Wednesday, September 13, 2006

BlackBerry Pearl is a Wireless Gem

No need to shuck oysters to find the BlackBerry Pearl. The pearl of the latest BlackBerry mobile device is a trackball navigation device mounted conveniently above the keyboard. This pearl trackball replaces the scroll wheel used on previous BlackBerry devices.

Owners of earlier BlackBerry models, such as the venerable 7200 or 8700 series, will notice another astounding difference. This BlackBerry looks more like a slim candybar cell phone than a chubby messaging machine. Indeed, the long and thin profile of the BlackBerry Pearl has a business professional high tech look. At 0.6 inches thin, it's hardly any thicker than a Motorola RAZR phone.

This change in form factor has a couple of notable effects. The typewriter style QWERTY keyboard is replaced by smaller keyset that assigns 2 letters per key. SureType predictive entry software interprets what you are typing and helps to fill in the remaining letters based on its extensive built-in word list. The sleek silver and black smartphone fits easier in pocket or purse and doesn't look like you are holding a hamburger to your head when you're on the phone.

Ironically, displaying the phone to make calls is optional. Bluetooth wireless headphone connectivity is built-in. So is the first application of voice activated dialing in a U.S. marketed BlackBerry. A speakerphone is also standard. That's perfect for situations where hands-free operations are safer or more convenient. But it does take half the fun out of owning the latest in wireless business technology and showing it off.

Like other BlackBerry devices, the Pearl comes with powerful messaging capabilities. The "push" real-time email client integrates with up to 10 accounts for business-secure POP3, IMAP and SMTP connectivity. Viewer software lets you open Word, Excel and PowerPoint files attached to emails. The large 240 x 260 pixel color display shows over 65,000 colors.

Standard text messaging is available in the BlackBerry Pearl, of course. That includes group messaging. Instant messaging clients are built-in. Mobile Web browsing includes full HTML support with bookmarks.

A 1.3 Megapixel camera with 5x digital zoom is included for professionals like realtors and insurance agents who need to capture high resolution images on the go. You can playback videos in MPEG4 and H.263 file format. An audio player supports MP3 and AAC audio files. Download your podcasts and use downtime to catch up on what's happening in business and technology news. Memory is 64 MB built-in plus expansion via MicroSD memory cards.

If you are hoping that the slimmer profile of the Pearl also means a lighter weight, you're in luck. Total weight is a scant 3.2 ounces. Battery life is a generous talk time of up to 210 minutes or 3 1/2 hours. Standby time is up to 360 hours or over 2 weeks.

The BlackBerry Pearl is a quad-band GSM phone running on the T-Mobile Wireless network. Data download speed is up to 144 Kbps using EDGE protocol for GSM.

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