Blog: Why I still use a BlackBerry and want the Z10

January 31, 2013 by  
Filed under Blogs

You’re still using a BLACKBERRY?

I’ve heard this one more than one occasion. At press conferences, nights out with friends, even from family members as they whip out their shiny iPhones to take photos of my phone (#relic). Granted that the BlackBerry is not longer the status symbol it used to be, but I’ve hung onto mine for a good number of years.

Don’t get me wrong, my smartphone evolution has been an interesting one. I hopped from the ancient 8-bit Nokia phones on to the Nokia 6500c before finally succumbing to an HTC Hero followed by an HTC Desire. The move to the Android system took a bit of time to master, but once I was in I loved it. In fact, I still do – I frequently review Android tablets and phones and it’s amazing to see just how far the platform has come.

But a few years ago, I did the unthinkable. I left the safety of the Android fold and dived headfirst into BlackBerry. At the time it was the BlackBerry 9800, which I still continue to use today. I’ve long been tempted to swing back to Android, but I held out knowing that BlackBerry was cooking up something with BlackBerry 10.

So now that the phone is out (read our review here), it’s somewhat of a no-brainer that I’m going to be lining up to get it as soon as it’s officially available. Why, you may ask?

I’m long overdue
My 9800 is ancient. It’s certainly seen better days, as the barrage of scratches and minor dents in the case will tell you. It’s also running version 6.0 of the BlackBerry OS, which is a really slow thing to try and navigate around at times. Having played around with the Z10 I forgot what it was like to have a speedy and seamless mobile experience, and it left my 9800 in the dust.

Messaging means nothing to me
Whether you’re in the BBM or WhatsApp camps, I don’t care. I’ve got a grand total of 10 people on my BlackBerry Messenger contact list, and sadly four of those people I work with. I often just prefer sending an SMS or actually calling the person up rather than having to put up with the constant “ding” noise as we furiously message each other.

I’m not a mobile paparazzi
I admit to taking the odd photo or two with my current BlackBerry, but I really don’t use my phone for serious photography (unless you include photos of cupcakes as serious photography). I’m certainly not an Instagram user or enjoy posting an endless stream of photos of what I’m eating, so for me smartphone cameras aren’t a deal-breaker. From what I’ve seen, the camera on the Z10 is seriously more than what I need.

Clouds are for rainy days
Get it on the cloud! Back it up on the cloud! Sync it to the cloud! These are some of the things I hear when people yammer to me about dumping your files onto the Cloud for a seamless backup. If my BlackBerry should die, I just pop the microSD card out and pop it into a new BlackBerry to access all my media, and then just re-sync my emails and contacts. I don’t have to worry about running out of or paying for extra space (like my sister recently experienced with her 2,000+ baby photos on her iPhone), and everything I need remains on the phone.

Goodbye buttons
For reasons unknown when I jumped from Android to BlackBerry for the first time, I was adamant that I get a device with a physical keyboard. I don’t know why, but maybe I was under the delusion that a physical keyboard meant that I could type faster. For some people, that’s true. For me, it’s actually become cumbersome for me to type on a QWERTY keyboard, since I used to enjoy the on-screen keyboard of my previous Android devices. The brief time I spent typing on the Z10 showed me a keyboard that made typing much more comfortable (even without flicking words upwards), and easier than trying to squint at the keyboard in the dark.

It goes where I go
The biggest asset for me with a BlackBerry is that it just works wherever I go. I travel frequently, and I really can’t depend on spotty airport wi-fi points or spending hours in a Starbucks accessing my emails. I need connectivity pretty much anywhere I go, and in this regard having a BlackBerry is a huge bonus. I’ve attending countless press conferences where hundreds of journalists have overwhelmed the lone wi-fi hotspot that’s available, while I just pull out my BlackBerry to tweet or email photos. I’ve got friends who have iPhones with roaming packages, and they regularly complain about how expensive it is to use data packages when they travel. Of course, you could always get a local SIM card, but then you’ve got to whole new phone number to work with, not to mention keeping an eye on your usage.

Having said all this though, the BlackBerry Z10 is certainly not without its flaws. The software is new and already there are plenty of changes that can be made to it to help refine the user experience. But as someone who has been holding out to see what BlackBerry was cooking up, the Z10 is going to be a well-deserved upgrade for me, and I’m looking forward to when it hits retail stores in a few weeks.

Facebook to investors – we aren’t building a phone

January 31, 2013 by  
Filed under News

One of the more persistent rumors that have dogged Facebook over the years is the one that the company is secretly working on its own phone. It’s a rumor that CEO Mark Zuckerberg has denied every time, and as reported by CNET, in a recent call to investors and analysts, he once again squashed fresh rumors that a Facebook phone would be on the way.

“We’re not going to build a phone, it’s not the right strategy for us to build one integrated system…Let’s say we sell 10 million units — that would be 1 percent of users. Who cares for us?” said Zuckerberg during the call. “We have a billion people using our products, and we need to make Facebook really good across all the devices that they use. Rather than just building an app that’s a version of the functionality that you have today, I think making it so that we can just go deeper and deeper is going to be a big focus for us.”

The comments make complete sense – Facebook enjoys a healthy amount of traffic from mobile devices and its accompanying apps, so their focus remains on refining the mobile experience and integrating it tighter into existing platforms, rather than trying to come up with something of their own.

Facebook also recently reported a positive fourth quarter earnings, with revenue of around $1.59 billion with about 23 percent of advertising revenue coming from mobile platforms.

(via CNET)

2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL Review

January 31, 2013 by  
Filed under Car Tech, Reviews, Spotlight

Exterior

The Nissan Altima is one of the most popular cars from Nissan not only in our region, but worldwide as well. As cars in this segment normally are, competing with the likes of Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, it’s a mid-sized sedan bringing over Nissan’s personality of sharp design and focus on performance with award winning engines.

With the new Altima, Nissan seems to have asked their design team to take the existing Maxima, make it slightly smaller in size with more emphasis on curves. The result is a chunky looking saloon that looks like it’s trying too hard to please. Certainly an improvement over the previous generations rather bland looks, though.

It seems like as Toyota and Honda are going for sharp edges with aggressive angles, Nissan seems to be going the opposite direction with flowing lines and muscular outlooks.

Interior

Inside the new Altima is appropriately spacious with decent legroom for a car in this segment. Our tester came with beige leather seats and upholstery with silver plastic and wood grain trim.

On the center console the new Altima has had a much needed update thanks mainly to the 7-inch navigation system. The screen itself is crisp and very responsive, with one of the fastest Bluetooth connections to my iPhone 5 I’ve seen in any car recently. Paired with the Bose 9-speaker system, you have some really good audio pumping into the fairly quiet interior of the Altima.

The steering wheel has a full navigation buttons for the system display (Advanced Driver Assist Display) within the speedometer. Media controls along with cruise control are also thrown in for good measure. Driver assists such as blind spot warning and lane departure are clearly visible and easily adjustable on the Advanced Driver Assist Display.

 The overall interior of the new Altima is very nice, at least in the range topping 3.5SL, brining it very close to its Infiniti cousins. The general quietness of the cabin, relatively spacious legroom and pleasantly designed panels and buttons make a powerful statement as to how far mid-sized Japanese family sedans have come.

The Drive

Our Altima was equipped with Nissan’s legendary VQ35DE engine, so with 3.5-liters this V6 produces 270HP and 350Nm torque. The horsepower is reduced a little to keep the Altima 3.5SL from undercutting Nissan’s more expensive VQ35 equipped cars, such as the Maxima which makes 290HP.

As with the previous generation Altima, and most Nissan family friendly cars for that matter, the new Altima comes equipped with a CVT transmission. On the 3.5 SL we get the paddle shifts behind the steering wheel which emulates a 7-speed gearbox.

I must say that while I’m not a fan of CVT transmissions in general, the VQ35DE does a great job of porting the torque quite nicely through the RPM range. In particular city driving with traffic the CVT performs beautifully as the acceleration feels very controlled and smooth. If ever I wanted to drive a bit enthusiastically, simply putting the gear into Sports mode did the job adequately. Of course, the paddle shifts do add that feeling of gears changing.

All said and done, the CVT doesn’t hinder the performance of the Altima 3.5 SL, as sporty driving is only a hand-flip away. Oh, and a full tank with completely city driving will give you almost 600km.

So the drive is very subdued, with comfy (but not overly cushioned) suspension, lack of road noise and general sense of speed when you need it at an, admittedly hard, push of the foot. My only complaint is the amount of body roll, although it’s not unusual in this segment.

With great fuel economy, nice interior, updated driver assists and navigation system, plus a bold design, the new 2013 Nissan Altima is a compelling buy and excellent value for money if you’re looking for a new family sedan.

Etisalat and du launch Blackberry pre-order plans

January 31, 2013 by  
Filed under Articles, News

After yesterday’s successful launch of the Blackberry 10, RIM (now called Blackberry) is riding high on the buzz of the flagship device Z10. After the CEO revealed that the device will hit UAE on February 10th, we now have information from both du and Etisalat about the product.

Starting from  Today 31 January 2013,  Etisalat is accepting pre-orders on www.etisalat.ae/blackberry for the new BlackBerry® Z10 smartphone powered by BlackBerry® 10. The new device is available to both pre-paid and postpaid customers in BlackBerry Complete, BlackBerry Unlimited and BlackBerry Global packages. Priced at AED2,599, Etisalat is running a special offer on the BlackBerry Z10 for the BlackBerry Unlimited package where customers pay half the rental for the first four months. The BlackBerry Unlimited package offered normally at AED185 per month is now priced at AED93, providing high internet access speeds to support the streaming of websites such as YouTube. The rest of the Blackberry Packages remain the same, including the 49dhs Social Package.  Visit their page for more and to find out if your number is eligible.

du has also launched their pre-order for the Z10, where you can visit one of their nearest stores and pay a 200Dhs deposit  to pre-book the phone. The interesting thing is that none of them have revealed any post-paid contract plans for the phone, which is something that a lot of people may be interested in. But in time, they should be revealed.

I hope.

BlackBerry Q10 announced, out soon

January 31, 2013 by  
Filed under News, Smartphones

Yesterday’s BlackBerry conference wasn’t just to show off the new Z10 handset or a change in the name or the 70k apps it’s launching with, there was another handset there too. The BlackBerry Q10 is what traditional BlackBerry users will love since it’s their new BB10 smartphone with full QWERTY keyboard.

The form factor looks similar to the current Bold 9900, although it doesn’t seem to have that high-end feel. Still, with a 3.1-inch touchscreen and a resolution of 720 x 720, the Q10 looks very promising with a 350 ppi. It has the same dual-core 1.5GHz processor and 2GB RAM, the Q10 promises to be just as great an experience as the Z10, only it has the added benefit of a physical keyboard.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYKFpEOSyUQ&w=550]

Sadly there’s going to be a slight delay for the Q10, with the handset expected to hit our region somewhere around April. Still, the Z10 is out on February 10th in the UAE retailing for AED 2,599 without contract.

RIM changes its name to BlackBerry

January 31, 2013 by  
Filed under News

At yesterdays BlackBerry 10 launch event, RIM CEO Thorten Heins announced that the company has changed it’s name to BlackBerry and will use the stock symbol BBRY from now on.

“”We have reinvented the company, and we want to represent this in our brand,” he stated.

Certainly a surprise announcement, the move comes at an opportune time when RIM really need to shake things up to improve its dwindling brand image in the smartphone market. BlackBerry is more recognizable than RIM, anyways, so it is indeed a smart move.

At the event, BlackBerry also announced two smartphones using the latest BB10 operating system: a full-touch screen Z10, and the keyboard model Q10. The latter is set to launch sometime later this year, however the Z10 will be available on February 10 in the UAE.

UAE telecoms Etisalat and du have already begun their pre-order campaigns for Z10, which will cost AED 2,599.

For more on Z10, check out our extensive review here.

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