I had paid extra to have the new phone delivered before midday and the delivery service beat the deadline by about an hour.
As I expected, the phone came in a neat little box, which beside the phone itself, also contained the battery, a charger with adaptors for various designs of power points, a USB cable, a set of earphones, an envelope containing a software disc and a schematic manual, and a slip case which unfortunately appears to be made of leather. Orange contributes a SIM card and a top-up card.
The battery already contained a good charge but I connected it to the charger to complete the job. I noted with disapproval that the battery has to be taken out to insert or remove the SIM card. Once installed, the SIM is very difficult to remove. You can neither pull it nor push it. The only way I found of budging it was to use a sharp point to drag it.
The Curve 8900 takes a long time to fire up. I haven’t timed it but I was estimate it as about 3 minutes. You get used to this, no doubt, but the first time you find yourself wondering whether the unit is faulty.
I did a quick tour of the on-board software and soon found out how to make calls and send SMS. Unfortunately, neither of these facilities actually worked. The little manual gave no clues but I guessed I would have to register the phone with Orange before they would work. It turned out that I was right. This is no doubt one of the penalties of buying from one of the network providers. I’m guessing the phone is also locked but that will soon be remedied as I do not accept my phones to be locked: I pay for them so they are my property and no one has the right to disable them.
I contacted Orange and they did whatever was necessary and the phone and SMS then worked. No one mentioned email and they should have done as this would have saved me some trouble.
I hunted in vain for ways to set up email but couldn’t find how to do it. I tried going online to Orange’s set-up page (http://www.orange.co.uk/setup) which had provided me with settings before, only to find that the 8900 wasn’t listed. I could however browse the Web so why did email not work?
I rang Orange’s tech support and all became clear. To get email, the Blackberry owner has to go onto a special joint Blackberry/Orange Web site (http://www.blackberry.orange.co.uk/) and register the phone. You can there set up your email accounts.
The support team member also told me that in order to use this facility, I would have to pay £5 per month. She asked if anyone had told me this. No, they had not, and I was rather put out by this. In their publicity for this phone, Orange make a selling point of its email capability but say nothing about the cost.
If you do take the £5 package, you get unlimited Internet and email (or so I was told) and you get “push“ email, i.e. you are notified when a new email comes in and don’t have to keep checking manually.
Another of my requirements is a document editor and a spreadsheet editor. The 8900 comes with a standard version of Documents To Go. This version allows you to edit MS compatible Word files, Excel files and presentations but not to create them in the first place. So, for example, if you receive one of these files by email, you can save it and then edit it. However, not all editing features are enabled. To gain these and be able to create new files, you have to upgrade to the Premium version which costs about $30 at the moment when there is a special offer available. Provided you can go online with your phone, upgrading is very easy.
And then, having got everything so beautifully set up, I went and ruined it all!
I had installed the desktop software and seen that this had a ”Device Switch Wizard”. This apparently carries data over from one Blackberry to another. Great! This would allow me to copy my contacts and calendar entries from the old Blackberry to the new one.
I ran the Wizard and it operated as advertized… and wiped out all my hard-won email settings because these didn’t exist on the old Blackberry!
I tried to get them back but failed, and in the end had to go back on the phone to tech support. To judge from the polite but bored attitude of the support team member, I guess this is a not uncommon problem and my settings were soon restored.
It will come as no surprise when I say that there are things I like about this phone and things I don’t like. I enjoy the email but dislike having to do everything by bringing up a menu and selecting the required function because there are no keyboard short-cuts like the universal Ctrl+s to save your file.
I have only scratched the surface of the available functions so I still have a lot to learn and some surprises to discover.
And in case you are wondering, I wrote all of this blog post, except this paragraph, on the Blackberry 8900. I used the document editing function of Documents To Go and emailed the file to myself on the PC.