BlackStar is a free geocaching app for Blackberries.
Check out the picture on the right. I was travelling on a TGV (high speed train) between Paris and Lyon in November 2010. The waypoint is a cache in Lyon. It's 258 km away but we are going to be there is less than an hour at this speed!
It's a good demonstration of the capabilities of Blackstar, and a more interesting screen shot than a static one.
Blackstar is not as pretty as Android apps like c:geo or Groundspeak's geocaching app, but I have found that it works much better. This may be due to superior GPS electronics used in Blackberries and the way the software interacts with it. Also those pretty coloured features need a lot of processing power which tends to make them very slow.
It's so good that while my Blackberry Bold was still working, I rarely used my Garmin.
Compared to the Android it's faster and works better under trees etc. When you are near GZ the display updates much quicker making it much more usable.
The other advantage of using a Blackberry is having a real physical keyboard. It makes entering logs a breeze compared to the touch screen on the Android. The Android is so painful and time consuming for log entries, that I normally wait until I get home and enter them on the computer.
BlackStar keeps track of your current Latitude, Longitude, Altitude, Speed, Direction and the distance to your destination. You can record, save, and export your track as you use BlackStar. This is useful for recording a trip, exercise, or just to see where you've been.
Geocaching features include:
- Displaying a list caches closest to your location,
- Importing GPX files from Pocket Queries
- Ability to log finds immediately online
- View the cache description and hint
- Locate the cache on Google Maps.
Don't under estimate the ability to import GPX files. To upload files to the previous generations of Garmins (e.g. GPSMAP 76Csx, 60Csx), you need to convert a GPX file to a WPT format and upload it using a piece of software like GSAK, OziExplorer or Mapsource. On Blackstar it imports the GPX file directly from a folder on your BB.
However, one of the biggest downsides of Blackstar is that it takes a several minutes to import and convert a GPX file if it contains a few hundred caches. When you receive your Pocket Query email you have to save the GPX file to a folder on the Blackberry so that it can be imported into Blackstar. This is where the Android apps are much more streamlined. They can display nearby caches by downloading them directly from geocaching.com. They can also import a GPX file directly from the Pocket Query email that arrives on your Android.
Another downside compared to the Android apps is that it doesn't have turn-by-turn navigation for when you're driving. The Android apps use that feature of Google Maps.
Apart from these drawbacks, Blackstar is otherwise an excellent piece of geocaching software. Highly recommended if you own a GPS enabled Blackberry especially since it's free!
For more information go to the Blackstar site here or download it from the Blackberry apps market.
Note: Be aware that as with most smartphones Blackberries are not ruggedized like dedicated GPS devices, so you need to be careful not to get them wet in less than ideal weather conditions.