Word has it that the Wi-Fi enabled BlackBerry 8820 is landing in Singapore thanks to M1, Singtel and Starhub. The keypad is decribed as “highly tactile”, which seems bizarrely necessary now that other nontactile keypads are emerging. We’re all pretty familiar with the 8820 by now (pretty much the BlackBerry 8800 plus Wi-Fi), so no need to dive into stats. No word on pricing yet.
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We all know that Palm’s not doing so hot, but the Engadget crew has laid out all of Palm’s problems and what they need to do to get back in the game. It might not be BlackBerry-related, but the open letter is a really concise way of identifying what customers’ baseline expectations are for smartphones these days, and there are more than a few things on the list that RIM’s managing to do that Palm isn’t. Don’t mess with the keyboard, make your handheld look nice, add Wi-Fi, support multitasking, embrace developers, cultivate multimedia, get with Google, and make better ads all seem like things that RIM is doing, but there’s also a couple things that BlackBerry could take a hint from. Do you guys think there’s anything RIM could learn from Palm’s mistakes?
Hot off the presses, we’ve got news that the BlackBerry 8820 is en route, packing delicious Wi-Fi connectivity. Wi-Fi 802.11 a, b and g will all be supported, as documented in the FCC patent last week, and not only for data. Generic Access Networking (a.k.a. UMA) will allow for seamless dual-mode calling while in a Wi-Fi hotspot. Although that’s the big feature, besides which the device is largely an 8800, the new BlackBerry will also also be bringing a few other goodies. For one, it will support microSDHC memory cards, meaning up to 32GB of storage capacity. We looked at the 8 GB cards that are in the works from Samsung not too long ago. No 3G just yet, still quad-band GSM/GPRS and EDGE. GPS is in there too, and RIM also points out AZERTY and QWERTZ keypad availability, pointing to an early launch in both France and Germany. In fact, RIM’s handset index lists France as the only European country confirmed to carry the 8820 so far.
After eight years of paperwork, BlackBerry has finally gotten the go-ahead to launch in China. There’s already 5,000 preorders for the BlackBerry 8700 that’s planned to drop before the end of the month on China Mobile. The price point is an issue for the Chinese, who might be used to paying a hell of a lot less for mobile services than we are. As for language, hopefully RIM will be able build off established support strategies, and not tool around with the issue like they did in Japan.
With the “iMminent” release of that little device from Apple, the debate has already begun as to which is preferable: a touchscreen with a virtual keyboard or a true keyboard. To me the question misses the main point, which is to ask yourself why you have a mobile smart phone in the first place. It isn’t that one is “better” than another; it is that each interface has its advantages depending on your intended purpose.
For those who need to type a lot of text, the true keyboard is most likely the superior choice. (I say “most likely” in that I have not yet tested the virtual keypad on the iPhone, and so cannot definitively give an opinion as to which I find easier to use.) So if you are like most BlackBerry users the mechanical keyboard will make the most sense.
Continue reading ‘ThoughtPiece: Touchscreen vs. Keyboard: Which is Better?’
Thanks to some commentary from an iPhone tester, Engadget’s got great info on the touchscreen and virtual keypad. In short, the keypad sucks. You have to press pretty hard, and if you use your thumbs, it registers contact across multiple keys. So unless you enjoy typing like your grandmother who’s seen a keyboard for the first time and is looking for the darned ‘Q’ button, most consumers interested in text input will skip the iPhone. Straight from the tester’s mouth: “It won’t replace a BlackBerry. It’s not good for text input. It’s just not a business product.”