Sunday, March 05, 2006

BlackBerry 8700G Review - Executive Summary: Wow

I've just replaced my BlackBerry 7290 with an 8700G and had a couple of days to play with it. One word: wow. The difference between the new screen and the old is the difference between HDTV and conventional television: brightness, clarity, and contrast are all so much better that it's just hard to put the differences into words. Suffice it to say that when I showed several folks Google's local mapping application ( running in satellite view, they were stunned at the detail.

Along with the screen, the web browser is equally improved. Pages that refused to render in the 7290 now work fine (e.g., and, of course, the close-to-broadband-speed EDGE network significantly improves the browsing experience. No more surfing to a page and then holstering the device while you wait for it to load. A page that would load in 20-30 seconds before might load now in 2.

The green and red phone buttons provide quick access to phone features, just the way a conventional mobile phone user would expect. For an experienced 7290 user, this is a bit disconcerting, but most will get used to it quickly.

A couple of nits: the dial-by-name feature doesn't work the way it did in the 7290. If you've gone to phone mode and start typing, nothing happens unless you hit numeric keys. And I've not figured out if this is a settable option - needless to say, it's highly annoying. You have to select a menu in order to dial by name.

Battery strength seems a tad weaker than that of the 7290, probably due to screen brightness, which is automatically adjusted and most often set to "son of a... that's bright!"

In short, I had a really good BlackBerry week: I was among the first to get an 8700G in North America and the next day the patent dispute was settled. It doesn't get much better than that for fans of convergence-devices.

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