Yesterday I picked up a new phone - a BlackBerry Pearl. The main reason I got it is because I couldn't get my e-mail with my old phone. It seemed like I was tethered to my computer all the time when I was waiting for an important e-mail. Now I feel free. Not only does it works great as a Bluetooth Modem, but it also supports browsing the internet and all of Google's Mobile apps (GMail, Google Talk and Google Maps). Even cooler - when you add a bookmark to a page that has an RSS feed, it detects that and allows you to add a "Web Feed" or a Bookmark. When I added this site as a web feed, it prompted me for Atom Entries/Comments or RSS Entries/Comments. It also allows you to auto-synchronize with your bookmarks or feeds. In other words, it has a built in feed aggregator. With a $20 unlimited data plan from T-Mobile, I love this phone!
The BlackBerry Pearl doesn't work with iSync, but PocketMac seems to do the trick. Unfortunately, PocketMac makes you synchronize with a USB cord whereas iSync uses Bluetooth. The Missing Sync for BlackBerry may solve this problem, but with everything else being free, I don't know if it's worth shelling out $40 so I don't have to plug in.
Some of you may ask, "Why didn't you just get a smart phone with EVDO built in?" The reason I didn't do this is I had a Verizon EVDO card. We were up in Steamboat for a week in January and it absolutely sucked. I worked for 3 days while were were up there (8-12 hours per day) and it was way too slow for me. The average speeds where 120KB/sec and I can easily get those with the Bluetooth Modem on the BlackBerry. Also, I don't want a fully-functional mini-computer for a phone, I just want it for basic calling functionality and the ability to check my e-mail.
What about the iPhone? I'm sure this phone will kick ass, but the fact that it won't support J2ME means that Google's apps won't work. Of course, they'll probably create widgets that'll work on the iPhone, so that argument may be invalid in a few months. The biggest reason I don't like the idea of having an iPhone is one thing - Cingular. I had AT&T as my carrier for a couple years and their customer service was beyond awful. Whenever I would call them for help, it'd take anywhere from 15-45 minutes before I talked to anyone. Today, when I called T-Mobile to get my BlackBerry Internet service setup, they told me the wait would be 6 minutes and they'd call me back when it was my turn. I was very impressed. I hope more phone systems start using a "call me back" feature instead of the current "wait on hold for X minutes" debacle.
So I'm very happy with my new phone and anxious to use it in my travels next week. Where am I going? I signed a contract with a company out in Massachusetts to help them architect and implement a Java-based web infrastructure across all their projects. The initial scope is estimated to be 2-3 months. I'll be flying out to Boston periodically, but most of the time I'll be working from home. I had a number of very interesting full-time opportunities, but the gig I'm taking seemed to be the most interesting technically. With any luck, I'll make it to the New England JUG on Thursday night to hear Mark Fisher's talk on Message-Driven POJOs.
Update: I just found NewsGator Go! for J2ME. I use NetNewsWire on my Mac and FeedDemon on Windows, so it's great to see I can subscribe to my existing feeds on my phone. Thanks NewsGator!