Archive for May, 2007

Introducing BlackBerry Curve

BlackBerry Curve

RIM has announced their latest in multimedia BlackBerry devices. The BlackBerry Curve is the latest consumer designed device to be side-by-side with the BlackBerry Pearl. The Curve brings tons of new features including an upgraded 2 megapixel camera with flash, microSD memory card slot with support for up to 4GB, 3.5mm headphone jack and a new ROXIO media player.

Both AT&T in the United States and Rogers Wireless have announced the device and will launch it over the next few months. For more information on the Curve visit www.BlackBerryCurve.com

2 comments May 5th, 2007

T-Mobile hands out Windows Mobile 6 upgrade for Dash

T-Mobile has finally posted the software upgrade available now for the T-Mobile Dash. The software upgrade puts the latest version of Windows Mobile 6 on the device. T-Mobile has also added support for the MyFaves application, a new instant messaging application supporting AIM, Yahoo! and Windows Live/MSN. You can download the upgrade here: www.t-mobile.com/wmupgrade/

1 comment May 5th, 2007

Motorola launches Golden KRZR K1

Gold Motorola KRZR K1

Motorola Asia has launched the Motorola KRZR K1 in Gold. The Gold KRZR keeps all the same specs on the K1 such as Quadband GSM, EDGE, 2 megapixel camera, microSD memory card slot and music player. All we know is that it has been released in Taiwan and Singapore. No word on if it will ever come into the North American markets at this time.

Mobile Life (TW)

1 comment May 5th, 2007

Blackberry 8800 Review

 

 

The image “http://www.howardchui.com/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/normal_inhand.JPG” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Here’s my review of the Blackberry 8800; the upgrade to the 8700r.

It’s a Blackberry with a QWERTY keyboard. The main differences are that it adds GPS, removable storage with media player, a new navigation roller and a more interesting appearance.

Make sure you check out the gallery for some pictures.

Physical Impressions:

The 8800 feels a little more solid than the 8700r when you squeeze it. This is due mostly to the fact that there are no seams on the side. The finish on the plastics is higher quality, feels smoother and more valuable. The sides have a chrome-mirror finish to them, similar to the back of an iPod.

The display is slightly brighter than the 8700′s though you won’t notice this unless you compare them side by side. By default, the 8800 will adjust the screen brightness based on the ambient lighting conditions. The display is difficult to see in bright sunlight.

The keyboard is about the same size as the 8700′s but I think it’s better. The keys are easier to find because they have small domes on them though I didn’t like the fact that they’re all joined.

Check the gallery for a shot of the 8800 next to some other QWERTY phones. Out of the bunch, I think the Motorola Q’s keyboard has the best feeling keys while the Nokia E62 has the best spacing. Still, you have to factor in all the Blackberry keyboard shortcuts so it’s hard to say which one is best.

Of course the biggest difference between the 8700 and 8800 is that the 8800 eschews the jog dial for the trackball first found on the Blackberry Pearl. If you haven’t tried the Pearl before let me describe what the trackball is like. Look at the picture below:

With a jog dial you’d have to do a bit of scrolling if you want to go to the menu choice directly below. With a trackball you can just roll down and go straight to the menu choice. Sure, other phones have been able to do this for years but still, it’s nice if you use Blackberries.

Hands-free usage:

There is support for Bluetooth headsets, 2.5mm stereo headphones (included) and a speakerphone.

The speakerphone’s maximum volume is about average (it’s not that useful in loud environments).

Included is the Voice Signal voice command software; you can activate it by pressing the button on the left side of the 8800. With Voice Signal, you can call phone book entries or dial numbers without having to train it first. The ability to launch programs seems to be missing.

Miscellaneous:

There is a mini USB connector on the side which you can use for charging. The connector doesn’t seem as picky as the one on the 8700. I was able to charge the 8800′s battery using my Motorola mini USB charger.

You also get a MicroSD slot that’s located underneath the battery cover.

Menus:

The menus are similar to the one found on the 8700. The standby screen is different in that it has a couple of menu items but the main menu and menu structures are otherwise identical. The fact that you can now scroll in 4 directions instead of 2 means you can now do crazy stuff like scroll straight to the menu item below instead of having to scroll an entire row of menu items. I guess RIM has finally caught up to virtually every other phone on the market in this regard. There’s still a back button but it’s now located on the front of the phone. There’s a menu button to the left of the nav roller.

Here’s how the menu works; scroll to the application you want to open. Press in on the nav roller to open it. You move around with the roller and press in on the roller if you want to open something. Press the menu button to bring up the app’s menu. It’s quite smilar to other Smartphones like S60 or Windows Mobile Standard (MS Smartphone) menus in this regard.

When browsing text you can almost always copy and paste using the trackball.

Phone Related Features:

If you type in a name or number from the menu, the 8800 will automatically start searching your phonebook. It’s very similar to Smart Dial on a MS Smartphone except you can start dialing even when you’re in the main menu.

The phonebook is easy to use. It syncs up with MS Outlook. Pictures in your Outlook address book synchronize with the phonebook.

There is support for profiles which allow you to quickly change the volume and sounds the 8800 makes.

Connected Features:

There’s a mini usb connector on the left side near the top. When you connect a usb cable to the 8800, it will prompt you if you want to go into mass storage mode. When the 8800 is in mass storage mode you can use your computer to manage files on the 8800 without requiring special drivers. I clocked the 8800 at a respectable 600kB/s.

RIM is best known for its push email so let me give you a super condensed run down of how it works…

If you’re an end user you probably have a POP3 or maybe an IMAP4 mail box. You log into a website, enter your email server settings into RIM’s web client so that it can check your mail box periodically. When you get a new email, the web client will push it out to your 8800. It’s cool but the thing is you’re actually getting a COPY of your email. So, if you’re the type of person who gets a lot of email and likes to keep track of them on both your Blackberry AND your computer then the web client isn’t terribly useful. When you reply/forward/delete a a message they don’t get marked as such on your computer. While not useless, I think the Blackberry is very overrated if you don’t have access to a BES.

Now if you have access to a BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server) via work or you pay someone for BES hosting then the Blackberry is much more useful. Your emails will be sync’d with what you see on your computer plus your PIM apps will also be sync’d automatically on both devices – neat.

One cool feature is the ability to PIN other Blackberry users. It’s sort of like SMS but you get notification right away when the other person gets your messages plus you can view previous messages on the same screen. There is both a web and WAP browser. The web browser is really fast because surfing is done through a proxy (basically when you request a web page it gets pulled up on another computer, compressed and then sent out to your device). It’s not the prettiest browser – in fact it reminds me a lot of a text based browser that’s on steroids, but you get your information really quickly. There are multiple views; desktop where the 8800 renders a page so that you’ll probably have to scroll left and right to view everything or you can view the page so that everything can be read without having to scroll horizontally. There’s a page view feature where you can see a thumbnail of a lot of the page. This helps you scroll through the page more quickly while still having an idea of where you are in the page.

One nice feature is that you can select text from webpages while you scroll around by scrolling only one line at a time.

You get a built-in GPS. I used it with Telenav (it costs extra) and is pretty useful. The trackball is well suited for mapping programs since you can move diagonally.

Multimedia Features:

There’s no built-in camera on the 8800 though there is a built-in mp3 player.

The mp3 player is pretty basic. It can read ID3 tags. There is no built-in equalizer.

The best way to load music on the 8800 is by organizing your music into subfolders on the memory card.

While you can control the music player using the trackball, I preferred the keyboard shortcuts; ‘p’ for previous, ‘n’ for next, backspace to pause plus there are the volume buttons on the side. There is a background play feature though you can only adjust the volume when you’re outside the music player app.

The player is a little sluggish when it comes to skipping forwards/backwards.

Organizer Features:

You get an alarm clock, calendar, todo list, notes, calculator and password manager. A unit converter is missing.

Out of the box, the 8800 can’t handle MS Office files. Mind you there are 3rd party applications that add this functionality.

Impressions:

Incoming sound quality was not that great. People sounded slightly over processed, similar to how they sound on a typical CDMA phone. Over processing is usually the result of noise suppression but the 8800 also had noticeable hiss.

Mind you, incoming sound quality is still perfectly usable.

RF performance is about average. It’s about the same as the 8700r and not as good as the Sony Ericsson W600i in this regard.

Maximum earpiece volume is adequate.

I’m not sure if it’s just the unit I’m testing but I found I could only get 2 days of standby with the battery (Bluetooth was off).

Conclusion:

If you’ve ever wanted to try a QWERTY Blackberry but balked at it’s overly conservative looks then the 8800 is for you.

Compared to the 8700r, the 8800 is as good as or an improvement in most aspects; The keyboard is easier to use, the trackball is much more functional than the jog dial, you get GPS and like I said before you get a prettier face. The RF performance is roughly the same as is the sound quality. The only area where the 8800 really fails is when it comes to battery life (I only got around 2 days of standby with light usage).

Ratings (out of 5)
Build Quality 4
Battery Life 2.5
Phone Related Features 4
Ease of Use 4
RF Performance 3.5
Degree of Customizability 3.5
Overall (not an average) 4
*Please note these ratings are temporal and are really only valid for the date they were assigned. A phone which receives a rating of 5 a year ago will probably get a lower rating today.

Pros:

  • Nice QWERTY keyboard
  • Screen looks great
  • Mini USB connector is less picky about chargers than the one found on 8700r
  • Memory card slot

Cons:

  • No WiFi
  • No HSDPA
  • No camera
  • Sound quality

Discuss this review at HowardForums.com
See the gallery here
Written by Howard Chui 05.01.2007
This article may not be reproduced without the the author’s permission.

7 comments May 1st, 2007

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