Product Type: Blackberry Smartphone
Newest Review: ... 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 g... more
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Blackberry Pearl 8100
Member Name: Gingaro
Blackberry Pearl 8100
Advantages: Lightweight, slim - line, packed with features, built in camera, real tones, easy navigation
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.
Thanks for taking the time to read and rate.
Summary: The ultimate in communications technology.....
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