BlackBerry 5810 Offers Java

 
 
By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2002-05-13 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Platform"> With a design that boasts new cell phone functionality, speedy GPRS network connectivity and a Java-based software platform, Research In Motion Ltd. has built a better BlackBerry—while remaining true to the form factor and messaging facilities that drove the popularity of its previous BlackBerry models.

However, pending wider deployment of the not-quite-nationwide VoiceStream Wireless Corp.s General Packet Radio Service network on which the 5810 relies, BlackBerry users who live in or travel to certain states—most notably California—will have to stick to RIMs earlier Mobitex network-based offering.

In addition, the 5810s new radio technology significantly shortens the devices battery life. Where weve seen the BlackBerry 957 manage a month between charges, the 5810 must be topped off more on the order of once a week—and frequent cell phone use further shortens this span.

In any case, eWeek Labs tests of the BlackBerry 5810, which began shipping through VoiceStream last month, revealed the device to be a compelling alternative to Handspring Inc.s Treo for users looking to thresh some gadget chaff from their electronic utility belts.

The 5810, which sells for $499, can be activated with data-only or voice and data services. VoiceStream, which is the only carrier offering the 5810, provides unlimited e-mail, 1MB of non-e-mail GPRS data transfer and 300 SMS (Short Message Service) messages for $44.99 a month. Additional megabytes of GPRS data traffic cost $10 each per month.

Users who sign up for phone service as well get the same deal for $39.99 a month, on top of whatever voice plan they select.

Its All J2me

The biggest change between the 5810 and older BlackBerry models is the introduction of a J2ME (Java 2 Micro Edition)-based platform. All applications for the 5810 are now written in Java, using a mobile-device-optimized subset of the standard Java class libraries.

For previous versions of the BlackBerry, applications were written in C++, compiled as Windows DLL files, then uploaded to the handheld via the serial port.

The 5810 is built with the same sort of thumb keyboard and 160-by-160-pixel monochrome display found in the 957, with the notable addition of backlighting for the display and the keyboard.

Measuring 4.6 inches tall, 3.1 inches wide and 0.7 inches thick and weighing 4.9 ounces, the BlackBerry 5810 is nearly identical to RIMs 957 model in size, shape and heft. The 5810 is a bit taller and slimmer than the Treo.

RIM lists the BlackBerry 5810s talk time at approximately 4 hours, with a standby time of about one week.

The device is built without an external microphone or speaker (beyond the speaker that generates ring tones and alarms), so calls must be made using an included earpiece/microphone unit.

In tests, call quality with the 5810 was on par with most other cell phones weve tested. During a call, the units scroll wheel serves as a convenient volume control. We could terminate calls by pressing a button on the earpiece.

Sent and received e-mail messages, SMS messages and phone calls are logged in the 5810s in-box for convenient reference.

The BlackBerry 5810 can send and receive e-mail from Microsoft Corp.s Exchange or IBMs Lotus divisions Domino servers via RIMs desktop redirector software or its Enterprise Sync Server products. We tested the desktop redirector with Exchange 2000 with good results.

Using RIMs BlackBerry Web Client Web-based service (now in beta and slated to ship this summer), we could forward mail from Post Office Protocol addresses to our test device.

The 5810 must be in an area of GPRS coverage to send or receive e-mail messages. When GPRS is not available, the device falls back on Global System for Mobile Communications, from which phone calls may still be made and SMS messages sent.

This can pose a problem because VoiceStreams GPRS network footprint is differently situated than the Mobitex network under which BlackBerry 950 and 957 units operate. However, GPRS networks are growing, and AT&T Wireless Services Inc. and Cingular Wireless are each building out their own GPRS networks.

Beyond messaging, for which the older Mobitex network delivered enough speed to keep BlackBerry users happy, the GPRS in the 5810 will pay its biggest dividends in the areas of Web browsing and other Internet operations. Thats why its unfortunate that the 5810 does not ship with an HTML browser. Instead, the new BlackBerry comes equipped with a Wireless Application Protocol browser, a piece of software that worked well enough in our tests but that suffers—as all WAP browsers do—by the paucity of decent WAP pages on the Internet.

The BlackBerry 5810 functions very well as a personal digital assistant. The 8510 includes applications for managing contacts, calendar, to-do items and notes. It can synchronize personal information manager data with a Windows desktop using a serial cradle and a version of Pumatech Inc.s very good Intellisync synchronization software. RIMs sync or desktop mail redirection software is not available for Linux or Mac OS.

Technical Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at jason_brooks@ziffdavis.com.



 
 
 
 
As Editor in Chief of eWEEK Labs, Jason Brooks manages the Labs team and is responsible for eWEEK's print edition. Brooks joined eWEEK in 1999, and has covered wireless networking, office productivity suites, mobile devices, Windows, virtualization, and desktops and notebooks. JasonÔÇÖs coverage is currently focused on Linux and Unix operating systems, open-source software and licensing, cloud computing and Software as a Service. Follow Jason on Twitter at jasonbrooks, or reach him by email at jbrooks@eweek.com.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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