Monday, April 6, 2009

Blackberry 8820: Enterprise on the Go

The company that trailblazes the email push technology integrated into mobile devices has once again churned out exciting, pretty nifty device. The RIM Blackberry 8820 is a welcome addition to an alreday spectacular array of consummate communication devices. The last two we(me and my fella writers in Asian Digest) 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.

The intermarriage of wifi technology into the device has been a major shaker, a featuer(or lack of) that used to occupy in the top proverbial pet peeve list of the Blackberry patrons(and provokers alike). Well, the wait is over. The BlackBerry 8820 is the first cellular device in the company’s stable to offer 802.11 connectivity. While the Wi-Fi was simple to set up, it wasn’t exactly blazing, and we wish you could do more with it(like VoIP call thingy). And here it is.
Neat Wifi set up
Integrating 802.11a/b/g is a breeze, no frills, no uber-deployed bells and whistles, no complications. You simply click on the Manage Connections icon on the bottom of the main menu, which brings up a list of options that includes mobile network, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. A built-in wizard steps you through scanning for and connecting to available networks, whether the phone is in the office, at home, or near a public hotspot. Should the network you’re trying to connect to be encrypted, you can easily type in the encryption key(WEP, WPA, etc.)

Breakneck connection speed
Browsing is relatively fast as compared to other smartphones like Motorola Q and HP Ipaq 6300. The reason for these less-than-dramatic results is that no BlackBerry has a direct connection to the Internet; Wi-Fi simply queries RIM’s own servers a bit faster, and those servers have always done a superb job delivering compressed Web pages in a warp speed. I downloaded Opera Mini, which offers a more desktop-like surfing experience, but sadly it wouldn’t work over Wi-Fi. Darn!!!

VoIP grimace
Unfortunately, you can’t use the 8820’s Wi-Fi connection for making VoIP calls. For now, at least, it’s for Web surfing and e-mail only. I did get Shape Services’ IM+ for Skype to work on the 8820, but it worked only when I had the device’s EDGE connection turned on. I’m hoping the company will add Wi-Fi support in an update to the client.

Multimedia Opulence
Though the device lacks camera integration, the 8820 has also improved on the multimedia front. It’s compatible with most network’s music offerings. The radio service delivered decent reception, but it works only over EDGE; I’d like to see Wi-Fi support added.

Sturdy phone design and reliable battery life
Call quality was good on our tests. I noticed a little background fuzz on our end of the line, but conversations sounded pretty clear and loud overall. Other callers said I sounded very clear and almost too loud. The speaker provided more than enough volume for calls, music, and navigation. Our only nitpick is that calls sometimes took a while to connect, a complaint I usually had when I’m using Sun Cellular’s network.

The 8820 is rated for 5 hours of talk time and 22 days of standby time. Not surprisingly, having Wi-Fi on and being connected to a network reduces this smart phone’s endurance, but as usual, RIM does a nice job with power management. Even though the 8820 uses the same 1400-mAh battery as the 8800, the device lasted nearly three days with intermittent use.

Mobile workers who consider Wi-Fi a check-off item when shopping for a smart phone won’t be disappointed by RIM’s implementation, but they won’t be blown away, either. I consider the 802.11 connection a good backup plan for EDGE, especially when you can’t get a strong cellular signal indoors. So long as you don’t need a built-in camera, the 8820’s snappy overall performance, GPS navigation(I haven’t tested it yet though), and multimedia features make it an indispensable choice for enterprise market on the go.

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