Finally a Device That Delivers
I want a wireless handheld device
that works with me and doesn't
make me jump through hoops
just because I want to use Java. I
don't even want to know Java is
running; I just want it to do its job and
make my life easier.
I've been through a variety of
phones and PDAs, and each one had
major irritations. If it wasn't the poor
performance it would be the clunky
interface. Then there would be the balance
of what the device wanted to be
when it grew up: was it a PDA with a
phone, or was it a phone with fancy
The closest device to date was the
Sony P800. I blogged my whole experience
with the beast and felt it fell far
short of the marketing hype that
accompanied it. I was beginning to lose
hope that Java could deliver its promise
on mobile devices.
Some good news to report: I believe
I've found the ultimate Java device, and
it's so good I'm devoting this entire editorial
to it. The device is the BlackBerry
I love it. It has everything you need
from a handheld. Large color screen,
long battery life, very light, always-on
connectivity, and the killer feature: a
small QWERTY keyboard that is easily
used with your thumbs. The software
bundled with it is strong and useful.
The device has been well thought out
from both a hardware and software
point of view.
Screen quality can't be underestimated
in these devices. It's the first
thing that will sap the battery life away,
and due care must be given to getting
it just right. The screen is large and
very clear and comes with a backlight
facility that pops on should the light
fade on you. The clarity makes using
this device a joy.
There are so many features on the
BlackBerry 7xxx that I could go on for
pages. For example, a really nice touch
is that it charges through the same USB
cable you sync with. One less power
cube to carry around.
If it's so great, why isn't everyone
using it? Good question, and one I have
been giving a lot of thought to. I think
the blame lies primarily with RIM, the
licensors of BlackBerry's wireless e-mail
technology and, secondarily, with the
To know about the device you would
first have to know someone or see
someone using it. Assuming you know
of it and head over to their Web site
(www.blackberry.com), you could still be forgiven for being in the dark. This is
one of the greatest Java devices ever,
but you won't know that after you visit
their site. RIM is not very good at marketing
RIM is even poor at dealing with the
press. I have repeatedly asked for information
and interviews, and I'm still
waiting. Why are they hiding?
This device, with its large screen and
integrated keyboard, is crying out for
Java developers to be let loose with it.
This device will make you want to
return to your IDE after dinner and
start letting your creative juices flow.
Devices like these could really secure
Java's role in the mobile arena.
RIM is not the only one to blame. The
wireless telcos aren't making it easy. I
had to jump through hoops to get mine
connected here in the UK, and even after
that I'm being charged a fortune for data
going in and out. Compare this to the
"all-you-can-eat" data plans in the U.S. It
shouldn't be this hard (or costly) surely?
Competition is hot on BlackBerry's
heels. Palm, for example, has a very
nice device with their Tungsten W
model. Aimed at the same "always-on"
market as the BlackBerry, it will be
interesting to see how well they gain
market- and mindshare. Their press
folks have already contacted me, and
they're doing a lot to convince Java
developers to come to their device.
The future for these Java devices is
looking rosy - if the manufacturer can
get its act together and create the
groundswell of development to allow
the community to build the rich array
of software it requires.
Alan Williamson, when not answering your e-mails and working on the next issue of JDJ, heads up a small team dubbed the "Thunderbirds of the Java industry," providing on- and offsite rescue for Java projects in trouble. For more information visit www.javaSOS.com. You can also read his blog: http://alan.blog-city.com.