A couple of months ago I got me a new v300 Motorola cell phone. It was a nice little gadget, which provided sufficient, though limited, web browsing functionality, as well as excellent voice quality.
I signed up for the $10, minimal data package and life seemed to be perfect.
But as usual, mysterious are the ways of destiny.
Last week a colleague of mine was heading to Africa. Wishing to make sure he would be able to keep in touch with the office, we sent our admin to the nearest Rogers store.
She returned with a BlackBerry 7290 which the guy seemed to dislike from the very first moment.
That was when it all started.
I don?t know what was it that had gotten into me, but noticing his long face, I did the dumbest thing I?ve ever done, and offered him to swap phones. I guess I couldn?t resist the ?e-mail, phone, SMS, organizer, web and corporate data applications in a single handheld? appeal.
All excited, I called the Rogers call center and joyfully broke the news to them of the new avenue in life I was pursuing.
The transaction was smooth and swift, and even the new price plan (40$ a month for 1 megabyte) was not something that could stand between my and the promised data-land.
All energized I started my life as a proud blackberry owner by launching the web browser, and keyed in the ?Outlook web Access? address for our exchange server.
The status bar was climbing cheerfully, and after a couple of seconds, I got the ?call your ISP? message.
I was thinking, ?OK, the Rogers folks are nice people. Let?s give them a call.?
?Hmm, is it an HTTPS address you?re trying to access? Try the WAP browser,? was the support woman?s advice.
OK, I know the WAP browser usually works with WAP application, but the Rogers woman sounded so confident.
I launched the WAP browser, and true, this time the friendly ?call your ISP? advice did not appear. Instead I got the unencouraging ?end of page? message.
?Very interesting?, I think to myself, while re-dialing the Rogers call center.
?You are right,? said the male voice on the other end of the line. ?The WAP browser works only with the WAP application. Your problem is that the standard browser does not yet support the HTTPS protocol?.
OK, the lean and mean booklet mentions something about ?mail integration?.
?No problem? says the tech-support guy. ?You either install blackberry?s enterprise server or desktop integration.?
Realizing that the BB server might be somewhat of a challenge (a $5000 one user license bargain) I decide to give the desktop alternative a chance.
Ring, ring, I call the call center again, and the operator tells me, ?If you register with the Rogers BlackBerry Network, all emails will be automatically forwarded to your BlackBerry device.?
I ask the operator, ?Are the kb it takes up part of the one mb I received with my original plan??
And the operator said, ?Yes.?
?And what happens if I consume the one mb??
?You either pay for the additional kb or sign up for a $60 unlimited plan? (remember, I started of with that $10 plan on my ?midget? Motorola?
?And what if I don?t want all my emails automatically forwarded to my BlackBerry? What if I want to exercise my own intelligence and select by myself which emails I open up??
?No problem,? was the operator?s reply, and we ended our conversation.
I thought to myself, ?Great, I?ll integrate my gmail account onto my BlackBerry as well!?
I launch the browser application and attempt unsuccessfully to log into my gmail account. The mysterious ?Call Your ISP? advice pops up again. So I call the call center?again.
This time a lady tells me ?write www.gmail.com, instead of just gmail.com?
I don?t think you need to be explained that this was a fruitless attempt.
By this point I?m really started to feel that frustration. This time I call the call center and tell them furiously, ?Cancel the BlackBerry data price plan!?
And so my BlackBerry data package was cancelled, and so I was stuck with a bulky, useless, good-for-nothing, lousy sound quality piece of plastic.
?At least,? I was thinking, ?I?ll be able to do some basic browsing using the standard GPRS service? (5? per kb). But you can guess what message popped up.
Final verdict, hideous,big & bulky,hard to set up,terrible support, I keep accidentally hitting the 'disconnect' button while trying to answer incoming calls.
Both the Blackberry and Rogers site were awful - no help.
This device also has worse reception than my Motorola.
There is no support at all, once you buy it you are on your own. Manual is terrible, online help terrible too.
The Rogers tech support team didn't seem to know what they were doing.
Nice try Blackberry, but so far, a huge disappointment.
If you aren?t a heavy e-mail user stay away. Avoid the frustration and extremely expensive service.
Most users I?ve noted are: heavy email users don?t use it as a phone, don?t have to pay the outrages monthly fees (i.e. corporate users).
I?m just a humble cost-conscious casual user, I hate to be robed and I demand quality tech support.
This apparently was not the case.
For alternatives, read the recent Businessweek article: When a BlackBerry Is Overkill
At least you kept your excellent sense of humor. Indeed what you say is true: the Blackberry targets enterprise users whose companies pay the bills and have the Blackberry Enterprise Server for email which makes like ever so much easier.
-------------------- Lisa Gade Editor in Chief, MobileTechReview