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BlackBerry Pearl - Girl with the Pearl Necklace

By Wil Harris

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

User Score:

Email

However, as befits the name, email is where this device comes into its own. There are a couple of ways you can set up email, and this will depend on the way you intend it to fit into your lifestyle. If you're a business, you'll be integrating this with your existing Blackberry or push email setup using Blackberry Enterprise Server as normal, and there's nothing different to add. If you're a personal user, you have the option to associate the device with a number of personal accounts. The exact way you do this gives you a couple of choices.

We set up email using Vodafone. Vodafone makes you sign up for an account, on your phone, which you can then associate with your email address - and you also get a dedicated email address @blackberry.com for your troubles. Your email preferences and accounts are manageable from both the phone itself and the web, although throughout our testing we found that the Vodafone web email maintenance for Blackberry was beyond flakey - 90 per cent of the time the site wasn't up, and the other 10 per cent of the time, we found it seemed to decide at random that our password wasn't correct. Not exactly a great experience.

Using the phone, we set up our device to receive emails from our .Mac email address. Merely typing in our email address and password set the Blackberry up, since it 'knows' what to do to grab email from most of the big web email service providers like Apple, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL. However, we found that this service was intermittent at best. Emails were not arriving on our phone in anything like a decent amount of time, and some emails we sent were simply not arriving at their destination. We found the same thing for our Gmail account, which suffered from lost emails in both directions.

Luckily, this is not the only way to set up personal mail. Should your email account support it (and almost everything does) you can set up a dedicated forwarding rule, which means that everything coming into your email account gets forwarded to another email address. We set up .Mac to forward to our @blackberry.com email address, then set the 'From' field on the device to spoof the .Mac email address. This resulted in all emails being immediately forwarded over to the device, and replies being sent back with no hassles. Result!

Actually sending emails is a unique experience, thanks to the SureType keyboard. This has two letters on each of the keys, making for a T9-like experience, familiar to anyone who's used predictive text on a mobile phone. However, unlike a normal phone keypad, SureType still adheres to the QWERTY layout, making this a bizarre hybrid that takes a good few days of typing to get used to. SureType is a better predictive engine than T9, since there are only two keys on each button, rather than three. It does handy things like capitalising names and adding apostrophes for you, and you'll find that 90 per cent of the time, just pressing the buttons gives you the exact message you're looking for - the amount of interference to manually override SureType is minimal, and this is definitely a good thing.

But whilst the engine behind the typing is slick, actually using the device can be a less than rewarding experience. If you have large fingers/hands, you'll find using the Pearl's minuscule keyboard a real problem. Hitting the wrong key occurs frequently and entering numbers on the middle section of the phone that has the numbers is a bizarrely frustrating annoyance. A week's worth of use will get you used to this, and make you better, but it's a very frustrating week, and one that full-size Blackberry users don't have to endure. This is the pay-off for the form factor.

As for attachments, the Blackberry has decent handling of the most common types. JPGs and other pictures are easily viewed. Word documents are converted into a format suitable for the screen, but you can forget about editing them and sending them back. PDFs are also compatible. However, our attempt to get some multimedia going by emailing an MP3 was met with a staunch refusal to open, which is slightly disappointing given the media functionality in the device.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut

LA

September 24, 2008, 2:28 pm

I have the pearl and am becoming increasingly frustrated by "sim card error" which ocurrs after every phone call, email or text that i send, at least 10 times a day it goes to SOS mode and i have to open the back of the handset , take out the battery and re-adjust the sim. I have never despised a phone so much but unfortunately as it's offered through my work and i have no other option - i'm stuck with it . Oh and did i mention how awful the battery life is- enough said i think !!!!

TR

October 10, 2009, 7:10 pm

This is about a BlackBerry Pearl 8110 T-Mobile Pre-Pay with Unlimited Email & Internet bought for £119.99 from play.com.


A revised and updated model with improved specifications


Many of the issues are operator specific.





Could have been a real contender..





Do not misunderstand – you get an awful lot for the money, GPS, push e-mail, IM, and so on. Unfortunately, using what is supposed to be a 'fun' phone is marred by the boring bizniz leftovers and an unintelligent operator.





Firstly, it's not made clear that to enable the advertised features you must buy airtime.. I think that's unfair and deceptive. Once you've bought the airtime you have to send a txt. Unfortunately txting is disabled out of the box. Which is not mentioned anywhere. So, you're stuck. You have to call tech help, create an account on a website blah blah before you get basic phone functionality several hours later at a cost (of £1.50 – thanks for not giving me a refund t-mob). Not funny.





Most of what you can and can't do with the phone is controlled by the operator. This is after all, an obsolete bizniz phone repackaged as a consumer surf tool. A server pretty much controls what is or is not allowed. Presumably businesses like the paranoid control but most people like to use the stuff they buy. It seems that not much effort was expended at the server end to make this a really great consumer experience.





For example,


1. You can't change the default home page on the browser, which quite confusingly appears as two separate browsers, you can't properly edit or rearrange bookmarks. You don't fare much better with the alternative browsers that are permitted as compression feeds are interrupted, each item you fire one up you get a pop up that you cannot disable and you can't set any as the default browser.


2. The Bluetooth experience is an absolute nightmare – you can't tooth anything to the phone unless you open up a specific application and then make a tooth request from the phone – something which only works on a tiny selection of file formats anyway.


3. You are not permitted to use your choice of application, I managed to install google maps but can't perform map searches, communication is broken. That wouldn't be so galling if the phone's own map search wasn't so rubbishy.


4. I have been told by tech help (another 25p, thanks) that there is a 15 MB monthly limit on email. If that's actually true then it should have been made clear pre-sale and it pretty much makes a joke out of the Bilberry brand because that's what it's known for. I would add that the same tech help person also said that some net access would be chargeable but since I have not been seen any new charges once everything was enabled it seems that this tech help was wrong on both counts.


5. There is no access to the Bilberry's own App World. The App World application says that access is restricted by the operator and that I must 'upgrade to a service plan that includes browsing'. Eh, what was I doing? That's like O2 stopping access to Apple's iShop. I have absolutely no idea how access to a manufacturer's own app site could harm the operator.





I find the keys slippy and a little tough to work single-handedly with the thumb. The phone itself provides no grip to make thumb use easy - personal taste. Surfing and IM can exhaust the battery in a matter of hours. It's not the phone for an hourly commute.


The phone a real bind to get going and then disappointing in that you discover that what you have is half of what could have been and you can't do a lot of really normal stuff any more.


It is well, if perhaps slightly deceptively, priced, works and I don't have to worry about cost whilst waiting for web pages to load. If you're happy with consumer-baiting operator restrictions or don't like contracts then it is a good buy given that push mail costs about £5 per month. Since I also wonder what's going to happen after the 12 month deal expires and how much I will then be charged I'm using it as a very handy but disposable mail reminder tool – it's not replaced anything.

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