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RIM BlackBerry 6710: "always-on" e-mail and compatibility with the major wireless carrier networks keeps you constantly in touch.

Ahh ... nothing's better than a day playing hooky--unless it's a day playing hooky without the guilt that comes from leaving work behind. The BlackBerry 6710 is the perfect device to let you have a bit of guilt-free sun and fun. This device can best be described as a PDA with e-mail, Internet browsing, SMS, and cellular access. The 6000 series includes a Web based application called the BlackBerry Web Client, which eliminates the need for your computer back at the office to be on to receive e-mail on the BlackBerry. The Web Client sup ports ISP e-mail accounts through the POP3 and IMAP4 protocols and lets users access multiple e-mail accounts.

Design choices

Like many PDAs, the BlackBerry is big--too big to fit into a pocket--and talking into it feels awkward at first. Size is a problem with all PDAs; how does one make a device easy to view and type on, yet still comfortable in the pocket?

TIP: T-Mobile lets you take the SIM card out of the BlackBerry and plug it into most of its phones. This lets me use a less bulky phone on the weekend, without extra phone charges.

The BlackBerry is famous for its ease of use. Even with big hands, the thumb typing keyboard is easy to use. And to perform most functions, there's no awkward stylus or need to click multiple buttons; you use a thumb-operated trackwheel to scroll and activate the Black Berry's menu-driven interface.

Because connecting wirelessly can be a power drain, battery life is a limiting feature for many smartphones. However, the BlackBerry 6710's battery life is quite good. I have yet to use my auto recharger and can go about four days of heavy use without recharging.

There are a couple of downsides to the design of the device. First, if you are a Macintosh user, you can forget about synchronizing with it--it's Windows only. Second, the included in-ear headset is uncomfortable and constantly fails out. The display is excellent when viewing a long e-mail (the unit lets you change the font type and size); however, it's black and white and the interface is totally text-based.

The antenna isn't as strong as that of a regular phone, so connecting can be tough in remote areas. You can use the BlackBerry on all the carriers' networks, but you'll want to be sure to find the strongest provider in your area.

Because the BlackBerry is new to most cellular providers, getting technical support can be a challenge. AT&T Wireless technical support didn't even know what a Blackberry was! I found the same situation when inquiring about pricing with the Cingular Sales department. T-Mobile has solved this problem by creating a dedicated sales and technical support line for the BlackBerry unit.

E-mail and apps

E-mail has always been the BlackBerry's strongest feature. Unlike most handheld devices that use a traditional "pull" technology where the user periodically connects to a server to check for new messages, the BlackBerry uses "push" technology to deliver e-mail. RIM calls this "always-on" e-mail. There are absolutely no delays when receiving e mail.

The BlackBerry interface makes it easy to use. For example, when you receive an e-mall, the BlackBerry displays the message when you take it out of the case. When you receive an e-mail containing a phone number, e-mail address, or Web address, you can click on it to call the number, send a message, or hyperlink to the Web address. (As with most PDAs, Web browsing isn't ready for primetime. It's slow and, in the BlackBerry's case, text-based.)

Syncing is a snap--after you get it configured. One nice feature lets you can sync with multiple calendars and address books. However, installation and setup are much more technical than they need to be. In fact, unless you're technically inclined, you might consider hiring a consultant.

The BlackBerry isn't set up to start receiving e-mall right out of the box, configuration will be complex for the average user. After a few hours on the phone with your cellular provider, you'll understand my suggestion to make sure you can get good support from your carrier.

UpShot

Ire mail is important to you, or you work remotely aim need to be in constant communication with your office, you should seriously consider the BlackBerry 6710. It isn't a perfect device, but it's one of the best PDAs I've seen. Best of all, it can make you feel like you're playing hooky, even when you aren't!

Research In Motion

http://www.blackberry.com/

BlackBerry 6710

US$499

DIMENSIONS: 4.76" height: 2.99" width; .71" depth

WEIGHT: 4.86 ounces

SCREEN SIZE: 2.25"x2.25"; user-selectable 13-, 16-, or 20-line display

RESOLUTION: 160x160

DISPLAY: Grayscale

BACKLIT SCREEN: Yes

BATTERY LIFE: 4 hours talk time; 10 days standby time

BATTERY TYPE: Li-Ion

Os: BlackBerry Desktop Software v3.5

RAM: 8MB Flash memory plus 1MB SRAM

PORTS: Head phone jack, embedded wireless modem

INPUT DEVICE: QWERTY keyboard, trackwheel

VOICE RECORDER: No

INTERNET: E-Mail, text-based Web browser

TEXT MESSAGING: Yes

APPLICATIONS: Address book, calendar, notepad, to-do list

SYNC: Yes

INFRARED: No

DATA SPEED: 57.6Kbps

RADIO SYSTEM: 900/1900MHz GSM/GPRS networks

CALL TIMER: Yes

CALL WAITING: Yes

CALLER ID: Yes

LAST NUMBER RECALL: Yes

MISSED CALL LISTING: Yes

RING OPTIONS: Tone, vibrate, on-screen or LED indicator

VOICE DIALING: No

VOICEMAIL: Yes

SPEAKERPHONE: No

Subscribers will find an extended version of this EVAL, containing screen shots and tips, at http://advisor.com/doc/12234.

Randall Mauro is President of Happy Mac & PC a premiere technology consulting firm in Los Angeles. Happy Mac & PC exists to help businesses embrace technology by providing premium, high-quality IT-consulting focused on building relationships that cater to the service of its customers. As a result of Happy Mac & PC'S approach, it has carved a niche in the entertainment industry, servicing many of Hollywood's top talent and companies, including Edward Norton, Kevin Spacey, and Imagine Entertainment. http://www.happypc.com, get happy@happypc.com.
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Title Annotation:Smartphone
Author:Mauro, Randall
Publication:Mobile Business Advisor
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jun 1, 2003
Words:995
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