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BlackBerry News and Reviews

BlackBerry PlayBook Camera, Pictures and Videos Apps

Media App Preview: A Video Look at the Camera, Video Recorder and Pictures and Videos Apps on the BlackBerry PlayBook!

[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

With it's 7" display and HD aspect ratio, the BlackBerry PlayBook is definitely a media-friendly tablet and since getting my PlayBook and reviewing it, I've been finding the camera/video recorder, pictures and video apps are getting used a lot.

One of the reasons I'm using the PlayBook's cameras so much are because the device is portable and I've been taking it everywhere I go. 1080p video recording as yet to come to an available-for-purchase BlackBerry Smartphone, so I've really been loving that. I've no synced over all of my photos onto the PlayBook too, which again thanks to the PlayBook's portability and screen size makes for a lot of fun (my gf's family finally got to see photos from all of the trips I've been on over the past couple of years). I also find myself opening the Pictures app and turning on a slide show whenever I put the PlayBook onto the Rapid Charging Stand. And the Videos app is getting a workout too - I watched a couple of flicks on it already (while hooked up to my tv via HDMI).

Check out the video above to get a quick overview of the camera/video recorders and Pictures and Videos apps. Now we just need RIM to get the Video Chat working on the PlayBook so we have a reason to use the front facing camera, and need an easy way to buy and download videos right on the device. But the apps are really nice to use and intuitive, so we're off to a good start!

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BlackBerry PlayBook Music App & 7 Digital Music Store on the BlackBerry PlayBook

Media App Preview: A quick video look at the native music listening and purchase experience on the BlackBerry Playbook

[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

If you've been wondering what the native music listening and music purchasing process is like on the BlackBerry PlayBook, you'll want to check out the video above which walks through the Music app and 7Digital Music Store which both come preloaded on the BlackBerry PlayBook.

The 7Digital Music Store app allows you to easily purchase songs and download them over the air directly to the PlayBook, from which they are transferred into the Music app for listening. Note, you will have to setup an account with 7Digital for this (I'm waiting anxiously for the day where I can also use my BlackBerry ID to buy music and videos and not just apps). And as is the case with BlackBerry Smartphones, you can also sync over your iTunes music via Desktop Manager software (you can also drag files onto the PlayBook when connected via usb cable to a computer or over WiFi thanks to WiFi File Sharing).

One of things I really like about the PlayBook is the way music controls have been integrated into apps via the status bar. When you have music playing in the background and are in a non-music app, you can diaganol swipe from the corner of the top bezel to bring up the status bar, which will now have a music button on it, allowing you to pause and skip tracks. Of course you can use the physical buttons too, but I'm finding I tend to forget about them as I'm fixated on the touch display. Check out the video above to see get a solid overview of the app!

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Contest: Win 1 of 100 free copies of Scanmonster by LSphone!

LSphone is the developer of several BlackBerry utility applications that help you keep a close watch on what's going on behind the scenes of your device. They just let us know that they have taken 4 of their most popular apps and rolled them into one, forming Scanmonster. This application has everything you could want in a monitoring app including menu integration to show time, date, battery level & temperature, free memory, and open-apps count. You can click on any one of these items for more details and to perform a variety of tasks to recover memory or improve performance. Scanmonster is on sale right now for $1.99 (regularly $2.99) and is compatible with most BlackBerry smartphones.

Some other features include:

  • Detailed meters, instant/auto memory recovery or log erase, scan invisible apps.
  • Temp hi/lo monitor, overheat alarm.
  • Force-delete apps and modules, start background apps and services that may have failed or not started after installation.
  • Detailed meters (see screenshot) show RAM and Flash memories, file space free (internal, card, and application memory), virtual machine object distribution & handles, battery details such as voltage, charging rate, temperature, and status flags.
  • "Mercury" feature records highest & lowest temperature since phone started, and long-term, noting any too hot or cold.
  • Click "Memory" reading for instant lossless recovery of RAM and Flash, known as "garbage collection"; gains are shown. Select deeper options, such as erasing caches, clearing the log, or a Deep Recovery which requests apps to free some memory.
  • Automatic features (optional) include opportune timing of automatic lossless recovery, erasing of caches, and clearing of the log.

For more information/screenshots and to purchase Scanmonster

Contest: If you're interested in winning a copy of Scanmonster, leave a comment below telling us which feature you're most interested in. We have 100 copies to give away! One entry per person, winners will be chosen Sunday at midnight PST.

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How To Use Presentation Mode on the BlackBerry PlayBook When Hooked up to an External Display

Video PlayBook 101: How to use BlackBerry Presentation Mode when the BlackBerry PlayBook is hooked up to an external display via HDMI

[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

One of the quick videos I whipped up for our indepth BlackBerry PlayBook Review was demonstrating BlackBerry Presenter Mode on the BlackBerry PlayBook. To take advantage of Presenter Mode, you first need to hook the PlayBook up to an external display device via an HDMI cable, such as a television, monitor or projector.

Once the PlayBook is hooked up via HDMI, you can jump into Settings > HDMI on the PlayBook to control different output settings. Though the PlayBook's display is 1024 x 600, it can output to a much higher resolution, and you can change up the settings for things like aspect ratio. I've watched a few full length movies now from the PlayBook on my television and have been loving it!

Beyond mirroring what's on the PlayBook's display, Presenter Mode is a unique feature that takes things a step further. From within PlayBook apps like Videos and Slideshow To Go (Powerpoint), when hooked up to an HDMI output you get a new Presenter mode icon that you can tap from within these apps. When tapped, the output on the external display continues to play the main video output (be it a movie or powerpoint), but while this is occuring you can continue to use your PlayBook normally. So you can be giving a presentation on the display while looking at your slide notes on the PlayBook, or browsing the web while your kids are watching a movie. Furthermore, and as I demonstrate in the video above, you can easily jump between Presenter mode presentations just by swiping between apps. So if you're giving a power point and want to quickly show a movie, instead of having to mess around with embedding movies or leaving powerpoint to open a video, you can simply jump from one app to the next without missing a beat. This is POWERFUL stuff right here. 

We've even caught wind that RIM is working on putting DLNA (wireless streaming) support into the PlayBook with a future software update that will get rid of the need for an HDMI cable. I'm super stoked for that. I can keep all of my videos on my PlayBook, sit back on the couch to watch a flick on a Friday night, and still use my PlayBook the whole time the video is playing. Check out the video above to see it in action!

View More BlackBerry PlayBook 101's 

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GroupMe beta updated to 2.0 and we have 1,000 priority invites

A few weeks ago we took our first look at the GroupMe beta for BlackBerry devices, and the response was quite overwhelming. The initial release was a public beta, but the folks at GroupMe have been beta testing a 2.0 release which is set to launch with a load of new features. In celebration of this update they have offered us 1,000 priority invites which will allow those users an early preview of the application. Some of the changes that will be found in this update are:

  • In-app chat - Send messages over your data connection, entirely within the app. Text as much as you want without hitting your SMS balance.
  • Photo-sharing. Take and share photos with your groups right within the app.
  • An improved, fresh user interface.
  • BlackBerry notifications when you receive new messages.

Whether you have used the service before, or are interested in giving it a shot, be sure to fill out the form here, and use the priority code of crackberry for early access. Get on it fast because once the 1,000 invites are gone that's it!!

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Readers Ask: What are the differences between SmrtGuard and BlackBerry Protect?

Going back to March 2009 when CrackBerry first announced the public beta, SmrtGuard immediately become a popular choice among BlackBerry BIS users for its ability to backup device data remotely, and via a web dashboard, allow users to login and execute a number of actions, such as locating a lost BlackBerry. Since its launch, SmrtGuard has continued to roll out a number of new value-added features, offering the basics for free and premium features for a price.

Just last month, RIM released their own app along the same premise, called BlackBerry Protect, which at a glance looks a lot like SmrtGuard and appears to offer a similar feature set. Of course, BlackBerry Protect is built by RIM and is offered as a free app/service, which immediately makes for a compelling download choice.

Since BlackBerry Protect hit the scene, I've received quite a few emails from readers asking us to compare the two services. Does it make sense to pay for the full version of SmrtGuard? Or is the free version of BlackBerry Protect good enough? Not wanting to delay any longer and being swamped at the moment with all the BlackBerry PlayBook craziness, I decided to take a different approach on answering this one and reached out to Rob Kao, SmrtGuard's Founder, to walk us through the comparison. I figured he's more hands-on than anybody with these apps, so would be able to provide us with an accurate tale of the tape and further insight on the comparison. Keep reading to see what he has to say, and if you've used both SmrtGuard and BlackBerry Protect in the past, be sure to chime in on the comments with your personal findings.  

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Air New Zealand ad stars a white BlackBerry Bold, also Snoop Dogg and Rico!

[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

Air New Zealand has some really clever ads staring Rico, a puppet. Recently Rico teamed up with Snoop Dogg for a new song called Hello Sunshine, which is actually kind of catchy. Throughout the video Snoop uses his white BlackBerry Bold, making calls and snapping pictures of himself and Rico. The behind-the-scenes video has some additional parts with Snoop and his BlackBerry which were pretty entertaining - something about the way Snoop laughs cracks me up. You can check out the music video above, and the behind-the-scenes after the break. The videos do contain some adult language, so use caution if there are children around or you're at work.

Thanks for sending this in kudzie!

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BlackBerry PlayBook Web Browser Video Walk Through

Native Apps Preview: A quick video look at using the BlackBerry PlayBook's Web Browser on the BlackBerry Tablet OS

[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

In addition to our BlackBerry PlayBook vs. iPad 2 Web Browser Shootout, one of the videos I whipped up for our BlackBerry PlayBook Review was a more basic walkthrough of the PlayBook's web browser. In this video I go through the general usage of the web browser on the PlayBook as well as the settings options.

From a gesture standpoint, everything is pretty much what you'd expect. On the display, pinch to zoom, dragging and tapping all work, and tapping and holding will pull up a popup menu with more options (opening links in a new tab, saving images, etc.). As for the options gesture (swiping down from the top bezel onto the display), that will pull down the browser's main status header, which will allow you to quickly jump between open tabs, start a new tab, view your downloads, and get to browser options, where you change settings including the default search engine and font size, disable/enable flash support and clear your history and cache. There's also a handy icon on top right corner of the browser that allows you to toggle the status bar in and out, helping to maximize the real estate on the 7" display. 

Overall the BlackBerry PlayBook's web browser is proving to be incredibly powerful and supports the full version of pretty much all websites, including Hulu, as Adam demonstrated in his BlackBerry PlayBook Web Browser supports Hulu video. Also great to see now is that the PlayBook is running Flash version 10.2, which is higher than the 10.1 version originally announced back at DevCon. 

Oh, and for those of you who keep bugging us wanting to know how it supports all of the major adult content websites out there... let's just say that if RIM doesn't find themselves selling enough PlayBooks using the First Professional Grade Tablet tag line, they could always switch it up to Pornfessional Grade Tablet and sales will skyrocket. Lol. [Thanks to eydts for the new tagline!] Enjoy the video!

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CrackBerry Reminder: What you may have missed this week

BlackBerry Bridge Video Walkthrough and "Free Tethering" on the PlayBook Explained!

Video PlayBook 101: BlackBerry Bridge Walkthrough. Be sure to read this article so you understand why you won't (likely) want to pay for a tethering plan for your PlayBook, even if your carrier tries to sell you one!

[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

The BlackBerry Bridge. If you own a BlackBerry Smartphone along with a BlackBerry PlayBook, the BlackBerry Bridge is an awesome value-added feature set, but it can be a confusing concept to understand. Compounding the confusion is the fact that the BlackBridge also relates to Internet Tethering, which many recent reviews, including our own BlackBerry PlayBook Review, claimed is free on the PlayBook if you own a BlackBerry Smartphone (as that's what we were told during our briefing). We already cleared up some of the confusion in our BlackBerry Bridge vs. Internet Tethering FAQ, but in this article we'll go even further to clarify the situation as it relates to Tethering with the new addition of the BlackBerry Bridge Browser to the set of Bridge apps (there's also a new File Browser app). Check out the video above to see the BlackBerry Bridge in action and get the audio explanation on this free web browsing/tethering stuff, or keep on reading for the written explanation.

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Why did RIM choose to build a smaller tablet with a 7" display vs. going bigger? Here's the story!

The Globe and Mail posted a really great article yesterday titled RIM makes a play for its future that walks through a lot of the back story leading up to the creation of the BlackBerry PlayBook, and how RIM is positioning themselves for the future. I definitely recommend reading the full article, which looks at both RIM's success and the challenges and opportunities they face moving forward.

Relating to the BlackBerry PlayBook specifically, the article helps us to confirm some of those early rumors we were tracking going back to the first whispers of a tablet (that RIM was originally thinking about doing a tablet based of the BBOS, but after the iPad got announced knew they had to do something more ambitious) and confirms that the product development cycle for the PlayBook was extremely fast.

The article also gives us some insight into why RIM chose to build a smaller tablet with a 7" display, vs. going with a bigger size like the iPad. The decision comes back to Todd Wood, RIM's head of Industrial Design, and his team:

"Mike (Lazaridis) asked me, ‘What would you think of a bigger BlackBerry?' " Mr. Wood says. The task was twofold: create something that actually looks different than older BlackBerrys, but sets a design precedent for future ones.

Mr. Wood sent his people out into the real world to look for inspiration. They came back with a theme. Many of the things people carried around with them - paperbacks, Moleskin notebooks, DVD cases - seemed to conform to a certain size.

If the PlayBook was to be truly mobile, Mr. Wood believed, it would have to be roughly the same size, something a person could hold with just one hand, unlike the iPad. The designers and the engineers agreed a seven-inch screen would meet that goal and still be able to fit the PlayBook's brains - a high-powered circuit board sandwiched between two batteries - inside.

Over the summer, Mr. Wood's team of industrial designers began to build the first PlayBook mockups, first out of foam, then plastic, and finally the initial working versions, which were in place not long before Mr. Lazaridis took to the stage at San Francisco's Moscone Centre last September and unveiled the PlayBook to the world.

The more I use the PlayBook the more I'm appreciating the "real world" size of the device. It's definitely portable, and definitely comfortable to hold with one hand for even extended periods of time. So I can see why Woods' team went this route. And I as noted in my BlackBerry PlayBook Review, I'm sure with time we will see a bigger PlayBook from RIM too - offering choice is in company's nature. For the full story, hit the link below.

Read the Full Story - RIM Makes a Play For It's Future

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More pics of the BlackBerry Bold Touch 9900 appear online!

If you're tired of hearing about the BlackBerry PlayBook (though really how can you be?) here are some new pictures of the upcoming BlackBerry Bold Touch 9900. Every time I see this device, I want it more and more. Not only will it feature that awesome Bold keyboard, but it also has a touchscreen and the new 6.1 OS. I really hope this BlackBerry gets announced at BlackBerry World Conference, which is just about 3 weeks away. Are you waiting for the BlackBerry Bold Touch, or are you more interested in one of the other new devices that we've seen lately, like the Torch 2 or one of the new Curves?  Check out more pictures of the BlackBerry Bold Touch 9900 after the break.

Source: ZonaBlackberry via the CB Forums

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BlackBerry Torch 9800 OS v6.0.0.526 officially released by AT&T

Two weeks ago we saw the leak for OS v6.0.0.526 for the BlackBerry Torch, and today we see that AT&T has released it officially. If you have been waiting for the official release to upgrade your OS, then today is your day! You can snag it from the AT&T software download site via the links below, or open up Desktop Manager and it should popup for you ATT&T customers. As always, use caution when installing any OS on your device - official or not. Head to the forums with your findings! Thanks rroyy!

Download the official OS v6.0.0.526 for your BlackBerry Torch from AT&T
Discuss more in the forums

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Bring back some childhood fun with Magic 8 Ball - 50 copies to be won!

Remember back in your childhood days picking up that "magical" 8 ball and asking all of your life questions to it, wondering if you would be rich, or end up in jail. Countless hours of entertainment were provided to many with these 8 balls, and the folks over at BeSoft have brought it back for us to have even more fun with. Magic 8 Ball for BlackBerry is a rather simplistic application that simulates having that beloved 8 ball right on your device, in your pocket at all times. Whether looking for a second opinion on a decision, or just having a throw back moment with some friends this application is sure to bring back many memories, and create tons of laughs. Touch screen users can simply tap the 8 ball, or shake their device, while non touch users can press space bar to start the 8 ball thinking, and then just sit back and await your response.

Contest: We have 50 copies to give away. Just leave a single comment on this post to enter. Contest ends this Sunday at midnight PDT.  

More information / purchase of Magic 8 Ball

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BlackBerry PlayBook 101: Understanding the PlayBook's User Interface and How To Navigate with Gestures (video)

Video PlayBook 101: Understanding the BlackBerry PlayBook's Homescreen and UI and Navigating the Operating System Using Gestures

[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

One of the many videos I posted within my BlackBerry PlayBook Review was the above walkthrough video which explains the PlayBook's homescreen and user interface and how to use the bezel gestures to navigate the PlayBook. I've let quite a few people try out my PlayBook already, and it's become quite obvious that first time users will greatly benefit from understanding these gestures before they actually give the device a go (they're not something you'll just immediately figure out). But once you learn them, which only takes a minute and a few more to get used to, navigating on the PlayBook becomes an amazingly slick experience, and a fun one at that.

On the PlayBook's display itself, all of the standard touchscreen gestures you'd expect to find are present. Swiping, Pinching and Dragging are all present. But beyond that, bezel gestures allow you to do so much more. The PlayBook's basic navigation gestures include:

  • Showing the homescreen - swipe up from the bottom frame (BlackBerry logo) onto the screen
  • Show the options menu within apps - swipe down from top frame
  • Switch between open apps - swipe left or right from the side frames when more than one app is open
  • Show the status bar - diagonal wipe onto the screen from top left or right corner
    • This is important as it allows you do things like lock the screen orientation from within an app
    • If you get a notification glow (like when Bridge is hooked up and you get an email), this gesture will also display the notification
  • Show keyboard - diagonal swipe onto the screen from the bottom left corner

Beyond gestures, this video also gives you a look at the whole user interface - how apps are treated on the homescreen, how you can re-arrange icons, use the PlayBook in orientation mode, and more. Knowing is half the battle, so if you are planning on heading down to the store to try out a PlayBook for yourself, be sure to watch this video so you can really put the device through its paces the moment you pick it up. And if you want to learn even more, be sure to check out all of our BlackBerry PlayBook 101's.

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Blackjack Buddy Gold by Nickel Buddy - New and improved!

Blackjack! It's fun to play at the casino, with friends, and even on your BlackBerry! Nickel Buddy makes some awesome games, one of which is Blackjack Buddy Gold. This version is all new, with many details you can customize such as dealer behavior, display options, statistics, sound effects, and more. Beyond the regular game of Blackjack, Nickel Buddy has included two mini games for extra practice on basic skills.

  • Mini 21: With 20 seconds on the clock, you are shown 4 hands at a time, only one of which adds up to 21. Select the 21-value hands from each new set of 4 as many times as you can before time runs out.
  • Mini Sum It: With 20 seconds on the clock, you are shown a Blackjack hand and 4 values, only one of which is the correct value for the hand. Select the correct value for each shown hand and complete as many hands as you can before time runs out.

The graphics on Blackjack Buddy Gold are awesome, with bright colors and an all new interface ensuring that not only will you enjoy playing this game, but looking at it won't hurt your brain. You can pick up Blackjack Buddy Gold for your BlackBerry for $2.99 from the CrackBerry store or BlackBerry App World. It runs on most devices with OS 4.5 or newer, touchscreen and trackpad.

For more information and to purchase Blackjack Buddy Gold from the CB store
For more information and to purchase Blackjack Buddy Gold from App World

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Native email and apps coming to the BlackBerry PlayBook in 60 days

As you all know if you've been following the flurry of BlackBerry PlayBook news, the PlayBook will be arriving with no native email client nor do BlackBerry developers have an native SDK to create apps on. While the no native email client has been hotly debated among potential BlackBerry PlayBook owners -- it is something that RIM is working on; as is the native SDK for developers. When questioned in a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Jim Balsillie dropped the news surrounding the launch of native email.

“We will have, if you want, a standalone non-web, non-paired email client on it within the next, I believe it was 60 days scheduled.” He also said that the Android app player will be coming “sometime this summer.”

While I have some pretty strong feelings about the lack of native email at launch, I am quite pleased to know that it is a top priorority for RIM and understand the dynamics behind its delay. I'll not debate it in this post, given that pretty much every other tech blog out there has used it as a weapon to beat the BlackBerry PlayBook down even before it gets out the gates , let's just say RIM has their reasons for it not being there -- and the solution for it is not as easy as slapping an email client on board and calling it a day as some would like you to believe.

There isn't much security in that methodology and doing so would go against everything we've come to expect from RIM when it comes to secure email processes. In any event, a secure native email client is coming -- we just have to wait for it. Now, someone please help the horse up.

Source: WSJ

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BlackBerry App Roundup for April 15, 2011

Welcome to this week's BlackBerry App Roundup! We have searched high and low and found some neat apps to share with you this week, so head on past the break to check them out and enter the contest! If you have an app you want to see featured in the roundup be sure to check the end of the post for information on submitting it to us. We have several app contests going on this week, so be to check them out and enter to win some cool stuff here.

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CrackBerry Podcast 067: BlackBerry PlayBook Review Super Special and More!

Ok CrackBerry Podcast listeners.... this is the BlackBerry PlayBook Review special you've been waiting for. For those not into the PlayBook, the good news is we start off with all of the phone rumor talk of the day, including discussion on the BlackBerry Bold Touch, BlackBerry Touch, Torch 2, Curve Touch (you get it... a whole lot of new phones!) and more. 

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Wakeful alarm app for BlackBerry now available - Get it for 50% off!

[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

A while back we first checked out the beta of Wakeful - a super cool alarm app for BlackBerry. Wakeful breaks the norm of buzzing, annoying alarms and wakes you up with a voice greeting. You will be greeted with your name, weather, news and stocks so you can start your day off right. Customize the alarm to your liking, and never wake up cranky again.

Wakeful had a successful beta (mostly thanks to CrackBerry readers) and is now officially available. It sells for $14.99 in the CrackBerry App Store. BUT - you can get it for 50% off using the code WAKEUP. Still a bit of a steep price, but if you use your BlackBerry as an alarm, you'll be thankful after a few days. Hit the link below for more. Please note - the coupon code will only work in our mobile app store or app store client.

More information/download of Wakeful

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