Review: New BlackBerry Screen Dazzles

Review: New BlackBerry Screen Dazzles

By BRUCE MEYERSON AP Business Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- There are, by now, a slew of BlackBerry-like cell phones with typewriter keyboards for mobile e-mail. But none, including Palm Inc.'s popular Treo, has yet mustered a following that resembles the malady affectionately known as "CrackBerry" addiction.

So it's no ho-hum when BlackBerry's maker, Research In Motion Ltd., overhauls its flagship device for the first time in nearly three years.

After a test drive of just two weeks, it's hard to issue a definitive verdict on the new BlackBerry 8700, which debuted Tuesday through Cingular Wireless at $300 with rebates and a two-year contract. But there's little doubt the device, which does e-mail and telephony, will please BlackBerry devotees on many fronts.

First and foremost, it's skinnier in width and thickness. That makes the 8700 easier to grip as a phone, addressing one of the few common complaints about its predecessors.

This means, of course, that RIM has gambled on rejiggering the layout of the most comfy QWERTY keyboard in the thumb-typing realm. The result feels a bit more cramped, and yet typing still seems simpler and smoother than on comparable devices. But again, with only two weeks of repetitive thumb motion under the belt, it's probably best to withhold final judgment on the keyboard.

Other standout changes _ some that RIM first tried out a year ago with the consumer-oriented 7100 BlackBerry _ include the addition of dedicated "send" and "end" buttons for phone calls, a speakerphone button, two customizable program keys, a doubling of internal memory to 64 megabytes and a brilliant color screen.


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Monty Solomon
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