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I had a blackberry which i loved. I now have an iphone which whilst it has some good features, overall is not as good as the blackberry. the blackberry is great for emails and has a handy cut/paste function. They keypad is easy to use and the keys are a reasonable size which avoids mistakes when typing. the internet function is not great but ultimately you have a blackberry for the email function. the calendar synchronisation means you can synch with your computer both calendar items and addresses. Overall it is a great little phone and very easy to use and has a number of great basic functions. The games arent great and the ringtones are a bit basic but you can always upload your own music to use as a ringtone. The alarm function is useful and will work even when the phone is turned off which is always useful!
My previous experience is with 'traditional' non-blackberry phones. A customer asked me to set-up the email and show him a few things, but I had to have a look around before I gave it back.
THE FIRST BLACKBERRY EXPERIENCE (basically having a very small querty keyboard).
Initially it's quite difficult to force the brain to except this hasn't got a typical phone pad. Once a user has overcome this, I believe speed of typing would greatly increase. The predictive style text management is very good, as is the option of directly accessing the user dictionary - something lost from Nokia's. With Nokia's you have to use a word quite often to 'retain' it within the memory, so your occasionally contacted friend called 'Darren', oddly turns to 'Dappen' if you don't write it often enough.
It's a very nicely weighted flip phone with a confident sprung closing hinge that sounds very well engineered. As you look at the open phone there is a (assumed) customisable button on the left side and the right side has a camera button on the right side (like Nokia's N95). Navigation is via a rollerball mounted centrally above the main querty keyboard - think of it as an upsidedown ball mouse of old. It has a slightly gritty feel for good friction and control, it's not pleasant at first, but doesn't take long to get used to. It should be noted that long fingernails would make slightly harder work of the rollerball as it's also has a press/select function. The buttons are a suitable size and are individually selectable by all but the biggest of hands.
It doesn't take long, however the symbols are too small to be of real reference and I found myself referring to the text description displayed at the bottom. There are many illogical shortcuts and it's well worth referring to the destructions (instructions) to find these out. The screen and font size is acceptable for my eyes, but I would not recommend it for those with sight difficulties - instead I would recommend glasses!
I only briefly played with this, as it didn't take long to figure out that yet again a phone manufacturer included a pointless digital zoom facility. This is of poor quality, however the standard 1x is more than exceptable for site photos or anything but a memorable moment.
Email set-up was flawless and easier than ANY OTHER PDA or handheld device, using a googlemail account as a test, there are no pop/smtp settings needed as the phone searches for settings on Blackberry's own online database. It's merely a case of inputting the email address and password, press 'next' and it's done. I sent a test email TO the test address FROM a yahoo address and a few seconds later and I was alerted of the new email, that's impressive...if your life depends on that email (normally it doesn't!).
BLUETOOTH - worth noting
This is very easy to configure for external devices (other phones, headsets) as you would expect. However there is one floor - when transferring a music file from an N95 8GB to this Blackberry, I had no success initially. A quick net search found that the blackberry prefers to be in the correct corresponding application when receiving. So, if you want to be sent an audio file, you must be within the music application and select 'receive by bluetooth' (or something similar), then it works fine.
The music player is easy to use and through playing with pressing and holding buttons I was able to 'fast forward' a track. The in built speaker has incredible clarity for such a small phone, with more than acceptable bass (for a phone). No doubt if it were played on full volume for long durations, this would no longer be the case much like inbuilt laptop speakers.
It also has mapping facilities which are good, I don't if there's the option of saving an entire country to memory as per the Nokia N95 8GB. This is quite handy for internet'less areas or if you don't wish to wait as long for map refreshing.
It also has Wi-Fi but this was not tested by me.
I don't know the precise package taken by my employer, but I had a quick look at vodafones blackberry offerings on the web and found one package which provided a Blackberry Storm for FREE, 600 minutes anytime and UNLIMITED text and UNLIMITED internet time. This for £35. That's pretty impressive and not too unrealistic for the personal user, or someone running more than one job or gradually going self-employed while full-time elsewhere. I'm going to lay low and look for Storm reviews, if they're positive, I'm going to make the switch I think! Although I just noticed the storm doesn't have Wifi...I think, where as this 8220 definitely does.
Blackberry's do have a different way of doing many navigational things. But on this occasion 'different' isn't bad and it's quite reassuring that R & D departments are still focussing on "new AND better" instead of just "new". This is definitely worth investigating if you haven't done before. It's a bit over the top for the average phone user, but if you're a business type that doesn't want to be bound by the laptop/PC, this will help you break away.
With googlemail there is additional verification required, to truly show yourself as a human being and not a mass spammer (being a non-human being). This is very fair and not hidden away in the distant corners of their website.
I checked the memory, it has 64MB flash and 1GB onboard, can also be expanded using microSD cards.
A nice button is a general silence button on the side, clever I thought.