The news that RIM is launching a consumer/prosumer device called the "Pearl" (aka BlackBerry 8100) has got me all mixed up. As an industry analyst, I can see the logic of what our Canadian friends are doing – releasing a device that is more likely to appeal to the masses than the BlackBerry QUERTY classic and RIM's first …
Balackberry and compared to Razr
Oh don't feel you have a lack of street cred when compared to a RAZR those things are almost totally form over function. the menus are badly designed the predicitve and any text input is terrible and they have an appallingly slow CPU.
Great design to look at - rubbish to use (screen covered in marks all the time? yup).
A slippery slope for RIM and the BlackBerry?
having used the interface i think you can rest easy. it's just as intuitive as it ever was. the camera/video/ringtone/mp3 functions are kept in a media menu option which you can safely ignore. the current consumer phones have so many features packed into them they make them incredibly complex to use, i've recently 'downgraded' from a sony k750i to a simple nokia 1600 for this reason - useability. the pearl doesn't suffer from this problem as the interface is essentially the same as previous models.
the addition of the trackball makes navigation easier, you can move about flow-fields easier, you don't have to option-scroll to move downwards through an index of icons.
the only thing stopping me from buying a 8100 is the suretype keypad; it's just as bad as it was on the 7100 series. if they create a full qWerty version they'll have the best device there is (the title currently held by the 8700 of course - i'm a blackberry developer and very biased).
More rubbish for execs...
Yet another move to make sure budget-holders keep subsidising their lifestyles with another toy. More gadgets for executive freeloaders...
SureType gets a bad rap because people expect it to replace a full QWERTY keyboard. That was never the intention. I went from a SonyEricsson T610 to the 7100. My entry speed has increased dramatically. It does take a bit of practice but if you slog through you will find yourself entering text at quite a clip.
SureType will never be as fast as a full QWERTY keyboard. It was meant to enable cramming something better than a numeric keyboard into a smaller device than a "saucer" BlackBerry. My 7100 fits in a front pocket much more neatly than a "saucer" BlackBerry, and that's why I like it. If you are a diehard mobile emailer, the 7100 (or I presume the Pearl) is not the device for you. If, like me, you mostly read and sometimes write emails on the device, it works just fine.
The one gripe I have is the absence of the little "letters on the numbers" that enable easy dialing of all those US numbers in the form "1-800-HOT-NEWS". It drives me nuts to have to pick up another phone to decipher them.
Cameras can be usefull
Whilst EXEC's might not use a camera we have a number of "lesser mortals" for whom having an e-mailed enabled camera is usefull. For example folks assing accesability when arranging school transport for the physically impaired, checking on building works in progress in schools, or even snapping truants.
There are lots of instances where a quick photo provides information that can't be inlcuded in a normal text message. At present these folks get (and use) windows mobile devices. If I was in charge at Blackberry I'd be sticking a Camera on board.
Are you having a laugh?
Blackberrys are indestructable?
I have a box of about 300 "destructed" Blackberrys in a cupboard that can prove otherwise
I think the only thing that is really upsetting Dale is that he doesnt get the feeling of being the 'Executive Elite' by waving around an ungly device that is only used by those who feel that they are so important that they cannot be separated from their email.
Although most consumer users would like to have access to their mail when on the move, nobody was seriously going to shell out on a device that is only good for mail and nothing else (and lets face it, who wants to be seen talking in to something that looks like a small blueberry pancake).
Cleverly, RIM have decided to take mobile email more mass market - boo hoo what are all those execs going to do now to get that feeling of self importance?
Best Converged Device?
I've been using BlackBerry devices exclusively since the 6710. I've loved and appreciated the utility appeal and the "keep it simple" design. Being primarily a business user, I was leery of RIM's idea to create a consumer-friendly device. I expected their first attempt to be a bulky, 7100-like device with a poorly implemented camera and MP3 player. I was very surprised when I got my hands on the Pearl. As said in other comments, though they have added many features yet kept operation simple and intuitive (unlike WM5 and Symbian devices). Sure, using SureType takes a bit of getting used to but they have made significant improvements over earlier versions.
As soon as I got the Pearl, I set aside my 8700, knowing that it would easily replace it. I was skeptical about the trackball at first, but soon found it very easy to control. The bi-directional control with one hand makes it superior to the trackwheel. Sure, I didn't have as large of a screen, but the form factor makes it much easier and comfortable to hold while on a call. I'm still exploring the day-to-day usability though must admit that the Pearl appears to be an absolute winner. For those of you who have been using two devices (say a RAZR for voice and a 8700 for messaging) it is time to put them both away and get a Pearl. The integration of data and voice services makes the BlackBerry hard to beat. Along with that you now get a great form factor of the Pearl. For those of you who haven't taken a close look at the Pearl in person, check it out when you can. In the meantime, take a look at http://www.blackberrypearl.com. No, I don't work for RIM, but I do work for a carrier. Don't let that make you feel like my opinion is biased. The device speaks for itself.
They already started making mistakes with the 8700
I have an 8290. It's a real bb. Maybe the last real model. Full qwerty kb, very convenient holster, long battery life, quick recharge times. The lousy parts are the screen (old generation, low dpi, bad colors), slow gprs, awkard internet navigation. Thank god for bblight, at least auto screen light is not longer an issue.
Enter the 8700. Yes it has a new generation screen and better internet browser. Oh and poliphonic ringer, c'mon, we're business users here not teenagers. And now the problems. Holster sucks big time, it's closed type with magnetic lock. No more "draw it like a gun with one move". Screen goes completely off when you don't use it (I hate that, I have to see a any time what happens). Battery is a tad smaller. Keyboard is not so comfortable.
And the down slope has begun.
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