BlackBerry 8820 Phone (AT&T)
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- Thin, stylish Blackberry with Wi-FI connectivity (802.11a/b/g) as well as quad-band GSM and EDGE cellular networks
- Supports AT&T Mobile Music, XM radio, and stereo Bluetooth headset capabilities
- Rich media player, easy-to-use trackball navigation, expandable via MicroSD memory cards
- Integrated GPS supports navigation solutions like TeleNav GPS Navigator--no accessories needed
- Includes: Li-Ion Battery, Travel Charger, Hands-free Headset, Holster, USB Cable, BlackBerry Desktop Software and Quick Start Guide
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This BlackBerry is nearly identical to the 8800, but adds Wi-Fi, including UMA with carriers that support it. Other features are the same, including QWERTY keyboard, large display, memory card slot, EDGE data, Bluetooth, music player, and quad-band GSM.
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After some research and testing out the BB 8320 Curve from T-mobile, I decided to stick with AT&T and buy this 8820. I must say that call reception everywhere is superb, in most cases almost like a land line. This edition of Blackberry is really targeted more for business users than the casual consumer - AT&Ts BB 8310 would be a good fit if you seek a more robust offering of Instant Messaging applications.
My main reasoning to get this was emails - personal and work. Even though my company does have a Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) that pushes emails out to all BB users, they only reimburse VPs and Directors for the data/email plan. AT&T has several Blackberry service plans. The highest being the BES plan that costs about $45/mth. Since it wasn't super critical to acquire 'push' email for me, I went with their Blackberry Internet Service (BIS) plan that costs $29/mth. This plan permits you to pull email from 10 ISP based email providers such as Gmail, Yahoo and even Hotmail. The good news is that I have found a way around to pull work email, even though I didn't go through their BES plan. All you need for setup is the availability of browser based email access. By this I mean Outlook Web Access (OWA) - you have to have access to a site like "https://mail.yourcompany.com/exchange". If you are able to check emails outside of your company through OWA (not VPN), then you will be able to sync with your BIS plan. Keep in mind that there is a lag of 5-10 minutes for emails to come through to your phone vs. the instant push that the BES plan affords you (outgoing emails though are instant). For me, 5 minutes is absolutely fine so I am real glad with what I have now. My other POP3 email accounts get pushed instantaneously.
The BB 8820 is Wi-Fi enabled so you are able to connect to any open/secure wireless access point to surf the net and/or use BB Messenger. Unfortunately the HTML browser supplied with this device is pretty poor, it looks more like WAP because most of the content is stripped out by Blackberry's proxy servers. I myself did download Opera Mini and use that occasionally to look up info while on the go - its fairly better than RIMs browser. I do also want to mention that since this is really targeted for business users, the availability of such IM Apps such as AIM, Gtalk, Yahoo Messenger, ICQ etc. do not come installed with it - you can download Ramble IM and Gtalk seperately. It also does have GPS enabled so you can use this while driving - the service is provided by TeleNav and the monthly cost for unlimited usage is $10. I myself have not tried it yet. You also are able to play music and videos by expanding your memory with a separate microSD card. This is a quad band phone (850/900/1800/1900mhz) so you are able to use this overseas - just need to activate International calling before you leave.
I must say that the BB UI is well thought out, kind of like the Sidekick I had many years ago. It's very easy to navigate around the RIM O/S and customization is also great. The battery lasts for a good long time, even though I don't call alot but email more. The keyboard layout is also well designed as I've never had any issues in writing emails - getting to the point where I don't have to look at most of the keys in order to type.
A few minor issues that do bother me a bit is that reaction time is somewhat slow with this BB. When occasionally I attempt to scroll with the trackball it hangs for a second or less - this is a minor annoyance, but still an annoyance at that. Also one pretty big issue I noticed with PDAs/Blackberries is that the alphabet that is normally superimposed on regular phones is not present here. So if you happen to dial 1-800-GOOG-411 (free 411 folks), you really would need to know what numbers the letters 'GOOG' correspond to. I read that on the older BB 7000 series you could get around this issue by going to the address book and dialing from there - this is not an option here unfortunately. Also the phone itself is a bit bulky as I've noticed its weight in my pant pocket - maybe using the supplied holster would alleviate some of this. One other shortcoming is the lack of 3G (UMTS/HSDPA) connectivity as most PDAs these days have it - looks like RIM is avoiding this on all their models for some reason. Lastly, one major drawback on this phone is that while on a phone call, you are not able to send/receive email and if you happen to be surfing the net any incoming calls will direct to voicemail (though the new voicemail icon does appear). This restriction is due to AT&Ts EDGE/GPRS (2.5G) data infrastructure vs. their other PDA phones that are based on UMTS/HSDPA (3G). When and if Blackberries adopt the 3G standard, simultaneous voice/data exchange will be possible.
All in all I must say that I am very pleased with this phone - I surely would not choose any other phone/email device. I highly recommend this.
Another draw-back with this phone is that its weight is concentrated toward the bottom. That makes it more likely to slip and fall. Even though it has survived a few falls, it always comes completely apart into three pieces - phone, battery and battery-cover.
I have not used the music feature of this phone, so I cannot comment on it. It does have good call quality, and I usually use it with a blue tooth, because it is so tiny. The speaker phone feature is also useful, and I often use it when calling toll-free numbers and going through the elaborate phone menus, or when I want to include other people in the conversation.
All in all, if you don't mind the phone book hassels, it is a neat phone, and gets lots of compliments on its sleek looks.
As far as features go, these were the ones what pushed me towards this phone:
1) GPS: (not just aGPS, this is a fully functioning GPS device that when paired with free apps like aMaze, Google Maps, Blackberry maps allow you to see where you are, where you are going, how fast you are moving, and even give you voice-guided turn-by-turn directions).
2) Wi-Fi: If you have a wireless router or are near a hotspot, you can set up a connection profile and from then on you will be able to browse the internet at much quicker speeds. This is more noticeable when using Opera Mini than when using the built-in browser, since the BB browser works through a proxy that filters and converts the web pages for best viewing on a mobile phone, while Opera Mini displays the page as close to what you would see on a desktop as you can expect from a mobile phone.
3) Multimedia capabilities: The music player works about as well as I expected, and will keep playing while you go to other apps and do other things, which is a nice bonus. The video playing capabilities are a little limited in that you have to download the videos to the phone before you can play them, no streaming as far as I can tell. The picture viewer is great, I have replaced my photos in my wallet with my huge album on my phone!
The other things about the phone that I like/dislike:
1) The interface is easy to learn and use
2) The address book is great!
3) The phone notifies you when you have a new e-mail with a blinking red light or 2 vibrations if you have it in the holster, sometimes before my e-mail on my pc even realizes there are new e-mails.
4) It does it's primary job of being a phone extremely well (dialing is quick and easy, and calls are clear as can be).
5) Battery life is great. Heavily using the browser, music player, google talk, etc. I can usually get through 2 full days before needing to charge again. When I just leave the phone on and use it on occasion, it seems to last forever.
1) Missing out on 3g speeds, this hasn't been too big of an issue, but there are times when the EDGE network is just not as quick as I would like.
2) Lacking streaming video capability. If this were possible, the lack of 3g speeds would probably ruin it anyways, so it is probably for the best that it was not included.
3) Occasional loss of data connectivity. I haven't been able to figure out what causes this, but during the first week or 2 I had to power the phone off and back on to get the data working again. This hasn't been an issue lately, but it had me worried at first.
Overall, I am pretty happy with this phone and will be glad to keep it for the 2 years of contract I have signed up for. Though I didn't give it 5 stars because there are just a few things I would like added to it.
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