Blackberry Bold 9900 – Welcome back old friend

Posted on October 17, 2011

In February of this year my trusty old Blackberry 9000 died a sad and final death. The inhouse IT department couldn’t do anything with it, the blinking lights suggested the motherboard was friend and the external repair party wanted R600 to look at it. They also admitted that if it was motherboard it was uneconomical to repair. Eish. With 6 months to go to renewal the device was temporarily replaced by the 8520.

An aside on the 8520, there is very little that the top models can do that the bottom don’t. Sure, the screen isn’t as nice, the keys are smaller, it doesn’t have GPS. It does do twitter, bbm, mail, browsing, Kindle, mxit, whatsapp, and pretty much everything a smart phone should, a little slower yes, but it does work.

After 6 months of the 8520 the upgrade finally happened. Choice 9780 with no pay in, or the 9900 with a R1000 paying. Newer OS, touch screen, bigger keyboard, sold on the 9900.

The most immediate feeling on unboxing and typing in a few setup details, welcome back old friend. My I have missed the keyboard. Blackberry bold 9000 had the best keyboard on a mobile device, ever. The 9900 is the true successor to the 9000. The others were just pretenders.

The new OS is pretty. Still not up to iOS or Android, but is still Blackberry and is an improvement

The new browser is much quicker, renders better, and nicer to use. Big plus here.

The keyboard is great (as above).

The touchscreen. Its there. I use it from time to time. It works well and is unobtrusive. Sometimes navigating is a whole lot quicker touching a few icons, othertimes scroll pad and keys are the thing. You definitely get the best of both worlds, I like.

The trackpad replaces the old track ball. The only thing I disliked about the Bold 9000. It used to get dirty quickly, then get stick and partially work. Ugh. Replaced it after a year, that worked better for 6 months. The trackpad avoids all of that. No moving parts, nothing to get dirty inside. The 8520 had the same and it worked well. Only problem, with my big thumbs from time to time I catch the bottom of the touch screen when scrolling and the cursor jumps. Long term problem or more care needed I’m not sure. Maybe a software fix that disables touch screen while you are scrolling.

I loaded my normal set of applications. Twitter BBM facebook all preloaded just needed updates. Blackberry Travel, Google Sync, Word Press all work great.

Amazon Kindle. Does not work, won’t load as it isn’t compatible. Damn. There has been much talk of the Blackberry platform dying. Amazon doesn’t support the flagship device with the new OS. That is sad, and perhaps an indication of developers abandoning the platform. I hope not, and that Amazon prove me wrong, but in the meantime no catching up with those few pages of my latest novel while standing in the queue at the airport, shopping centre or other stolen moments.

Lastly, Google Sync. As the owner of any smart phone do yourself a favour, install this product. It backs up your contacts and calender to the cloud and synchronises it between devices. My Blackberry, Nokia E71 and Android HTC Desire all share a common address book which is also available in Gmail. Perfect. Get a new device, plug in the credentials your address book is there waiting for you. Perfect use of the cloud, just love it.

Battery life is adequate, seems better than the HTC Desire and the 8520, not up to the levels of the E71 (which I hardly use for online access anymore) but for a fully featured smartphone the 9900 seems to have more than decent battery life.

The device is thin and sleek, wide to allow for the screen and the bigger keyboard, not bulky to worry me in my pocket. The build quality seems solid and has a nice sturdy weight and build to it. Not heavy.

In conclusion, yes, iPhone and Galaxy S II are better, but if you want BBM and mail and uncapped internet and a device which just works, or your organisation says Blackberry is your only choice then this device is a really good choice. Loving it.

(Pictures to be added)

** review typed while waiting in the boarding queue, this keyboard really works well :)

Quick thoughts and test: New version of Microsoft Image Composite Editor (ICE) 1.4.3 (Updated 14/4/2011)

Posted on April 12, 2011

As any regular reader of my blog knows, I am quite a fan of Microsoft Image Composite Editor and regularly use it to create panoramas and photosynths, and have quite a few synths hosted on

A couple of days ago (7th April) a new version was released, 1.4.3. Get it here. There is also a nice demo video there.

Back last year there was some pre-release information around this new release, the most exciting was that it could now take video input and use it to create the panoramas and synths. I have been looking forward to this release every since so was quite excited at the news.

The new features (as taken from the website) are :

  • Stitch directly from a video (only on Windows 7)
  • Automatic lens vignette removal
  • Improved blending engine
  • Options dialog to control memory usage and scratch disk locations

I don’t know why the video option is Windows 7 only, however my laptop runs Windows 7 so I was very keen to try out this new feature. With limited time I just took my blackberry, made a quick (1 minute) low resolution (around 2 Meg) video (.3gp format). (Update : It works on Windows 7 only as it makes use of some new video API that is present only from Windows 7 onwards).

I chose the composite video option in MS ICE, selected the file and it in, asked about clipping the frame, which I declined to do. MS Ice then analysed the video and selected 66 images which it then stitched together. It created a final image 2560 pixels x 426, covering 360 degrees horizontally and 56 degrees vertically, just 1.09 megapixels. This was a little disappointing since I had tried to get at least 90 degrees vertically and large sections of the video appeared missing (you can see part of the roof and not others). The room was a little dark and the blackberry camera isn’t great in low light conditions, I guess I temper my expectations until I try this out properly with the Canon EOS 550D or the Ixus 210. They at least do HD (and full HD) video.

The end result can be seen below. Very dark and more than likely not doing justice to the new features (my fault I’m sure). I hope to upload more examples soon, but in the meantime check out the first attempt.

Update :

Tonight I took a similar video clip using the Canon Ixus 210 in HD (720p). The result looked much better onscreen and MS ICE also did a much better job with the source footage. Many more images were picked from the video (110 selected, 109 stitched) covering 360′ horizontally and a much better 130′ vertically. This produced a final image 6144 pixels by 2165, giving 13 megapixels. The end result as uploaded to Photosynth is much more pleasing then the Blackberry version and gives a much more complete view of the room.

This video option is definitely one I will play around with a whole lot more. Next time out the Canon Eos 550D to do some full HD (1020P) video.

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