Review (October 2007)- AT&T
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.
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.
in the Dark
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.
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.
- Kevin Nakano
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