I, like Kyle, was at last week’s BlackBerry 7 Sneak Peek event at The Fifth Social Club on Richmond St W. in Toronto at the invitation of those generous folks over at Research In Motion. The event was dubbed #BB7FanNight for those following along on the Twitter stream.
Right when we got to the door of the event – in a small alleyway as all the ‘good clubs’ have their entrances these days – we could already see the awesomeness that was about to unfold before us. The huge poster you see to your left was put up at the edge of the red carpet behind velvet ropes as we walked up a stairway into the club. I was excited just because this was going to be my first chance to really physically feel the devices in person, handle them, and play with them for a bit. I was hopeful that I might even see a device or two which has been in use by a RIM employee and see how it was really functioning “in the wild” – and on this last point I was not to be disappointed.
I went to the event with a couple of friends and saw a whole ton of familiar faces in the lineup from the Toronto community, both BlackBerry addicts and users of other phones alike. Once we all got up the stairs we entered a world where everyone was to be very impressed. The whole club space had been turned into a BlackBerry love fest for these awesome new devices that were freshly announced and are now being released and the mood was electric. It helped, of course, that RIM had sprung for an open bar but you could see they had thought of so many things down to the last detail including ensuring the bar staff were suitably attired – in BlackBerry 7 gear of course!
With an open bar you’d think it would be easy to get at the actual devices and play with them because most people would be busy boozing but not with this crowd. From the moment I got in there until the moment they closed the event up it was easier to get a drink than it was to get a look at one of these hot new devices. Each of the stations which had a number of the new BlackBerry devices available to be fondled was mobbed pretty much throughout the entire event.
It was even easier to get a picture with Toronto Blue Jays baseball great Joe Carter than it was to push to the front of the stations and play with each BlackBerry. I also had no idea that Joe Carter himself was such a BlackBerry addict.
At first I wasn’t sure if his loyalty had more to do with RIM offering him compensation to be a spokesperson for them but three things to me proved his legitimate place on Team BlackBerry:
- He was using a Bold 9780 (or maybe it was a 9700, I didn’t want to stare!) and wasn’t already using a sponsored device.
- He told us how he got everyone who attended his golf tournament excited about the PlayBooks he had for them and how Charles Barkley (if I recall correctly) was one of the most excited.
- Finally, Joe told us how he constantly uses BBM to keep in touch with the entire Carter family.
Unfortunately, I totally forgot to get Joe’s PIN to add him on BBM – maybe next time.
There was also a line just to get at the BlackBerry 7 photobooth which had all sorts of little BlackBerry and “7” paraphernalia but my friend Shannon and I finally got up there to show our BlackBerry devotion and excitement for BlackBerry 7.
Of course, we got a chance to check out the devices before we left. I was so very impressed with the usability and speed of these new phones I knew I needed to get one sooner rather than later. One of the gentleman who was showing off the 9850/9860 had his Sprint activated 9850 on hand and even let me play with it as opposed to one of the display models so I was able to snap this picture of me holding the device in my hand.
But for my tastes – and my friend Shannon was completely with me on this – we needed a device that had our beloved BlackBerry keyboard. We took a look at the Torch 9810 and in my opinion the placement of the USB port in the same place as its older brother (the 9800) made me really hesitant to want it. I love my 9800 but always find it a problem to be charging my phone while I try to type – ya, I am that much of an addict. I have spoken with the folks from Research In Motion about this and they told that they had heard this from others before and that unfortunately there was literally nowhere else to put the devices’ charging port based on the arrangement of circuit boards and other things which make up the guts of the phone. Therefore, in my mind, my desires are directed towards the beautifully svelte BlackBerry Bold 9900.
It has a touch screen, it has the famed and awesome Bold keyboard, and it runs BlackBerry 7 as smooth as silk. From the moment I played with it and felt how light and sexy it was I knew it was going to most probably be the BlackBerry to replace my beloved Torch 9800.
When we left the event, the 40 people who won tickets on Twitter (there may have been other ways to win tickets to the party but that was the only way that I am aware of) told the RIM representative which device they were interested in receiving and which provider they are with and it is going to be mailed to them after the devices are released. However, RIM clearly didn’t want the invited guests – both the ones invited by RIM and by the winners of the contest – to leave empty handed. Oh no, they hooked each and every one of us up – contest winners included – with a sweet swag bag which included a pair of Skullcandy Roc Nation Aviator headphones and a BlackBerry 7 t-shirt just like the ones the bar staff and the RIM representatives were wearing (picture below shows the back of the t-shirt, the front can be seen in the picture at the top of the bar staff). I know I’ll be proud to be wearing my t-shirt around town – and especially to any future BlackBerry events.