Blackberry devices were known worldwide for business and professional use only, but not anymore!! The new Blackberry Pearl has a lot of new features that older versions were missing. The new Blackberry Pearl also known as the 8100 has a camera, media player, expandable memory and a lot of new features as well. The Pearl is targeted toward teens as well as business professionals and that is why they have added the extra features.
Older Blackberries looked boring which makes the Pearl stand out even more. You have to see the Pearl in person in order to appreciate its size and good looks. The scroll ball is the main attraction of the phone and it resembling a pearl is the reasoning behind the name. Is the small size suitable for everyone? Although it has fancy features and looks good, is it worth upgrading? Read on to find out!!!
When looking at pictures of the Pearl on the internet you cannot tell how small the device actually is. The pearl is a bit bigger than the Motorola SLVR series. The Blackberry Pearl is the first phone to have the new scroll mechanism opposed to the old scroll wheel located on the right-hand side. The older scroll wheel was only meant for scrolling up and down and the new one can now scroll up, down, left, right and diagonal on the main menu.
The new scroll ball looks like an old computer trackball. The Pearl has a small scroll ball located on top of the QWERTY keyboard. When the light sensor turns on the backlight, the scroll ball glows white and looks awesome. The new scroll ball looks like the scroll on the new HTC Artemis which is being released very soon. The sides of the phone are chrome which gives it a cool finish. Although the sides look chrome-metal they are in fact plastic. Making the sides metal would make the phone a lot heavier, so it is a good idea that RIM decided not to.
The Pearl has all the basic features you need in a phone. The Pearl comes with calendar, alarm clock, tasks, password keeper, send voice notes, memo pad, password keeper and more. The phone also comes with a Brickbreaker game which is the same as it was in older devices. The only difference is that the game is now easier to play with the scroll ball.
The Pearl has a lot of new features that were never seen before on other Blackberry devices. The Pearl is the first Blackberry to introduce a 1.3 Mega-pixel camera with flash, music player, GPS software and expandable memory. 1.3 Mega-pixel camera is now standard on most phones, but what makes this so special is that there has never been a camera on a Blackberry until now. The camera's options include flash settings in which you can set to automatic, on or off. You can also set the white balance and have the option to select automatic, sunny, cloudy, night indoor, incandescent and fluorescent. The camera settings also give you the option to select the picture size and picture quality. The downside to the camera is that there is no video recording capability. In the future they should make video recording possible either in a software upgrade or in the newer Blackberry phones.
The Pearl has a new feature of voice dialing. The program is called ?Voice Signal?. This program reminds me of the Microsoft Voice Command for Windows mobile devices. The Voice signal button is located at the bottom left side of the phone. When you press the Voice Signal button you have three options. You can say name and number, check item or turn prompts on/off. Under the check item menu you can say ?Check Status? which gives you the battery life, signal strength and coverage status. You can also say ?Check Coverage, Check Battery, Check signal and Check my phone number.? Overall the program works okay and sometimes does commands you did not ask for. You cannot make voice commands over a Bluetooth headset like you can on Microsoft Voice Command.
I think the best part of the new Pearl is the preinstalled Maps program. With the Maps program you can access maps, directions and addresses anywhere you have a data connection. Also the program supports the use of a Bluetooth GPS device. With Bluetooth GPS support you can now use your Blackberry as a GPS when driving. The program uses your data connection, so you should ensure that you have a data plan and not pay per use because usage can be expensive. The Maps program reminds me of Virtual Earth Mobile for windows mobile devices and uses the same concept.
The Display on the Pearl is quite small. The display is only 240x 260 pixels compared to the Blackberry 8700 which is 320x 240 pixels. Considering the device's size itself, the screen could not have been much bigger without making the whole device bigger. The display is very bright and displays 256k colors. You can also use your own picture as the background image and the phone will automatically resize the image.
Since the Pearl is the first Blackberry device to play media it was critical that it have an excellent speaker. The speaker is superb, but I noticed that the volume is much higher without the back cover. Since the speaker is located at the back of the phone, the back cover is covering the speaker. The cover only has a slit at the top for the sound to come out of. Overall the speaker is good and it if you need a little extra you can always take the back cover off.
The Pearl comes with standard 2.5mm stereo headphones. The quality of the headphones is excellent but there is a lack of features in the media player. There is no equalizer or presets for music and you cannot control the music with any other buttons other than the scroll ball. The Pearl does not have stereo over Bluetooth which is a key feature in new music phones.
The Phone's entertainment consists of the media player, the preinstalled Maps program, google talk and yahoo messenger. With the media player you can listen to music that is saved either on the phone's memory or the micro SD card. You can also play ringtones from the media player to see which one you want to select. In the media player you can view pictures and watch videos. Although the media player supports avi, ,mov,3gp, mp4, m4v and mpg it lacks support for other various video types. If you are planning to use the same memory card in other devices it may not work. In order for the Pearl to recognize the media on your memory card it has to be placed in the right folders. When you insert the memory card it will automatically make a folder ?blackberry device? and sub-folders of audio, video, pictures and ringtones. If any of your media is not in its right folder the device will not recognize it. Google talk and Yahoo messenger are also a great features but you need a data plan if you?re planning to use it a lot.
The blackberry Pearl has GPRS and EDGE. The EDGE internet works great with the device because it has faster capabilities than GPRS. With this device it is a good idea to have a data plan with your service provider or else the internet usage can get costly. The built in Maps program is excellent and uses EDGE to load maps of the internet. The web browser is okay; you can view HTML websites at ease but in the future I hope that Blackberry improves their browser for more functionality.
The Blackberry Pearl has 64 Mb of flash memory and is the first Blackberry device to offer expandable memory. The Pearl takes Micro SD which is also known as Trans Flash. The memory slot is located underneath the battery near the SIM card. This means you cannot take it out while the phone is powered on. Sandisk has just released the 2 GB Micro SD so this means the Pearl is capable of having 2 GB of memory for music, videos, ring tones and documents. You have to be careful when inserting or removing the memory card because the slot is very fragile and sometimes the memory card is hard to take out.
The Pearl has Bluetooth version 2.0 and connects to your Bluetooth headset, computer or other phones without a problem. Since the phone is more for business, it is no surprise that the phone does not support stereo over Bluetooth. Stereo over Bluetooth would have been an excellent feature because you can have up to 2 GB of music wirelessly.
The built in Maps program has an option to let you connect a Bluetooth GPS device. You can now use the phone as a GPS when driving and since the connection is wireless you can have your phone connected to the car charger too. The Pearl also has mini USB connector for charging and syncing with your computer. The phone comes with the standard Blackberry software CD. The headphones that are provided with the phone are excellent and are 2.5mm. It would have been nice to have 3.5mm like newer phones but for now 2.5 is the standard. The Pearl does not have Wi-Fi or infrared.
The Blackberry Pearl is very small and light-weight. The phone is all plastic and when looking at the side panels, it looks to be metal chrome. In fact the sides are also plastic but most people will not even notice or care. All that matters is that the phone looks to be very solid and built very well.
I found that the QWERTY Keyboard is too small for fast typing. Since there is more than one letter on each key it makes it more confusing and harder to use. I am not a fan of the Suretype technology but you do get used to it. Although a lot of people like the Suretype technology on Blackberries, I personally prefer a normal QWERTY. If this phone had a QWERTY like the Blackberry 8700 in which every letter has its own button, I think it would be a lot better. People who currently have a blackberry with the same kind of keyboard may like this one better but it is all personal preference.
The reception on the Pearl is excellent. Since the phone is Quad-Band GSM there is always a signal. The voice quality is also great and there is speakerphone functionality built in. The battery is also very good overall. Compared to other Blackberries the Pearl's battery lasts longer. The standby time is 360 hours and the talktime is 3 hours and 30 minutes.
Like always, the Blackberry's Push Email works great. It is this feature alone that made Blackberry so famous. The Push email is just like past Blackberry devices and works perfect. You will never miss another email and receive it instantly. If you are planning to use your device's email, web browser, Maps program or any other program that uses the data connection, you need to have a data plan with your service provider or else it could get very costly.
Overall I liked the Pearl a lot. It is the first Blackberry to have a media player and support music and video playback. Although the media player resembles the Samsung D-series style it could be improved in the future. Stereo over Bluetooth is becoming more and more popular and if RIM wants teenagers as a target market they will have to put more features that younger people demand. Overall I think RIM did an excellent job on the Pearl and if they add a few simple features to their next line up of phones they will also be very successful.