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Also in the box you’ll find a mini-USB to USB cable for connecting the 8700 to your PC, a charger, a hands free kit and a travel pouch. The 8700 will charge over USB, which is always good to see, but I am disappointed to see that the charger that shipped with the 7100v has been dropped in favour of a hard wired mini-USB charger. The old charger had no cable attached to it, instead just sporting a USB socket. This meant that I could charge pretty much any device from it, from my iPod to my Samsung D600 phone – perhaps that’s why RIM changed it.
The 8700 is keen to be seen as a real out of office tool, and as such can view all sorts of documents, including Word files and Excel spreadsheets. It is also meant to be able to view PowerPoint presentations, but I encountered some issues here. I transferred several PowerPoint presentations to the 8700, but when I viewed them all I saw was the stripped out text. I mentioned this to RIM and was told that it was definitely possible to view PowerPoint slides – I was even treated to a demonstration as one of the guys showed me a PowerPoint presentation on his BlackBerry. However, when I returned home I tried once more to email myself a PowerPoint presentation and view it, but every time all I got was stripped out text. If I tried to force the device to view the slides I was presented with a big blue question mark. I do find this somewhat puzzling since I did see it working on another BlackBerry a matter of hours ago, but I do know that Sandra also could not view PowerPoint on an 8700, so I’m not alone on this one.
While on the subject of PowerPoint, T-Mobile also sent me the Impatica ShowMate to try with the 8700. This neat bit of kit allows you not only to view PowerPoint presentations on the device, but actually display them on an external projector or monitor. Once you’ve installed the Impatica viewer on your BlackBerry you then drag and drop presentations into the Impatica PC software and transfer or email them to your BlackBerry. Then using the Impatica viewer you can choose to send the slides to the ShowMate which then, in turn outputs them to an external display.
The BlackBerry can be connected to the ShowMate via a USB cable, or via Bluetooth, but it’s the latter that’s most impressive. I hooked the ShowMate up to a large LCD screen in the TrustedReviews lab, paired the 8700 with it and proceeded to click through an entire PowerPoint presentation from the other side of the room. If you need to give presentations regularly and don’t want to carry a notebook around with you, this is a really cool bit of kit. Strangely the Bluetooth adapter isn’t built into the ShowMate and instead a USB dongle has to be inserted to enable Bluetooth, but even this design foible can’t stop the ShowMate being a very useful partner to the 8700. At just under £150 including VAT, the ShowMate isn’t cheap, but if you’re regularly showing presentations to clients, it will be a small price to pay.