The ability to use the Blackberry 8830 smartphone on both CDMA and GPS networks, for voice roaming in almost any country and data roaming in more than 60, is the obvious attraction for businesspeople looking to buy this recently-released device from Telecom.
Though the wireless email and broad range of applications for business productivity would also be near the top of the list.
The 8830 works on Telecom’s 3G 1xEVDO network (on 800 and 1900MHz CDMA bands) and a SIM card means it will also work on GSM/GPRS networks outside New Zealand. This is crucial for Kiwi travellers stuck for an option other than Vodafone, given Telstra’s CDMA network shutdown across the Tasman.
It’s very simple to set up access to either corporate (via Blackberry Enterprise Server) or personal (through Blackberry Internet Server) email on the device, courtesy of the on-board setup wizard.
The enterprise software allows access to email from Microsoft, Lotus and Novell environments, and you can access up to 10 accounts using the same login details.
The 8830’s design is aimed at making emailing easier – there’s a full QWERTY keyboard, with the ALT key used to type numbers, and a large 320x240 pixel TFT colour display.
Emails display as text and attachments, and one push on the trackball opens the most-used next steps such as reply, delete and forward. You can view Word, Excel, Powerpoint and PDF documents on the 8830, but can’t edit them.
Users can select a fuller menu of email options, then choose whether to delete the message just on the device or both the device’s GPRS-delivered copy and the original from your inbox.
The 8830 has a wide range of applications, with a web browser, Blackberry Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and Google Talk. Although Blackberry Maps is installed and GPS built in, there’s no local map data.
There’s also calendar, address book, memo input, notepad, task, alarm and calculator functions.
Additionally, the strangely addictive Brickbreaker game, which has featured on past Blackberrys, makes a return.
Most functions are performed fairly quickly thanks to the Qualcomm 3G chipset (with 2.25MHz processing performance).
On either side of the brightly backlit trackball (replacing the side scroll wheel of previous versions) are call, application menu and back buttons. On the left edge are a convenience key assigned to launching voice dialling, a 2.5mm stereo headset jack and a mini USB charging/syncing port. On top are power and mute buttons, with volume keys on the right.
At 114 x 66 x 14 mm and weighing 132 grams with the battery in, the 8830 is thinner but wider than its predecessors in the Blackberry series such as the Curve, and the glossy black finish with silver trim gives it a classy appearance.
For calling, the device provides clear sound through the built-in microphone and through the speaker for conference calls. You can also utilise speed dialling, call waiting, call forwarding and multi-party calling.
Although there’s no still or video camera (unlike the latest Blackberry Curve 8330) or FM radio, there’s a media player which supports most formats including MP3, AAC, WMA, MP4, and WMV.
For connectivity, there’s Bluetooth but no infrared or wifi.
Makers Research in Motion say the 1400 mAhr Lithion ion battery provides up to 16 days standby time and five hours talk time when using GSM/GPRS networks, and up to nine days standby and 3.6 hours talk time for CDMA use. The battery was also quick to reach full charge.
There’s 64MB of flash memory and 16MB of RAM built in, but to increase data storage a micro SD card slot is provided.
Telecom is offering the 8830 for $999, without an account plan.