Being a BlackBerry user for some time now, I hadn’t actually thought of it as a media device. In fact, I was recently talking to someone from Research In Motion (RIM), the manufacturer of BlackBerry devices, and was telling them that I didn’t like that I couldn’t use a Bluetooth connection (instead of USB) between my PC and my BlackBerry to transfer files across, such as music. The response was:
RIM: “Have you tried WiFi Music Sync?”
Me: “What’s that?”
A great little feature, as it turns out. One that should be given more attention, and one I’m surprised I wasn’t already aware of. I buy and play all my music through iTunes, which surprisingly integrates quite well with BlackBerry.
To get everything running, from the point where I barely knew the feature existed, probably took me around 7 to 10 minutes, including adding my BlackBerry to my wireless network.
WiFi Music Sync: Basic steps:
1. Add your BlackBerry to your wireless network.
2. Connect your BlackBerry to your PC with a USB cable.
3. In BlackBerry Desktop, Tools -> WiFi Music Syc. Follow a few prompts.
After that one time, you don’t need to connect the BlackBerry to your PC with the USB cable. Things can be done wirelessly.
After you’ve done the initial sync, all of your iTunes playlists are available to either download (as a list or individual songs) or stream from your iTunes when connected to your wireless network.
I tried out both streaming and downloading. As you’re downloading the file from your own wireless network, it all happens pretty quickly. I tested out streaming a playlist through my wireless, and went walking around my home. It didn’t skip once, although my wireless LAN coverage is pretty good at home.
Other Media – TV and Movies:
For that content you may have acquired outside of the iTunes ecosystem such as TV shows, you can connect up your BlackBerry to your PC through the USB cable, which allows you to access the BlackBerry as if it were any USB storage device. From there, just copy over whatever you want to watch. All of the usual formats appear to be supported.
Even in fast moving action scenes with explosions going off, the picture is crystal clear and never freezes up.
The Bold 9900 has an inbuilt 8 GB of storage, along with a MicroSD Card slot, allowing up to 32 GB of extra storage, which you can add at any stage.
Want: BlackBerry Premium Multimedia Headset
The standard hands free kit / headphones that come with the BlackBerry Bold 9900 are fine for phone calls, although they fall a bit short on music and TV shows. I suspect iPhone users have a similar issue, as I keep seeing them walk around the city with headphones on, but holding their iPhone like a microphone to talk into. I take it they’re not using the supplied hands-free kit as their headphones.
BlackBerry also sell a premium multimedia headset, which supposedly sells for $99, although Google reveals prices between $24.95 (USD) and $42.96 (AUD). This headset also acts as a hands-free kit for phone calls. The reviews I’ve seen online have all been positive. I think I’ll order a set.
Battery life: Seems to be holding up quite well on the Bold 9900.
Tip: In the media player, press the BlackBerry button, go to Options, and enable ‘Audio Boost’. It’ll make you click through some legal stuff about loud music, but otherwise it’s too quiet.
Want to play with: VLC Remote Control. Available for purchase in BlackBerry App World
Browser: I brought up an article from the New York Times on my Bold 9900 and my Torch 9800 and put them side by side. The first thing I noticed was that the Bold 9900, which has a smaller screen than the Torch 9800 actually displayed a lot more text. The Bold could display 4 full paragraphs of text (perfectly clear and readable), whereas the Torch 9800 can only display 2 and a bit paragraphs. The increased screen resolution makes a big difference.