I was reminded this evening that blog posts are forever and you never know when someone will come across an old one through the magic of the Google and the internets and find some information that is useful. When I was trying to decide what new phone to buy I kept hoping I would find a blog post that would answer my main question about the functionality of the phones I was looking at but I could never find it. Ultimately I took a leap of faith and as it turns out my Blackberry Pearl does what I need it to do. But after that I promised myself I would post a review so hopefully someone in my shoes in the future could find an answer.
So the key thing I need a new smart phone to do is allow me to easily get my email while I travel without lugging my laptop. I can't afford to jaunt off on vacation for two weeks and ignore my email the whole time but nor do I want to deal with the weight and the concern of carrying my laptop while island hopping in Hawaii.
My friend Elisa Camahort was less than thrilled with her Treo and had constant problems (and is happier with her new iPhone). Another friend, Lynne d. Johnson is very knowledgeable, tech savvy and I consider her a guru, raved about her previous Sidekick and T-Mobile service. Problem though is she lives in New York City where T-Mobile service is much better than here in the Bay Area (T-Mobile's site has a cool function where you can check the strength of coverage down to street level). But I need the phone to work where I travel and I travel often to New York so that was one answer to my dilemma. The email functionality however made me hesitate at pulling the trigger on a Blackberry. I scoured online forums and checked with both Verizon and T-Mobile stores but nobody could tell me if I could easily set it up to work with email through my own domain and not through an enterprise server.
As it turns out it was extremely simple to set my email up and it works flawlessly. T-Mobile's service which I chose because their data plan is most cost effective has been good. Coverage isn't as extensive in my experience as Verizon but it hasn't posed any significant problems so far.
I've gotten used to the double letter keys. I can't type as fast as on a Blackberry with a full keyboard (I've had them at previous corporate jobs so I knew I liked them but didn't know if they'd work well outside the enterprise) but fast enough and well enough that I used it as a stand in for my computer when mine died and I didn't have one for a couple of weeks.
I think I still like the wheel on the side better than the pearl but the pearl is just fine (well, except for the annoying habit of causing frequent purse dialing and emailing - I've had to learn to turn it off or lock the keyboard which is a pain to unlock). The main thing I have found annoying so far is that when you add a number to the address book it places it by default to a work number. All the numbers I've added to my mobile address book are mobile numbers. Why would you build an address book of work numbers rather than mobile numbers in your mobile phone especially in a phone pitched more as a fashion accessory than as a serious tool for road warriors?
Which brings me to my marketing complaint... why would you target non corporate users with this phone and then not make it abundantly clear that no enterprise server is required to get email and not set the address book default to mobile numbers?
But these complaints are relatively small. As a way to check my email and surf the net without having to carry my laptop, the Blackberry Pearl works beautifully. If I were buying today I'd probably get the new Curve which has a full keyboard but otherwise is very similar to the Pearl.