BlackBerry 8100 Pearl

The classic design of BlackBerry handhelds is unmistakable, however, manufacturer Research In Motion (RIM) has been experimenting with handset styles, adopting a straight-edged candy-bar design and a sleeker profile. The BlackBerry’s bulk has also been addressed and cut to just 89g, making the Pearl as light as any standard mobile handset.

Controversially, the Pearl dispenses with the scroll wheel on the right-hand side that BlackBerry traditionalists have come to expect. Instead, you navigate through the extensive menu of applications using a glowing white orb – the pearl from which the handset takes its name. To the immediate left of the pearl is a BlackBerry button that acts as a shortcut to the items you’ll want to use most often – messages, email, phone, browser and so on – as well as providing the option to hide any less useful ones. Further evidence of RIM’s aim to become a mainstream consumer brand, rather than a business product, is that the Pearl’s opening screen has one-click links to Yahoo Messenger as well as your email inbox and business email server.

Under Applications, as well as finding the browser, email, calendar, to-do, contacts and other business functions, you now get voice-activated dialling and voice note-taking and forwarding, plus the Pocket Mobireader with which you can view PDFs. BlackBerry also adds its own instant-messaging client as well as Google Talk. The free PocketMac for BlackBerry program from www.pocketmac.net is necessary if you want to sync the Pearl with your Mac contacts and calendars.

The Pearl is the first BlackBerry to integrate a 1.3-megapixel camera. This has a 3x zoom but is pretty awful except in bright conditions. The phone also comes with a well-hidden microSD removable memory card slot, so you can take and store photos, videos and more – video clip playback on the Pearl’s 38 x 41mm screen is actually rather good.

OUR VERDICT

This sleek, black number can now properly be called a phone rather than a PDA with all the bulk that such a term implies.

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