BlackBerry News and Reviews

Major League Baseball's Joe Carter talks BlackBerry at the BlackBerry 7 Fan Night!

[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

If you're not up to par with your Major League Baseball history, you might not know the name Joe Carter. And if not, you should! He's best known for his amazing walk-off home run that gave the Toronto Blue Jays the 1993 World Series Victory. Suffice to say he is a Toronto hero, which is where the BlackBerry 7 Fan Night was held and Joe was on hand at the event to talk BlackBerry! Joe was in heavy demand all night, but I managed to grab a couple minutes of his time. Check out the video above - he is an uber cool guy.  Thanks for the time Joe!

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From the Forums: Making calls from your PlayBook, Bold 9900 case talk, and a free theme

So much new BlackBerry goodness in the blogs, and I can't wait to get my hands on some of these new devices. I bet a lot of you are anxious too. For now, you can check out the latest news and rumors about these devices in the blogs, and then head on over to the CrackBerry forums and see what's up with your fellow CrackBerry addicts. Below is a sample of some interesting threads you won't want to miss.

Found an interesting article you want to share with CrackBerry Nation? Have a burning question about that feature you just can't figure out? There is ALWAYS more happening just a click away in the forums. You can always head over and join in the conversation, search for answers, or lend your expertise to other members of our community. If you aren't already, take a moment to get registered in the CrackBerry forums today!

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BlackBerry Torch 9810 Hands-On and First Impressions

[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

After having RIM's Andrew Bocking walk us through the BlackBerry Torch 9850 / 9860 at BlackBerry 7 Fan Night, I fired up the CrackBerry camera again to get a better hands-on look at the BlackBerry Torch 9810. The Torch 9810 is the straight-up successor to the original BlackBerry Torch 9800. Untrained eyes might not even notice the difference between the Torch 9800 and Torch 9810, as from a hardware design perspective the overall form factor is basically the same. The 9810 gets a re-freshed silver look with matching silver battery door which I'm not a huge fan of (though I'm sure we'll see a white version too which I'll no doubt love) and features a higher resolution display, but otherwise the enhancements are under the hood. 

BlackBerry Torch 9810 First Impressions

  • FINALLY! - The 9810 really addresses all of the gripes I had with the original Torch 9800. The 1.2GHz processor is snappy and gets rid of the Torch 9800's lag, it has HD video recording and Open GL support for 3D gaming and more internal memory for apps. Oh, and BlackBerry 7 allows me to customize the homescreen views so you if you don't want to be doing any accidental scrolling, you won't be. Add those up and it's the device I really wished the Torch 9800 would have been.
  • LIQUIDY SMOOTH - As with all the new BlackBerry 7 devices, having a dedicated GPU to power the RIM-branded "liquid graphics" really makes the whole BlackBerry experience feel more updated and modern. If you're a long time BlackBerry user, you'll notice the difference.
All in all, the Torch 9810 is the original Torch, but way better. If you like the sliding form factor of the 9800, you're simply going to love the 9810. I'm a little sad it doesn't get the same light-up Trackpad that is on the 9850/9860 and Bold 9900/9930, but it's something we'll have to cope with (I've got a theory on why it's not there - will save that for the full review). In the meantime, check out the video above!

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Contest: Haven by Pootermobile - Find refuge right on your BlackBerry

Pootermobile has just released his latest theme creation, and it is a real winner. Called Haven, this theme will be your refuge from theme related stress. The wallpaper friendly home screen features a unique peel-back look which allows an icon to peek through. This spot is perfect for a weather app or whatever you use frequently, and comes with vertical status text that fits in the space nicely. Fun new icons pop against the black background of the application screen and I like the blue/green color of the focus icons throughout. Haven runs smoothly on my device, and I love that the home screen is minimal and doesn't detract from my favorite wallpapers.

You can pick up Haven for $1.99 for your BlackBerry 8330/50i, 85xx, 89xx, 9000, 91xx, 93xx, 95xx, 96xx, 97xx, and 9800. If you'd rather take your chances and try to win a free copy, you're in luck because Pootermobile gave us 50 copies to pass on to you guys! Leave a comment below to enter. Contest ends Sunday at midnight PST, one entry per person, of course.

For more information/screenshots and to purchase Haven

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Vodafone UK offers up a BlackBerry Torch 9860 sneak peek

[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

With the BlackBerry Torch 9860 having been given its official welcoming to the BlackBerry line up, more carriers are coming forth and sharing their info about the device. Vodafone UK, having already signed on to take the BlackBerry Bold 9900 in inventory now walks us through the BlackBerry Torch 9860 that will soon be hitting UK.

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Rogers announces pricing for the BlackBerry Bold 9900, Torch 9810 and Torch 9860

 

We knew Rogers was getting ready to announce the BlackBerry Bold 9900, Torch 9810 and Torch 9860 today and now they've done so. Sadly, Rogers is remaining quiet about release dates but they've now got pricing details out of the way and are as follows:

  • BlackBerry Bold 9900 - $249.99
  • Blackberry Torch 9810 - $199.99
  • BlackBerry Torch 9860 - $199.99

Those prices are of course based under the typical 3-year contract terms so we'll have to wait and see what no contract pricing ends up being but either way -- nice to see Rogers lay down some official pricing for everyone.

Source: Rogers

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Rogers introduces first-ever real-time data usage alerts for roaming

Delayed flights, lost luggage, middle seat, airline goes on strike while you're on vacation?  These are just a few of the pains people experience when they travel.  I can tell you as a Canadian, that you don't know travel woes until you travel as a Canadian with your smartphone.  The big three (Rogers, Telus & Bell) have obscene roaming rates.  So when the Kevin, Bla1ze and myself travel to WES/DevCon/BB World with our BlackBerry smartphones we are making a huge sacrifice for you the CrackBerry nation. Rogers charges $6.14/MB in the US, if you think that is bad when our fearless leader travels to Barcelona for Mobile World Congress he is billed the bargain basement rate of $30.00 per megabyte.

The carriers offer packaged bundles for short periods of time to help remove some of the burden of the roaming costs, but who knows how much data is used?  I find when I travel my data use increases with all my Facebook or Twitter photo uploads (can't let an opportunity to show off what I am eating for dinner) plus all the glorious FourSquare check-ins to earn more and more badges. With these carrier bundles when you've exhausted the bucket you go back to pay-per-use.

Rogers however, has introduced some good news.  They have introduced alerts to keep you current on your roaming data usage as well as lower cost travel data passes.  This is a decent start to help ease some of the data roaming pain. Looking forward to see how it helps for DevCon and CES.

More information at Rogers Redboard

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Rogers customer care agents now getting their BlackBerry Bold 9900 training

We're still waiting for Rogers to come forth with their announcement of the Bold 9900, Torch 9810 and Torch 9860 but internally, they're already getting things well underway for launch. Customer care agents are now getting their training for what will hopefully be the first of the new devices out the door from Rogers -- the BlackBerry Bold 9900. When training begins, there is typically a two-week launch window there so that puts us directly in line with the rumored August 15 launch date.

Discuss more in the BlackBerry Bold 9900 forums

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BlackBerry Torch 9850 / 9860 Hands-On Video and First Impressions

[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

OK CrackBerry Nation, it's time for an in-depth hands on video of the new BlackBerry Torch 9850 / BlackBerry Torch 9860 and some initial first impressions! For the video, I put Andrew Bocking, VP of Software for RIM, to work at the BlackBerry 7 Fan Night to walk us through the new full touchscreen device. Be sure to watch the video above to get a good look at features of the new Torch, but maybe more importantly, to see just how snappy the overall performance is. 1.2GHz on the BlackBerry OS is definitely a good thing. I'm going to save the in-depth analysis for our full out CrackBerry review, but here are some quick thoughts on it.

BlackBerry Bold 9850 / 9860 First Impressions

  • FEELS GREAT - I LOVE the feeling of this device in the hand. RIM set out to build a full touchscreen phone that felt great when held both in portrait mode and in landscape mode and they really succeeded here. The sculpted back of the device almost makes it feel like you're holding a game console controller when in landscape.
  • FAST - This appears to be the case for all these new BlackBerry 7 devices with 1.2 GHz processors.
  • FUNCTIONAL - One of the complaints I've been reading on the site here a bit from members is that RIM went with raised buttons on the Torch 9850/9860. Having used the device now, I think they made the right choice here. I think sticking with physical raised buttons really makes the device more usable with one hand. You can better "feel" your way around the device - it stays true to the BlackBerry experience. I also like that they put the trackpad on the device. Not only does it help with that one-handed ease of use and provide more accurate cursor control (say for clicking links in a web browser), but it makes the device more recognizable as a BlackBerry. All of these touchscreen slab devices look the same, so the trackpad makes it pop out as a BlackBerry!
  • GREAT DISPLAY - At 480x800 pixels, this is the highest resolution display on a BlackBerry to date. The extra pixels come in handy, especially for web browsing, and the BlackBerry 7 web browser seems to be dialed in pretty good. Very smooth and usable.
With the Storm name now dead and the Torch brand respresenting RIM's full touchscreen experience devices (that's why there's now a slider Torch and full screen Torch), the 9850/9860 really is looking like a great option for those who want the BlackBerry experience and don't mind not having a physical keyboard. I have a feeling a lot of people are going to be torn between which BlackBerry 7 device once they get their hands on them.

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A Closer Look at the NFC antenna battery door on the BlackBerry Bold 9900 (and reasoning why the new Torches do not have NFC)

Of the new BlackBerry 7 devices announced to date, the BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930 is the first and only one to offer NFC support. I did ask around at the BlackBerry 7 Fan Night as to why NFC didn't also make an appearance in the Torch 9810, 9850, 9860, and while I didn't get a 100% straight answer, between the partial answers and a closer look at the battery door on the Bold 9900, I feel there's an explanation here.

Back at BlackBerry World, when we first went hands-on with the BlackBerry Bold 9900, we weren't allowed to take off the device's battery door. It turns out there's more to the new Bold's battery door than just good looks. As you can see in the picture above, the Bold 9900's battery door actually contains the NFC antenna. When you clip the battery door onto the 9900, the antenna leads connect back to internal circuitry. Cool stuff. And not only does the Bold 9900's battery door look cool and weigh next to nothing, but the carbon weave glass also allows for the signals (both radio and NFC) to pass through easily. 

So when it comes back to the new Torches not having NFC, I think part of the explanation here is simply that to enable NFC you need to ensure the overall hardware design supports it (not just the chipset/software) and that likely the 9810 and 9850/9860 designs were finalized without considertion for this (or it was considered, but the ultimate design they wanted to go with didn't allow for a well-placed NFC antenna and/or thin battery door without doing some structural redesign). You need to be able to get the NFC antenna in a good place where it's going to work. In other words, RIM could have put NFC into the Torch 9850/9860, but it would have meant altering the shape of the device to get it all working 100%, which they didn't want to do with these devices, especially on a device like the 9850/9860 where you can tell design and feel are paramount. 

Historically RIM has often rolled out new features (WiFi, GPS, Camera, etc.) only on one device model first, so putting it only on one of the new BB7 devices announced isn't a total surprise. And if they are going to put it on one device first, it makes sense RIM would first introduce it on the BlackBerry Bold. Though we were told all future devices will have NFC. But with NFC really still in its infancy, I don't think it's that big of a deal not to have it on the Torch 9810 or Torch 9850/9860. 

What do you all think? It is a huge deal that the new Torches don't have NFC? Or not that big of a deal?? Let us know in the comments. And PS. If you read this post and don't know what NFC is, click here.

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Do Not Panic PlayBook owners... Android App Player still looking to be on schedule

A rumor hit the internet yesterday in regards to the much-anticipated Android App Player for the BlackBerry PlayBook stating that the feature won't arrive until "late fall" despite RIM previously stating that it will arrive late summer. The information was said to come from a "reliable source."

I've been keeping pretty close tabs on this one since getting my in-depth App Player walk through during my recent trip to Waterloo, and from what I'm seeing/hearing things are still on track. As it stands now developers should be getting access in the next two to three weeks, and from there it should just be a couple more weeks before owners are officially running Android apps on their PlayBooks (devs will need a bit of time to bring over their apps and I'm sure RIM will want to ramp up a bit of marketing hype behind it too). So late August/early September still seems to be in the cards vs. late fall. 

So as of now, I say don't panic! If for whatever reason by the end of August we haven't seen RIM roll out access to developers, then I'll more seriously start to worry about delays.

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RDM+ from Shape Services gets approved for the BlackBerry PlayBook, Available now

As we know Shape Services has had quite a run around going on with IM+ for the BlackBerry PlayBook, but that has not stopped them from continuing their development for other applications. Another of their popular applications, RDM+ has just been approved for sales through AppWorld. RDM+ is a remote desktop application which has been available for BlackBerry devices for quite some time now, and it will be officially available in AppWorld for your PlayBook shortly. If you have been waiting to be able to manage your computer via your PlayBook, be sure to hop into AppWorld and grab a copy for yourself today for the introductory price of $9.99!

More information / purchase of RDM+ for BlackBerry PlayBook

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BlackBerry 7 Fan Night... Great Success! Lots of Videos on the Way!

 
New BlackBerry Smartphones... Tons of CrackBerry Fans.. now that's a BlackBerry 7 Fan Night!

If you don't follow me on twitter (@crackberrykevin), you may not have realized yet that I was on location in Toronto last night for the much talked about BlackBerry 7 Fan Night! All of the newly-announced BlackBerry 7 Smartphones were on hand, as were lots of media, lots of people from RIM, some celebs (recorded a sweet interview with Joe Carter!) and a ton of fans of BlackBerry. I quickly realized that fans of BlackBerry tend to be fans of CrackBerry as well - it was awesome to meet soooo many CrackBerry readers in person!

I spent a bunch of time on the new BlackBerry 7 phones and of course recorded a bunch of videos that'll be hitting the blogs here over the next 24 hours (have a couple ready to go but have to head to the airport shortly to fly home so will do the rest as soon as I'm back). I also got some solid answers to a few of the questions we've been pondering, so will shed some light on those. There's a lot to talk about it and a bunch of videos to watch, so keep it locked to CrackBerry! Thanks for the great night RIM!

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iSpeech launching SDK to easily allow developers to incorporate text to speech and speech recognition

We have taken a look at Drivesafe.ly, an application that reads your messages out loud while driving, quite a number of times here, and the developers have hit us with some rather interesting news. iSpeech is the latest from the same folks, and they will be releasing a free, yes free, multi platform SDK that will allow developers instant access to these features, allowing them to build them into their existing applications.  Their services have been used over a billion times to date, with over 3,000 registered developers, which is expected to grow hugely thanks to the SDK.

The SDK will launch with 40 different voices and 25 free languages available, with the option to purchase additional voices. Whether a developer, or not, get excited, as this means that developers can now begin to impliment this additional functionality in a much simpler fashion than ever before. So developers, will you be adding these features to your existing applications? If so, let us know! Full press release after the break.

For more information / getting started with iSpeech

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Rogers will announce new BlackBerry devices tomorrow but check out this promo material!

Rogers has already confirmed they will be announcing the new BlackBerry devices tomorrow -- hopefully alongside some release dates and pricing. Until then, the rumors of an August 9th or 15th launch date for the Bold 9900 and Torch 9810 stands but the Torch 9860 date has thus far been missing, giving us the impression it will arrive later.

Hopefully, we're wrong and Rogers will roll them all out as soon as possible but we'll wait and see what tomorrow brings. In the meantime, we found the above advertising for you all to get a sneak peek at. The Rogers red looks quite sexy. Thanks, anon!

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BlackBerry Curve 9370 appears on Verizon document as LTE enabled?!

Amidst all these new BlackBerry devices being announced, we mentioned that the BlackBerry Curve series was missing and speculated on some reasoning as to why. It being the more cost effective device in the line up comes to mind first, with the other devices being top tier devices but walk with me here while we take a look at the latest leaked Verizon document.

It is of course littered with Android devices but if you look carefully you can see a BlackBerry Curve 9370 listed amongst the mix and looking to the far right, ignoring the launch date of 9/8/11 for a second you'll see a section that says "new to report 4G smartphone". Now, this could be a typo or it could be dead on accurate -- either way, it's interesting and has us rethinking why the new BlackBerry Curve devices were not announced like all the others.

Source: IGN; via: Android Central

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Still unannounced BlackBerry Curve 9360 gets caught in another photo shoot

While RIM has now managed to confirm the BlackBerry Torch 9810 and BlackBerry Torch 9850/60 the Curve series that was expected to go along with those device announcements still remains missing. However, they are still out there and will eventually get announced alongside the others. In fact, new photos of the BlackBerry Curve 9360 have now popped up online for all to see. Personally, I'm under the impression RIM wanted to keep these devices apart as the Curve series has relegated to being a 'cost effective' offering and what were announced was their top tier devices. Sound off in the comments on your thoughts though.

Source: OMR

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Bell announces the BlackBerry Bold 9900, Torch 9810 and Torch 9860

With leaked documentation aplenty, Bell Mobility has decided to acknowledge the fact they will be releasing the BlackBerry Bold 9900, Torch 9810 and Torch 9860. Although they left out details like release dates and pricing, anyone interested in being notified of availability can sign up to have Bell email them at launch. Plus, you can also win a BlackBerry Bold 9900. Sign up pages are great, but realistically -- we'll have it announced before Bell even gets a chance to send the email off.

Source: Bell

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BlackBerry Bold 9900, Torch 9810 and Torch 9860 available at Telus on August 15th

What a day! Loads of new BlackBerry love all around with plenty more on the way. The latest down the tip line is this shot from Telus. From the looks of it, the BlackBerry Bold 9900, Torch 9810 and Torch 9860 should all be available for purchase on August 15th. This holds true to the leaked roadmap we've already seen and is just a few more weeks to hold out so you can have your pick of any three of these BlackBerry 7 devices. Don't fret if you're not a Telus customer - other carriers should be pushing them out around the same time, so we'll be sure to dig deep and see what else we can find out!

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Android app player for BlackBerry PlayBook possibly delayed until fall

It's no secret that Research In Motion has plans to release an official Android app player for the BlackBerry PlayBook, the only question is when. Last month brought a leaked version, and though buggy, it does work. RIM was quick to make an official statement regarding the leak, saying:

"An older version of the Android App Player beta software for the BlackBerry PlayBook was inadvertently posted and has since been removed. We recommend that users refrain from downloading and installing this software since it is outdated and non-functional in many respects. The official beta release of the Android App Player for the BlackBerry PlayBook is on track for release later this summer."

We've all seen delays related to the PlayBook already, so it's likely no surprise to anyone that the Android app player may be delayed as well. Engadget revealed today they have a reliable source telling them this feature is now pushed back to late fall. No word on why this is being said, but hopefully it's for good reason like waiting for the 3G PlayBook to hit shelves or adding in a bunch of really cool features we haven't heard about yet ;-)

Source: Engadget

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