I like BlackBerry devices. Always have. They do exactly what they claim to do — handle your e-mail remotely — and they do it well. That’s why I’m always willing and able to check out a new model to see what features they could possibly have improved.
This time around, the new model is called the 8700c. It’s the latest generation of the slightly wider generation of BlackBerry device, the one with the full keyboard and larger screen.
But don’t be fooled by the terms larger and wider. BlackBerries are getting smaller, narrower — and in the case of the 8700c a whole lot more sophisticated and easier to use. It's always been a great portable e-mail device, but now it's a great portable Web browsing device as well.
First, the size: This is the smallest, full-sized BlackBerry yet, measuring 4.3 by 2.7 by 0.8 inches and weighing in at 4.7 ounces. Inside its new sleek shell there’s 64 MB of flash and 16 MB of SDRAM memory. There is no available external memory card slot.
The 8700 is a quad-band GSM/GPRS world phone (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) which means it should work in most places on the planet. It handles data using EDGE — maybe not the fastest system on paper but read on to see what the wizards at Research in Motion have done with it.
The back-lit keyboard has 35 keys which serve as your typing keyboard and the telephone keypad. There are dedicated send and end keys for simple control of phone-calling functions. You get used to the layout within a few minutes of use.
The QVGA color LCD screen is new and improved as well. It seems larger than I remember and a whole lot more detailed. It’s just plain better in every way. That's a good thing, because because while past screens were good, they were never BlackBerry’s strong point.
This BlackBerry is also the first to have an Intel chip inside and a 312 MHZ PXA901 processor is doing the heavy lifting. To go along with the new brain, the BlackBerry people have rewritten all the code, so this BlackBerry is the fastest ever.
There are a zillion more features I could list for you but why bother? What you should know is that they’ve made their new BlackBerry smaller, sleeker, faster and just plain better in every way.
This BlackBerry is very fast when it comes to delivering my e-mail. There are times where I’ve received a message on my 8700 before it has been delivered to my home computer’s Outlook mailbox. And this happened without using BlackBerry’s fastest delivery system via its server software. I’m impressed with the speed I received using the e-mail redirecting program which runs constantly on my PC.
Then there’s the new Web browser. Without exaggeration this is the fastest browser on a handheld machine that I’ve ever experienced. I don’t know what alchemy they’ve been able to add into the cauldron, but it works: Watching this little handheld loading the MSNBC front page as fast as my latest Pentium PC with its high-speed cable connection was a pretty amazing sight.
And this is no text-only WAP browser like you find on many other handheld devices. The 8700's terrific little browser can handle pictures, logos, art (and, of course, text) with ease.
Two features you won't find build inside the BlackBerry 8700 are a camera or MP3 player. This is a device made for people who need access to their mail and need it constantly. Add to that an easy to use phone and you have an elegant wireless handheld which will work nearly everywhere on the planet.
The 8700c will be available through Cingular in the U.S. (under $300) and Rogers (the 8700r) in Canada.