Product Review (October 2007)- AT&T
RIM Research In Motion - BlackBerry 8820

By Kevin Nakano

The BlackBerry has become the standard portable device for business travelers and demanding users who want to stay in touch with the world in real-time. The latest 8820 is the first WiFi-enabled BlackBerry that also supports GSM/GPRS/EDGE data coverage. High bandwidth connectivity provided by the built-in 802.11a/b/g Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) enables the 8820 to have additional coverage by leveraging from existing wireless networks at work, home or other WiFi Hot spots. Users get a high contrast display with an easy-to-use interface for the many popular capabilities the BlackBerry is known for. The 8820 features Mobile access to corporate and personal e-mail, text messages, web browsing, address book, multimedia support and corporate data applications. Third party applications can be downloaded for a fee.

The BlackBerry 8820 comes with a small, yet full QWERTY-style keyboard and a large, high contrast 320 x 240 display. The lighted trackball has an intuitive design that makes navigation easy and allows for quick access to folders and applications. Icons can be moved around on the screen allowing users to place frequently used applications in easy to find locations. The ultra thin, 1400 mA-hour removable and rechargeable lithium battery provides up to 5 hours of talk time and 24 days of standby time.

Pricing and Availability
The BlackBerry 8820 is available from AT&T for $299.99 with a two-year contract and rebate. Personal unlimited plans start as low as $29.99 a month with a qualified voice contract and offers personal e-mail access and Web browsing with BlackBerry® Internet Service. Similarly, unlimited corporate e-mail access via BlackBerry® Enterprise Server starts at $44.99 a month with a qualified voice plan. Those traveling overseas can take advantage of the
unlimited international e-mail access plan for as low as $64.99 a month with a qualified voice plan.

Additional services are available with unlimited Push to Talk for an additional monthly charge of $9.99 for each handset and $19.99 for Push to Talk Family. AT&T Push to Talk also features a pay-per-use option of 15 cents a minute. XM Satellite Radio and MusicID, which are features within AT&T Mobile Music, require monthly subscription fees of $8.99 and $3.99, respectively. TeleNav GPS Navigator is available for additional monthly charges of $5.99 for 10 trips and $9.99 for unlimited trips. TeleNav Track service plans are $12.99 to $21.99 for each device.

Our 8820 came with the Leather Swivel Holster ($29.99) that is designed to protect the device while providing quick access to the unit. The 8820 slips smoothly in and out of the case while protecting the trackball and the magnetic latch on the top strap holds the unit in place without using a snap. The clip and attached swivel also allows the BlackBerry to be rotated 180 degrees making it more comfortable to wear when sitting down. What is really cool about this holster is the magnetic proximity sensor built into the case that can automatically change the notification settings when it is inserted. The screen automatically blanks (using the sensor) when the unit is placed into the holster. The holster is available in Pitch Black, Pearl White, Apple Red, Ecru Tan and Burnt Sienna Brown.

See in the Dark
The 8820 offers excellent viewing in the dark thanks to the well designed backlight. The user-defined backlight time-out can be set anywhere from 10 seconds to 2 minutes depending on one's preference. Battery life is a key factor when using the screen for extended periods of time, so the user can reduce the screen brightness when watching video content to increase playback time.

All of the keys are fully illuminated, making it easy to read the entire keyboard in the dark. We love the number of keys available on the front of the 8820. We just wish we had smaller fingers when typing in the messages. Those with larger fingers may find it slightly difficult to type in messages or manually dial phone numbers. We mastered the user interface in short time and found it to be a good balance of key size and robust functionality. The 8820 has a Convenience Key located on the left side of the device that allows for quick access to a user defined application such as the phone or address book. It is best to take advantage of the phone list to minimize the number of key strokes when making calls. The good news is that voice recognition is excellent in the 8820. In fact, it was better than my much loved Motorola RAZR. Voice dialing was very good using my Parrot MINIKIT Bluetooth car adapter and it responded to both my saved names as well as manual 10-digit numbers.

LED Indicator
The top right LED indicator light provides the user with status of the unit. This indicator is impressively bright and can even be seen through clothing. When a wireless signal is being received, the light will blink green. If the phone receives a call or an email message the indicator will flash red. When connected to a Bluetooth device such as our vehicle's Parrot MINIKIT, the indicator flashes blue. Finally, if the battery is run down too low the indicator begins to flash light-green.

The 8820 also has a built-in GPS receiver for those who desire the ability to get navigation instructions while on the road. The TeleNav GPS Navigator™ application offers access to detailed mapping instructions. The latest version 5.1 provides both 2-D and 3-D maps with text and voice instructions, automatic reroute, and traffic alerts. The maps are kept up-to-date since this application requires a real-time data link. The Drive To option allows the user to select recent addresses, intersections, businesses, airports or a location from the address book. The Directory gives directions to specific places such as gas stations, banks/ATMs, hospitals, and a lot more. Maps and Traffic information is available for specific locations entered by the user. The Tools/Extra submenu has a compass and preference setting. There is an option to turn on the backlight only when approaching turns to save battery life.

We found the "Call in Address" feature to be a real time saver on the road allowing callers to call-in and say the address when prompted without having to type it into the unit. The call-in system is well designed and prompts the user for a street address, intersection, or airport. When entering the street address the zip code or city and state is requested. The street number and name is then requested. For intersections it is similar with the user stating the two streets. For airports, we requested LAX and the system immediately recognized our request. This featured worked well for us and greatly simplified the user interface to the 8820. Once the addresses are in the system and verified, it is automatically available for navigation in the Recent Places section. The TeleNav system worked great and the maps and the voice commands offered excellent guidance. We were able to track our position with four GPS satellites with an accuracy of 5.75m according to the display even from indoors.

Several third party applications help enhance the capabilities of the BlackBerry, but the cost can be significant depending on the item downloaded. Rings, games, graphics, multimedia and other applications are all available. Some products were as costly as $29.99 (The Weather Channel) while others were more reasonably priced like Platinum Sudoku for $6.99.

The 8820 also handles a variety of multimedia files including Music, Videos, Ring Tones, and Pictures. Internal memory on the 8820 is quite limited so it would be wise to increase the memory. The 8820 provides a MicroSD card slot on the back beneath the cover of the unit next to the battery. We installed a 1GB Kingston memory card and this gave us plenty of extra room for our media content. Transferring files to the 8820 is simple using the Media Manager, which is part of the Windows-based BlackBerry Desktop Manager. Simply drag and drop photos, music or movie clips to the device on the screen and the files are transferred. Video looked pretty good on the small screen.

There is a good reason the BlackBerry sets the standard for portable devices wanted by all those who need to stay connected to the world. For many, missed messages means missed opportunities for their business. The new BlackBerry 8820 with WiFi extends the possibilities for connectivity. We found the 8820 easy to use and configure even though this was our first BlackBerry. Multiple email accounts are shown separately on the screen, but are also contained in a single folder for simplicity. The screen is wonderful, yet the tiny buttons on the front can be frustrating at times. All in all we are very addicted to the features offered on the 8820 and the phone and data service provided by AT&T. We had great coverage and the WiFi capability only made it better and more flexible in areas that supported wireless 802.11 a/b/g. In fact, the BlackBerry 8820 with AT&T service worked in places where my Verizon-based RAZR would not receive a signal. We will be going through separation anxiety when we send this one back.

- Kevin Nakano

OPPO BDP-103 Blu-ray Player

Review - At a Glance

RIM - BlackBerry® 8820


Features Available







  • Wireless email
  • Organizer
  • Browser
  • Phone
  • BlackBerry® Maps
  • Media player
  • Corporate data access 1
  • SMS
  • MMS 1
  • GPS 1

Size and Weight


  • 4.49"/114mm (Length)
  • 2.60"/66mm (Width)
  • 0.55"/14mm (Depth)
  • 4.73 oz/134g (Weight)

Data Input/Navigation

  • Trackball
  • QWERTY (Keyboard)
  • Keyboard backlighting

Voice Input/Output

  • Stereo headset capable
  • Headset jack
  • Integrated earpiece/ microphone
  • Built-in speakerphone
  • Headset, hands-free and serial port profiles supported (Bluetooth® technology)


  • Font size (user selectable)
  • Light sensing screen

Media Player

  • Supported audio formats: MP3, MIDI, AMR-NB, AAC/AAC+/eAAC+, WMA
  • Supported video formats: MPEG4 Part 2 Simple Profile, H.263, WMV


  • Polyphonic ringtones
  • MP3 ringtones
  • Vibrate mode
  • LED indicator

Battery Type

  • 1400 mAhr (Removable/ rechargeable lithium cell)

Approximate Battery Life

  • 528 hours or 22 days (Standby time)
  • 300 minutes or 5 hours (Talk time)


  • Expandable memory - support for microSD card
  • 64 MB (Flash memory)


  • RIM® wireless modem
  • Tethered modem capability 1

Email Integrations

  • Works with BlackBerry® Enterprise Server for Microsoft® Exchange
  • Works with BlackBerry® Enterprise Server for IBM® Lotus® Domino®
  • Works with BlackBerry® Enterprise Server for Novell® GroupWise®
  • Integrates with an existing enterprise email account
  • Integrates with existing personal email account
  • Integrates with optional new device account

Accessories Included

  • USB cable
  • Wall charger

Device Security

  • Password protection and keyboard lock
  • Support for AES or Triple DES encryption when integrated with BlackBerry® Enterprise Server 2
  • Optional support for S/MIME

Wireless Network

  • Wi-Fi: 802.11b/g 3
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11a 3
  • North America: 850 MHz GSM/GPRS networks
  • North America: 1900MHz GSM®/GPRS networks
  • Europe/Asia Pacific: 1800MHz GSM/GPRS networks
  • Europe/Asia Pacific: 900MHz GSM/GPRS networks
  • EDGE networks 1

Source: AT&T Loan
MSRP: $299.99 with 2-Year AT&T Contract and Rebate


Company Information
Research In Motion
295 Phillip Street
Waterloo, Ontario
Canada N2L 3W8

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