Review: RIM BlackBerry 8830 World Edition Phone

By Naomi Graychase | Posted August 09, 2007

Most of the mobile carriers in the rest of the world use GSM technology, which means that Verizon Wireless customers who want to roam the world - particularly Europe - have been limited by their carrier's CDMA network. But with the introduction of Research In Motion’s (RIM) new BlackBerry 8830, a whole new world has (literally) opened up for Verizon customers.

The dual-mode CDMA/GSM smartphone gives you the freedom to make calls, send messages, and receive e-mails worldwide. It also offers EV-DO support, multimedia capabilities and impressive performance.

The BlackBerry 8830 starts at $299.99 with a two-year contract (after a $100 mail-in rebate); data plans start at $64.99 for unlimited global e-mail with a U.S. voice plan (beginning at $39.99) and $69.99 for unlimited global e-mail without a voice plan.

Design
In contrast to its slimmer cousin, the BlackBerry Pearl, the BlackBerry 8830 employs the thicker, wider PDA form factor found in the GSM-only BlackBerry 8800. At 4.4-x 2.6- x 0.5-inches and 4.7 ounces, it has a nice heft and feels solid in your hand without crossing over into the land of chunky.

The silver casing is understated with an almost retro feel to its simplicity, and the BlackBerry 8830 sports a trackball just under the screen as its primary form of navigation. We still prefer the side-mounted click wheel method found on older models, such as the BlackBerry 7130c, but the trackball became the new standard for BlackBerry navigation when RIM introduced the Pearl.

Despite our waxing nostalgic for the click wheel, as trackballs go, RIM's implementation is top notch. The full QWERTY keyboard is well designed, although the keys are very tiny. Ridges on each button help to prevent slippage and assist in accuracy. Despite its width, it is possible to type one-handed on the device with relative ease.

The BlackBerry 8830 features a clear 2.5-inch (diagonal), 65,000-color display with a 320 x 240 pixel resolution. In addition to the trackball navigator, you'll find the Talk and End keys, and the Menu and Escape buttons beneath the screen.

It also includes a light-sensing technology that automatically adjusts the backlighting of the screen, the keyboard and the trackball, depending on whether or not you're in low-light conditions. This is handy in some cases, but in others, the blue light actually makes it more difficult to discern the numbers from the letters on the keypad.

Volume keys sit on the right side while the left side houses a 2.5mm headset jack, a mini USB port and a user-programmable convenience key. A microSD expansion slot and SIM card slot reside underneath the battery cover; and the power and mute buttons sit on the top of the unit. As is standard for most new BlackBerries, the speakerphone button is conveniently located on the keypad, so you can activate it quickly in one click without having to navigate through menus.

Verizon ships the BlackBerry 8830 with a travel charger, a USB cable, a SIM card, software, power-source adapters (for your international travels), a clip-to-hip carrying case and documentation.


RIM BlackBerry 8830 World Edition Phone
The dual-mode RIM BlackBerry 8830 smartphone gives you the freedom to make calls, send messages and receive e-mails worldwide.

Features
The big selling point for the BlackBerry 8830 is its dual-mode functionality, which enables the smartphone to switch automatically between CDMA and international GSM networks for seamless roaming. The phone does not support domestic GSM bands, though, so while in the States you will continue to use the Verizon Wireless network exclusively.

With the phone you can access voice in 157 countries, including 135 via GSM, which means that you will have the opportunity to say "Can you hear me now?" in dozens of languages. E-mail coverage is available in roughly 60 countries. Depending on your plan, roaming charges can go as high as $2.49 a minute. The Global Help Desk offers tech support 24x7.

While we understand that the phone is geared toward business people rather than young consumers or even the Hollywood types who are famously devoted to their BlackBerries, the lack of a camera seems an oversight and a drawback. We expect to be able to take pictures with our phone—and we believe we are not alone.

The phone features integrated Bluetooth 2.0, and you can use the BlackBerry 8830 as a wireless modem for your laptop. Since it supports Verizon's EV-DO network, you can theoretically experience data speeds of up to 2.4Mbps, although they are likely to average less than half that rate. Currently, the BlackBerry 8830 does not support Verizon's V Cast multimedia services or VZ Navigator, but that may change.

The 8830 is Verizon's first full-size BlackBerry with multimedia functions. The built-in media player can be used for music (MP3, WMA, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, AMR-NB, and MIDI formats) or video (MPEG4, WMV, and H.263 files). 64MB of flash memory is available, along with a microSD card. It's simple to use and includes a full-screen mode for video. The 8830 also includes an image viewer, but since you can't take your own photos with the smartphone, images will have to find their way into the viewer some other way.

Business people will appreciate the on-board PIM tools, such as a calendar, a tasks list, a memo pad, an alarm, and a calculator.

Voice features include speed dial, voice-activated dialing (which is the default program for the convenience key), smart dialing, conference calling and speed dial. The phone book can be as large as the available memory will allow, and each entry can contain eight phone numbers, e-mail addresses and other useful information like a job title. You can also add photos so that when a number comes up in CallerID, the photo comes with it.

Performance
We tested the dual-mode (CDMA 850/1900; GSM 900/1800) RIM BlackBerry 8830 in Connecticut and Massachusetts on the Verizon Wireless CDMA network. (Alas, our travel budget prevented us from testing the world-roaming capabilities of the phone.) We experienced consistently clear call quality with limited background noise, and the speakerphone quality was also near perfect. Listeners often reported that our voice sounded somewhat subdued or slightly dampened when compared to the crisper quality of other devices.

The RIM BlackBerry 8830's battery is rated for 3.6 hours of talk time and up to nine days of standby time.

Overall, the performance is excellent. Applications opened quickly and a variety of functions were completed without delays. Thanks to EV-DO speeds, browsing the Web on the 8830 was much speedier than we've experienced on EDGE-only BlackBerries. As for multimedia, music playback wasn't terrible over the phone's speakers and video played well.

Adapted from pdastreet.com.

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