Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Blackberry Passport 2 weeks on

The passport has grown on me enormously over the past 2 weeks.

On the plus side:

  • Text entry and editing is a pleasure (more so for lots of short to medium length items than for very long items). 
    • Using a physical keyboard is accurate and fast (helped because I don't need to do corrections that I need to do with wordflow on android and iOS from time to time). 
    • The physical keyboard also helps prevent the screen from getting smudged. 
    • And moving the cursor to a position within text is so much easier than with many other devices. It was a while before I realised that you double tap the keyboard to toggle the mouse mode which allows you to swipe on the keyboard to move the cursor around.
    • Word prediction is excellent (I haven't mastered 'swipe up on the keyboard' to select a word).
  • Integrated handling of email, calendar, calls, notes and managing to-dos is great (the blackberry hub). 
    • Email/texts: it’s great how I can see and manage these in one place (Blackberry Hub) or in separately. Functionality and the keybaord is great.
    • Tasks/to-dos (reminders): managing to-dos is very effective, helped by the software and the physical keyboard. I was suprised to find that things were syncing between the Passport and iPhone/iPad (groupings of tasks and tasks). A result of having set up hotmail as an account on my iOS devices and blackberry using Hotmail to sync my tasks. 
    • Notes: I’m bowled over by how well integrated Evernote is in the blackberry- appearing not just under an Evernote tab, but when I go into the ‘Reminders’ section under the second tab ‘Notes’. 
  • Navigation is great:
    • You can set the physical keys so that a long press launches an app or carries out a shortcut (e.g. B for browser, T for task…).
    • There are several handy gestures
      • Swipe up and to the right to get to the mail/text hub
      • Two finger swipe down to get to quick settings (which is well laid out, and versatile eg you can include torch on/off).
      • The ‘home’ screen shows open apps - something I find very useful for navigation (as well as closing apps)
    • I love how from the home screen you can type on the physical keyboard and it’ll find what youre after (e.g. type N then F to get to the NFC setting).
  • Music quality and navigation in the music player is very, very good. 
    • I prefer listening to music on this to the iPhone 5s & even (much to my surprise) the htc m8. 
    • The pause button on the side is very handy.
    • The layout in the music app, with recent.
  • With amazon apps and snap I've got access to the android apps I need (some like Google+ won't work but I can use browser access which works fine for me).
  • Battery life has been great.
  • The screen shape works very well
    • great for browsing and text entry (the sharpness of the display helps)
    • the phone fits pretty well into my trouser, jacket and coat pockets (better than my 1520 which is longer)
    • I was also surprised that I enjoyed reading ebooks on this. 
    • The square shape works quite well for taking out the device and spinning it aroundto do things (sounds a bit weird but it means it can be controlled one handed for somethings (e.g. music), even though the keyboard needs 2 hands).
  • Some nice touches like when turn it on a red light goes on when it's been pressed enough
  • The 26 keys on the physical keyboard gives a few more password combination possibilities than using a 4 digit pin code but seems just as easy with a physical keyboard. Though, I've started using picture passwords for the first time and they seem more secure in that even if someone is watching what you are doing they won't easily guess the combination, and makes a nice change.
Areas that I'd like to be better
  • Some apps from amazon/snap take a few seconds to start up eg 
    • Audible (loaded through Amazon app store). It’s less of an issue for me as I listen to Audible books on the iPhone 5S - though Audible performance is better on the Passport than on Windows Phone. 
    • OneNote. Though Evernote is great {indent text seems to be missing}. I’m using Evernote more and more again.
  • The screen size isn't good for video junkies. The display quality is fine - just not very big.
  • I'd have liked to have had a fourth physical row with numbers and a long press for common symbols, though the on screen approach works well enough.
  • If anything I'd prefer this to be wider (about 2cm wider). This would make typing even easier (which can feel a bit constrained at times especially after a lengthy period of typing). It would also make the Passport more video friendly.
  • It would be even better with a Nokia style glance screen.
  • Some Google apps won;t work (like Google+ I’m starting to get a bit put off by Google+’s lack of cross platform working. It would be great if Evernote kicked off a Social Media platform orientated aroud topics & communities).

The passport is a great device if you do a fair bit of text entry on the move. It reminds me very much of my old psion organiser. It's now replaced my 1520 during the working week - which is saying a lot!