The 411: AT&T still missing BlackBerry's Bridge

Every two weeks, Senior Associate Editor Nicole Lee answers your questions about cell phones, smartphones, and all things mobile.

Welcome to the 411, my column answering all your questions about cell phones and cell phone accessories. I receive plenty of questions about these subjects via e-mail, so I figured many of you might have similar queries, too. At times, I might solicit answers from readers if I'm stumped. Send your questions and comments to me at nicole.lee@cnet.com. If you prefer to remain anonymous, let me know in the e-mail.

I am forced to trade my Palm 755p phone as the keyboard is dying and can not be repaired. I am considering the Blackberry Style. I need a PDA but will take the extras. Will this sync to outlook like my treo? is it easy to retrieve my treo info on a blackberry? Will the battery last a day between charges? Lastly, do you think it is a good swap? I usually do 1,000 minutes a month.. so not a diehard user.--"nags," via e-mail

If you like the form factor of the BlackBerry Style with its clamshell design and physical QWERTY keyboard, then I think there's nothing wrong with you replacing the Palm with it. It won't feel exactly the same, and the operating system has a bit of a learning curve, but you should be able to use it as a PDA after a bit of playing around. If you download the BlackBerry Desktop Manager, you'll be able to sync your Outlook with the phone easily. If your contacts and notes are stored in Outlook, then that information should transfer to the Style without much difficulty as well.

Battery life is a bit of a thornier issue. We managed to get around 5 hours of talk time with our model, but we have heard complaints from users that it can be far less than that. Of course, this is dependent on how heavily you use the phone's media and GPS features. We suggest playing around with it for a bit and making sure there's a decent return policy if it doesn't work out.

Nicole, I am a quadriplegic who sustained an injury last summer. I am also a physician who has a great interest in remaining active. I need a smartphone which is excellent and voice activation for purposes of e-mail, voice, and other business services. I currently use a Blackberry 9300 and this does not fit my bill. Can you tell me what the best smartphone would be which is voice-activated and would best suit my needs.--Gary, via e-mail

Many smartphones these days have voice dialing, even the BlackBerry 9300, but I'm thinking you might need more than just that. One suggestion would be to get a Bluetooth headset with voice controls, like the BlueAnt Q2. The headset enables you to perform a variety of tasks just by using your voice. I'm not sure of what your situation is, Gary, but one of our readers has invented a magnetic switch for Bluetooth headsets specifically for his quadriplegic son, and his solution might work for you. You can purchase his switch over at Nobuttonsheadset.com. You can even hook up the BlueAnt Q2 with Vlingo, a service that lets you send and respond to texts and e-mails by using your voice. If our readers have any more suggestions, feel free to leave a comment or send us an e-mail that we can forward to Gary.

I am a consumer and an AT&T customer. I am also a Blackberry user and I have been waiting for the arrival of the Blackberry Playbook for sometime. With news of AT&T blocking the download of the Blackberry Bridge application it stopped me from purchasing the new tablet because I wanted to see what the "official" word from AT&T is. After all the news on the blocking of the bridge application on April 19 this topic has not received any new updates and it's as if the media and the technical pundits have let AT&T off the hook. There are countless Blackberry users on AT&T who have been following this topic closely and we have been following Crackberry.com and the workarounds for the Bridge application . I feel that technical sites should not let AT&T off the hook and supporters of CNET. Is it possible to get an Official response from AT&T with firm facts in regard to when the Bridge application will be made available? Also why the other carriers in the US did not block the application even if they are testing this. By letting AT&T proceed down this road we are setting a precedent for future cases where the consumer will be squeezed for everything? We are already seeing a rise in prices of cell phone plans, the elimination of unlimited data plans ... I cannot even get AT&T to put me on a tethering plan without losing my unlimited plan I have. Please I am waiting impatiently to buy the device and just want to have firm facts in place thank you.--Billy, via e-mail

As of this writing, we are still unable to get the official BlackBerry Bridge application directly from BlackBerry App World with phones that are on AT&T. We had to use the Crackberry.com workaround in order to get the Bridge app. We're with you that this is quite frustrating for the average consumer who wouldn't know about such tricks, and we hope that AT&T will release official word about the Bridge application soon.

 

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