Time Reviews Blackberry 8700c

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This week, Cingular rolls out Research In Motion’s newest BlackBerry, the 8700c. While its shape suggests a return to a more conventional design after the venture into sleekness known as the 7100, the 8700 is actually a full-on redesign of the BlackBerry’s innards.

A few taps and scrolls and you notice that there’s a fresh spring to the 8700’s step. For the most part, that’s due to the Intel XScale processor at the core of the new device.

The web browser and other connected applications also run smoothly thanks to access to Cingular’s EDGE network. Stepping up from the older GPRS data networks, this BlackBerry’s data line sees download speeds of up to about 120 Kbps. It’s not as fast as Wi-Fi or the soon-to-be announced UMTS HSDPA network from Cingular, nor is it as speedy as the new networks from Sprint and Verizon Wireless. However, RIM’s co-CEO Mike Lazaridis pointed out to me that EDGE is plenty good for general BlackBerry activities, and I have been unable to prove him wrong in my testing. Still, there have been times when I was surprised by the lack of data service reception, in spite of overall good connectivity.

Connecting to EDGE rather than any of those other alternatives with higher data-rates leads to another important benefit: the 8700’s battery life is excellent. I have been carrying it around for about a week, and I have only charged it two or three times. Of course, if you’re heavily using not just the EDGE network but a Bluetooth headset to make calls, you’re going to be charging it more often than I was.

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