* Prices may differ from that shown
I got my Blackberry Pearl 8100 two years ago on contract from 02. This was my first Smartphone and the main reason I moved away from the tried and tested Nokia was because of the reviews I heard about how good the email capabilities were on Blackberry. I had a few colleagues using Blackberry's and did not really like the size of them; I prefer as small a phone as possible to be honest. My decision to go Blackberry was made when a colleague showed me his Blackberry Pearl 8100 which looked very sleek and a similar size to my existing Nokia.
Decision made I got onto O2 the Pearl 8100 was free on a £35 a month, 18 month contract. Two days later my new Blackberry turned, wow the phone looked amazing nice and compact in a nice blue colour with chrome edges. I could not wait to get my SIM card in and get up and running with my new phone.
I left the phone alone to fully charge overnight whilst had a brief flick through the instructions, this can't be too difficult I said to myself. The next day SIM Card in and initial set up done with no fuss. I found the roller ball that I never used before a very effective way of navigating the menus. Most of the options on the screen were self explanatory and easy to use. I did find it very tough to come to terms with the new keyboard layout, it is more like a PC layout with 2 letters per key with the Q and W on the same key etc. All Keys also have a number or commonly used symbol like a full stop on them and you need to use the ALT key if you want the numbers. I hated it for texting for the first few days but after that got used to it and loved it. I would say if you move over to Blackberry bare with it as it does take a bit of time to get used to.
The Pearl has a lot of features and applications here is a bit on the ones I used:
You can link up to 10 email accounts to the Pearl (I think). I had 3 my 2 work ones plus my Yahoo Account, the emails come through very quickly if you have a strong signal most of the time as quick as outlook. It is worth turning email indicator sound off overnight, most annoying getting junk emails at 2am in the morning. Is easy to reply to email's on the Pearl.
Once you are used to the keyboard layout very simple. The text is very clear and easy to read.
My advice would be to steer clear a bit of a novelty to start with but does become boring when you receive a message every time Joe Bloggs posts on your wall. A good Application for teenagers but I deleted it after a few weeks
Blackberry App World
Not even touched the tip of this there are literally hundreds of Apps you can download here from News, Live Football Results, Social Media, Tube maps, Currency Converters, Local Attraction and Restaurant Locators. You will spend hours browsing these.
I use MSN Messenger a lot on the laptop so a messenger App was a must for me. Very good and you can leave it logged in and a little Icon pops up if somebody starts a conversation with you.
You can read Word Documents and Spreadsheets on the phone, good if you receive an important email attachment.
A free way of chatting to other Blackberry users, very good application. Easy to add people by exchanging Blackberry Pin Numbers, annoying when new blackberry users find the PING option!
Has some few free games and a whole host you can download, some are free. Not a big fan of games on phones but have played Brick Blocker a few times which is not bad.
This is okay only 2MP so not the best on the market by far. But I didn't buy the phone for the camera and only use it on occasions.
The Pearl also has all the normal bits and piece you would expect from any phone these days, Alarm Clock (very loud), Calculator, Calendar, Time and Date Display, Call Log, Memo Pad, Maps, Password Keeper plus many more. I did find that when I copied over my contacts from my SIM they came over in a funny format and each name was had /1 after it. A bit of a chore but easily edited.
The only minor problem I had with my Blackberry Pearl over the term of the contract was on occasions the roller ball sticking, which can be a bit annoying but other than that it was absolutely spot on.
I would recommend the Pearl to anybody looking for all action Business Phone which is compact and sleek. I have been so impressed with Blackberry that I upgraded to the Bold 9700 in June, but that is another review.
You can pick up a Pearl for around £40 on ebay now so very reasonable for anybody on Pay As You Go. Thanks for reading.
The blackberry pearl is one of the smallest blackberrys available at the moment. But boy does it pack alot of punch into a small package.
The pearl 8100 comes with a Digital camera and digital player which are both good quality. However there are so many apps on here it is unbelievable! For the self employed this little gem of a phone is a godsend. It allows you to pick up your e-mails with ease and write back in minutes. there are lots of apps on here however that you may or may not use. The good thing about the phone is that it suits both those who like having lots of features and those that want it to do a set number of things.
The phone keyboard takes a while to get used to. Its quite figity at times to use but is pretty good once you get the hang of it. The same can't be said for the trackball. This I don't like and its prone to becoming faulty. in all honesty its a good piece of innovation and actually works very well when you get used to it. It is prone to becoming damaged which has happened a few times to mine. This is why you should always have the pearl in a case.
The phone is good looking but doesn't stand out from the crowd too much and isn't much of a style statement. Its just a fraction bigger than most non-smart phones available today. The phone has a good amount of standby time which is 360h and has 900mins of talk time to boot.
You can now get this phone quite cheaply and if your on the lookout for a quality phone then its a gem of a find. Just watch out for the track pad and a case is a must here.
The blackberry pearl has to be the most confusing pda on the market at the moment. It has a great variety of software to use but it is impossible to get to with the awful ball scroller. Once you do get to the programme which you wanted it is almost impossible to carry out tasks because the screen is too small. When you want to write a message you have to use the stupid two letter per key qwerty key board. If you are going to have a qwerty key board then have seperate button for each letter and not two per button. Its far too confusing. The biggest flaws in this phone have to be some of the basic features like bluetooth and the camera. The bluetooth is unable to receive items (i assumne after the amount of times i have tried) and the camera doesn't seem to be able to take videos. Only basic phones do not do this now so when you buy an expensive top range phone like this you would expect it to take videos. I think this phone is stuck in two minds, whether to be a phone or a pda. Personally i believe blackberry should take it from production because it seems useless to me.
I have used a massive range of blackberry products, currently running the Storm (9500) that's another story.
The 8100 once you get past the annoying 'QWERTY' layout on a mobile is actually a very good phone. If you want PUSH email then 'Blackberry' is definately the way to go.
The scroll ball (or pearl) is actually really simple to use and makes browsing the menu systems really easy, once you've got the sensitivity set correctly that is. The camera lets this phone down only 1.3 megapixels and it really doesn't take great (not even good to be honest) pictures. But then again most people won't be buying this for the camera.
For me personally i use my blackberry to write emails so much the pearly annoys me. The 'Semi' QWERTY layout confuses me as it feels like it should be laid out as a mobile is. If you use your bb mainly to read emails and not reply then this is the phone for you, if not try the Curve, Bold or even the new Javalin.
I have used this phone from the standpoint of a self-employed business fella on a £50+ contract per month. And I'm so glad I did!
The main reason people seem to pick the pearl over other Blackberry handsets is that aesthetically, it isn't much larger than a "usual" phone and is a bit more stylish than the normal corporate look given to the range.
Hardware wise, the Pearl is sleek and quite a sexy phone. The qwerty keyboard is compressed so it isn't the normal full keyboard, but you soon get used to that.
The software interface is exactly as you would expect of a Blackberry, save for the fact that menus etc. are a little more squished due to the reduction in screen size.
The trackball works a treat but you may find the occasional need to roll it about vigorously to (fingers crossed) clean it out a bit and dislodge some dirt that may have accumulated.
There is obviously a wealth of software available to be used on the Blackberry, and it goes without saying that the email / sync / groupware functionalities you'd expect from a RIM handset are as perfect as ever. Battery wont ever run out.
Definitely up there (for me) for the stylish but price-aware smartphone buyer.
I am generally a very organised person and I am totally in love with my PDAs. Being a woman, I however do not like the look of most PDAs as they are a bit too broad and bulky for my liking. I like a phone that can do music, emails, texts, browsing, photos, organisers, etc. but still look like a very sleek, slim and classy phone. I waiting long and hard before I came across this really classy, sleek looking phone. I bought it as soon as I saw it (yes, it was one of those impulsive buys) and was obsessed with it for a few months. It did everything I wanted it to do and it fit very well in my sleek handbag. It about a year I have had it now and the state of the phone is totally shocking. The parts have gotten very loose and the phone feels like it is going to fall apart any minute (mind you, I do maintain my things well and take good care). I have had phones in the past for years and they have been just fine! So, great phone but not a long term plan unfortunately!
Overall a very good phone.
It took me a while to get used to the keyboard layout for texting and e-Mail. Its amazing how much you get used to a standard phone. However, now I am used to it, it has become second nature.
The roller ball is both an advantage and disadvantage of the phone. It offers a great addition for navigation the clean menu and UI of the phone. However as it ages, it becomes extremely tempremental. Only the other day it decided to stop scrolling right.
The key pad is easy to use and feels substantial enough to not break under heavy usage. The screen is both large and very clear and offers very rich colours.
It may be down to the server or the network but e-mail and texts seem much quicker than I am used to traditionally.
The internet is painfully slow at times and the whole unit is prone to freezing. I also need to regularly clear the cache to enable data to be processed efficiently.
As a personal phone device, I wouldn't recommend it. The keyboard layout is non-standard, predictive spelling is unpredicatable and the camera is diabolical.
As a business device, I think it it OK. It negates the need to have a PDA or other handheld and a phone. Also looks quite neat.
I have had a blackberry pearl now for just over a year and had a few faults when the phone cut off and wouldnt turn back off. As I had purchased from Carphone Warehouse I took it back and they fixed it for me.At this point I should add that I have had mobile phones since my first in car phone in 1985 so am familiar with using various makes.On my last occassion When the blackberry faulted I took it in and they sent it to their repair centre. it has since come back with the comments that I have damaged it with water ingress or condensation !How I have managed not to do this to my previous several phones is beyond me !I would be glad to hear of any other owners who have had this fault diagnosis on their Pearl.ThanksJohn Dennington
****Overview of the Pearl****
Measuring 107x50x14.5mm, and weighing in at a meagre 89.5 grams, the BlackBerry Pearl 8100 is currently the smallest BlackBerry smartphone on the market. Whilst being small in size, the Pearl is not small in features and has all the usual functions of the Blackberry range.
The Pearl has all the normal smartphone capabilities including a high quality phone, internet browser, email service, messaging services and instant messaging amongst others.
The keyboard is the full QWERTY style and provides Sure Type technology. There are additional buttons either side of the numerical keypad enabling the full keyboard, but unlike other Blackberrys, there are two letters on each button as opposed to one.
Navigation is achieved via a trackball between the keypad and the screen. It is very smooth and allows the user to make selections from the menu system easily.
I found the QWERTY keyboard took a bit of time to get used to but if you persevere you'll get there, and once you do it is fantastic and you'll never go back to traditional keypads.
The buttons are quite small so if you have large hands or have larger fingers then you may struggle.
The Pearl has a large high resolution screen providing up to 65k colours. It is light sensitive and fully adjustable to suit all lighting levels in both outdoor and indoor environments.
The Pearl comes with an HTML Internet browser and allows the user to view Web sites in HTML format. The user can browse the Internet like they would do from their office or home computer. Like all models from Blackberry, the Pearl contains an embedded RIM® wireless modem and a quad band network connectivity enabling the user to use the Pearl in many countries including Europe, North America and Asia.
The internal flash memory is 64 Mb which is adequate unless you are going to load the Pearl up with the many applications, ring tones, wall papers, themes, MP3s and short movie clips available.
If you are planning to do this then it is possible to increase the memory of the Pearl using a micro SD card, which can be bought from numerous places for little money.
The manual states that the battery will provide the user with up to 360 hours of standby time and up to three and a half hours worth of talk time from a fully charged battery. Whilst the battery life is very good I believe 360 hours to be a bit of an exaggeration since I have to charge mine up every 3 or 4 days depending upon how much I use it.
The Pearl has Bluetooth® and can be synced to the PC or laptop via Bluetooth connection or USB cable connection. Personally, I find the USB cable connection more reliable since there has been instances when the bluetooth connection has been lost once the Pearl and my laptop have been connected for a few hours.
The Pearl has a full outlook system and by syncing it to your PC or laptop it is possible to update your diary and organiser as well as transferring files between the two devices.
The Peal has GPRS and Edge technology providing fast data transfers and downloads.
Like all bluetooth enabled phones the Pearl can be wirelessly connected to all bluetooth enabled devices including hands free headsets, in car speaker solutions, lap tops/PCs and other phones.
The camera lens is located on the back of the Pearl's casing and is 1.3 megapixels, which is not brilliant considering that some of the Sony Ericssons now include a 8.0 megapixels, but it is adequate to catch some OK pictures.
The camera is easy to use and has dedicated zoom and capture keys. It has a flash and zoom option that helps to increase the quality of the pictures. The screen is used as a viewfinder so it is possible to see how the picture is likely to look before it is actually taken.
It is possible to take self-portraits using the small mirror situated next to the camera lens. This is ideal for those wishing to snap a profile picture for a community or blogging site, or those who are just plain vain.
You should remember that the Pearl is primarily a phone and if you want good quality photos I would suggest using a digital camera.
The Pearl has a built in media player allowing the user to play music in many popular music formats. The user can listen to their favourite music when they are out and about on their mobile phone.
Whilst it is ok I find the quality of the sound to be poor, even with headphones, but then at the end of the day the Pearl is primarily a phone and emailing device. If you want good sound then I would suggest an iPod or other designated MP3 player.
It is possible to play and record video footage in MPEG4 & H263 video format. This can subsequently be saved, edited, played or shared.
****Using the Pearl to make a call****
The user can use voice dialling to make calls which is a quick and simple way to make a call without having to scroll down phone lists and contacts to find the number.
There is a hands-free speaker system allowing the user to take a call over the phones speaker system allowing a hands-free call.
To make a hands-free call you need to be close to the Pearl's speaker so it is not an ideal solution. If you prefer to make hands-free calls then I would suggest using a separate headset or other bluetooth device.
****Using the Pearl for messaging****
The Pearl can be used to send and receive text messages, multimedia messages, instant messages and emails.
The message services are easy to access from the phones main menu and are easy to create and manage.
The Pearl can play ring tones in a variety of formats including MIDI, MP3 and polyphonic.
Ring tones are clear and the volume is perfectly loud enough.
****Personalising the Pearl and other functions****
There are loads of pictures, wallpapers and themes that can be downloaded from the internet in order to personalise your Pearl.
The Pearl has a document viewer that can read files in either Word, Excel, PowerPoint or PDF format.
The Pearl comes with BlackBerry Maps allowing the user to view maps on their handset. In addition to this it is possible to download Google Maps.
Games, such as bass fishing, poker and baseball amongst many others, can be downloaded and played on the Pearl.
Useful applications, such as a calculator, Vlingo and Blackberry Wallit amongst many others can be downloaded and used on the Pearl.
Pinstack.com is a must use site for all Blackberry owners since it provides free ring tone, wall paper, theme and application downloads.
The Pearl is a small, powerful, functional and stylish smartphone combining all the usual Blackberry capabilities in a smaller package. It does take a while to work out how to use it to its full potential and the QWERTY keypad takes a bit of getting used to, but once the learning curve is over it is a fantastic phone.
It can be used to play games, play music, take photos and browse the internet, although you should remember that this is primarily a phone so the audio and visual quality is not brilliant and should not be compared to designated cameras and MP3 players.
Pinstack.com is a great site containing many useful applications, games, wallpapers, themes, ring tones and the like available for free download to all Blackberry users.
Being a text diva I loathed the forced upon me Blackberry that my boss insisted I use for work. I tried to text and could not get used to the new format and what seemed at the time a ridiculous roller ball. How naive of me the Blackberry is everything to me now. My boss...makes me available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. My PA...keeps me organised with alerts, planning schedules and contact list, call logs and voicemail. My teacher...keeps me abreast of everything going on in the world via the internet. My mum...gets me up in the morning with the alarm. My friend...we can share photos, music and play brick. Brick the best mobile phone game ever fact! Yes, after a short period of time...when all my contacts thought I had fallen off the end of the world I did get used to texting on a blackberry the person that invented the roller ball should be commended....its fantastic
I have to say that the Blackberry Pearl is a very good phone - it's loved by businessmen everywhere for a reason!
The rollerball, which is unique to the Pearl, takes a little while to get used to but once you are used to it I find that it's far easier and nicer than simply up and down keys - you wonder how you survived without it!
Another key feature of the Pearl is the keyboard, which I am not a massive fan of. It's sort of a mini QWERTY one, so each key will contain two letters in the QWERTY layout. I find that this is the worst of both worlds - you can't type properly on it and it's not similar enough to a normal phone's keyboard. I might get used to it in time but currently I don't find it particularly good.
Other key features of the Blackberry include internet access (which is pretty good), push and pull email (very good) and, of course, like on all Blackberry phones, it has the game called Brick (which is awesome!).
Overall, this is a very good phone that's well recommended for business (and non-business) users alike. It has good call quality, a nice roller ball, push and pull email and good internet access. Recommended
I decided to change my contract from 3 to o2, and as I needed a lot of minutes opted for meduim buniess plan with a Blackberry Pearl. I always need to be able to access emails quickly, and I'm always using mobile internet, so thought this would be useful. Didn't take long to get used to the rollerball, and although I think the qwerty keyboard is stupid (why bother? Am I going to put my mobile down on a desk and type at it with 2 hands like a keyboard? No. Then why make me have to re-learn how to text!) but I've re-learnt to type quite quickly. I don't use the email function on this phone as I use a hotmail account and like to be able to access my inbox instead of having the emails just forwarded to me, and although there is yet no full hotmail application (which apparently is coming out soon), I can still use mobile hotmail. The browser is pretty good at regular website as well as wap ones. I even paid for travel insurance at the airport with a debit card online on it.
Takes a while to get used to how complicated things can be. I had a time where the blackberry would delete all my texts and call log automatically, I didn't realise it was becasue I had run out of java space in the phone itself (or something like that), becasue I had changed the reserved memory for photos to a higher capacity. Once I understood I could fix it, but if you're not good with technology this could be a bit difficult to use.
Overall it looks lovely and runs well, with fantastic network signal (I even had mobile internet out in cyrpus, very useful!) Sound quality can be a bit iffy. But over all very useful to have.
As I'm going for Business advisor at work, thought I would make myself more familiar with the Blackberry family. I asked my boss if I would borrow the demo phone The Blackberry Pearl or 8100 for awhile so I could learn and mess around with it to figure out the settings and so on. To be honest, I've never liked Blackberry phones but have I changed my mind? Let's see.
First of all, what are Blackberry's? Some people call them mobiles that can send emails, others call them PDAs, other just think they are a fancy mobile with a qwerty keypad. Blackberry's website states "A wireless email solution for mobile professionals."
So why would some choose a Blackberry when they are so many phones on the market that do emails now and to some point, I agree but most phones have what we call pull email and the Blackberry uses push email. I hear you cry, what is pull and push email? For people that don't know and believe me I didn't until I worked in the mobile industry is that push email lets you know when you have a new email, whereas pull email you have to check yourself to see if you have a new email. The way I remember it is, you have to pull your own emails on an ordinary phone. I imagine a little envelop on the end of a cord. On Blackberry it gives you push (vibrate/message tone) to let you know. I imagine a little envelop being pushed through a letterbox.
This is why a lot of businessmen loves this phone as it literally emails on the move where ever you can get a mobile signal, you will get emails.
So you have your Blackberry switched on and ready to go but you're not completely ready until you synchronise it with your PC. Install the Blackberry software on your PC, then by using the USB cable, there's are various options to copy all your email addresses, telephones numbers etc onto your Blackberry and also get you link into your email address. It took me about 30 minutes to set up the Pearl. So now it's time to play.
There are 5 different links on the screen. Short cuts to different areas of the mobile.
Voice Mail: Just automatically calls Voice Mail for you. When you first use it, it asks for your voice mail number. Mine on Vodafone is 121.
Call Log: This is where you can see all your calls that have been made, received or missed
Email: This is where you can access your email quickly and it only tells you at the side of the word email if you have any new emails.
Text/Media Messages: This is where you can access your text or picture messages quickly and it only tells you at the side of the words 'Text/Media Messages' if you have any new texts or picture messages.
Calendar: This is where you can view all your appointments and meetings and it will warn you with an alert if it's nearly time to go to meetings etc. Will come back to the calendar later.
Unlike other Blackberry's, this doesn't have a full qwerty keyboard where each letter has a individual key but this made more like a mobile but in qwerty. So on a normal mobile 2= abc, on the Pearl 2 has ty.
There are 2 ways of using the keys. SureType is a bit like predictive type but if it doesn't recognise a word, it lets you build the word on the screen. The other way is multi-tap is just the same as non-predictive on other mobiles. Just tap until you get the letter you want but it is slightly easier on the Pearl as it only has two letters compared to three on ordinary mobile.
The pearl does have more buttons that a normal mobile. It has 8 extra keys down the sides to do symbols, capitals, enter and delete key.
It's quite hard to get used to because I'm so used to have abc instead of qwerty on my mobile but I can understand why they have done it like this. This is the first device to combine the quirkyness of a mobile with the logic of a PC and voila this keyboard on the Pearl.
The keyboard makes this the smallest Blackberry yet as Blackberry in the past have been bulky due to the full qwerty keyboard. I also feel that Blackberry wants to appeal the younger market that uses emails for personal use to get a bigger share of the market. Hence the more mobile like slim Pearl instead of a bulky PDA. I think they have done a good job. It looks trend but smart so it will still appeal to their loyal customers the business users but also appeal that younger market.
...Trackball/ the Pearl...
Well, Sony Ericsson has the joystick and Blackberry has the trackball. It's a translucent ball that lights up in the dark that you can scroll through the menu. That's why the phone is called a Blackberry Pearl because of the trackball. Also instead of it being at the side of the device like on other Blackberry's, I called it a scrolley thing (it's actually called a scroll wheel) is now in the middle of the phone and work like a joystick but just with a ball. It's very easy to use and just right. Not too fast and not too slow.
A bit like the Nokia, the menu button is a separate button. The symbol on the button looks a bit like a blackberry. In the menu, you will recognise many symbols if you are used to using newer mobiles. All the normal things that you would find are there. For example contacts, text messages, settings, bluetooth, profiles, camera etc but there are a few that are new or not normally in a main menu on most phones. Email inbox, compose email, saved email.
Once everything is set-up, emails will just come in when they like. Everything will go into the inbox. Inbox has good capacity for emails. At the moment, there are about 900 emails in mine but I know you can get loads more in.
Each email entry shows the date, time that you received it, email address or the name of the person if in the address book and subject. This makes it very easy to scan for spam and get rid of it.
You can set it up so if a certain people emails you it will sound a different email tone. You can change this in the set up wizard but I haven't gone into that as my emails are mainly junk or boring.
Sending an email is easy too. Just go to the special designed icon. Type away your email and send. You also delete emails and you have the choice whether you just delete them off the handset or delete them off the handset and your actual email account.
You can fill in loads about the people you know. Mobile, home number, work address, home address, webpages, notes. You can add a picture too. FBI-R-US lol On the other hand if you lost your phone or it got stolen, the person would be able to find out everything about the people in your address book.
Another thing it was especially designed. Calls. Calling on this phone is really simple either just type in a number and press the green button or just find it in the address book, press the green button and there you go. The quality of the call was good. You could hear the person speaking clearly. Part of the call quality can depend on signal strength or the network itself. The loudspeaker is quite good as well. It's loud and clear.
...Calendar and Alarm...
The calendar is brilliant on this phone. You can set it to daily view, weekly or montly. This gives you an overview on your shedule, not that mine is very busy. You can choose different reminder times, you view the previous week, the following week, the next day. I'd never be lost if I can all my things to do planned in this.
The alarm is also easy to setup but slightly disappointed with it as my D900I has more alarms and settings like what day you want to be woke up on. For example, I hardly work Sundays but in the blackberry I would have to program it to be active on weekends as I do work Saturdays so I would have to remember to turn it off but with D900I I only have to program it to wake me up on the Saturday and it will be still be set for the next Saturday if I so choose so.
The internet is available but it's quite slow, a bit similar to my D900I but very slow compared to my old W880i. Though it does load the pages nicely but the older Blackberry's and new Curve 8310 have the bigger screens so you can view it better.
A really important thing for me. Because I'm sad and I don't get many emails, the battery life lasts for absolutely ages about 5 days but with a realistic use, it would say it would last 3 days maximum depending on what you're doing with it. You can charge it through the PC using the USB cable or the charger. In my box, I've got the English plug and the American one. I wouldn't have minded a European one as I'm more likely to go there than the US.
It's a 1.3 megapixel and is the first Blackberry with a camera. The picture quality is nothing to write home about it but it's not bad. Compared to other phones that takes pictures, it definitely won't be winning awards but it's just an extra feature, not the one of the main features and for the first attempt, it's a good one.
...Other things on the phone...
The Pearl takes a micro SD memory card. It can take upto 4GB memory card but the software on the phone has to be after May 2007, otherwise back up your phone and update the software but I don't feel a phone like this needs 4GB of memory anyway.
Media player is where you can view all your pictures, listen to music and ringtones and watch videos. I wouldn't say the sound quality is of the best if you like your musical ringtones and this is where I think the Pearl wouldn't win over the younger market that they are aim at.
It's a lovely phone. I can't believe that the looming name of Blackberry has put me off these phones for so long. People think Blackberry are hard to use. Well, they aren't. They might be slightly more tricky to set-up but once it is, it makes your life so much easier. Only things that I would change is the camera and the sound quality when playing music if they really want to start winning with the younger market. Other than that, it's a brilliant phone and I can't fault it. I'm not saying that I would switch to a Blackberry as I wouldn't use half the main functions on it but I will be recommending them from now on.
You can get the Blackberry 8100 in different colours (black, pink, red to name a few) on a contract for free now as it has been discontinued and two new Blackberry's have been brought on the scene. Blackberry 8310 Curve which has a bigger screen and gone back to the bigger keyboard and the Blackberry 8110, which is the direct upgrade from this phone and similar to use. Both of these Blackberry's have Sat Nav on it so I will be testing them soon.
For more information, just visit the Blackberry website where you will find the user guide and all the software that is on the CD. http://www.blackberry.com/
I have the pleasure of having to be in contact with the office 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to ensure that any media enquiries are dealt with in a timely manner and that in the event of a media meltdown, I can start the spin process immediately so that any form of damage to the reputation of my organisation is limited or in a best possible scenario, turned into positive media coverage. To do this, a mobile phone and a laptop would be too cumbersome and not at all practical to take with you to the pub or club or indeed the garden centre on a Sunday afternoon and so for the last 3 years I have been the proud owner of Blackberries, starting with the huge 7230, moving onto the rather sleek and sexy 7100V and recently I have been upgraded to the Blackberry Pearl 8100, quite possibly the smallest yet most functional multimedia device I've laid my hands on to date.
Anyone remotely familiar with the RIM Blackberry range will be aware that in addition to bring a mobile phone they have the capability to send and receive email, store addresses and contact numbers, browse the internet, a diary and many other useful little functions that all come in handy when away from the office or stuck in meetings. The Blackberry Pearl is no different from the standard Blackberry range but has some interesting software and hardware additions whilst at the same time being drastically reduced in size.
Personally I have never had to pay for my Blackberry, and have struggled to find the actual cost of just buying the handset online, however it is apparent that if you take up a specialist tariff with any of the major networks the handset is provided free of charge to users.
So, you have your phone, got it home and charged it for the standard 12 hours, you would think you'd be ready to go, you'd be wrong! Once you have inserted your SIM card you have to install the software that comes with the Pearl onto the computer that holds your main e-mail account. In my case this is my PC at work, an aging, some would say antique that isn't known for either its speed or power. The Pearl comes with one disk and once running, the onscreen instructions are clear and very easy to follow. When prompted, you attach the Pearl via the USB cable provided and then make a number of selections to synchronise your Pearl e-mail inbox to that of your PC. You'll know when this has been successful, as the Pearl will start to go crazy as it copies over your inbox and saved contacts.
Once the Pearl and the PC have been synchronised, everything you do to your e-mail inbox, contacts list and diary using the Pearl or PC will be reflected on the other device and you are ready to go. All in all, the entire installation process took me (a self-confessed technophobe) no more than 30 minutes using a PC roughly the same age as me.
After installation, the first thing of note is that the Pearl is incredibly small, slim and lightweight in comparison to even some of the newer Blackberry devices on the market and it is clearly aimed to attract more people purely from the mobile phone market rather than appealing only to business users. With the battery inserted the Pearl weighs only 89.5g making it lighter than a Nokia 6822 and size wise it is only 10.7cm (H) X 5cm (W) X 1.4cm (D). In a nutshell, rather than being bulky and heavy this can sit very nicely in your shirt or jacket pocket without giving you backache.
As I have already stated, the Pearl allows the user to send and receive emails, send and receive SMS and MMS text messages, organise your own diary and access contact details. I will work through these functions shortly but would point out that the Pearl also has a built in camera to take digital quality pictures and video recordings, the ability to send instant messages and play media files and also allows the user to download polyphonic, real and MP3 files to be used as ringtones. These functions have never been available to Blackberry users before, making the Pearl stand out as an amazing piece of kit, however it reinforces my opinion that this is aimed at the mobile market rather than the business user. With this in mind, I was apprehensive that the gimmicks may have lead to a decrease in the quality and functionability of the Pearl in comparison to earlier models.
My view is further reinforced by the fact that the keys used to type have been placed together in the same way as a mobile phone so that each number also represents 3 letters of the alphabet rather than older Blackberry models that had a full QWERTY keyboard.
In terms of ease of use, the Pearl is much better than older models. Using a trackball located just below the colour screen it is very easy to grip and move around selecting icons from the menu with a gentle press. It is using this system to select applications that leads me onto my analysis of the software features:
Call quality on the Pearl is exceptional. The speaker within the handset is clear and all callers can be heard perfectly well, which is a drastic improvement on the 7100v where after a few months every caller sounded like Stephen Hawking with a computer virus. I have tried to find fault and have spilt several pints of lager over the Pearl and it still functions as well as the day it was unwrapped.
The inbox can hold literally thousands of emails with a sorting system that places emails received on individual days into sections headed up by the date. Each entry within the inbox shows the date, time of receipt, sender and the title of the email making it very easy to distinguish between e-mail's of importance and the usual spam that drops in on a very regular basis. Using the set up wizard it is possible to allocate different tones to different people within your contacts list so that you can be alerted when people of importance email you. This is a very handy tool to have at your disposal.
At present there are over 2000 e-mails stored within my inbox and over 10,000 stored within sub-folders and there is no visible slowing of the speed of access to the inbox.
As well as showing e-mail's the inbox doubles up as a storage space for SMS and MMS text messages. It is easy to differentiate between an e-mail and a text message, as a text message will have an envelope in italics. These messages are opened and responded to in the same way as an e-mail.
This feature, as long as you have a signal allows you to sign into Yahoo Messenger or Google Talk and exchange instant messages. This is a feature I rarely use on my static PC, and something I have only used once on the Pearl. I can't fault the feature when I did use it, however there could be issues when moving in and out of zones where the signal can be a little temperamental.
The organiser incorporates both the calendar and address book. The calendar is pretty standard and I'm sure doesn't need any form of explanation, needless to say, it allows me to enter meetings and appointments when out and about and the ability to check my availability should I need to arrange things on the go.
The contacts book is where the Pearl really excels, with the ability to create and store distribution lists for e-mails. When I am working from home I need to ability to send e-mails to a large number of media outlets, which in the past meant that I had to select each address on an individual basis which could take well over 30 minutes and would cause the operating system to slow to a snails pace. This feature saves me huge amounts of time and has no effect on the operating speed whatsoever.
Currently I have 876 contacts within my address book and 78 distributions lists all of varying sizes. This is nothing short of impressive in the storage stakes in my opinion.
The browser allows access to the Internet. As with all Blackberry devices that I have owned, this is a slow process dependent upon signal strength and page size. A feature I rarely use unless stuck on questions at the pub quiz purely because of the speed and the fact that my contract charges access to the Internet at £1 a minute. I'm so glad I don't pay the bills!
This is the first Blackberry I have owned with a built in camera. The picture quality is not that spectacular, however it does have it's uses when out shopping and I need a second opinion. The camera has a built in flash, a X5 zoom capability and has a picture resolution of 1.3 million pixels.
As far as first attempts go with integrating a camera within so much other technology I really can't fault the Pearl but I won't be throwing away my digital camera just yet!
As well as taking digital pictures, the camera does allow the recording of short video clips, however the memory is so small prior to upgrading it can hold only 10-15 pictures and no more than 3-4 30 second clips that have a very poor level of audio pickup due to the small microphone located at the base of the Pearl.
The media player allows MMS, e-mail attachments and stored pictures to be viewed on the screen. This is something of a godsend when comparing the Pearl to previous models I've owned where the screen was either dull, lacked colour or just simple could not provide a clear enough image. With 65,000 colours and a fairly powerful backlight, the Pearl makes viewing anything via this software incredibly easy and straightforward.
The Pearl can be charged using both a standard plug charger or topped up using a USB cable when sat at work. After the initial charging period of 12 hours you can expect a drained battery to take only 4-5 hours to be fully recharged. This is fantastic in my opinion, as the battery seems to last for absolutely ages even when using the telephone for hours at a time. Realistically, with heavy usage (4 hours talk time and heavy e-mail use - 300+) you can expect the Pearl to remain charged for a good 8-12 hours before it will warn you that it needs to be recharged.
I had my fears about the Pearl when I saw how much reinvention had taken place but these were completely unfounded. The new keypad layout took a few days to get used to but all in all, the new features have enhanced what was already a very good product and made it essential for anyone who needs to be contactable and productive when away from the office. The Pearl ensures that I can wander away from my desk and go home at night, safe in the knowledge that should I have to work on the train, from the pub or my sofa at home I can with confidence that everything I need is right at my finger tips.
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