Over the past few years we have seen a huge development In mobile telephone technology from the addition of camera’s MP3 players, java applications etc the market now seems endless – When RIM introduced the original blackberry it went down a storm – easy email on the move was a corporate dream – however since the original blackberry was released it’s users could be forgiven for feeling that they have been left behind as new mobile phones became more beautifully designed and functionally rich. Enter the Blackberry Pearl.
On first glance you can see that the Blackberry pearl is the prettiest designed Blackberry yet – it has a sleek form (4 by 2.0 by 0.5 inches) and a sleek look (all shiny black with chrome) – clearly it looks a lot more like a cell phone than other Blackberries – targeting both corporate and home users alike. This new design makes it an awful lot easier to take and make phone calls than previous designs.
Display wise the Blackberry pearl features a 2.25 inch TFT screen with 65,000 colors with a 240X260 resolution. Quite evident as soon as you take it out of the box it’s a good looking display – sharp and clear again an improvement on previous models.
On the pearl RIM have done away with the previous track wheel and again similar to mobile phones they utilse a trackball just below the display (pearl like hence the name!) – this allows the user to scroll and select (by pressing the button) – anyone familiar with a modern cell phone will be at ease here. Further controls sit down the right side of the phone and these include the ever important volume controls. On the left side you RIM have provided a headset jack socket and mini USB port. The Blackberry Pearl also features an expansion slot in the form of a micro-SD slot which is placed (rather confusingly) behind the battery.
With the Pearl RIM have introduced a 1.3 megapixel camera – whilst this isn’t the most innovative camera on the marketplace – Blackberry users can now at least keep up with their cell phone toting chums. The camera produces an OK result and offers a variety of picture sizes and quality settings and other rudimentary features like slide show and being able to incorporate taken pictures into emails or sms.
Techy fans can also rejoice that the pearl features support for multimedia (MP3, WAV etc) – the device features some basic functionality such as shuffle, playlists etc – controls can be fiddly and hey it’s not an IPOD but what’s there works reasonably well.
One of the biggest changes that the Blackberry pearl sees is the change in Keyboard – the pearl has a suretype keyboard which assigns two letters to each key – the suretype technology takes the first letter entered and then presents the user with possible words - this can be really annoying for users not accustomed to this technology.
The real killer feature of the blackberry remains in that support for Email is still robust and synching with corporate systems (MS Exchange etc) remains a simple task and once configured your emails are easily accessed on the device. A wide range of Attachments can be viewed, but the pearl lacks editing features that would make it a true PDA. The Pearl also includes support for instant messaging and clients for Yahoo, AOL, MSN are all included. As to be expected the device also includes calendar and notepad features.
Powerwise the device stacks up against most common cell phones – it has around 3+ hours of talk time and up to 15 days of standby time. Additional features such as music playback will obviously add to the strain.
All in all the Blackberry pearl is a solid device that does feel somewhat as a cross over device from the original Blackberry to the cell phone market – all the features you’d expect are there and the email functionality (which is usually the key decider on a device like this) remains a strong selling point – The cell phone market is constantly innovating the pearl is a good contender in this market but RIM will need to keep their features upto date if they are to compete over the long distance.