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As Expected, RIM Announces Wi-Fi-Enabled BlackBerry

Late yesterday, Research in Motion officially announced the newest business BlackBerry, the 8820. What makes it unique is that it includes Wi-Fi, as well as an unlicensed mobile access client so users can take advantage of fixed-mobile convergence services. But that's not all.
Late yesterday, Research in Motion officially announced the newest business BlackBerry, the 8820. What makes it unique is that it includes Wi-Fi, as well as an unlicensed mobile access client so users can take advantage of fixed-mobile convergence services. But that's not all.There are definitely some exciting updates included on this device. As I noted in a blog last week, it resembles the 8800 and 8830 business-class device line up. While the form factor may not have been updated, the included 802.11a/b/g radio is a major leap forward. The UMA client aside, this will let business users take advantage of Wi-Fi hotspots to surf the Internet rather than the EDGE network that it will use for general wireless connectivity.

Beyond Wi-Fi, the 8820 also includes built-in GPS. This will be a boon for field force workers who use their mobile devices for driving directions. BlackBerry says the 8820 will have out-of-the-box support for a number of location-based services.

Another nice upgrade is the multimedia player. Borrowing a cue from its smaller, consumer-focused cousin, the Curve, it takes advantage of RIM's latest multimedia player and Roxio's Media Manager to make loading music and other files much easier. Not that listening to music necessarily enhances productivity, but it does make end users happy. The 8820 also adds Bluetooth 2.0 and stereo bluetooth, for using wireless headphones. And you'll be able to store a hell of a lot of media files. The 8820 supports the microSD High Capacity (MicroSDHC) standard, which means you can put microSD cards up to 32 Gigabytes in size into the BlackBerry. True, you can only buy 8 Gigabyte cards today, but the 16 and 32 Gigabyte cards aren't too far off. The 8820 does stop short of being too consumer-y. It still does not have a camera.

The one thing that really cracks me up about the press release is that there's a bullet point about the 8820's removable and replaceable battery. It's like RIM wanted to poke Apple in the ribs about the iPhone's non-removable, non-replaceable battery. Or maybe I am just reading too far into it...

The 8820 will be available from AT&T later this summer.