Review: RIM device on sprint offers capable feature set
Research In Motions BlackBerry 7130e has been part of Verizon Wireless lineup for half a year now, but the version released in June brings EvDO capabilities to users on the Sprint Nextel Network.
The BlackBerry 7130e costs $480 direct or $199 after discounts and promotions and with a two-year contract with Sprint. In addition to the required voice calling plan, a BlackBerry unlimited data pack plan from Sprint costs an additional $40 a month.
Like the BlackBerry 7100t eWeek Labs tested earlier this year, the BlackBerry 7130e has a more phonelike shape than previous versions. At 4.6 inches high by 2.2 inches wide by 0.9 inches deep and 4.7 ounces, the BlackBerry 7130e is thicker and a little bit heavier than the 7100t (which measures 4.7 inches long by 2.3 inches wide by 0.9 inches thick and weighs 4.3 ounces). Nonetheless, we found the 7130e comfortable to hold and use.
The 7130e has 64MB of flash memory and 16MB of SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM), and it runs Version 4.10.318 of the BlackBerry operating system.
One of the best features of the BlackBerry 7130e is its screen: The bright, crisp, 240-by-260-pixel screen has the ability to display 65,536 colors. Text and images are sharp and vibrant, and the screen is easily visible indoors and out. We also liked how we were able to quickly glean information from Web pages displayed on the devices WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) 2.0 browser.
Like the keyboard on the RIM BlackBerry 7100t, the 7130e keyboard has five rows of keysthe middle three of which cover the alphabet with two letters on each key. RIMs SureType predictive input softwarewhich draws on a dictionary of words and names stored in the units address booktook some getting used to, but, once we got the hang of it, we liked the technology a lot.
The BlackBerry 7130e has integrated Bluetooth and EvDO (Evolution Data Optimized) WWAN (wireless WAN) capabilities. Sprint customers can use the BlackBerry 7130e on the Sprint Power Vision Network, and Sprint officials said users can expect to get average download speeds of 400K to 700K bps and peak speeds of up to 2M bps on the CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) network.
The BlackBerry 7130e also can be connected to a PC via an included USB cable and used as a modem. When we hooked our BlackBerry 7130e to a Dell Latitude D620 laptop, we were impressed with the speed of the connectionsequal to that of a PC Card modem.
As a phone, the BlackBerry 7130e shines. We tested our BlackBerry 7130e on Sprints CDMA network in the San Francisco Bay area, and our calls were crisp and clear on both ends of the connection. Call quality was also good when using the RIM BlackBerry 7130es included speakerphone. As with all BlackBerry devices, however, the 7130e does not support voice dialing (something we would like to see in the future).
For each contact in the de--vices phone book, we could store as many as eight numbers, home and work addresses, a Web site URL and notes. Also included with the device is BlackBerry Messenger, which can be used to exchange text messages with other BlackBerry usersa handy feature for quick communications with colleagues.
BlackBerrys prowess, thoughand the reason its so popular in corporate environmentsis in its e-mail capabilities. Weve always liked how BlackBerry de-vices handle e-mail, and the 7130e is no exception. It supports Microsofts Exchange, Novells GroupWise and IBMs Lotus Notes. Users also can set up the device to connect to up to 10 POP3 (Post Office Protocol 3)/IMAP accounts, and can use the included WAP 2.0 Internet browser to access Web-based e-mail such as Hotmail or Yahoo Mail.
RIM estimates that the battery life on the BlackBerry 7130e is just under 4 hours. In comparison, the Palm Treo 700p we recently tested had an estimated 4.5 hours of talk time.
Senior Writer Anne Chen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Evaluation Shortlist
This smart phone brings a QVGA (Quarter VGA)320-by-240-pixelwide-format display, a QWERTY keyboard and a 1.3-megapixel camera to the table (www.motorola.com)
Palms Treo 700p
With this smart phone, the Treo returns to its Palm OS roots and adds EvDO support, a first for a Palm OS-based Treo (www.palm.com)
Palms Treo 700w
This device also has EvDo connectivity and sports a Windows operating system; while the screen leaves something to be desired, the unit is a good bet for Windows shops (www.palm.com)
RIMs BlackBerry 8700c
This device packs EvDO support and an Intel processorfeatures that make the BlackBerry a corporate favorite (www.rim.com)
As a senior writer for eWEEK Labs, Anne writes articles pertaining to IT professionals and the best practices for technology implementation. Anne covers the deployment issues and the business drivers related to technologies including databases, wireless, security and network operating systems. Anne joined eWeek in 1999 as a writer for eWeek's eBiz Strategies section before moving over to Labs in 2001. Prior to eWeek, she covered business and technology at the San Jose Mercury News and at the Contra Costa Times.