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This page deals with the wireless email, and other features, available on the BlackBerry. The image at the left is of the 957, which I use. If you want the mobile phone, web access, the works, look at the 6510sm, image at right.

There are instruction pages on the internet about the BlackBerry, but it takes some digging to find the useful ones. This page offers some items i haven't found elsewhere, and provides links to the good sites. The sites you find from Google tend to be full of useless sales talk and little practical detail, even about the basic decisions you have to make before purchasing, such as whether you will go with the enterprise version or the internet version. Nextel has a fair page on the enterprise mechanism, but could be clearer about the choice. Basically the choice is already made for you, by what system your company uses.

Notes Discussion
In my view every business person who regularly uses email should have a BlackBerry or other wireless email. When you decide to get one, there are several initial questions that come up . First, you have to say whether you want the enterprise version or the internet version. That wasn't clear to me when I was first ordering one. And I couldn't find any site to tell me about it. Turns out there is no choice, it just depends on whether your company is already on the enterprise system. If not, you need the internet version. The BB enterprise version requires that the company be using either Microsoft Exchange or similar collaboration software such as Lotus Notes. MS Exchange is an email server with storage and collaboration tools added. Like all servers it can be hosted or run internally. The point is that it will seldom be an individual decision as to which BB to use. If your company is running Exchange and you are using the company email server you will use the enterprise version. If yours is an individual purchase, you will purchase the internet version. A company decision of what email server to use is another topic, but Exchange is significantly more expensive and complicated than most of the alternatives, particularly the open source email server SendMail. Exchange would be the choice only where there is a need for the collaborative features, such as the common contacts list and calendars which can be updated centrally.
There is also the question of which wireless service provider to choose. Actually you choose where you buy the BB, and with it you get a predetermined provider, and you are stuck with that provider forever. All the providers refuse to service any BB purchased originally from any other provider. Legal or not, that appears to be the way it is now. I have used Aether and later, Earthlink. The email service was the same, excellent reception in most places. The on line support better with Earthlink. The telephone support with both was horrible.

Since as far as I know there is no difference in the coverage. Several use the same wireless provider, the Cingular network. You probably select where you buy the BB rather than the service. And that comes down to price. And there are differences in the prices of about $100. Right now you can save $100 by going with Earthlink so that would be my choice.

Check Amazon for deals. It is surprising that the services are not giving the BB away, just to get the $40 a month service contract. That may come, so use your search engine to check several services and vendors.

BB coverage is a function of freeways and height. Most places you have to be a story or so above street level to receive, but one up there, reception within a building is excellent. You need to check your city. It is good in Waco, but not in Amarillo.

You shouldn't have any problems activating your BB. The instructions are detailed. Aether has them on line. Normally you will want to get support from your service rather than from the Research in Motion (the manufacturer). RIM charges for support, but does provide a free excellent site with links to just about everything you want to know. The problem is taking the time to plow through it all.

Here is a sample of the links on the RIM site to detailed information about the BB. The User Guide is particularly helpful, with tips on using the various keyboard combinations.

Top 10 troubleshooting tips
General Information
User Guide
Desktop Manager
Getting Started Guide

Using Earthlink as an example, there are two web pages for managing your account over the internet. One is Getting Started, with the steps for activating and registering your BB, and the other is for changing your settings for forwarding, filters,signature, and password. A portion of that page is show at the right.

There is an oddity that can flummox you when signing in. The setting page wants your user name in a special form. If your earthlink email address is csmith01@earthlink.net, it wants csmith01.earthlink. That's right, a dot instead of the @ and no .net at the end.

BlackBerry Internet Edition Settings
This Menu gives you access to all of your BlackBerry Internet EditionTM Settings. From the bottom of any page you can click the Menu option to return to this page. If you are concerned about whether your BlackBerry handheld has been activated, check Status at the bottom of this screen.

  • Forward messages to my BlackBerry handheld: Keep the messages sent from your BlackBerry handheld by forwarding a copy of them to an email address that you specify.
  • Control the messages sent to your BlackBerry handheld using advanced email filters.
  • Customize the auto signature that appears at the bottom of messages sent from your BlackBerry handheld. Auto signature allows you to effortlessly provide contact information like phone numbers, or even personalized messages, in all your email.
  • Change the password to your BlackBerry Settings. We recommend that you at least change your default password upon first activating your BlackBerry handheld.
An even quicker way to find answers to specific problems, such as error messages, it to ask Google. For example, if you get the error message "Device Error 100" and the reset doesn't work, put in that, plus blackberry, and you go directly to a page with alternative suggestions for solving that. That's just an example. None of the suggested solutions have worked yet on mine. One failed but worthwhile step was to make sure I had the latest in the BB software, downloadable from the site of your provider, or from the BB site. The latest at this point is 3.6 for the desktop and 2.6 for the handheld.