My first personal information manager was a Palm Pilot in 1995. Since then, I continued to use it and upgraded the hardware every couple of years. Although I stopped using the Palm handheld once I switched to a BlackBerry, I kept using its Palm Desktop software.
Palm did what few companies have ever attempted: they kept things simple and didn't try to make handhelds that work like Windows. The options for Tasks, for example, contained only due dates, checkboxes and categories. Open the BlackBerry's Tasks and you'll notice too many options that require too much navigation with the trackball and keyboard to use.
You might be in a similar situation in which you prefer another application for managing your day-to-day activities. Those who use Outlook already have the option to sync their BlackBerrys with Outlook using the BlackBerry's Desktop Manager.
Many third party tools and applications help you synchronize existing data on another handheld device or software to your new device, or sync your favorite applications and personal information manager with the BlackBerry. I can't begin to cover every option, but instead I provide a few examples so you know what's out there and what's possible.
Applications like CompanionLink, Mark/Space MissingSync, PocketMirror Professional, and XTNDConnectPC allow you to synchronize data from non-BlackBerry devices with the BlackBerry. CompanionLink, for example, can synchonrize a BlackBerry with iPhone, Windows Mobile and PalmOS devices as well as ACT!, Goldmine, Google, LotusNotes, and Outlook software.
Also many personal information manager types of apps offer add-ons so you can sync the data with your phone. Google is one example, which comes up in the next section.
In my case, I use the Palm Desktop to track my life with its calendar, contacts, tasks and notes. I use a synchronization application to sync the data from Palm Desktop with a Windows Mobile device and Outlook because I do articles and reviews on Windows Mobile and Outlook.It's easier to do reviews when you have data on these things than to make it up.
When I received my BlackBerry, I didn't have to do much to transfer all my information (lots of it) to it. All I had to do was sync it with Outlook. Outlook already syncs with Palm Desktop as previously explained.I can even update Google Calendar just by downloading and installing a Google application. It automatically syncs Outlook with Google Calendar.
Many devices don't always work with Macs. So Mac users have sync solutions to help them sync their devices with their Macs.
I use Google as an example of using an application or service that can sync with your device. Google offers applications such as Google News, GMail, Google Search, Google Sync, Google Calendar and so on. Get these from google.com/mobile. Upon landing on the Google Mobile site, you'll select your phone from the list of available options and Google tells you what Google products available for your phone. Google Mobile Updater for the BlackBerry, for instance, lets you pick which Google applications you want to install on your BlackBerry. After installing them, check the updater from time to time for Google application updates.
Google Sync updates your calendar and contact information with Gmail. So if you like Gmail's calendar and contact application, use the sync tool to keep both your Gmail and BlackBerry updated with the same information. Beware that whatever information you have in the BlackBerry prior to using Google Sync does not sync with Gmail (annoying to be sure).
Obviously, you have many options for syncing between devices and applications. So you can get just about any software or phone without concerns about not being able to use your favorite application. After all, a sync solution is probably available to allow you to sync up everything.