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BlackBerry Pearl 8100 review

BlackBerry Pearl 8100 review
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BlackBerry Pearl, one of the world’s smallest and lightest smartphones. Weighing in at just 3.1 ounces and measuring a mere 4.2"x 1.97"x .57" it packs the full power of the BlackBerry experience together with an impressive range of new features.
Review On : BlackBerry Pearl 8100

By ZAM KARIM


Easy glider: The 8100 has a pearly-white trackball which enables users to navigate through menus with ease.
RIM eschews its traditionally bulky and unattractive BlackBerry Design to make the Pearl 8100 more appealing to the masses. We take a closer look.

MAKE no bones about it – the Pearl 8100 is one helluva sexy device. This may be because it looks more like a slim phone than it does a standard BlackBerry device, which is traditionally bulky and thick, and often unattractive.

Just like its bulkier siblings, the Pearl 8100 comes with a full Qwerty keyboard.

However RIM opted to have a few characters sharing the same key in an effort to keep the size of the Pearl down.

In any case, the Pearl has RIM's proprietary SureType predictive entry Software, which allows users to still type as fast on this new keyboard layout.

BlackBerry what

In case you are still in the dark as to how the BlackBerry system works, here is a quick rundown.

BlackBerry is a combination of a service and a handheld device made by RIM and marketed primarily for its wireless e-mail handling capability.

The service also supports HTML-based Internet viewing and instant messaging – with applications from Yahoo!, Google and BlackBerry preinstalled.

Data travels to and from a RIM server through a local telco's wireless networks to users. Once activated, BlackBerry pushes all e-mail received (including any JPEG, BMP, PDF, Word and Excel file attachments) to your device automatically.

When users send an e-mail from their device, a copy of the e-mail will also go to the users' home e-mail box.

The service gives users access to up to 10 e-mail accounts, plus a new BlackBerry e-mail address.

Celcom offers two Blackberry service packages – for enterprise and personal users respectively. In this review we will be looking only at the latter.

I had the chance to try the service while I was in attending a conference in Europe and am glad to report that it worked flawlessly. I was able to receive and send e-mail as well as browse the Internet without any problems.

Just roll it

The pearly-white trackball in the centre of the phone is probably what gives this phone its name.

It glides easily and is very responsive, which enables users to navigate through the menus with ease.

The Pearl 8100 display comes with a built-in light sensor, which increases or decreases the brightness accordingly. It's usable even under bright sunlight. BlackBerry devices have traditionally lacked Cameras, but the Pearl sports a 1.3-megapixel shooter.

As such, the picture quality is not as sharp as other camera phones and you cannot even record videos with it (but you can still watch MPEG4 files on Pearl's video player).

While the media player won't put the iPod out of business, it does play music rather adequately.

The phone has Bluetooth but lacks A2DP support, which means you cannot hook it up to a wireless headphone to listen to music.

Another thing to note is the sound (ringtones and alerts) coming from the device is too soft even when the volume level is set to the loudest.

Data is stored in the 64MB of shared memory but users can also expand the space with a microSD card.

Painless setup

Setting up the service is just a matter of activating your BlackBerry line, followed by setting up your e-mail and instant messaging accounts, which are easily done using the setup wizard.

The phone's red LED will start blinking to inform of incoming e-mail and text messages.

BlackBerry scores a brownie point when it comes to Internet browsing. Instead of viewing a boring WAP text-only website, users can speedily access full HTML-based contents when they surf – just like what they see on a PC.

This is all thanks to the BlackBerry Internet Browsing Service gateway, which processes and compresses HTML or XHTML content – reducing the page size by up to 75% – before sending it to the device.

Type fast

The SureType keyboard software is another plus point for the device.

Firstly, you need to familiarise yourself with the unconventional keyboard layout but once you get the hang of it, typing with the help of the software was fast.

The application thinks ahead, interprets what you are typing and helps to fill in the remaining letters based on its extensive built-in word list.

Once it notices a word is chosen twice in a row, the word will become the default word in the list the next time you type in the same key sequence. RIM calls this feature Frequency Learning.

If a word in not in the built-in dictionary, it will automatically save it into the wordlist – and it will also have a higher priority in the list when you type in the same sequence.

Verdict

The Pearl 8100 is a no-nonsense phone, which enables you to take your work e-mail with you while on the go.

In our opinion, the only features it lacks are today's must-have 3G and WiFi Connectivity options.

You can also use it as a standard phone without subscribing to the BlackBerry service.

However when used together, the BlackBerry service and handheld gives users a simple and effective way to stay in touch via e-mail, browse the Internet and web chat while travelling.

Pros: Responsive trackball, easy to set up and operate; SureType software; cool design.

Cons: No video capture; lacks 3G and WiFi; soft audio.

PEARL 8100
(Research In Motion Ltd)
BlackBerry device
Camera: 1.3-megapixels
Display: 2.2in, 65,000-colour TFT
Messaging: SMS, MMS, e-mail, instant messaging
Connectivity: Quadband, GPRS, EDGE, Bluetooth, USB
Phone memory: 64MB Flash memory and comes with; the slot supports up to 1GB.
Expansion slot: microSD (128MB card included)
Battery type: 900mAh lithium-polymer
Standby/talk time: 360/3.5hours
Other features: Multimedia player, Java applications, document viewer, SureType
keyboard software, personal organiser functions.
Weight: 89.5g
Dimensions: 107 x 50 x 14.5mm
Price: RM1,599
Celcom BlackBerry Plans: Advanced Plan is priced at RM98 per month with unlimited access; Basic plan is RM38 per month with up to 1MB data access (following usage charge is 10sen for each 10KB)
Review unit and BlackBerry account courtesy of Celcom (Malaysia) Bhd, (03) 3630-8888


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