Let me start off by saying this: I’ve never been a BlackBerry fanatic. I didn’t drink the kool-aid, Jim Balsillie is not my Obi-Wan, and Waterloo, Ontario is not my Axis Mundi. My appreciation of RIM and what they have achieved (and failed to achieve) with the BlackBerry is based purely on merit.
However, it only took a quick 30 second walk down the long dark hallway into RIM’s “BlackBerry Bold” demo area to turn me into a sweaty puddle of mobile obsession. BlackBerry Nation: the BlackBerry Bold is the best BlackBerry ever made.
Okay, let’s rein that in a little. In my 15 minutes fondling the device under the ever-watchful glare of a RIM employee (who made humorous but ultimately sincere comments about his ability to squash me into the carpet if I even thought about making a break for it with his untethered Bold), I’m 90% sure that this is the best BlackBerry ever made. But boy do I ever want to make sure. Here’s why:
The Screen. Much has been said about it, and we’ve known that it was going to be improved since last-year’s WES, but man did it hit me like a punch in the face. The HVGA 480×320 screen, larger, crisper, sexier that any that has come before it makes you believe that RIM can make a BlackBerry that truly competes as a media player. Sounds like hyperbole until you’re watching Simpsons clips in full-screen and your right eye sheds a single tear.
The Keypad.RIM finally figured it out. They finally figured out how to make a keypad as soft (softer?) and responsive as the BlackBerry 7290 into the relative space of the BlackBerry 8330. Don’t let the pictures fool you: this is not the 8800’s keypad. You always know which key your thumb is on, and they are firm, but responsive to quick presses. While most BlackBerrys take a few days to get used to, I was flying on the BlackBerry Bold in literally minutes.
The Body. So what do you get when you take the body of an 83xx BlackBerry, make it more streamlined, with better material, and a more balanced weight? The BlackBerry Bold. Seriously, it’s name doesn’t do it justice: it’s too elegant for such a brazen label. Longtime BlackBerry users know that the build quality of RIM’s devices have taken a serious hit since the BlackBerry 8700 (read: the BlackBerry Pearl), but RIM stepped up their game on this one. It feels expensive, like a finely crafted ginsu blade used on Iron Chef. I attribute much of its perfect weight and balance to the giant flat battery that lies under the hood.
Obviously, I’m going to need more time with the BlackBerry Bold to make a firm decision, and hopefully by then these fanboy-like shakes will have subsided.
One final note: don’t think that today’s announcement of the Bold means that you’ll have one in your hands sooner rather than later. Apparently, the device is still undergoing testing (I’m told it’s software related) and AT&T’s exclusivity means a long testing period before they give it the okay (remember how long it took the Pearl to come out after it was announced?). Hopefully us Canucks on Rogers won’t have to suffer too long.