity BlackBerry sightings at work, just might like to keep that to himself.

Whatever the motivation, Case Mate's Privacy Screen Pro, which sells for $14.95 at ShopCrackBerry.com, promises to help ensure that whatever you may be doing with your BlackBerry remains your own business.  According to Case Mate, the screen provides enhanced device security by blocking display visibility from any angle that's more than 45 degrees, horizontally or vertically, from the center of your display. This holds true based on my experiences with the product.  On the whole, the privacy screen does exactly what it's supposed to and more.


How to Install or Upgrade to a New RIM BlackBerry Operating System (OS)

Research In Motion (RIM) is constantly developing and testing new software and applications for your BlackBerry.  Keeping up to date with the newest operating system (OS) software for your smartphone ensures that you have access to all the latest and greatest features and performance tweaks.  With the official release of BlackBerry OS v4.5 on the horizon—various beta, or test, versions of the software are already bouncing around the Web—we thought this would be a great time for a BlackBerry OS tutorial.

What follows is our step-by-step guide on how to upgrade your BlackBerry's OS, or install a different version, as well as how to prepare beforehand to make the process run as smoothly as possible.

To start a new operating system install, you'll need your BlackBerry, an Internet-connected PC, a USB cable and about an hour and half of free time—50 minutes or an hour for the upgrade process and 30 minutes or catch-up time afterwards.  Mac users beware: RIM doesn't currently offer the BlackBerry Desktop Manager software for Apple computers; however, industrious Mac owners running Parallels and who have a copy of Windows have been able to upgrade their BlackBerrys via Macs, though the process can be a bit clumsy.

If you've got all the necessary tools listed above, the BlackBerry OS install process should be a breeze.  Let's get started.


Create Custom BlackBerry Ringtones Using Your RIM Desktop Manager Software

* * Update - This tutorial may not work on newer versions of BlackBerry Desktop Manager **

Sick and tired of hanging around the CrackBerry Ringtones corner to see if that new favorite song has been added?  Well, patience is a virtue, but when it comes to BlackBerry ringtones your days of waiting are over.  That's because creating your own custom ringtones from CDs, DRM-free iTunes tracks and other audio files really couldn't be simpler.  All you need is your desktop computer, a recent version of the BlackBerry Desktop Manager software with Roxio Media Manager, space on your BlackBerry or media card and a few spare minutes to learn the creation process.

Our custom BlackBerry ringtones tutorial will have you cranking out ringtones like it was your job in no time. From there, check out our ringtones installation tutorial to learn how to transfer the new tones to your BlackBerry. After that, you can add your coolest creations to CrackBerry.com's Free user-contributed ringtone library so other CrackBerry.com members can enjoy them!


Five Reasons Why a Touch Screen BlackBerry Would Be Great for RIM--And Four It Could Be a Big Mistake

Speculation over a possible touch screen BlackBerry from Research In Motion (RIM) has been bouncing around the Web for years.  Smartphones and PDAs from Palm, one of RIM's biggest rivals, all had touch screens in the past, and the feature was one of the major differentiators between BlackBerrys and Treos.  If you preferred touch screens, you probably went with a Palm Pilot, Treo or a Windows Mobile device; if you wanted the best QWERTY keyboard available, you likely invested in a BlackBerry. As such, it always seemed like a distinct possibility that RIM might try to one up Palm and others by offering a touch screen device of its own.

But the rumors have really picked up--and seemingly gained traction --over the past year following Apple's introduction of the iPhone.  Various images of the purported RIM device have surfaced—some clearly fake, others less-obviously Photoshopped. Mike Lazaridis, RIM's co-CEO, recently admitted that his company is working on some "very interesting" user-interface technologies and won't confirm or deny the touch screen rumors. And both The Wall Street Journal and Fortune recently said a BlackBerry touch, dubbed "Thunder," is indeed in the works.

I've put a lot of thought into the idea of a touch screen BlackBerry, but have never been able to decide whether or not I really want to see one hit the market.  There's just so much that weighs in the balance, and it's unclear to me whether or not the benefits outnumber the risks. What follows are five reasons why I can't wait to get my hands on touch screen BlackBerry—and four reasons it might be better for RIM if I never do. Click Here for the details.


Review: Freedom Universal Bluetooth Keyboard

Bye-Bye BlackBerry Thumb

Since you're reading this review on CrackBerry.com, you're very likely familiar with the condition commonly referred to as "BlackBerry Thumb." For this reason, I won't get into too much detail, but BlackBerry Thumb comes about after excessive use of the tiny keyboard found on a wide variety of RIM devices and other smartphones. As a rule of "thumb," the more frequently you respond to e-mail or send messages using that tiny keyboard, the more prone to the condition you are.

What's the best way to avoid BlackBerry thumb, you ask? Well, reducing the amount of typing you're doing is probably your best bet. If that's not an option, or at least one you're willing to consider, increasing the size of your keyboard is sure to help.  Constant use of any keyboard can potentially lead to hand and wrist pain, possibly even to carpal tunnel syndrome over time, but if you need to type frequently, you're much better off with a larger keyboard.

In comes the Freedom Universal Keyboard from Freedom Input Ltd, which is available in the  ShopCrackBerry.com for $99.95.  The keyboard connects to your BlackBerry via Bluetooth and makes for a great way to handle inbox maintenance and rapid messaging.  It's about the size of an average laptop keyboard and is a great alternative to the small keyboard found on your device.


Top 10 Reasons Why the iPhone Is NO BlackBerry

I don't know about you, but I'm sick and tired of hearing about the Apple iPhone.  iPhone-this and iPhone-that.  I can't even walk down the street or ride the train without seeing an iPhone in the hands of some bubbly college girl or Apple fanboy.  And all the tech sites, from Engadget to Gizmodo and everywhere between, are plastered with iPhone "news" each day.  Yuck.  Enough is enough.

I realize the iPhone is cool, okay?  So is my BlackBerry.  I'll even concede that what Apple did with the iPhone's touch screen is both remarkably innovative and revolutionary.  What I will NOT do is trade in my RIM device for one.  And I have ten solid reasons why not.  Check this out.