RIM BlackBerry 8820 Review


RIM has been churning out new devices this year as if the company’s life depended on it. The last two we looked at here were the Curve, and the 8800. Prior to that we’d seen the Pearl Now we are on new device number four, the Quad-band 8820. Currently, it is only available from Orange in the UK.

In many ways this is the 8800 revisited. The casing is the same and many of the features double up. But at last Research in Motion has decided it really can produce a BlackBerry with Wi-Fi. And here it is.

There will be many potential purchasers who start jumping up and down at the prospect of finally being able to do Voice over IP. But don’t get too excited too quickly.

The BlackBerry 8820 supports UMA rather than SIP. Without getting too technical, it is the SIP protocol that you’ll find in mobile devices which let you use free VoIP services like Fring. The UMA protocol is more closely tied in to your mobile network and whether or not you can make VoIP calls will depend on what they are prepared to allow. The network will be in control. Orange has a service called Unique which is compatible. The good thing is that if you do have the facility, the 8820 should be able to switch automatically between Wi-Fi and your GSM network for voice and data.

The Wi-Fi setup routine on my review sample was specific about the fact that it could be used for web browsing and mobile email only. It found my network easily and I was indeed able to use it for these two purposes. RIM has added a Manage Connections utility to the 8820 and so switching Wi-Fi, the also present Bluetooth and GSM on and off is extremely straightforward.

Just as with the 8800, the 8820 also includes an integrated GPS antenna and a Maps application. Used in conjunction these will get you a GPS fix and give you travel directions, but just like Wil in his review of the 8800 I found it less satisfactory to use than a standalone sat-nav system or than CoPilot on a mobile device. RIM may have the bases covered here on paper but more work needs to be done on execution. Also, maps are downloaded over the air, which depending on your tariff could prove costly.