So, I finally joined the digital world- I bought a new cell phone.
Yes, I’ve had a cell phone for 8 years (it’s easy to remember because I bought my first one when my wife and I were expecting our first child- Annie is 8 years old). But now I’ve got something that is incredibly efficient, and to be upfront, I’m a little afraid of it because now I’ll always be connected.
It’s a new Blackberry World Edition Phone, and replaces my cell phone, calendar, and laptop.
Yes- it replaces my laptop- at least for reading email and doing casual web surfing. As you may know, SofterWare (parent company of DonorPerfect) switched to Gmail about 5 months ago. The Blackberry phone integrates with Gmail and Gmail calendar.
Every email that I receive in Gmail displays in my Blackberry. If I respond to an email on my Blackberry, it’s copied on my desktop in the office in real time. What’s more, Gmail is so tightly integrated into the Blackberry that it’s impossible for a recipient to know if I responded via regular email or my phone- all the settings (including my text signature at the bottom of the email) is the same.
Likewise, the calendar functionality in the Blackberry is perfectly synchronized to my calendar in the office. Any changes I make on either are reflected in the other. This also means that my colleagues (and especially my wife!) can easily know my schedule and we can better communicate and plan accordingly.
What’s the best part about all these services?
It didn’t require a call to our I.T. department.
Setting up the email and calendar took about 3 minutes- you simply enter your Gmail User ID and password. The software does the rest and BOOM! You’re connected in real time.
It goes without saying that the primary benefit is to stay connected with your staff and donors. Whether we like it or not we live in a connected world, and those that stay connected will achieve greater success.
Other benefits of a Blackberry:
- The software is easy to use and very intuitive. I didn’t require training at all.
- The phone can be powered by a standard mini-USB cable. (It does come with a regular AC adapter too). This means I can power the phone from my laptop in case an electrical outlet is not available.
- It has a full functioning QWERTY style keyboard, making it easy to send full text messages and responding to email.
- This model claims to work all over the world. Since I’ll be in the U.K. and Latin America this summer, we’ll see if it really works.
- The Blackberry also acts as a USB jump drive ( I purchased the 4GB version). I don’t have to worry about carrying a separate jump drive to transfer large files between computers.
- The mini-USB power did not work initally on my laptop. The Blackberry gave me a non-descript error saying there wasn’t enough power. A quick check on Google and it appeared I needed to download a newer USB driver. I did, and it worked- I just wish the error message was more descriptive.
- I wish the volume could be set louder- perhaps I have bad hearing?
- The Gmail application on the cell phone has crashed once. Turning the phone on/off solved the problem.
Overall, I’m very impressed with the phone. I am no longer bound to my office or laptop, and the productivity increases have been dramatic. Setting up the device could not have been easier- it clearly shows the power and ease that Software as a Service (SaaS, like DonorPerfect Online) delivers to the end-user so that expensive I.T. staff is not necessary for configuration.
(Notes: The phone costs ~ $400, and signing a 2 year extension decreased it to $199. The 4 GB SIMM memory card was an extra $79. In addition to whatever cell phone plan you pay, it does require an unlimited data plan from Blackberry, which is an additional $25/month, and includes web browsing.)