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When the first BlackBerry device came out, way back in 1999, it virtually launched the smartphone category. Now, with PlayBook and new OS 10, BlackBerry has proven itself as a contender with Android and Apple. Here are the main components of the BlackBerry ecosystem.

The Hub: Take a Peek

BlackBerry 10 conveniently consolidates all of your communications in a universal inbox, so at a glance you can see what’s coming in – emails, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) pings, text messages, Facebook comments, tweets and so on. Then, when inside an app, you can swipe up from the bottom of the screen and slide to the right to “peek” in on your messages – to see who just wrote you. If it can wait, let go of your thumb and the app snaps back to full-screen.

Smart Keyboard

One of the key reasons people want a BlackBerry is its comfortable and accurate physical keyboard; the lower-third of the Q10 has a QWERTY keyboard that feels great under your thumbs, while the 3.1-inch touchscreen can be tapped and swiped for other tasks. Even if you prefer the all-touch Z10, BlackBerry 10 has a predictive keyboard that cleverly suggests words it thinks you want as you type, and you simply swipe up with your thumb on the screen to accept. It will even guess what your next word will be.

Keep Your Balance

RIM knows many of its customers are using the BlackBerry for both professional and personal reasons, and the new platform lets you segregate these two worlds – your nine to five and five to nine, if you will – with separate screens, apps, media and services. On a related note, using your BlackBerry for work or play means you need an excellent battery, and the Q10 and Z10 won’t disappoint in this department.

Top-notch Security

BlackBerry is still considered the most-secure wireless platform – which is understandably critical, especially for businesses. BlackBerry 10 supports the most IT policies – close to 500, in fact – meaning it adheres to the most stringent security and privacy protocols around. Even on a consumer level, BlackBerry 10’s mail supports BlackBerry Enterprise Server and Microsoft Exchange, as well as other technologies, while BBM messages are encrypted and sent through BlackBerry’s own servers.

Check out these easy-to-follow BlackBerry tutorials:

1. Starting-Up Guide: BlackBerry 10

2. How-To: Transfer and Sync from your current BlackBerry to BlackBerry 10

3. How-To: Send a Message from BlackBerry Hub

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