Review by Sunetra Chakravati,
12/12/2011 3:48:33 PM
The Pearl is slim, lightweight and beautifully designed and we love the eponymous trackball.
If fast internet browsing and receiving email with large attachments is crucial, the lack of Wi-Fi and 3G might alienate some business types.
For mobile email addicts across the planet, the BlackBerry should need no introduction. At least, that's what we thought until the new BlackBerry Pearl 8100 came along. Although the Pearl contains all the familiar business functions, it really doesn't look much like a BlackBerry.It's very small and light, weighing just 89g - amazingly light for a smartphone capable of push-email.It also looks rather lovely for a business handset, with a sophisticated black and chrome finish, but then the Pearl is intended to be the first consumer BlackBerry, a business phone that regular punters would be happy to own.
The BlackBerry Pearl is named for its trackball, which looks and feels like a pearl. Set beneath the display, it enables you to navigate smoothly and quickly around the icon-based user interface.The trackball replaces the side-mounted jog-wheel, enabling a sleeker profile and allowing easy movement between menu options. Hardcore crackberries will subconsciously keep gravitating towards where the jog-wheel once lived. It will take time to quell that twitching thumb.
As with earlier BlackBerrys like the 7130, the BlackBerry Pearl features the SureType keyboard, which conforms to the traditional QWERTY layout but carries two letters on every key. It takes getting used to but if the Pearl is the device you use daily, you'll soon get up to speed. The high-resolution display is large with built-in light-sensing technology which automatically adjusts the screen's brightness to suit your environment, indoors or out.
As with all BlackBerrys, the Pearl features push-email, which means mail is automatically delivered to your device as it's sent, without you having to attempt to retrieve it. The BlackBerry Pearl supports a wide variety of email accounts including ISP email using POP3 and IMAP4, the latest versions of Microsoft Outlook and Exchange, IBM Lotus Domino and enhanced access and features for Yahoo! and Gmail accounts, plus access to Yahoo! and BlackBerry instant messaging facilities.You can receive and view email attachments like photos and work files. Larger organisations and corporates can host their own server in the form of the BlackBerry Enterprise Solution; smaller businesses can consider a hosted BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which means you don't have to buy, install or manage server software and BlackBerry deals with ongoing IT support.
Now we've taken care of business, let's kick back and enjoy the more leisurely features. Manufacturer Research In Motion (RIM) is new to leisure time and the BlackBerry Pearl falls a little flat. A 1.3-megapixel camera with a 5x digital zoom is adequate but hardly revelatory. A media player for music and video gives out surprisingly dynamic sound, but if you want to enhance the sound further there is no equalizer option or bass boost to adapt to certain genres. There is also no facility to plug in 3.5mm jack headphones.The Pearl is the first BlackBerry to sport a memory card slot, with a 64MB miniSD card included. You can, of course, invest in larger capacity cards.
There are some decent applications such as downloadable maps (Google Maps), and information services (AskMeNow) to expense accounts (Expense World). There is no Wi-Fi or 3G on board (instead there's 2.75G EDGE technology), which is a shame, but these features drain the battery and add to handset girth. Ultimately, the BlackBerry Pearl manages to have its cake and eat it by becoming the first in its family mass-market design appeal, while retaining email functionality and business clout.