Blackberry Curve offers more choice

BlackBerry, PDA or smartphone. It seems as if no one knows what to call those devices that some complain are taking too much free time out of their lives. And yet, new ones are popping up on a routine basis.

Part of the reason is simply more choice and features for the consumer. Who wouldn’t want to be able to have all their key data coupled with nice features like GPS and instant messaging?

It wasn’t too long ago that the Blackberry Pearl came out and gave Blackberry lovers an option that reduced the size and weight of the device, yet still maintained much of the feature set that makes RIM’s flagship product so popular.

And then along came the Curve.

If there’s anything frustrating about the Pearl, it’s that RIM followed it up with a Blackberry that is much like all the ones that preceded it, except lighter, smaller and maybe even prettier.

Hence the name, it’s a device with sleek curves, complete with chrome highlights and the trackball that everyone seemed to love from the Pearl. Not a whole lot has changed with the keyboard, except that it feels softer to the touch for some reason.

You’ll get the standard Blackberry fare here with e-mail, Web access and a plethora of organizational options, but you won’t get stuff like GPS or the ability to edit documents without a software add-on.

There are drawbacks, no doubt, but the real highlight here is that the Curve is arguably easier to use than past BlackBerrys. Setting up e-mail accounts and even using the multimedia features for music and photos so user-friendly, a complete novice would get it in no time.

The big problem is data and the costs associated with it. Rogers offers plans that start at $45 for only 500kb of data per month. That’s like sending out a few e-mails a day and never surfing the Web once. But if you were to surf the Web, which would obviously require more data usage, you would have to pay a whopping $21 for each megabyte over the limit. Basically, you would be looking at around $90 per month for a plan that allows for more flexibility in data.

No wonder people love having BlackBerrys when their employer is willing to foot the bill.

Talk time is also sparse. Under the $45 plan, you would only get 150 anytime minutes. Even at $65, you would only get an extra 50 minutes per month. If you wanted to have free evenings and weekends, you would have to tack on an extra $15 per month.

While these prices and fees aren’t really indicative of how the Curve performs, it gives you an idea of what you’re up against after you splurge to pick it up. Talk time may not be a factor if you already have a cell phone, but data usage is huge for a BlackBerry.

Except that beyond e-mail, its hard to really take full advantage of what this thing can do. If you’ve got the money, then this probably won’t hinder you that much, but for everyone else, the Curve’s true potential might be just a little too elusive.

This review is courtesy of PCWorld.ca. For the latest reviews and comparisons on laptops, notebooks, desktops, printers, software, consumer electronics and more, visitPCWorld.ca.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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