The BlackBerry Just Got Edgier - InformationWeek
Infrastructure // PC & Servers
04:40 PM
Elena Malykhina
Elena Malykhina

The BlackBerry Just Got Edgier

Before the brand-new BlackBerry 8700c hits Cingular Wireless stores in the U.S. on Nov. 21, here's my own reviewer's guide of the latest and the greatest that the popular PDA has to offer. And believe me, it's evolving.

Before the brand-new BlackBerry 8700c hits Cingular Wireless stores in the U.S. on Nov. 21, here's my own reviewer's guide of the latest and the greatest that the popular PDA has to offer. And believe me, it's evolving.On Nov. 1, Research In Motion Ltd. officially announced that the BlackBerry 8700c will be the first BlackBerry device to support Cingular's high-speed EDGE network. What does that really mean? Simply that BlackBerry 8700c users can get Cingular voice services in more than 170 countries and data services in more than 90 countries. Not to mention, the promise of significantly faster Web browsing.

I must admit, I was skeptical at first. What really would have been exciting to see is a 3G network on the BlackBerry like Verizon's EV-DO or Cingular's UMTS with average data speeds of 220 Kbps to 320 Kbps. That's my idea of a high-speed network. But I gave EDGE a chance anyway and found out that it's not so bad after all.

In fact, you can do quite a lot on a mobile browser with average data speeds of 70 Kbps to 135 Kbps; for example, check E-mail, shop for stuff on eBay, and even get maps and driving directions on Google. The speeds are still not ideal for downloading video, images, and large files, but they sure beat the old GSM/GPRS network.

The new BlackBerry gives users a choice between two Web browsers: the BlackBerry Browser for HTML Internet browsing and a browser designed for Cingular's MEdia Net wireless Internet access service. Both work pretty well, although the Cingular browser did respond faster at times.

So what are the drawbacks? I did get the occasional "there is insufficient network coverage to process your request, please try again later" notice, when trying to get on the BlackBerry Web browser in certain locations. Although Cingular's EDGE network did connect me to the Web pretty fast, the Web-user interface is still far from resembling the one I'm used to seeing on my laptop. Yahoo's homepage, for example, pretty much shows up as a drop-down menu of text links, as opposed to a fully-designed Web page.

The fact that the BlackBerry locks about every three minutes and asks me to login each time can get annoying. But at the same time, it's a good security feature that keeps the device out of the wrong hands in case it's lost or stolen.

The look and feel of the BlackBerry 8700c is much closer to that of a cell phone. It fits in the palm of my hand, which is pretty small, and the phone feature is very easy to find on the features menu -- it's right there with other icons, including E-mail messages, enterprise applications, and the calendar.

Did I mention this new BlackBerry is much brighter, too?

Overall, the BlackBerry 8700c gets two thumbs up and one thumb down. That's because I won't be able to lift my right thumb for a while. It got pretty sore during the reviewing process.

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