O2 RIM BlackBerry 7290 review

Research In Motion’s BlackBerry devices are without a doubt the business leader when it comes to email. All the PDA phones in this Labs can handle email, but what makes the BlackBerry special is push-email and integration with corporate systems.

O2 RIM BlackBerry 7290 review

With most PDA phones, you can synchronise mail with Microsoft Outlook or send and receive over-the-air using GPRS, but you have to manually connect. With a BlackBerry, new emails are pushed to the device, so you don’t miss urgent emails by forgetting to connect. With data stored in non-volatile memory, they’ll still be there if the battery runs out. And this is very unlikely to happen, as the 7290 lasts for days at a time.

You’re not limited to corporate email either. You can add up to ten online email accounts, which, in our O2 review model, are linked into a single O2 email account. Supporting both POP3 and IMAP4, it works with all major players such as Hotmail and AOL.

Reading emails and operating the device is easy with one hand, using the jog dial and a back button. The keyboard requires two thumbs, but it has a solid feel and is great for tapping out emails. Although the screen seems dim, it retains excellent readability in most situations without the backlight, and is superb outdoors. It’s simply a brilliant wireless email terminal.

But if you want an all-round performer, one that lets you work with documents and play MP3s, the 7290 will disappoint. Although you can buy productivity applications, none are supplied as standard and there’s no storage card slot. Instead, you can read documents attached to emails. Only the first 2KB is downloaded initially, with more being sent as required. We found it painfully slow to get a full document, but this approach does at least limit your data usage.

Everything’s converted into text and appended to the email, so we could read Word, Excel (one cell at a time), PowerPoint and PDF files, but all formatting was stripped. This puts it far behind the competition for file handling. Attached images had very low resolutions and there’s no way to play music files.

On a brighter note, the phone is quad-band, with GPRS and good call quality. Being nearly the size of the HP iPAQ hw6515, it feels a bit large as a phone, although it’s nothing like the bulk of the Jasjar or PDA2K.

If you want push-email plus the ability to open Office files and play MP3s, the hw6515 with GoodLink is a better choice. But if your prime motivations are simply email and a phone, the 7290 stands up to any competition.

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