May 3, 2007
Cingular (New ATT) BLACKBERRY 8800
A Fine SmartPhone for Business Users
The Blackberry 8800 is one of those phones that make peoples eye’s POP. Almost everything you could ask for; a big viewing area, access to most of your internet needs, text message until your thumbs get carpal tunnel, a full qwerty keyboard, scheduling, read E-mails, and play your favorite music. It is a thin, black and Silver SmartPhone that people on the go want to have in their pocket.
I must start out by saying I have never owned a PDA or a smart phone. This is the first time I have every held let alone worked with one. The opportunity to test the Cingular (New ATT) version was too good to pass up. Without giving the entire review away I must add that, after using it for about six weeks, I am not sure I will ever need one. This does not mean there are not many reasons why people are so attached to their smartphone that some articles mention a large loss of productivity due to user obsession with them. I have an unsupported opinion created by observing couples in candle lit restaurants when one or the other whips out their smart phone and texts a note to themselves, or someone else, about some work project. They are in trouble. The evening and the relationship will end badly. Maybe it is just my mental set that says divided attention is no attention at all.
Back to work!
Is the Blackberry a good product? Yes! I like it for many reasons. Since I came to it with no preconceptions I cared less about the move from a trackwheel to a trackball that some feel was a mistake. I find the trackball very easy to get used to. I just had to slow down and get the feel of the thing. The lack of a camera is not a problem for me as I carry a pocket camera when I am traveling that is far superior to the 1.5 Mega pixels most phone cameras have. Those who have used the earlier Blackberrys or similar qwerty keyboard equipped units will easily adapt to this phone.
I had no problem with installing the Media card in the battery compartment. The card worked well for photos, music, ringtones and videos. Unfortunately I found that copying music I downloaded from the Verizon VCAST music site to my desktop cannot just be copied to the 8800 and played. I just got a humming noise. Other music that I ripped from my old CDs or downloaded from the Internet prior to Microsoft adding copyright protection to my system seemed to work fine. I have no evidence to prove it but I think just using the provided DESKTOP MANAGER from Cingular to copy the music leaves the licensing on the desktop and playing the song is not possible. The Verizon music/phone software uses Sync to copy a playlist from the computer to the phone and must copy the license during syncing. Syncing with this software seems to be limited to the organizer, E-mail, or other business applications.
The music player is not as versatile as I would like. It will only play music in a single folder at a time. That means you have to change folders each time you want to listen to something stored in another folder or place all your music in the same folder. My sample unit came with only one earpiece on the headphone so I did not hear stereo performance and cannot comment on that.
Video played well and looked great. I used Movavi Video Suite 4 to transform the video and tried two different formats but still did not find one that would fill the entire screen of the 8800. There is no documentation that I can find in the documentation for either that helps me solve that.
The 8800 fit well in my front pants pocket. I suggest you not carry keys or change there. It comes with a nice holster for your belt.
Battery - Charge time is very quick, About 30 to 45 minutes
This unit had the best battery life that I have seen on phones have tested. I was able to get 6 to 7 hours of talk time and 20 days of standby.
Phone calls are the prime reason for having a cell phone. This phone had clear reception. I had good results with the speakerphone, voice dialing, and Bluetooth connections.
Some of the challenges I found
My thumbs are large and I often hit the wrong key or more than one at a time. This did get better with practice the little nub on each key was a big help.
There was a steep learning curve for me (a first timer) as the keyboard is full of keys that have multiple uses. The size of the letters or icons on the keys is such that you must learn them by position through repeated use. I found it very helpful to have the manual pages with the list of shortcuts to use with the Blackberry as well as the diagram with the keys designated with their various functions explained.
When picking up the phone I kept accidentally hitting the PTT (Push to talk) button and was asked if I wanted to activate that service. I did not test that feature.
Finding music files to purchase using MediaNet was not easy. Songs are hard to locate in the text based screen. Selection seemed small. Downloads were quick once you navigated the various screens.
Setting up personal E-mail access took me a while. It is not something I do often so it took a few attempts to get it right. It did work well once complete. It was easier to go to a web site where my unread emails are stored and read them there. That way they are still available when I get back to my desktop or notebook.
There is certainly a place in the wireless world for this phone and others like it. Those who need its abundant capabilities will love it. The Blackberry 8800 is option packed and from a company that has many years of great service to their audience. Many of the business features are not a requirement for most cell phone users. I am sorry to say that includes me.
FOR MORE DETAILS GO TO THE CINGULAR WEBSITE