Category Archives: PDA

Thu, January 12th, 2012 by Graves and Allen

New Issue of GPSolo eReport

The General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division of the ABA has released the January 2012 issue of the GPSolo eReport.

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Sat, August 14th, 2010 by Graves and Allen


The folks at RIM (actually their PR people) provided me with a Blackberry 9700 (AKA Bold 2) working on the T-Mobile network for review purposes.  I have worked with it for the last month or two and like it very much.  It has a smaller footprint and thinner profile than the original Bold (9000)(which I have on an ATT account).  It has the same basic appearance, only smaller and more svelte, more like the Curve in size, but with a more substantial feeling. The 9700’s vital statistics are:    Height: 4.29 inches; Width: 2.36 inches; Depth: 0.56 inches; Weight: 4.3 ounces.   RIM claims the following battery information for the 9700: Standby time: GSM–up to 21 days/504 hours, UMTS–up to 17 days/408 hours;  Talk time: GSM–up to 6 hours, UMTS–up to 6 hours; Music playback time: up to 38 hours.  I continue to find myself impressed by the fact that the Blackberry devices do seem to hold their charge longer and get more use out of it than any other device I have experienced.

The smaller size also meant a smaller keyboard, which like the original Bold takes up about half of the front of the device, leaving the other half for the screen.  The smaller keyboard took some getting used to, but after a while, I accommodated to it and found it quite satisfactory.  If I had not bounced back and forth between the 9700 and the 9000, I probably would have accommodated to it more quickly, but, I preferred the larger keyboard.  As the 9700 is both smaller and lighter, I prefer carrying (and pocketing) that device and have gotten over the keyboard issue, deciding that the tradeoff made sense.

The 9700 also comes with a small trackpad instead of the traditional Blackberry trackball.  I strongly prefer the trackpad over the trackball.  The interface works smoothly and efficiently and it never sticks as the trackball sometimes does.  In fairness, I have never had the trackball stick on a newer device, only when the device has some wear on it.  The structure of the trackpad makes it less likely that a user will experience problems with the trackpad than the trackball.

The 9700 comes with the Blackberry OS 5.  While the OS5 offers some upgrades to its predecessors, it does not present substantial differences.  The Blackberry OS lags behind the Apple iOS4 and the Android operating systemS in terms of user interface and features.  Blackberry has now released a new OS (OS6), but it does not yet offer it on the 9700.  I have not seen the new OS in action yet, but should have a look at it soon.  It remains to see how far the new OS will move the Blackberry along the path to catching up with or surpassing the other operating systems available.

The Blackberry remains strong at what it does best, handling eMail;  but other systems have largely caught up to the Blackberry in eMail handling and also offer the push technology that made the Blackberry OS preeminent for such a long time period.  I like the clarity of the 9700’s display;  but it remains one of the smallest smart phone displays I have used in some time.  I prefer the larger display RIM employed with its Storm device.   The tradeoff here is the physical keyboard on the 9700 with the smaller display or the virtual keyboard with the Storm and the larger display.

When the original Bold came out, I thought it was the best of the Blackberry line.  By comparison to the 9700 the 9000 seems bulky and clunky, although it still works fine (save and except for the occasional catch in the trackball’s operation.  As both models remain current, I would choose the 9700 over the 9000.  If you have wide fingers and worry about the smaller keyboard on the 9700, don’t.  Both keyboards come with ridges that work well with fingernails, solving that problem.  The smaller size of the 9700’s keys will take some getting used to, but you won’t miss carrying the 9000 in your pocket!

As a telephone, the 9700 works fine.  I prefer using it with a Bluetooth earphone and have found it works fine with the several models I tried.  The reception will always be a function of your location and the service provider, but I have not found any significant difference in reception between the 9700 and other phones using  the same carrier.

The 9700 has both a 3G mode (the first Blackberry to work on 3G) and WiFi.  Both forms of connectivity worked well and I had no problem connecting it to my home or my office wireless networks.  The 3G brings the Blackberry into more modern times and provides a nice upkick in speed and responsiveness.  The 3.2 megapixel camera, while not overly exciting does the job nicely and gives you the ability to take grab shots when you do not have a better camera available.  It gives you a nice alternative to carrying a camera with you everywhere you go;  but if you want good pictures, you will do better with a dedicated camera than any smartphone including the 9700.

The 9700 comes with a built in GPS capability as well as Blackberry Maps.  The GPS appears to work adequately.

If you need to get a new phone, want a Blackberry and use a provider that offers the 9700, you can confidently get one and anticipate the type of reliability that has become a standard for RIM in its Blackberry devices.  I have no problem recommending it.  BUT, if you use or want to use ATT as the provider for your Blackberry, you may want to check out the Torch.  I just got one for review today and it looks very good.  I will review it shortly here.  The Torch (which comes with Blackberry OS6 preloaded) only works on ATT, so if you do not use or do not want to use ATT, you can’t get one except by paying the full price for it and then having it unlocked so that you can put another provider’s SIM card into it.

Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Allen.

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Tue, June 15th, 2010 by Graves and Allen


OK, so Apple has come up with a great new device called the iPad.  I got mine on April 30, 2010, because I chose to wait for the release of the 3G versions.  I really like the iPad and will write more about that in a later post.  I chose to write this post to warn all of you who may get an iPad 3G about a very serious rift between Apple and AT&T respecting the servicing of the iPad.

My iPad 3G works fine except for the cellular radio.  It failed shortly after I received the iPad.  We can discuss Apple’s quality control some other time. When it failed, I got “NO SERVICE” messages everywhere I went.  I contacted AT&T as I thought it was a network issue and was told repeatedly that AT&T does not support the iPad and that Apple provided all technical support respecting the iPad (even 3G network issues).  It will probably not surprise you to learn that contacting Apple tech support resulted in the finger pointing back to AT&T.  Apple tech support’s position was that AT&T had the responsibility of providing tech support for all 3G network related issues, as Apple could not provide support for AT&T’s network problems.

AT&T went so far as to tell me that they could not service the iPad, as Apple had not provided them with any information as to how to support the iPad.  AT&T’s store personnel and customer service personnel actually got downright surly about it.

I have long believed that Apple made a bad decision in partnering with AT&T and that AT&T represents the weakest part of the iPhone/iPad package.   That belief results from the frequently dropped calls, spotty coverage and poor customer service and support that AT&T has provided over the years and continues to provide now.  In this instance, however, I believe Apple and AT&T both equally share the responsibility for this situation.  Neither Apple nor AT&T provided accurate or adequate information to their customer service or first tier technical support personnel or, in the case of AT&T to their in-store employees and managers.

If you encounter similar problems with your iPad 3G(and I expect that you might as was told by an AT&T customer service supervisor that she had handled seven calls similar to mine that day), be sure that you get to second tier tech support.  I finally got my issue resolved (Apple sent me a replacement iPad) by getting to the second tier of Apple’s tech support and having the tech support person get a second tier AT&T tech support representative on the line.  A three-way conference call resolved the issue in about 20 minutes.  In that call, both the AT&T and the Apple second tier tech support representatives repeatedly apologized for their company’s mishandling of the problem and for the lack of correct information that the lower echelon tech support representatives had respecting the manner in which to address such problems and the issue of which company is responsible for what.

Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Allen.

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