There are two kinds of email users in the world — a small but growing following of those that religiously swear by their BlackBerry devices and those that have yet to use one.
Research in Motion’s (RIM) BlackBerry product was one of those cute ideas that managed to take a killer app from the online world and create a hardware device that would be popular in the physical world.
RIM’s BlackBerry family of email machines are more common in the US than they are in Europe but at the same time are finding growing acceptance amongst European business types who can’t live without their email.
As manufacturers like Motorola and Nokia start bundling BlackBerry software applications with their mobile phones, greater business acceptance and potential consumer adoption are a likely bet.
I was one of the first to trial the earliest rendition of the BlackBerry in Ireland about four years ago, a large wallet-sized monochrome device that constantly buzzed with fresh email while I was out and about. I was thrilled but my chief complaint at the time was I couldn’t open attachments.
This time round the latest incarnation of the BlackBerry, the 8700g, boasts a crisp colour screen, can open attachments and is five times faster than its predecessor.
The latest device, which doubles up as quite an effective mobile phone, is definitely up to the same standard as an Xda II or other smart phones on the market and could feasibly marry well with mission critical business applications. All it is missing is a digital camera.
The acid test for me was its ability to open attachments. The device, which can be targeted at individuals with ISP accounts or businesses with Exchange or Lotus, proved itself up to the task opening a range of attachments ranging from Word and Excel files to JPEG images.
Because I had the device set up on an individual basis rather than on a corporate enterprise server, it meant I wasn’t protected against spam and was duly bombarded with everything from Viagra to Nigerian rich schemes.
The only thing that’s missing from the BlackBerry is a ‘select all’ command for deleting bunches of messages. Are you listening RIM?
In fairness, however, a BlackBerry Enterprise Service is available from O2 that can give full control of the email to your company’s IT department for an extra charge.
In all I found the latest BlackBerry an ideal device of choice for any businessperson looking to have instant email wherever they are. The BlackBerry 8700g is available from all O2 stores for €359 ex Vat.
Value for money ***
By John Kennedy