MANILA, January 19, 2005 (STAR) By Igan D’bayan - In past articles, I once proudly proclaimed, "This may be the exciting digital age, but some of us still lead frustrating analog lives." I think that’s a load of bollocks.

We live in a wired world. We live in a world of technological leaps and bounds that transform revolutionary gadgets into yesterday’s revolution. We have no choice but to turn and face the strange changes, as David Bowie once sang. We live in a swiftly metamorphosing world that is changing the way we communicate with one another. A case in point: Everyone and his fairy granduncle have cell phones that keep them always connected in this closely-knit digital community. We are linked via a digital umbilical cord. We are never alone or isolated, ideally. We are using gadgets to make life easier (not more screwed-up, as technophobes might think). Thus, connectivity is the operative word in this day and age.

Why the meditation on technology (especially from this happily anachronistic person who prefers scratchy, cumbersome records over sleek and clinical CDs)? Well, when I got the BlackBerry cell phone from Globe Telecom, I mulled over how much a piece of technology can alter one’s way of life.

Okay, if you told me years ago that in the future there would be a slim, funky-looking machine that you could use in making calls, sending text messages, checking e-mail, surfing the Net, and typing your thoughts (whether on Donald Trump or Donald Duck), etcetera, I would quickly dismiss it as a science fiction hallucination in a world created by Philip K. Dick, but no way as palpable reality in the world dictated upon by George W. Bush.

What was sci-fi hallucination before is now conveniently tucked in my denim pocket. That’s how slender this innovative phone is. Why I dig this handy phone? Let me count the ways.

First, you can have e-mails-on-the-go. What do most people do in the morning right after drinking coffee, scratching oneself, reading the newspaper, or upon arriving at the office? Check e-mail, of course. The BlackBerry gives the user easy access to his or her mailbox (Microsoft Outlook, IBM Lotus Notes, ISP e-mail, even a Yahoo account – as long as the Pop Office Protocol is enabled).

You might say that other WAP-enabled cell phones boast that same feature. But with the BlackBerry, the user doesn’t need to log onto Yahoo or Hotmail website all the time. All he has to do is log onto the BlackBerry Internet Service website, create his or her own account, go to the profile page, and link other e-mail accounts. The e-mails in those accounts will be automatically forwarded to the cell phone’s inbox. Which is very convenient especially for globetrotting businessmen, entrepreneurs, professionals, or even vagabond lifestyle writers. The brochure says we have to thank "Push Technology" for this. Whatever it is, we owe it a debt of gratitude.

Just think of the benefit(s). Imagine being anywhere in the world (with roaming, of course) and still being able to send or check e-mail. No exasperating dial-ups or anything. For most people, waiting to connect to a dial-up network is like waiting for Godot. You don’t have to retrieve e-mail; your e-mail retrieves you. Well, sort of. (In the case of attachments – urgent documents, Paris Hilton JPEGs – you have to go to your BlackBerry account in order to open them.)

That means no monolithic backlog of e-mails when, say, a business executive comes back from a trip. Also, professionals can make good use of their downtime, especially when you’re stuck in that clogged artery called EDSA – instead of cursing at those greedy boys in blue, or gazing at billboards that have usurped the skies.

But the best features are the screen and the keyboard.

If you do a lot of writing in your line of work (for example, if you’re a CEO, a professional, a lifestyle writer, or a racetrack bookie), you’ll find the BlackBerry’s large color screen and the standard QWERTY keyboard very ideal, especially for bosses who have the predilection of composing memos-on-the-go, or account executives who need to draw up presentations in between meetings, or writers finding his ass halfway around the world with a nagging deadline, or someone who likes sending SMS as lengthy as War and Peace.

Other cell phones or personal digital assistants have screens seemingly designed for hobbits or Dr. Evil’s midget sidekick. Not the BlackBerry. This gadget has ample enough screen for the user to conveniently compose a memo, e-mail, or even an article about everything and nothing. And distance is no obstacle. The gadget is always connected to the Internet, so a couple of clicks on the track-wheel located on the side of the unit allow the user to send SMS, business letters, proposals, or even articles to the recipient. No sweat.

The BlackBerry also comes with integrated earpiece and microphone, hands-free headset, USB cable for charging and PC synchronization – the works, actually.

A testament: The members of the rock band Keane requested for BlackBerry units from their record label. Dogbert in the Dilbert comic strip uses it. One website says the BlackBerry is the preferred gadget of movers in Hollywood, Washington and Wall Street, adding that in 2005 this hot handheld will be diametrically opposed to a lukewarm Britney Spears.

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BlackBerry handheld units are available in the country via the partnership between Globe Telecom and Research in Motion (RIM), a leading designer, manufacturer, and marketer of innovative wireless solutions for the global mobile communications market. Those interested in Globe-powered BlackBerry mobile phones may contact 730-1999 or e-mail They can also see and test BlackBerry at the Hub and Metro Manila Globe business centers.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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