Pros Incredibly Small form-factor, Flawless MS Outlook Integration, Intuitive GUI, Stable OS, Nice Feature-Set (Camera, Bluetooth, IM application), Great battery life, Lots of great 3rd party application
Cons Does not Work with 2gb micro-SD card (works well with 1gb cards), Lacks Wi-FI
Summary CNET Editors completely missed the boat on their review of this phone. The editors gave the Blackberry 7130 an 8.3 rating (in June), yet despite significant improvements (much smaller size, expandable memory, camera, excellent navigation via trakcball, blutooth modem support included instant message application, included media player,etc) CNET only gave this phone a 7.3.
I recently upgraded from a Treo 600 and I am not looking back (to Palm). I buy a lot of 'gadgets' and I am rarely this impressed. I was actually ready to go back to a regular phone (move away from a smartphone) because I was tired of carrying around a big brick. The size of this phone is incredible. It is much smaller than the competition. It is smaller than most regular phones (including the RAZR). I think the first thing I noticed was how light it was compared to the Treo that I was used to carrying. You can comfortably tuck this phone into your pocket - no need to strap a clunky device to your belt.
I have been using the phone for 2.5 weeks now, and I am very impressed. The blackberry OS is fantastic. I have installed a lot of third party applications (google maps, berry411, WebMessenger, etc). I have had no issues with the OS crashing (as opposed to the TREO, which froze frequently - forced to reset once a week).
The MS Outlook integration is flawless. It simply works. I am wirelessly synchronizing corporate Email, Calendar, Tasks, and Notes. I receive email on my Blackberry before I see it in Outlook on my laptop. A great feature of the blackberry address book is the ability to quickly search and find anyone in the company's enterprise directory.
I purchased a bluetooth headset and had no issues pairing it with the Pearl. I have also configured the Pearl as a wireless bluetooth modem for my laptop (works flawlessly).
The included IM application uses SMS, so if you don't have a text message package with T-Mobil, I recomend buying a third party application. I am using WebmMessenger and have found it to be very good.
T-Mobile does not offer 3-G Internet service, but their pricing on Enterprise Blackberry accounts is much cheaper than the other carriers. I was not using the internet on my Treo 600 because it was so slow. The Pearl works on T-Mobile's EDGE network which is much, much faster than GPRS (while still not broadband). I am clocking 70-80kbs on CNETs bandwidth meter using the Pearl as a bluetooth modem. I am using the internet on the phone constantly (Google Maps and Berry411 are great applications to look up businesses, flight times, movie times, etc.) The response time for these applications is great.
As far as CNETs comments about the micro-SD card being behind the battery.... I think this is a great feature, not a detraction. The SD card on the Treo was on the top of the phone (and spring loaded). Just the slightest bump to the top of the phone, and your expensive media card would shoot out of the phone. I have no need to remove the media card (BTW the micro-sd card is incredibly, incredibly small). I am very pleased that it is in a secure place (tucked behind the battery), and no longer have to worry about it jumping out of the phone. My only complaint is that the phone does not currently support anything larger than a 1gig card (known RIM issue). I found out about the problem after trying, unsuccessfully, with a 2gig card.
I like the fact that this phone charges using USB. The BT headset I purchased also charges USB. I can now travel with one small charger cable (or just charge using the mini USB cable connected to my laptop).
As far as the phone's sound quality, I have mixed feelings. I am getting better range on this phone than I have with any other t-mobile phone. I used to experience a dead-zone on my Treo; on the Pearl I now have 4 bars in the same location. The volume is very good, however I do agree that the tone sounds a bit digitized at times. Overall I am satisified, given the range advantage over my old phone.
Finally, CNET, what is the issue with sure-type? I think its great. I think I am typing faster on this phone than on the treo (because the keys were so tight). I am very happy to trade a full keyboard for sure-type and get a very small pocket phone. I am happy that I can pull this phone out anywhere; without creating a spectacle (nobody realizes it is a full-blown smart phone, PDA).
To summarize, if you want a smart phone that simply works - buy this phone. If you want a powerful device, capable of heavy business use and running multimedia applications but don't want to lug around a mini-laptop - buy this phone. If you want an intuitive easy to use GUI and a stable OS - buy this phone.
Pros Perfect size! Finally a real file system. Love the trackball. Bluetooth 2.0 works very well.
Cons Keys are a tad squishy.
Summary Having been a 10 year Sprint client, I've been a Treo user for some time. Consistency of email delivery has been the fundamental challenge with the Treo as has the size and form-factor of the aging Treo platform. I could never get used to the tiny keys on the Treo and always mashed multiple keys when typing messages forcing repeated backspaces and edits to get the email content correct.
A couple of months ago, I tried out the Moto Q, however, I couldn't get used to the toaster pastry form-factor (like most BlackBerrys). Although the keys were somewhat better than the Treo, the hard edges of the Q made it uncomfortable and I still had challenges entering error-free emails. Back it went.
Enter the Pearl.
The first time I saw it was online, and I have some colleagues with the older SureType 7XXX-series, so I wasn't too enthraled with the device. Then I went to see it in-person. Wow... it's really small and thin!... about 1/2 of the volume of a Treo. This isn't your grandfather's BlackBerry, this is a real contender. It has the thin-ness of the Q without the toaster-pastry profile and smooth edges that dissappear in a shirt pocket, breast pocket & pants pocket. Great screen and the camera's nice, but honestly I'll use the camera 5 time a year, max.
So, what about the keys and that SureType stuff?... afterall, I want to do email on this thing. I have to say after playing with it for a day, I was hammering out error-free emails for the first time on a mobile device. It got to a point where I never had to look at the screen to make sure I was typing the right keys (like I did with the Treo and Q). Just mash away and SureType figures out what you're typing. Anyone who has issues with SureType for composing emails simply has control issues.
Now SureType isn't great for everything. Typing in email addresses, part numbers, anything that's not a 'word' can be a bit frustrating, however, you can hit a hot key that switches the input from SureType to Multi-Type or Multi-Press or whatever it's called. In other words, you hit the key once for the 1st letter or twice for the 2nd letter on the key. I use this for entering passwords and other 'non-words' and it is slower and more painstaking than a full qwerty keyboard, but for the size of the device and the usability of the keys, it's a welcome trade-off in my opinion. The good news is that the browser and messenger remembers your passwords, email addresses, etc. so I haven't had to use multi-type too much.
The keys do move a bit side-to-side which can give the keyboard a mushy feeling, but you get used to it and the keys are large enough that I have yet to do a double-mash key press.
Trackball is excellent. Floats effortlessly over messages, web content, menu selections and the fact that you press down on it to select just like side wheel on the older BlackBerrys is the perfect use model.
I've found the voice quality to be just fine and it paired effortlessly with my Nokia micro-mini bluetooth earpiece. I also married it to my PC and it transferred music and data files back and forth with aplomb. Oh, and did I mention, it has an actual file system? It does. You can create folders, files, etc. just like a real PC (or PocketPC for that matter). As for the MicroSD slot and the complaints that it's behind the battery, I don't understand the issue? How often do you remove the thing? My SD card in my Treo hasn't moved in a year and the MicroSD is so darn small, I feel better knowing it's secure inside the unit.
The EDGE network is much better than the Treo 650's download speed and about 1/2 of the speed of the Qs (and Treo 700) EVDO download. But honestly, I'm not d/l a lot of 'rich' content so as long as I get a page in a few seconds, I'm happy. It's way *way* better than the Treo 650 and using the Q or 700 as a wireless modem does not exploit the speed of EVDO. You really need a dedicated card if you want to get anywhere near the 1mb/sec d/l speed of EVDO. EDGE has a far wider availability than EVDO and there are also plans you can get with T-Mobile that include wi-fi hot-spot access with your laptop. One thing that I might miss is the availability of wi-fi on the Pearl, but I would not use it for browsing (EDGE is fine for that), I would use it for data transfers with other PCs. The USB cable and BlueTooth will have to suffice for now.
What else? Well there are a whole host of BlackBerry applications out there, many of which are being ported to take advantage of the uniqueness of the Pearl's trackball. The trackball is a UI element which we will see in other larger format BlackBerries due out in the Spring.
A great revolutionary device. I'll post more comments and insights as I gain more experience with the device.
If you can get past your SureType control issues, this is about as good as it gets in my humble opinion.
Pros Very small, bright and clear display, trackball is excellent, interface easy to learn, many features, camera excellent for a cell phone camera, video is a WOW feature, MicroSD chip is nice touch.
Cons Slight learning curve as the manual is not that helpful. Has the missed call issue if phone in pocket.
Summary I have had cell phones since the day that they were the size of small car batteries. I recall the days when all you really got for $500 was the smallest phone made. Then went to color screens, menus and icons, then PDA features, to cameras, now MP3 and video.
This phone for $200 [T-Mobile upgrade price] is a total steal if one remembers, like I do, when phones five years ago were $500 and all they made was phone calls.
I have had enough electronics to compare the functions and features of this phone, from MP3, high end digital cameras, video players [that play converted videos], and of course cell phone service.
In summary, for a cell phone the Pearl performs its other functions superbly. The MP3 player plays fine, the 1.3 megapixel camera takes good pics, the video play plays AMAZING video, and the phone interface [e.g., menu choices] is easy to operate [especially with the new "pearl" trackball.]
Now there are lots of critics out there yammering about the so so quality of the camera, the MP3 player does not have external controls, the MicroSD chip is not accessible unless you remove the battery, etc.
But what everyone forgets is that the 8100 Pearl is a cell phone with added features. It is not, for example, a digital camera with a cell phone feature. It is not a video player with a cell phone attached. One should NOT be criticizing the Pearl because it does not take pics of the same quality as a 5 megapixel camera.
This phone is amazing. After two weeks of using it full time I cannot criticize anything about it. I am very, very please with it. Add to all of the above that I also get the Blackberry e-mail service, well things can't get better than that, except that all I had to pay was $200 for this device. Absurd.
Yes there are a couple issues that RIM [who makes the 8100] will be fixing. It needs, for example, a "hot key" that allows one to disable the trackball when I plan to put the phone into a pocket. This is needed because otherwise the phone goes into "ignore" or silent mode at the slightest movement of the trackball. So a call that comes in could get killed or disconnected when the phone is one's pocket.
Also, it cannot play videos unless they are converted into a format that can be played on the Pearl [GP3]. RIM does not mention that clearly, so we were all left to fend for ourselves on figuring this out and to rely on third party software to convert videos so they will play on the Pearl.
But there are plenty of "how to convert" instructions out there now, so this is not really an issue. But new purchasers have to figure this out for themselves since out of the box no one knows what or how to put videos on to the Pearl.
I recommend that you join one or all of the Blackberry forums out there to learn more about how to use the phone, such as pinstack.com. There is lots of help out there if you need it.
Pros Great form factor, trackball navigation, highly customizable interface, nice camera
Cons slightly weak reception, no video recording
Summary I have been a die-hard Palm user for the last 10 years. Until the Pearl, I had yet to see a phone that could get me to ditch my Palm.
My requirements for a smart phone:
- Sleek form factor (not bulky), to fit in my pocket
- Flawless Outlook/Windows syncing
- Ability to easily enter data
- Easy web surfing
- EDGE (high-bandwidth data transfer)
Past Blackberries have been too bulky for me, and I really didn't like the idea of a thumboard since I was so handy with Palm Graffiti. I still can't understand why the market has gone to thumboards and not touchscreens, but that's another issue. In the end, the Pearl was sweet enough to get me to leave Graffiti behind.
This phone is not perfect - no phone is. But it rocks, hard. The trackball is killer; Very intuitive and easy to navigate with. The screen is gorgeous; large & detailed enough to view things effectively, but small enough to keep the form factor sleek. The phone initially struck me as too small and light, but I have gotten very used to that and love it. The two buttons on either side of the phone are fully customizable to activate whatever application you want them to. The camera is great, as long as you don't mind not being able to record video with it. Bluetooth connectivity has been flawless for me, as has T-mobile's EDGE data service.
Being new to the Blackberry world, I am quite impressed with the interface and applications. You can customize just about everything, and it's all been pretty intuitive so far. The calendar, contact and notes syncing with Oulook has been flawless (I don't use Outlook tasks). The email aspect is truly everything it's cracked up to be - I have had zero problems connecting with my various yahoo accounts.
The few things I don't like:
- The Pearl definitely has weaker reception than the Nokia 6600 I had, but not so bad that I'm going to ditch the phone.
- I may still have some learning to do about the Blackberry interface, but so far I'm surprised at the lack of folder/file management abilities. It seems pretty limited - and that will get more frustrating when I add a 2GB microSD memory card.
- I am hoping, with the new support of multimedia features, that Blackberry will enhance it's support of these files in their interface - especially with a more robust mp3 player.
"Raising the Bar on Smartphones.A New Definition of What a Smartphone Should be!!!"on by feelmaroon
Pros trackball(like a mouse), battery life, suretype querty, 1.3 camera and 5x zoom, sd memory, movie player, mp3 player, email, 3rd party aim, font options, interface, bb messenger, form factor.
Cons sd in the back, no case, no fm radio.
Summary Throw the towel in Palm and Motorola. RIM finally raised the bar in the smartphone game. After having time to go through all the functions of the phone, i'm sold on it completely. Was the first person at the store when it got released this morning. In the contrary to what everyone is saying about it being so "sexy" "delicious" and "elegant," its doing what all the other companies have failed to do. To go back to the basics of form and succeed in making it look like a normal phone. I've owned the Q, the treo, the bb 8700g, the sidekick II, and the little mda and none of them got it right. It's not flashy and doesn't stand out on a table which is exactly why its accomplished so much. if you were in a line with ten people with candy bar phones, you couldn't tell which one was the smartphone. and that, my friends, is success. (and trust me, i'm the strongest advocate of full querty boards but if you're just writing short emails and want speed with ims and texts, suretype is on point. once you spend a week with it and get your idiosyncratic vocab in its memory, you'll fly through messages. i'm typing fast on this than the q and the treo650). This is most definitely a 'tweener' device that fits the person who wants subtlety of size yet function of a treo or q (someone who thinks bulky/wide phones look silly. i mean, c'mon, take a look at that classic nokia everyone and their mom had in 1999. it was half the size of the treo and the Q and looked a million times sleeker) in the past six years, no product, until this pearl, has thought to go back to the size of small classy phones(except the mda which is a failure cause of the lack of querty). I can't say enough about this phone. the first day i came home with a treo i thought it cool but hated the touchscreen and that plastic pencil. it makes being on the go impossible (running around nyc). with the q, it was better and the sling media tv is sweet, but it just looked to wide and didn't hold well in one hand. this pearl, on the other hand, is a true one handed device. you can be walking down the street (fast) and holding a bag in the other hand while sending, checking and writing short texts. its ideal for those on the go. the feature set is a sell and though its not as strong as the treo or the q, its still amazing because it fits it all in such a tiny package (you have to hold it in your hand to see how small it is). the mp3 player is decent (nothing special), the photo viewer runs slow (like the q), and the oz messenger service is still a joke after all these years (fortunately for those true 'aim'ers', there's imramble which works with aim smoothly (though if you straight addicted to aim, go sidy3. nothing bettter than real time aim). but i'm here to say that this pearl is most definitely "no joke." sure paris hilton will have it as will many other hipsters and people in tune with portable hardware. but hopefully because the software selection is so small (and we crackberry fans are happy with bblight and bbtetris) and practical people will stay with the treos and uptown businessmen will keep their q, the blackberry pearl will keep its appeal and not go way of ipod and razr mass appeal. can't beat the email push and the 'comicbold' font. blackberries RULE!!!!Updated
This is something i forgot to mention. it is actually the biggest/most useful feature included, especially for those of you who get lost on streets. With one click "map" you can go to any specific street in the US and it then loads up the map of the area within two seconds. with the trackball you can scroll any which way and it loads the scrolls the map (east, west, north, south). for example, you could load a street in soho in manhattan and then just carry your phone around and take a walking tour of the streets. it is absolutely ridiculous considering this is a 'throwaway' feature people aren't even talking about before saying "its the best phone ever"...this one touch "maps" makes this pearl a true no brainer. you gotta try it to believe it.