Holiday Buyer's Guide 2006, Part 5: The Mobile Stuff

Blackberry Pearl PDA

We favorably reviewed the Blackberry Pearl back in September as one of the better revisions in RIM's popular Blackberry series. We liked its sleek profile and trendy styling cues. The Pearl won-over the heart of our mobility-loving smartphone and PDA guru Mary Branscombe and now you can win-over the heart of your special Christmas friend or relative by giving the gift of Blackberry.

Let us recap some of the features: lightweight (3.2 oz) and slender (4.21 x 1.97 x 0.57 inches) with a 240x260 pixel resolution and 65k color palette provides easy carrying and easy viewing for your on-the-go friend or relative. It has 64 MB of on-board memory with a microSD expansion slot and panoply of task-oriented applications including a line-up of network-capable utilities for near-transparency when sharing data with other devices. Polyphonic, MIDI and MP3 ring tone choices let you add a wide range of personalized sounds. And on the visual side the Pearl supports the MPEG4 H.263 video format, which is ideal for mobile playback.

The black-and-silver color scheme is business-oriented. The chevron-like layout of the Pearl's keys is oddly reminiscent of the front grille on a Cadillac Escalade. This lends another small touch of class to the Pearl. RIM opted for a trackball on the Pearl instead of a scroll button or wheel. The SureType QWERTY keyboard, see the September review, may not please users who have owned Blackberries or other smartphones or PDAs with full keyboards.

Though the Blackberry Pearl is not a 3G device like other smart phones in the same category, it does support lower-bandwidth EDGE and GPRS for data transmission, which equates to lower-cost plans at the price of slower Internet links.

In retrospect, forget that friend of relative and gift yourself with the Blackberry Pearl. You're likely to like it a lot once you get a feel for its depth and capability. Check with your local wireless carrier for availability.

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