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Jewish World Review
April 6, 2007
/ 19 Nissan, 5767
BlackBerry Gets Biz Phone Right
During the recent Federal Office Systems Expo at the Washington (D.C.)
Convention Center, Michael Lazaridis, president and co-chief executive of
Research in Motion, expressed great confidence in the BlackBerry 8800
phone/PDA device, almost as much for what it didn't have as for what it
The 8800, Mr. Lazaridis explained, doesn't have a built-in camera, because
in many corporations, enterprises and government agencies - think of the
Defense Department, for example - having a camera at hand isn't always a
good thing. This device, available from Cingular Wireless for as little as
$299 with a two-year service commitment, elevates handheld communications
to a new level.
I hate to say it, but I have to imagine that my trusty Treo smartphones,
the Palm, Inc., products I've loved for so long, may have finally met
The 8800 is larger than the BlackBerry Pearl reviewed here a few weeks
back. It has a full "QWERTY," or typewriter-style, keyboard, a color
display, and the BlackBerry e-mail system, along with support for up to 10
-- count 'em -- different e-mail accounts. The unit has 64 Mbytes of memory,
but can be augmented with "micro" SecureDigital, or SD, cards of up
to 1 Gbyte of RAM. The device is a quad-band GSM/GPRS and EDGE-enabled
phone, which, as with the Pearl, means it can operate in most of the
world, and with high-speed data as well. There's a Bluetooth connectivity
feature which lets you use wireless headsets and other devices as well.
This new phone also incorporates the TeleNav Track GPS service, which is
promoted as "an affordable enterprise-grade application" including
location-tracking, mileage-tracking, wireless time sheets, alerts and
detailed location reporting to capture field data. Cingular, in a
statement, said a "premium" TeleNav Track product can also be had,
offering "wireless forms, dispatching, barcode- scanning support and voice
and on-screen turn-by-turn GPS directions." The service costs an extra $13
or $22 per month, on top of phone and data charges.
In short, the BlackBerry 8800 can not only tell you that you have an
appointment, it can tell you how to get there. For those whose business
takes them to different, and perhaps unfamiliar, U.S. cities, this feature
could be of tremendous help.
For most of us, I suspect, the key elements will be phone, e-mail, and Web
browsing. In these areas, the BlackBerry 8800 is one of the most amazing
devices I've come across. As a phone, it's as good as any device out
there. There's an included corded heaset, if you don't want to use
Bluetooth, and the built-in speaker and microphone are excellent. Dialing
is relatively easy, although I wish there were an onscreen dialpad with
the traditional "ABC" arrangement found on phones. When I see a number
such as "1-877-CALL-BOB," I'd sure love to see what I'm dialing.
Web browsing is easy, although the lack of Java capability renders some
Web sites unreadable. Such would be a problem on other handheld phones
with Internet capabilities, so I won't fault BlackBerry here. The
320-by-240 pixel display screen is bright and readable; the built-in
trackball makes navigating a Web page easy.
The 8800's e-mail approach is flat-out amazing: I entered my e-mail
addresses and password and the BlackBerry device did the rest. No port
settings, no fuss, no bother - it all worked, quickly and very well.
Getting and sending e-mail is a breeze.
Am I sold? Heck yes. You might be, too. Details are at
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.
© 2007, News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of The Washington Times. Visit the paper at http://www.washingtontimes.com