Oracle and FedEx tipped for Wednesday releases

Wednesday – Oracle

Last quarter Oracle’s (ORCL) long serving frontman Larry Ellison stepped down from his role as CEO and appointed 2 co-CEO successors. Heading into Oracle’s first quarter in the post-Ellison era Estimize community members are expecting the technology company to continue growing steadily and slightly outperform Wall Street’s earnings expectations.

image

Wednesday Estimize contributors are looking for a 1 cent gain in earnings per share while year over year revenue rises 3%. These results would maintain Oracle’s rate of sales expansion over the past 5 quarters and represent a slowing of profit growth to a rate between 1% and 2%.

Wednesday – FedEx

At one point this summer crude oil was trading at over $100 per barrel. As we enter the final stretch of the year that price has collapsed to just $56. As a major player in logistics FedEx’s (FDX) financial performance is greatly impacted by the price of oil, falling gas prices throughout the fall could provide FedEx an opportunity to post gains to its bottom line.

image

Over the past 3 months EPS estimates and revenue projections from both Estimize and Wall Street have been rising. With the final picture clearing up the Estimize community’s EPS forecast is settling at $2.16 per share, 2 cents lower than the Wall Street consensus, but still an impressive 38% higher than the number FedEx reported in the same quarter of last year.

On the top line Estimize analysts are calling for $11.99 billion which is marginally higher than Wall Street’s prediction and would mark a 5% improvement from last year’s total.

Upland Software : NASDAQ BUY  Target: US$15.00

UPLD : NASDAQ 

US$12.10 BUY 
Target: US$15.00 

COMPANY DESCRIPTION:
Upland Software is a software consolidator that provides
a suite of cloud-based applications for Enterprise
Workforce Management. The company was founded in
2010 as Silverback Acquisition Corporation and is
headquartered in Austin, Texas.

Technology — Enterprise Software — Software as a Service
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: ACT 2 OF A SUCCESSFUL TEAM, THIS TIME IN SOFTWARE; INITIATE AT BUY
Investment thesis
Upland is a software consolidator in the enterprise work management space
that looks to us to be sufficiently inexpensively valued that the stock has the
potential to be quite rewarding over the long term. We are initiating coverage
with a BUY rating and a $15.00 price target.
Investment highlights
 What they do. Upland provides a cloud-based work management software
platform that enables businesses to plan, manage and execute projects and
tasks. The suite of enterprise work management applications enables
companies to better optimize the allocation and utilization of their
workforce, time, and money. The firm has more than 1,200 customers of
varying sizes in 50 different countries.
Growth via M&A, but this team has successfully run this playbook before.
CEO Jack McDonald and CFO Mike Hill have successfully executed the
consolidation strategy before as the executive team at Perficient (PRFT :
NASDAQ), an IT services firm. They have proven themselves to be
disciplined acquirers and have identified targets, this time in the software
market, that go largely unnoticed by other potential acquirers.
Target market upgrading from legacy or siloed apps. Upland’s suite of
software products addresses a market that is currently dominated by
legacy system software and/or ad hoc spreadsheet-based processes. This
market is moving its processes to the cloud and Upland looks well
positioned to benefit from this upgrade cycle in years to come.
 UPLD shares are relatively inexpensive. The stock is currently valued at
2.3x EV/revenues based on our C2015 estimates, which is reasonably
inexpensive by most standards and a discount to our assembled comp set.
With disciplined M&A execution and moderate organic growth, there is a
legitimate case for multiple expansion in the future.

Autodesk BUY

ADSK :
Update
NASDAQ : US$58.41 BUY 
Target: US$70.00

COMPANY DESCRIPTION:
Autodesk is a global design software company that sells highfunction,
low-cost 2D and 3D computer-aided design (CAD)
applications. The firm also provides visualization and simulation
tools, which in conjunction with the company’s design apps,
enable customers to experience their ideas early in the design
process through the development and analysis of virtual
prototypes.
All amounts in US$ unless otherwise noted.

Technology — Enterprise Software — Applications
SETTING THE STAGE FOR A MULTI-YEAR TRANSITION TO SUBSCRIPTION WITH
ANOTHER SOLID PERFORMANCE
We have long argued that ADSK has the best, broadest suite of design, visualization,
simulation and collaboration tools of any firm in its space. The transition to subscription is
a means to help customers cost effectively access this suite with more alacrity than we’ve
seen in past years. This should put Autodesk in a very good position in 3-4 years. In the
short-run, the firm’s results were quite good. ADSK remains our favorite large cap GARP
stock. Reiterate BUY.
 Bullish items. Material billings upside with 25% growth in the quarter; all three major
geographies grew in the double digits on a constant currency basis; the number of
transactions >$1M grew by nearly 60% and the value of these deals increased over
200%; ADSK reported 121k net subscription additions (including 25k from Delcam),
well ahead of initial expectations, and increased guidance for this metric.
 Bearish items. Operating margins under near-term pressure driven by Delcam
dilution and higher incentive comp (driven by strong billings); strengthening dollar
will be a headwind to reported revenue growth; very limited visibility into the pace of
the perpetual license wind down, which will muddy consensus forecasts.
 The numbers: another good print. Autodesk reported Q3/15 revenue and non-GAAP
EPS of $618M and $0.25, which were respectively $17M and $0.02 ahead of our
estimates. Revenues were up 12% on a constant currency basis in the quarter and
non-GAAP operating margins were 13.0%. Calculated billings were $643M, which
was up 25% y-o-y and nicely ahead of our $539M estimate.
 Outlook:

Guidance for revenue, billings, and subscribers all inch higher. ADSK now
expects F2015 calculated billings to fall in the 15-17% growth range, which is well
ahead of the firm’s targeted 12% CAGR through F2018. We have adjusted down our
F2016 estimates as we are now forecasting the transition to subscription to have a
slightly more negative near-term impact on reported growth and profitability (which
we think could be even more pronounced in F2017 as the firm discontinues perpetual
licenses). We would remind investors that we will evaluate ADSK’s execution on
metrics like billings growth, subscriber count and cash flow during this transition.

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Splunk : Update Raising Target Price

SPLK : NASDAQ : US$64.94

BUY 
Target: US$80.00 

COMPANY DESCRIPTION:
Splunk software collects and indexes machine-generated big data
coming from the websites, applications, servers, and mobile
devices that power business. The firm’s software enables
organizations to monitor, search, analyze, visualize and act on
massive streams of real-time and historical machine data. Splunk
is headquartered in San Francisco, was founded in 2003 and has
been public since April, 2012.
All amounts in US$ unless otherwise noted.

Technology — Enterprise Software — Infrastructure

AS SOLID AS EXPECTED. MOMENTUM WARRANTS PREMIUM VALUATION.
It is quite clear to us that investors are shifting money back into business software and
that the investments are tightly targeted toward perceived quality names. We strongly
believe Splunk is one of the best-in-class systems software firms, and arguably one of the
most promising companies in the broader software space. Obviously, SPLK is expensive,
but in software stock investing, execution trumps valuation for long periods of time. We
expect to see SPLK shares higher in three months, six months and a year. BUY.
 Bullish items. A larger revenue upside than last quarter. Product and use case
momentum. Major wins in Public Sector, Sporting Goods, Healthcare, Education and
Telco. Broader use cases for stream wire data. Sales restructuring by functionality
generated strong wins in security. Real-time data and analytics now deployed in
sports stadiums.
 Bearish items. Frankly, not much. We would like to see continued progress toward
the high end of 25-35% ratable revenues as a percentage of total revenues.
Operating margins were guided to be roughly flat next year, although we believe
there is upside to margin assumptions if revenues upside a bit. Finally, the obvious –
SPLK is highly valued at 13x and 10x our C2015 and C2016E EV/revenues.
 Sales excellence. The call had a large focus on continued strong sales performance
with 500+ new customers added, 290 orders above $100k, positive data points from
the segment-focused model, more than 70% of bookings from existing customers,
2/3rds of upsells from horizontal expansion and the largest ever transaction for
cloud (7 figures). The list goes on, but ultimately shows how SPLK’s sales organization is firing on all cylinders and a major reason for the company’s growth.

 Guidance update to bring positive revisions. Management increased revenue
guidance for the full year by $13.5M at the midpoint, mostly reflecting the $10M
beat in Q3. Operating margin guidance at 1-2% for the full year was increased from
1%. The company also released initial F2016 guidance for revenue of $575M. While
possibly still conservative, implying 31% growth over F2015 guidance, it was above
both our estimate and consensus, which should bring about positive revisions to
forecasts.

We raised our F2016 revenue estimate by $21.5M to $580M

Five9

: NASDAQ : US$4.45
BUY FINV
Target: US$7.00

COMPANY DESCRIPTION:
Five9 provides cloud-based software solutions for contact
centers. The company’s solutions help call centers
improve business dexterity and reduces the complexity of
contact center operations, while also significantly
reducing costs for the firm. The suite of applications
enables a firm to provide a breadth of call center
functions, including inbound, outbound, and blended
solutions. Five9 was founded in 2001 and is
headquartered in San Ramon.
All amounts in US$ unless otherwise noted.

Technology — Enterprise Software– Software as a Service
A SOLID QUARTER; SUFFICIENTLY INEXPENSIVE TO KEEP A BUY RATING
Investment thesis
Following a June quarter earnings shortfall due to the drop-off of call volumes as
scheduled Obamacare signups ceased, Five9 had something to prove to investors.
The firm took the first step of what we hope is many more consistent “meet or beat”
quarters needed to give investors confidence about future execution. At this
juncture, with a modicum of execution, we believe FIVN shares should provide
above-market returns. We have retained our Buy rating.
 A good bounce-back –upside across the board. FIVN reported Q3/14 revenues
and Adjusted EBITDA of $25.9M and loss of ($5.0M), which were respectively
$1.4M and $2.6M ahead of our estimates. Revenue growth was 23% in the
quarter, despite headwinds of the healthcare segment slowdown noted last
quarter, and FCF losses of ($7.9M) were $4.4M ahead of our estimate.
 Enterprise bookings remain healthy. Five9 had another record bookings
growth quarter; management suggested that Enterprise bookings have
advanced in-step with sale rep hiring that has paced in the 30-40% growth
range (SMB hiring has been closer to 10%). This quarter was highlighted by a
several hundred seat replacement of Avaya/Cisco/Aspect at a large pharma
company, a senior living referral placement service with ~400 agents, and a
nationwide energy company that came in through the Salesforce.com channel.
Dollar-based retention was 97% in the quarter, which is consistent with C2013
levels and down marginally from 98% in Q2/14.
 Outlook: a slight increase,

Q4 should be a bottom in growth. FIVN laps a
difficult Q4 compare against a 2013 period that saw heavy ACA call volumes,
but the December quarter should mark a bottom in growth declines at ~15%,
according to our estimates. We have slightly increased our C2015 projections
and are forecasting 20% revenue growth and more than 500 bps of EBITDA
margin expansion (~19% EBITDA margin losses). We believe there remains an
upward bias to our current growth assumptions.

Chen’s Letter To Blackberry Fans- old and new

BlackBerry* (BB : TSX : $11.78), Net Change: -0.14, % Change: -1.17%, Volume: 2,293,041
BlackBerry* (BBRY : NASDAQ : US$10.52), Net Change: -0.13, % Change: -1.22%, Volume: 8,159,305

John Chen, CEO of BlackBerry,

 

wrote an open letter to current and former BlackBerry users

hoping to create some buzz for the company’s “new/old” BlackBerry Classic device, set for release later this year.

Here are some of the more notable lines from his letter:

“To our loyal (current and former) BlackBerry users: BlackBerry is driven by an
urgent, obsessive focus on what matters: you. When we lose sight of what you want and you need, we lose you. It’s tempting in
a rapidly changing, rapidly growing mobile market to change for the sake of change – to mimic what’s trendy and match the
industry-standard, kitchen-sink approach of trying to be all things to all people. But there’s also something to be said for the
classic adage, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. BlackBerry Classic reflects that. It is classic BlackBerry – complete with a top row of
navigation keys and a trackpad. It’s the device that has always felt right in your hands and always felt right in your busy
day…Innovation is a word that gets used too often and carelessly. Innovation is not about blowing up what works to make
something new – it’s about taking what works and making it better…You don’t reinvent yourself every day; you take what you
learned yesterday and sharpen it today. You drive change – often on your terms, but sometimes not. That you keep going
regardless is what distinguishes you as a grown-up. You’re in it for the long haul. So is BlackBerry. The things you remember
about BlackBerry that made you better are better than ever with BlackBerry Classic. BlackBerry Classic is for you, as is
everything we do every day.

Chen’s complete letter can be found here: http://blogs.blackberry.com/2014/10/classic-john-chen/

Splunk – Analyst Day Update Target Price $68

SPLK : NASDAQ : US$57.25
BUY 
Target: US$68.00

Technology — Enterprise Software — Infrastructure
ANALYST DAY TAKEAWAYS: STILL PLENTY OF ROOM FOR GROWTH

 
With the 26% increase in SPLK shares since the firm last reported results at the end
of August, the stock is again sporting a top decile valuation, at more than 11x
C2015E EV/revenue. While this may be hard for some to stomach in today’s skittish
tape, we continue to believe that continually increasing use cases will drive capacity
expansion (and revenue growth) beyond what current estimates capture. An upside
estimate bias combined with the scarcity value of being the only public company, big
data pure play on the “Internet of Things” warrants a premium valuation. Our call on
SPLK continues to be that we anticipate revenue growth to more than outpace a
gradual multiple compression so that investors can expect 15%+ gains over the next
9-12 months. Reiterate BUY.

Analyst day.

On Tuesday SPLK hosted an analyst day in conjunction with its 5th
Annual Worldwide User’s Conference in Las Vegas.
 Splunk Enterprise 6.2. From a product standpoint, news centered on the firm’s
end of October release of the latest version of its machine data analytics
platform. Highlights include: enhanced event pattern detection to make the
software more intuitive to less technical users, simplified onboarding of any
machine data, and efforts aimed at reducing total cost of ownership through
increasing concurrent user capacity and eliminating shared storage
requirements (reducing underlying infrastructure investments).
 Evolving to a segment-focused sales model. This area of continued investment
will focus on augmenting normal field reps with subject matter and industry
vertical experts – not only will this help to drive new customer adoption, but it
should also increase horizontal expansion (i.e. new use cases) within the firm’s
nearly 8,000 customer installed base.

 What’s it mean for the numbers?

An increase in ratable bookings, while tough
to predict in the near-term (~25-35% of deals, up from 10-20% at the time of
IPO), will drive improved revenue visibility over time. Longer-term, SPLK
continues to manage the business towards a 20-25% operating margin, the
timing of which will be determined by the pace of top line growth.

Avago Technologies Limited iPhone Upgrade Target price $97

AVGO : NASDAQ : US$83.47
BUY 
Target: US$97.00

COMPANY DESCRIPTION:
Avago Technologies Limited is a designer, developer and
global supplier of analog semiconductor devices. Avago
offers products in three primary target markets: wireless
communications, wired infrastructure, and industrial and
automotive electronics. Applications for Avago products
include smartphones, connected tablets, consumer
appliances, data networking and telecom equipment, and
enterprise storage and servers.

Technology — Communications Technology — Semiconductors
RAISING ESTIMATES BASED ON STRONG IPHONE 6 CONTENT SHARE AND INCREASED IPHONE 6 ESTIMATES
Investment recommendation: Based on our analysis, industry
conversations, and recent iPhone 6 teardown reports, we believe Avago has
roughly doubled its dollar content in the recently launched iPhone 6/6 Plus
smartphones versus the iPhone 5s/5c models and has the highest RF dollar
content share among the RF suppliers. With our recent surveys indicating
extremely strong demand for the new iPhone 6 products, we anticipate very
strong Q4/14 iPhone sales and high-end smartphone market share gains for
Apple versus high-tier Android OEMs, particularly Samsung. Given Avago’s
strong dollar content in the new iPhones and our recently raised iPhone
estimates, we are raising our Avago estimates. We reiterate our BUY rating
and raise our PT to $97.
Investment highlights
 Our recent surveys and analysis indicate very strong iPhone 6 demand,
and we anticipate a record iPhone 6 upgrade cycle. Please see our
separate Apple note, published Sept. 22, titled “Monthly surveys
indicate record iPhone 6 upgrade cycle, strong market share gains,” for
our updated iPhone estimates.
 We estimate the RF front-end content in the iPhone 6/6 Plus increased
to roughly $15.25-15.50 per device versus $11.25-11.50 in the iPhone
5s/5c models due to increased LTE band support and features such as
envelope tracking and carrier aggregation. Due to the increased
number of higher-frequency bands supported that require FBAR filters,
we believe Avago increased its RF dollar content to roughly $6/iPhone 6
models versus roughly $3 in the iPhone 5s/5c.
 While we believe Avago has growing dollar content in other flagship
Android smartphones such as Galaxy Note 4, Avago has stronger dollar
content share in the iPhone 6 devices given Android smartphones tend
to support more regional LTE SKUs. Therefore, we believe Avago will
benefit from strong iPhone 6/6 Plus sales despite our recently lowered
Android estimates due to share losses to the iPhone 6 products.
 Given these trends, we raise our F2014/15 Wireless business sales
estimates, resulting in our F2014/15 pro forma EPS estimates
increasing from $4.63/$6.35 to $4.65/$6.45
Valuation:

Our $97 price target (was $95) is based on shares trading at
roughly 15x our F2015 pro forma EPS estimate.

Oracle : Analyst Day Update

ORCL : NASDAQ : US$38.27

BUY 
Target: US$48.00

COMPANY DESCRIPTION:
Oracle develops, licenses and services database and
middleware software, applications software, and
hardware systems worldwide. The firm is the world’s
second largest application software firm, and a top five
systems vendor. Oracle was founded in 1977 and is
headquartered in Redwood City, CA.
All amounts in US$ unless otherwise noted.

Technology — Enterprise Software — Infrastructure
A MYTHBUSTER-THEMED ORACLE ANALYST DAY
Investment thesis
Our view on Oracle is simple: the company is not as troubled as the stock’s
valuation reflects. There are enough good things – new products, new
markets, new business models – coming down the pipe that we expect ORCL
shares to see a 1-2 multiple point expansion over the next year, which implies
10-20% upside from here. For a large cap stock, that is more than sufficient to
justify our BUY rating.
Investment highlights
  Oracle’s analyst day as part of its OpenWorld
User Conference. A couple hundred financial types were in the room.
 Incremental takeaways. The firm outlined and explained multiple
attributes that are better than consensus opinion – in other words, Oracle
was busting myths. The firm’s near-term ARR cloud pipeline tops $2
billion and is growing 30%+, meaningful upgrades in the firm’s core,
highly profitable database are on tap, and financial engineering in terms
of share count repurchases will remain material and fairly aggressive.
 Why the stock works. One way to make money in stocks is to buy shares
of companies on which investors soften too bearish opinions. This is the
crux of our BUY rating on ORCL. Yes, Oracle has vibrant competition, but
the firm simply is not as endangered, at least in the next year or so, as
hyperventilating cloud competitors assert. We have seen meaningful
rallies for Microsoft and HP as investor perception went from dire to at
least neutral. We believe a similar transformation awaits ORCL shares.
Valuation and price target
Our unchanged $48 price target is based on a 13x multiple applied to our
F2016 non-GAAP EPS estimate of $3.26 plus approximately $5.00 in
prospective net cash per share

BlackBerry’s Passport will win fans — but mostly among the faithful (review

Love it or hate it, you have to hand it to BlackBerry — the Passport is different.

Whether it’s a good kind of different or a bad kind of different is still being hotly debated, but at least the company that has been roundly criticized for doing a poor job of playing me-too to Apple, Samsung and others, is attempting to break free of the pack and blaze its own trail. You have to respect that.

The real question is, can we respect the Passport, with its odd, square-ish shape, heavy weight, and its unusual implementation of the physical keyboard? Perhaps. Here are the top good and bad aspects of the latest BlackBerry.

The Good

The Screen

Though it lies at the heart of the Passport’s atypical dimensions, the 1,440 x 1,440 screen is superb. Not only does it provide plenty of contrast, brightness, and off-angle visibility, its pixel density (at 453 ppi) is better than that of the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, and the Samsung Galaxy S5. It’s so good that, even though it’s a phone, you’re tempted to view the desktop version of websites (something the browser lets you choose if you want).

Unlike typical rectangular screen phones, there’s no real-estate benefit to rotating the Passport sideways because it’s a perfect square, but since the keyboard is touch-sensitive and can be used to scroll, a sideways orientation allows for scrolling without impeding your view of the screen which is a nice touch.

The Passport’s extra wide and super-high ppi screen means desktop web page design is viewable with few compromises.

 

The Speaker

BlackBerry made a big deal about the Passport’s internal speaker at the launch event, claiming it had significantly better specs than both the HTC One M8 and the Samsung Galaxy S5. There’s no doubt about it, it sounds good — really good. It’s easily the best BlackBerry speaker so far. Which is to say it’s now as good as the iPhone 5s.

 

The Keyboard

Let’s assume for the moment that you actually like physical keyboards, because if you don’t, you probably wouldn’t even consider the Passport. If you do like them, you will — with a little bit of learning curve — like the Passport’s keyboard a lot.

Its three-row layout takes some getting used to, as does the fact that extra keys appear on-screen immediately above it along with predictive word suggestions. But as with all other BlackBerry keyboards, the tactile feel is superb, as is its responsiveness.

But the part you will learn to love is the way BlackBerry has made the keyboard touch-sensitive, allowing it to respond to gestures. While typing, swipe up with your thumbs to select suggested words as they appear, or swipe to the left to delete an entire word. When on a scrollable screen, swiping up and down scrolls the content. None of this is groundbreaking — these are the same gestures BlackBerry has used on its Z10 and Z30 BB10-based devices — but it marks the first time a physical keyboard has been more than just a keyboard.


The Camera
I’ve always felt a little sorry anytime I’ve seen another parent trying to snap photos or video of their kids with a BlackBerry. I just know they’re not going to be super happy with the results. That changes with the Passport. For the first time, a BlackBerry now has a camera that is equal — and in some cases superior — to any smartphone on the market. The specs just can’t be denied: 13 megapixels, OIS (optical image stabilization), a 5-element lens, f-2.0 aperture (a full f-stop faster than even the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus), and backside illumination. Compared to the iPhone 5s, the Passport produces photos with greater detail, richer color, and better contrast.

Amazon App Store

Though it was possible to access Android apps via the Amazon App Store prior to the Passport and its 10.3 version of BB 10, it wasn’t officially supported. Now it is, and it works well. For the first time, BlackBerry users can dispense with the awkward “side-loading” technique for installing Android apps. Of course, the degree to which these apps are compatible may vary, but at least BlackBerry verifies that every app downloaded via Amazon has been checked for viruses and malware, which goes a long way to making BlackBerry users feel secure. And we know you like security!

 

BlackBerry Blend

This might just be the most exciting thing BlackBerry has produced since the original BlackBerry Bold. BlackBerry Blend is a software suite that lets you access the contents of your Passport from any PC, Mac, or tablet (iOS and Android) with a free app — a brilliant way to bring your phone’s capabilities onto a bigger screen and to provide productivity-insurance for those times when you accidentally leave your device at home or the office. Blend will let you access your Passport from anywhere in the world. You can also manage and transfer files to and from the Passport. The software isn’t bullet-proof yet, but it will be, and it’s amazing.

The Bad

The Size

Let’s just state the obvious: The Passport’s dimensions make it among the least pocket-friendly phones on the market. And while it’s steel-I-beam-inspired construction pretty much guarantees it won’t bend in your pocket, that’s not going to be much help if you can’t get it into your pocket in the first place. It’s just too wide to make it into the front pocket of most pants or jeans, and even if you were to cram it in there, its squared-off shape means that it won’t be able to shift around as you move to accommodate standing vs. sitting positions, which most rectangular phones do automatically.

Interestingly, this is the first BlackBerry I’ve ever seen that doesn’t come with some kind of holster or protective sleeve. Maybe BlackBerry figured the Passport was big enough without making it bigger still with an accessory. The bottom line is, if you don’t carry a purse, where the heck are you going to keep this thing? The inside breast pocket of a jacket seems to be the most logical choice, but how many buyers wear a jacket all of the time?

 

The Weight

If you like your devices to feel super meaty, the Passport’s curb weight of 196 grams — which is 13 percent heavier than even an iPhone 6 Plus — might be a good thing. However, given how much time we spend holding these things, I’m going to argue that lighter (all else being equal) is better.

Slim Port

So far, all of BlackBerry’s devices that have run BB 10, including the PlayBook, have come with two ports: USB (for data and charging) and Micro HDMI for video output. The Passport is the first to eschew the multi-port design for a single USB-based Slim Port. Slim Port is similar to MHL in that it can use the Micro USB port to output video via one of three adapters, but it can’t act as a device access link the way MHL does. In other words, you can’t browse the contents of your Passport via your TV’s navigation system. Slim Port certainly works as well as the cable-based solutions that attach to the iPhone’s Lightning dock connector, but MHL would have made a lot more sense.

The Keyboard

Yes, I know I put this in the “good” category, but the design is so radical that it may irritate even long-time BlackBerry users. Though the keys are well designed, backlit, and very accurate, there are only three rows, which means there are plenty of times when the OS has to supplement the physical keys with soft keys on-screen. This hybrid approach may be the logical way to preserve as much screen real estate as possible, but from a usability point of view, it’s painful – at least until you get used to it. After playing with the Passport for five days straight, I am still far from used to it.

 

Bottom Line

The Passport probably won’t win over many converts from the iPhone or Android camps, but it won’t be for lack of trying. This BlackBerry does more to address the shortcomings of previous handsets than any model so far. The size, shape, and weight will no doubt give many buyers pause, but those who take the plunge will be rewarded with the best BlackBerry experience the company has ever created.

Simon Cohen | October 2, 2014
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