The Torch 9850/9860 is RIM’s only flagship BlackBerry 7 smartphone without a physical keyboard and is my BlackBerry of choice. One of my favorite accessories for it is the the charge/sync cradle. We at N4BB bring you an unboxing and review of this accessory after having spent a few weeks with it.
Looking at this charging cradle, you’ll immediately notice that it falls in line with the typical BlackBerry style. Understated. Simple. Black. High Quality. The smooth, sculpted sides match the curves of the 9860 perfectly, wrapping around the 9860 when docked. The combination of black glossy plastic with the matte backing is also shared. The bottom of the cradle has a soft rubber layer to prevent sliding on a flat surface and to reduce noise when placing it anywhere. It comes with a USB cable but no wall adaptor to convert from DC to AC current. But you can use the one that came with your BlackBerry, which is exactly what I did.
The choice of materials is nearly spot on. I’m a big fan of the matte soft-touch finish on the back and lower part of the front though. While it may be too understated at times, you’ll have a hard time calling any product cheap with that kind of finish. But that’s just me, and I’ll let these pictures help you get an idea of what I’m talking about.
The back USB port comes out in a not-s0-subtle way, but that’s so big deal. It doesn’t look half bad and it actually works really well to stabilized the cradle on a surface. It makes the USB port on the back easier to find too. Let’s just say you won’t need an atomic force microscope to find the usb port without looking.
The USB port that connects directly to the side of the Torch 9850/9860 doesn’t get much style points. And it doesn’t have to. But it is worrying that it isn’t very secure. I can wiggle it back and forth like a 7-year old’s tooth. It could just be my use and abuse, but the last time I checked, I didn’t go all Chuck Norris on it. This could be related, but it is possible to slide the Torch in “wrong” so it won’t charge. I’ve done it a few times, but it can be avoided completely if you make sure both ends of the torch fit inside the inside before pushing it down.
The Torch fits in very nicely when you guide it in. The cradle lines up nicely with the phone when docked, continuing the sleek, streamlined curves of the Torch. I’m not a fan of the glossy plastic on the inside of the dock. Some velvet, or something softer and less-tacky would definitely step this cradle up into “baller” territory.
The matte texture wraps around the device so that when the device is docked, that’s most of what you see. The BlackBerry logo is almost too subtle. No wait, IT IS too subtle. What happened to the nice metallic finish of the 9860’s BlackBerry logo? That was boss. All it is now is just a glossy black logo surrounded by the matte backing. But I’m nitpicking big-time.
It charges your BlackBerry. Check. It connects your computer to your BlackBerry. Double check. After all, it’s just a glorified USB cord that props up your Torch 9850/9860 while being connected, right? Not exactly. This is a “smart” accessory. It won’t quite do your taxes, but can control the state of your Torch much like a holster can. In fact, pretty much exactly like a holster.
When you first submit the cradle to some wall electrons, a green LED should let assure you that you, in fact, have not bought a BlackBerry-branded paperweight. After a few days of using it, I noticed that the green LED doesn’t make the room slightly brighter than it should be at night when trying to sleep. If you’re the type with a phobia of photons at night, this will frustrate you. I put a piece of electrical tape over the light; problem solved. MacGyver would be proud.
Sliding your Torch into the cradle, your phone will let you know that it has detected a “smart” accessory. You can then set the behaviour of your Torch when it connects to this exact cradle in the future. You can make it open the Clock app, Compass app, BBM or anything really. I thought that it would be cool if my Torch opened the Clock app when I place it in the cradle. It turns out that you can change any of the connections and sound profiles as well, but for some reason, not within the Clock app. But that’s alright because you can configure your Torch to go into Bedside mode when charging at a specific time without the help of a charging cradle.
The setup is typically BlackBerry and typically straightforward. I managed to set it up in the review video in seconds.
To sum it up. I’m very satisfied with it. I really wanted a dock for my Torch when I go to bed every night, and I’ve found one. It’s stylish, fancy and programmable. It does have a flimsy USB port inside the cradle and it is possible to slide it in wrong if you’re not paying attention (as I’ve done a few times). It’s a shame it doesn’t come with the wall adaptor so its more of a bedside charger, which is what most people will probably use it for. It will, however, work with the standard BlackBerry charger and PlayBook chargers though. In the end, it is a solid buy. It wins on our design and function. It’s the perfect complement to the Torch 9850/9860.
In stock at the N4BB BlackBerry Accessories Store here.