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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

G-Squared Catches the Curve, A Review of The Blackberry Curve 8310


G-Squared catches the curve and reviews the Blackberry Curve 8310So there I was standing outside the AT&T store in Princeton thinking about which upgrade path to take…the iPhone or the Blackberry Curve 8310. I love Apple’s products, but I knew that for my given situation, a Blackberry would probably be the better fit. I love the slick functionality that the iPhone provides, but I also knew that the latest Blackberry Curve (8310) would rock at what I needed most… Also add that the new Curve has a GPS Navigation System and it made my decision even easier. So after some internal debate, I recently upgraded to the 8310. Here is my initial review.

Setting Up The Blackberry 8310
I purchased the Curve and was waist deep in testing out the device within 15 minutes. :-) The 2.5 inch screen is clear and large enough for my needs. The interface is easy to navigate and the trackball works extremely well. I was traversing menus on my curve quickly and efficiently. I installed Blackberry’s desktop software and was syncing with Outlook before I knew it. It was an easy and intuitive process, to say the least. So, I’d say that within 1 hour, I was already using my Curve for business. That’s not bad…

Email Setup and Performance
The Blackberry’s claim to fame is its rock solid and fast email connectivity. The Curve supports up to 10 email accounts and I added 3 very quickly. It was a simple process and it took less than 5 minutes per account. Then it took about 15 minutes to start receiving emails. Each account shows up separately in the main interface and customizing notifications for each account was easy. It doesn’t take long to understand where the phrase “Crackberry” came from…

The Qwerty Keyboard
The Curve has a qwerty keyboard that works extremely well. The only issue is that I sometimes mistakenly hit multiple keys while typing (and no, I don't have giant fingers). This has gotten a little annoying so spacing the keys out slightly would be a good solution in future versions of the device. I’ve also heard this from other Curve owners. It’s not horrible, but when you type a few paragraphs and then see the typos, it makes you cringe (like when I’m on the train to New York during rush hour). It’s a good keyboard, but the spacing is a little tight.

GPS Navigation System
This is a new feature for the Curve and it's one that I am absolutely loving. The Telenav GPS Navigator is a great feature and works extremely well. I’ve tried to trick the system a few times and it quickly adjusts the route based on my changes. The price is right at ~$10/month and having everything centralized on my phone is optimal. I’m digging the GPS navigation system. ;-) Actually, it has saved me a few times already…

The Curve’s Web Browser
The web browser does a good job and is easy to navigate. It’s not slick…but it’s also not horrible to maneuver. For my needs, I’ll be using the browser for quick research, reading articles, blog posts, etc. and for these purposes, I believe the Curve will do just fine. As long as you understand that the web browsing experience won’t be like what you experience at home in Firefox or IE, then you’ll be ok with it. Also, if you keep in mind how you will utilize the web on the road, you’ll be fine with it. For example, I had a meeting last week in New York and I found out last minute (on my way out of Penn Station) that I would be meeting with an additional key person. So, outside the building, I hit Google on my Curve, and researched that person before entering the building. I didn’t care that it wasn’t the prettiest web browsing experience…I just wanted the information quickly and efficiently.

The 2 Megapixel Digital Camera
The Blackberry Curve 8310 provides a 2 mexapixel camera, which is an outstanding feature. The camera offers a 5x zoom and solid picture quality and color. I’m also digging the camera. :) The Curve offers an LED flash, which sounds obvious to have…but isn’t standard on most mobile device cameras. You can easily choose your picture settings (size, color effect, where to store the photos, and flash setting). It’s definitely a nice camera for a mobile device.

My Only Problem with the Camera…
You cannot capture video. Ouch. I really wanted video capabilities in the 8310…especially since I loved shooting video with my last phone. Sure it was small and somewhat grainy…but I loved the ability to quickly shoot video, if needed. I couldn’t believe that the camera on the 8310 didn’t shoot video. They definitely need to add this feature…

Media Player
The media player on the 8310 is adequate. It supports a fairly wide range of formats, including mp3, aac, and wav audio formats and mp4 (also using h.264), mov and avi video formats. I transferred a bunch of mp3 files and mp4 video files to my Blackberry and they sound and look great. The functionality of the media player isn’t robust, but it does the job. Also, I’m not really looking for it to be my core media player…but it’s nice to know it can handle both video and audio pretty well. I have a 2GB microSD card and we’ll see how much that can handle given my needs.

Mass Storage Mode Issues
Note, I had several problems with Roxio’s Media Manager detecting my Blackberry. (The Roxio software is included with the Blackberry Curve 8310.) I went from easily being able to transfer media files to not being able to transfer anything without notification of what went wrong… This was frustrating…and I can tell you that if happened to me and I couldn’t easily figure it out, then it will happen to many others. A few Google searches revealed several others with the same problem. I basically had to drill into the device settings, turn off mass storage mode, then turn it back on, restart the Blackberry desktop software and then reconnect my Curve 8310. I’m not sure how many others would figure it out quickly, but the fiasco wasted about 30 minutes of my time. I’m hoping this issue doesn’t pop up again.

Bluetooth on the Blackberry 8310
Setting up a Bluetooth device was easy to do. I set up my Bluetooth headset in just minutes and have played around with disconnecting it, connecting it again, using it in several places, on the run, in the car, etc. The setup was simple and the 8310’s Bluetooth functionality works well. Enough said.

Voice Clarity and Performance
The voice clarity on the Blackberry 8310 is solid. Actually, I’d argue that it’s clearer then my land line! Every now and then you might get a slight hiss, but nothing horrible. I’ve tested using the Curve with several friends and family from across the country and it’s very clear. Actually, some didn’t even know that it was my mobile phone….which is always a good sign. Again, I think it’s clearer than my land line! Go figure.

Battery Life of the Curve 8310
Isn’t it fitting to end with battery life? :) The battery life of the Blackberry Curve 8310 has been outstanding. As an example, I used my Curve from 8AM to 10PM the other day in NYC, including using the GPS Navigation feature for part of the time, and my Curve only went from 5 bars to 3 bars for power. That’s pretty darn good. :) I’ll do more testing around battery life, but I know some iPhone owners have complained to me before about the quick battery drain they experience. I definitely think this is a strong selling point for the Curve 8310 (at least in my experience).

Summary
Although it doesn’t have the sizzle of the iPhone, the Blackberry Curve 8310 is a sleek mobile device that offers excellent email capabilities, a solid web browsing experience, a strong GPS navigation system, a 2 megapixel digital camera, a solid media player, and a long battery life to boot. I highly recommend the Curve 8310 for any businessperson who is looking for a relatively cost effective mobile device that handles the essentials extremely well.

As I’ve said throughout this post, I’m digging my new Curve. ;-)

GG

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2 Comments:

  • At 3:13 PM, Blogger Greg Picarello said…

    Glenn,

    Good review of the Curve. I almost got one of them last year instead of an iPhone.

    Prior to my iPhone days, I did enjoy the Blackberry Pearl for a few months before the big switch. The ease of setup, battery life, and camera functions were all excellent.

    However, two big detractions for me were:

    1. I found that when I had the Pearl (incl. 2GB microSD card), I still carried my iPod Nano around with me also. So, it wasn't quite fulfilling my mp3 player needs.

    2. The browser (which may have improved since last year) left a lot to be desired. (I felt this way before using Safari on the iPhone also!)

    Despite those 'issues,' I still think that the Blackberry line of products is currently the best for business users.

    However! My current belief is that the next version of the iPhone (ETA unknown) will fill in all of those missing business pieces.

    ...and after having owned an iPhone for the last 6 months, I'm pretty sure I would have a tough time going back to a 'normal' smart phone!

     
  • At 8:25 AM, Blogger Glenn Gabe said…

    Hi Greg.

    I was glad to see an iPhone owner provide some feedback! I think you bring up some great points...and those points were part of my internal battle when deciding which upgrade path to take.

    I'm definitely digging my Blackberry Curve, but I'm sure I would also love an iPhone. I think for my business needs, the Blackberry works extremely well. And, the GPS Navigation System is killer. :)

    I'm also eager to see the next version of the iPhone...I guess like everyone else!

    Glenn

     

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