This week, Cingular rolls out Research In Motionâ€™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 BlackBerryâ€™s innards.
A few taps and scrolls and you notice that thereâ€™s a fresh spring to the 8700â€™s step. For the most part, thatâ€™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 Cingularâ€™s EDGE network. Stepping up from the older GPRS data networks, this BlackBerryâ€™s data line sees download speeds of up to about 120 Kbps. Itâ€™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, RIMâ€™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 8700â€™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 youâ€™re heavily using not just the EDGE network but a Bluetooth headset to make calls, youâ€™re going to be charging it more often than I was.