Using the 7100v to make phone calls doesn’t feel ridiculous like it did on the 7230. It’s small enough to be used like a normal mobile phone, and isn’t much larger than most of the smartphones that are currently available. However, if you don’t want to take the 7100v out of your pocket when it rings, you could always use a Bluetooth headset. I connected my Motorola HS850 Bluetooth headset to the 7100v without any problems and it worked flawlessly. But although this is great for answering incoming calls, the lack of voice dialling halves the usefulness of the Bluetooth support.
The bundled IntelliSync software managed to sync the 7100v with my Outlook without problem. Once you’ve got your entire contacts database on the handset, sending emails becomes a much simpler procedure. One feature that I really liked was the ability to switch off the GSM antenna, so that you can compose loads of emails while you’re on a plane, then just switch it back on when you arrive at your destination and send them all. On a recent trip to Germany I did just that, which meant that time I would have wasted on the plane was instead productive.
A pleasant surprise was the pretty decent web browsing experience on the 7100v. You can browse any website over the GPRS connection, and the reasonably large screen does its best to ensure an acceptable online experience. Although it can’t quite manage image heavy sites like TrustedReviews, if you look at a site that has a mobile friendly version, like the BBC website, the 7100v works brilliantly.
If using the 7100v for the past month has taught me one thing, it’s that the problem with having your email sent to you where ever you are, is that your email gets sent to you where ever you are. It’s like you have no down time, you are always contactable and always feel that you should respond to email, no matter what the situation. But I guess that’s the whole point of a device like this, and for someone like me, having access to email no matter where I am is pretty useful, even if it does make my working day go on forever.
But what does email anywhere, anytime cost? Well considering that the 7100v is supposed to be a hybrid email device/phone I am basing my costing on the Vodafone BlackBerry Anytime 100 tariff. With this price plan the 7100v will cost you £100 and your monthly payment will be £37 – included in the £37 will be all your email along with 100 free minutes of voice calls. If you go over your 100 free minutes, you will pay 15p per minute for additional calls. There is also a 6MB a month limit on your email downloads and if you go over this you’ll be charges £2 per MB. That said, the BlackBerry emails are relatively tiny and you’d have to be receiving a massive amount of mail in order to break that 6MB barrier.
So, like I said, the BlackBerry mobile email client is great, it does exactly what it’s supposed to and really does put your email in your pocket. Unfortunately, the 7100v isn’t quite the device I had hoped it would be. It’s not particularly intuitive, and the general navigation could be a whole lot better. Ultimately, the 7230 is a better device, despite its larger dimensions.
The 7100v is a good attempt to make a BlackBerry device smaller, so that it can be the only phone you have to carry. Unfortunately the usability has been compromised too much in order to achieve the smaller form factor, and more phone-like appearance. Having your emails sent directly to your pocket is something that every mobile worker will welcome, but the 7100v lacks the ease of use that’s paramount with a device like this.
Score in detail