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Blackberry Q10 vs iPhone 5 — Software does-in BB’s otherwise excellent Qwerty smartphone June 24, 2013

Posted by ronannarbor in Apple, Entertainment, Gizmos, Photography.
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UPDATED 7/17/13 —

The following review remains as is. On July 3, ATT rolled-out version 10.1.0.2030 — this was specifically updated to unblock calDav problems and to allow syncing to occur between Blackberry and iOS iCloud and to patch some security woes. It does not work automatically and you will have to add it manually (Google “How to sync your BBQ10 and iCloud” for step by step instructions). Note that once this was manually synced, updates were very slow — calendars would take 5 – 20 minutes to refresh and a good minute or so to repopulate each time you opened the calendar ap on the Q10 — unforgivable on a business smartphone. Similar sync delays occurred in contacts– I returned by BBQ10 to ATT on the 14th day of no-remorse returns. I must say up front that ATT was excellent in working with me, and took care of all upgrades/returns/etc with professionalism and care. I was very very sad to do so, almost tearful in fact, because I love the hardware of the BBQ10 so much, that keyboard is to die for. BBRY posted a tremendous loss in stock last week, and just the other day announced they are cutting their production of the Z10 and Q10 by 50 percent. Bad news for Blackberry and its fans, and for any hope of developers creating apps for them. I can not imagine that anyone but Blackberry die-hards will be happy with the Q10 at this point.

ORIGINAL REVIEW 6/24/13

Since the very first day of the original iPhone, I have been among its staunchest defenders, EXCEPT for the horrendous touch-type keyboard. For three years I carried around my Blackberry Bold along with the iPhone, which I used for everything except phone calls, texts, SMS messages, or e-mails. It was a pain in the ass. Ultimately, the iPhone won out completely as I gave up on carrying around two phones, let alone paying for two data plans.

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So it was with VERY excited expectations that I became the proud owner of the newest Blackberry offering, the Q10 — the best of all possible worlds — a blazing fast processor, lots of storage, a removable battery, great photos, a super sharp 720 x 720 screen (even sharper than the iPhone 5’s retina display), and having both a touch screen as well as a full-Qwerty keyboard that is a dream to use.

So after real life use, what can I say?  The BB Q10 is virtually unusable for the day-to-day user because software has not caught up to the tech — so far, the offerings are dismal. All of the built-in BB apps are superb — but for the Mac user: Blackberry 10 has built-in conduits for syncing to your iPhone iCloud account — unfortunately it DOES NOT WORK. Currently there is no way to sync your calendars, contacts (they sync once then never again), notes, or reminders. Don’t even bother — there are hundreds of pages of threads on this all over the web right now, and Blackberry really did in their Mac users.

The typing experience is superb — back to an easy error-free 65 WPM speed in less than 5 minutes of practice. A few new key combinations, and some screen swipes to learn, and off you go — everything else is familiar, and it looks gorgeous. The new message hub is great. And just start typing a few letters of what you are looking for and it instantly pops up that application open and ready to go (Apple could learn something here)….for example, type tex(t) and before you are three letters in, the texting app is open and ready to go. LOVE IT.

What do I not love? Well — the entire experience will be one of failure if applications don’t catch up as soon as possible. BB has been neglected for years by most developers, expecting a quick RIM death once touch phones took over. Well now that BBRY has big hits on its hands with the Z10 and the Q10, the developers have catching up to do — and here, there is a lot to do…any iPhone user has gotten used to the many apps that make life simpler, happier, more fun, or just plain old more organized. No such luck here. Because of the 720×720 square screen, older BB apps don’t work. Even “side-loading” Android apps (not an easy process) doesn’t work for all of them, only those that can run on a smaller square screen.

So what does that mean in the real world? Well, hang onto your hat, here are programs that DO NOT WORK or ARE NOT AVAILABLE for the BB Q10 as of this writing:

Mac Calendar, Notes, Reminders, Contacts, email settings, internet favorites do not sync at present

Evernote with all features (there is an integrated version that works with the new BB Reminders, but does not sync properly nor can any folders we shared, nor shared folders imported)

Facebook with all features (there is a simple flat app that presents timeline only, without any photo posting)

Facebook Messenger

Facebook Camera (there is no way to get photos into your Facebook uploads at present)

Any version of Slingbox Mobile or web-based access to it

Instagram

Pandora

Kindle

Zinio

Shazam

Square Reader (for accepting credit card payments)

Google Maps

Bento or other Database File progran

Passbook, or any format of it (If you have Starbucks cards on your iPhone, they won’t transfer to the BBQ10 — one workaround people have posted is to take a photo of your iPhone’s barcode, and use that photo when checking out at Starbucks)

My Disney Experience (now necessary to book fastpasses online)

Starbucks, Chase, TCF Bank, Paypal, eBay or other credit card program — I contacted Starbucks and was told in no uncertain terms that they “absolutely will NOT be developing a Blackberry app” — hmm.

Delta (There is a downloadable app, which does not open nor run)

Netflix, Hulu, or any other streaming-media software

ABC, NBC, CBS, HBO-Go or any other television streaming application

Siri (although a limited Voice Command program does allow you some siri-like command and search functions)

Most games that have you been playing on your iPhone — in my case ALL games that I had been playing on my iPhone

SO – be warned — this is a sleek, superb phone, and it is far more productive than my iPhone (any version including my current 5) has ever been. But the applications SUCK and without them, I can not recommend any iPhone or Android user switch back to the Q10 despite the superior keyboard. Its a deal breaker. No apps, no use.

For current blackberry users, this is not a no-brainer. Before you upgrade,  be sure to check appworld.blackberry.com to see if the applications you currently use will be available on the Q10 — there are a LOT that do not run on the Q10 that you have happily been using on your other older blackberries — surprisingly so. Also many have complained because of the lack of a trackball on the new version – if that is important to you, do not upgrade.

If applications and syncing are of no interest to you, then the Blackberry Q10 is currently THE best offering with a full built-in QWERTY keyboard for all intents and purposes. Go get it now. That keyboard is AMAZING. For me, I am back to my iPhone 5. Other users might similarly want to hold off. For awhile, I was certain that new apps would be appearing relatively quickly — but it appears that is not happening. Existing apps have been getting some upgrades, but my personal contacts with Starbucks, Slingbox, Netflix have all yielded answers from them that they are NOT working on BB10 versions. That’s a shame.

Final Score Card Blackberry Q10 vs iPhone 5:

Keyboard – BBQ10 hands down

Size – tie

Feel in hand when using/talking/texting – BBQ10 hands down

User Experience – iPhone 5

Camera – iPhone 5

Video capability – iPhone 5

Media viewing – iPhone 5

Listening to Music/ease of use – iPhone 5

Software – iPhone 5 hands down (I have 140 apps on my iPhone 5, only 30 of them (or some version of something like them) are available on the BBQ10

Syncing/iCloud integration/Google integration – iPhone 5

Screen size – iPhone 5

Screen clearness – tie

Swipe/navigate experience – iPhone 5

Mapping – iPhone 5, not better overall, but because of Google Maps availability as well

Bluetooth/Wireless connections – tie, easier to manage on iPhone 5

Signal Strength on ATT network – BBQ10 by far

Telephone sound quality – BBQ10

Battery life – BBQ10 by days

Power management – BBQ10 (removable battery, compatible with all microUSB chargers and accessories)

Cases/accessories – iPhone 5

Durability – tie

Speed – tie

Memory – BBQ10 – more built in and expandable cheaply with microSD cards up to 64 gb

Price – BBQ10

Technical Support: ATT – iPhone far better….APPLE – far better overall…Blackberry – friendly but limited, most common answer from tech support “The Blackberry system doesn’t work like that” and “we are still working on that feature”.

WINNER: iPhone 5

iPhone 4S vs iPhone 4 — should you upgrade? (UPDATE: Camera quality) October 10, 2011

Posted by ronannarbor in Apple, Entertainment, Gizmos, Photography, Uncategorized.
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SEE UPDATE at the end of this article.

Many of my clients have asked me about the iPhone 4S, and should they upgrade….here is my take:

First, if you want the latest and greatest, by all means upgrade.

Second, if you have a 3G or older, absolutely upgrade. You will be amazed what the iPhone 4/4S range can do.

Specifically for owners of the current iPhone 4: This is an upgrade that Apple calls a “refresh” — that is, it doesn’t have a lot of major style upgrades, but it does have significant upgrades “under the hood”.  The phone is physically virtually identical to the iPhone4. Here is what you should consider if you are looking to upgrade:

1. The processor is faster. The chip in the iPhone 4 is faster (the same as in the iPad) so that programs, web pages, and other applications will open faster.  Ask yourself, though, is your iPhone 4 too slow?? Not a complaint I have heard from anyone.

2. The antenna is improved. If you live, or travel, to an area that the signals are strong, you won’t need the improvement. If you live in (say NYC, SF, etc) you will find that the antenna is much improved, and your signal will be stronger. Note for you AT&T University of Michigan fans — this will NOT mean you will be able to get a signal now inside Michigan Stadium during game day when 115,000 friends are all trying to use their phones at the same time. It will mean your signal will be stronger in general. (For my non-Ann Arbor friends, AT&T signals are pretty strong here in SE Michigan).

3. The camera has been improved to 8 megapixels. What does this mean? Well, your pictures will be much larger, and they will be much sharper with less pixelation (visible dots). For many users, it will mean being able to ditch your compact digital camera and use only the iPhone. For others, it would be a poor substitute. The zoom is digital, and marginal at best. There are no controls for speed, aperture, etc. Even basic compacts have that ability (not that most people use it). What it WILL do is give you sharp front-to-back in-focus shots. No artsy shots here (i.e. no blurred backgrounds in your portraits). Most casual camera users want everything to be sharp and clear so this is a great new feature in the iPhone 4S. I’ll try out my iPhone 4S camera as my sole camera on an upcoming trip and give you my verdict. Personally, I can already predict that it won’t have the quality and features that I usually want in a camera, but I’ll see what it’s like to use it for a few days and nothing else.

4. Siri, new to the iPhone 4s is ONLY available on the iPhone 4s and will not be available in the OS upgrade to older phones. In essence, it’s a much improved voice command system. If you use the current Voice Command on the iPhone, you will find that this does more (not only dial your contacts by voice control, but also set appointments and put them into your calendar). The jury is out on this one. People I know who have tested Siri state that it generally works fine. It can not spell and it makes many mistakes (i.e. it might get the date and time of your doctor appointment correct, but it sure won’t spell the name of the doctor correctly). I personally do not know a single friend of mine who uses the current Voice Command on the iPhone. I don’t know if this will change with the iPhone 4s and it’s Siri program, but I doubt it. Your mileage may vary.

5. The new OS software — this will be available as a free upgrade to all current iPhone users, so this really shouldn’t be a consideration for an upgrade.

6. Your contract — okay, let me warn you up front, the iPhone 4S is a “refresh” as I mentioned earlier. It will, however, come with a two-year contract. That’s not a big deal, and the carriers have allowed upgrades within the year at additional cost with extension of the contract. BUT, if Apple surprises people with an iPhone 5 next summer, say, you will not be able to upgrade as in the past. For many, this is not a consideration. For others it is.  There will be a non-contractual universal iPhone 4S released in November for the contract-phobes….but it will come at a much higher unsubsidized cost.

In summary: your desire to upgrade might not be in line with the reality of what an upgrade will actually bring. If you are not in one of the categories listed above that would make an upgrade a sure fire “deal maker” I would say that those with a current iPhone 4 have little reason to upgrade at present, and wait for the next iPhone update.

Personally: I am upgrading to the iPhone 4S and should have mine on Friday. Why? Well, you know I want the latest and greatest, but no, seriously — I am interested in the new antenna and the improved signal. I travel a lot and any improvement in the antenna will be an overall improvement for me. Second? My current iPhone 4 is worn out: there are cracks in the back, and it’s seen better days (although it’s only a year old)…I can pay the 150.00 at an Apple Store to have the back replaced, or I can spend a bit more and just get a shiny new model. I opted for the latter. I have my iPhone in my pocket  16 hours a day, so its been well used, to say the least.

Hopefully, this will give you some guidance as you decide if you need the newest model. For the most part, I say no. But there are exceptions.

UPDATE: 10/25/11 CAMERA QUALITY

On a recent trip where I did not take my camera and relied solely on the iPhone 4S, I can unequivocally say that the phone alone, even with 8 Megapixels, is NOT a suitable substitute for a decent digital camera. Photos taken directly out of the camera without any zoom are clear and basically sharp. You can not crop these photos or blow them up or they instantly become pixilated. In general, straight out of the camera, shot is fine — don’t mess with it for size or crop.

Transfer of photos is what it is: I refuse to use iPhoto, being a creature of habit with Bridge and Photoshop. so I transfered the photos through eMail, one by one, to my home desktop. It took half  hour and most of the camera battery to send the 15 shots to my desktop computer. This won’t be a problem if you transfer using iPhoto or through iTunes. I imagine it would be a problem if you turn on Photostream and rely on iCloud.

Other quirks: If you open the camera from the lock-screen and then try to use the + volume control as your camera shutter, it freezes up the iPhone. Don’t do this. Open your camera application as usual from the iPhone itself, not from the lockscreen. Apple is apparently aware that this can be a problem on cameras. Wait for a patch.

To zoom in, you need to pinch the screen (as if you are making the photo bigger) and it will bring up the zoom controls. These are quirky and it takes several attempts to zoom in. In general try NOT to zoom in. Zoom is 100% digital, and while it brings your subject closer, all it is really doing is zooming in digitally and pixilizing your shot.

So, to summarize: straight out of the camera, full size photos = usable and generally sharp, capture detail well. Zoom is worthless. And you can NOT use the iPhone 4S alone as your sole camera if you are in way at all interested in photography and not just simple snapshots of friends.

For comparison purposes:

Straight out of the camera, no zoom, interior, generally well-lit: result – pretty good

50 percent zoom, and then cropped for central 50%: result – unusable

Detroit Zoo 2009 April 7, 2009

Posted by ronannarbor in Photography.
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Thought I would share some photos I took at the Detroit Zoo this past weekend, and a few weeks ago….I’ll add more to this blog post as the year goes by — I love the Detroit Zoo, and photographing there is one of my relaxing pleasures….

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tigerzooapril

Yes, the Tigers ARE my favorites!

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Another One Bites the Dust… February 19, 2009

Posted by ronannarbor in Photography.
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Goodbye Adray Camera…

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I’ve known you well. I’ve known you in Dearborn, Canton, and Ann Arbor — and I’ve watched Ann Arbor and Canton shutter their shops one after the other.

In business for 57 years in Dearborn, Adray Camera announced their final going-out-of-business notice today. 

That leaves almost no camera-specific stores left in the area. There is the over-priced Huron Camera in Dexter, but their limited selection and far over retail-suggested-prices makes it a no brainer: it’s B&H and Amazon online for all future camera needs.

Adray, you will be dearly missed. Who else let me buy lenses and return them when I didn’t like them with no questions asked. Who else had all the new Nikon dSLR camera bodies as they came in, and always saved me one. Where else could you go in for a SD memory card, and leave with Oreck vacuum bags at the same time…

And so it goes.