Now that President Obama has gotten the OK from his security team for limited use of his BlackBerry, he might be taking a look at a thinner and lighter BlackBerry with a full QWERTY keyboard: the Curve 8900.
Research in Motion and T-Mobile announced Wednesday the availability of the new quad-band GSM (850/900/1800/1900MHz) device, an update of the popular Curve model. Quad-band GSM enables connectivity around the world -- a feature that can come in handy when you're president of the United States.
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The 8900, offered with a titanium-colored finish and chrome highlights, also features built-in GPS support for turn-by-turn directions and location-based services, as well as 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi. The display -- 65,000 colors, 2.44 inches, 480x360 screen -- boasts the highest resolution ever on a BlackBerry smartphone. There's also a 512MHz processor; and the 3.2-megapixel camera has image stabilization, digital zoom, flash and video recording. A hot-swappable microSD/SDHC memory card slot comes with a 256MB card. The 8900 can support memory cards up to 16GB.
Mark Guibert, RIM's vice president of corporate marketing, pointed to the "rich multimedia capabilities, exceptional mobile e-mail and messaging features, [and] enhanced Web browsing" of the 8900 as reasons why it supports "a busy lifestyle that spans well beyond normal business hours." He also noted that the 8900 has "easy access to social networking communities," such as Facebook, Flickr and MySpace.
Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, said his reaction to the Curve 8900 was "positive." He noted that it doesn't have 3G, "but it has everything else that the BlackBerry Bold has," including both Wi-Fi and GPS, a high-resolution screen, browser enhancement, and a 3.5-mm headphone jack. The 8900 supports 2.5G EDGE technology for data, making it fine for e-mail over that network, but less than optimal for the Web. It also offers UMA technology, designed to allow voice calls over a Wi-Fi network.
Greengart noted that the 8900 has the same case as the previous Curve, "making it an extremely attractive package" in both the sense of being pretty and in how well it fits an average hand. It's wide enough to type for e-mail, he added, but narrow enough to comfortably use as a phone.
The Bold, by contrast, is described by Greengart as "a spectacular product, but a bit on the wide side," and thus is optimized a bit more for e-mail than for voice. The 8900, on the other hand, is "better balanced" between the needs of the two functions.
Greengart said the 8900 is targeted at anyone who wants an advanced BlackBerry; RIM has specifically said it won't replace the regular Curve. The Curve 8900 is expected to sell for $199 with a two-year contract, beginning in February, compared to $99 from T-Mobile for the previous Curve. "It's for someone who wants a BlackBerry," Greengart explained, "but is willing to pay for a premium one."
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