Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Blackberry Bold 9700

RIM has updated its flagship model with a sleeker and more powerful model – the Bold 2 9700. Featuring an improved processor and latest UI, the phone certainly has the specs but can it stop the iPhone and Android onslaught?
The BlackBerry Bold was one of the standout devices of last year – it was RIM's statement that it was coming for the consumer market.
And while it was successful, there always comes a time for a refresh, and that's where the new BlackBerry Bold 2 9700 comes in.
It's a sleeker, faster and more able device than its predecessor, and it shows. We're talking 16g lighter, 6mm less wide, 5mm less tall and a whopping 0.9mm thinner.
But what this means is a more cramped keyboard, which will be a big worry for some who picked up the Bold, not because it was one of the first BlackBerry's to use 3G, but because it had one of the largest keyboards in the range.

The device's diet does add a touch of class to proceedings – it now looks like a Storm 2 handset but with a whole lot of keys jammed on instead. The top of the phone houses two buttons: the lock and the mute keys. The former will turn off the screen and lock the keys, and the latter will mute the phone when ringing, but holding it down will put the phone into standby mode.
The screen is now among the most high-res in the BlackBerry world, as it stands at a Magic-matching HVGA resolution. It's also supposed to have a light-sensing display, but the Bold 2 9700 seemed confused about that function, constantly upping the brightness of the screen when light conditions don't seem to change.
 However, we're worrying that the new design might actually alienate previous bold users, who found the larger keyboard to be a real boon when it came to typing out messages. The wider shape might have annoyed some people, but given that a fair amount of the hardware is the same we're wondering whether most might prefer the old version.

Blackberry Bold 9000

With its large screen, fast internet connection – using both Wi-Fi and HSDPA - camera, sophisticated media player, GPS and more, the Blackberry Bold would seem to fit the profile of an iPhone challenger, but such talk is largely irrelevant – the two are aimed at different markets, and while the iPhone might be an excellent entertainment station, the Bold is the one that means business.
It makes business look good though – all seriously stylish black and chrome with a leather-look textured back that should stop it slipping off those City boardroom tables (which seem a touch shaky these days). Around the sides are essential items including volume rocker, camera shutter button, USB port, MicroSD memory card slot, 3.5mm headphone jack, and voice dialling button.
Comfortable layout

At 66mm it takes a walk on the wide side, though of course this is necessary to accommodate the QWERTY keyboard. Fortunately it makes up for this by being just 15mm thin and weighing 136g, so it doesn't feel like a brick in your pocket.
The screen is a more detailed than average half-VGA (480x320 pixels) 65,000 colours display, which is bright, clear and easy to read - which let's face it, is what the message-centric Blackberry series is all about.
Like the best business phones, the Bold is designed to help you work quickly and efficiently, with a minimum of fuss. The casual simplicity of the QWERTY keyboard conceals the thousands of man-hours of R&D that must have gone into this clever design.
The keys are well spaced and slightly angled so they're easy to find with your thumbs. All the main symbols and punctuation marks are up there at the front, available with a touch of the 'alt' button, and there's a separate button for capital letters at each side.
Above the keyboard are buttons for call start and end, menu and return surrounding Blackberry's rather lovely trackball, which is a very intuitive and efficient way of both scrolling through menus and navigating web pages.
Speedy messaging
The messaging, as you'd expect, is made easy and painless, with quick access to email accounts, and you can have your email pushed to the device as soon as it hits your inbox. You can also create your own Word, Excel and PowerPoint attachments with Documents To Go for BlackBerry.
Moving online with the fast 3.6Mbps HSDPA 3G connection, or with broadband via Wi-Fi, isn't as flash as the experience delivered by the iPhone for instance, but it works fine. The trackball is great for nipping around web pages and you can zoom in on text with the tap of a thumb.
Menu options include web feeds, bookmarks and previous pages so it has everything you need to make quick, efficient use of the web while you're on the move.
Limited camera
There's a 2-megapixel camera on board which does a decent enough job, but you can't help feeling it's a bit underpowered compared to some other smartphones which cost less than this. One point in its favour though is that it's very quick to access – it's up and running in less than two seconds after pressing the shutter button on the side, which makes it great for quick snaps.
Picture quality is fair if not exceptional for this grade of camera, and there are a few limited editing options as well as geotagging (positioning data embedded in image files so you can see where they've been takenon a map), and the option to upload your pics directly to your Facebook profile.
Video resolution, as usual, isn't up to the same standard as stills, but it fared reasonably well, with little obvious screen lag.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Blackberry Curve 9300

The BlackBerry Curve 9300 looks like yet another BlackBerry handset. Its full QWERTY keyboard sits below a 2.4-inch screen, with the 2-megapixel camera on the reverse.
Offering 3G connectivity as well as Wi-Fi, the handset promises fast internet browsing while apps and themes can be easily downloaded from the BlackBerry App World.
There's not much new to see on the BlackBerry Curve 3G. That famous physical QWERTY keyboard sits in a sensible-looking chassis with rounded corners and textured back, while the chrome-effect border panel houses the 480x360 LCD screen and a series of flush buttons alongside the optical track-pad.