The Curve line has been a notable series of devices for RIM in that it brought additional levels of connectivity to the BlackBerry fold. The Sprint version of the 8330 has GPS and Bluetooth to compliment the EV-DO cellular connectivity. What this means for most people is that almost anything can be done in terms of connecting to devices and services.
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Starting with the cellular end, the Sprint Curve is an EV-DO 1x device. Not always as fast as a basic DSL connection, the EV-DO speeds are still quite fast for a cellular connection, and works efficiently enough that it’s not a major drain on battery life.
Bluetooth is featured as an additional wireless option for headsets and dial up networking (DUN) connectivity. Using Bluetooth, the Curve can be utilized as a modem for laptops and tablet PCs. Depending on the plan level, there may be an additional cost to use this feature.
The version of the BlackBerry Curve that is sold by Sprint does not have Wi-Fi.
GPS is included, though. Using TeleAtlas maps and software, along with A-GPS (cellular triangulation) supported by the EV-DO connection, using the Curve as a navigation device is fast and easy. It takes about 30 seconds to get a lock, and after that map views are downloaded dynamically to the device.
The Curve is a no-nonsense device. It pretty much sits ready to work and just does what it does. There’s no swooshing or transitional graphics to enlighten the senses, and the lack of a touchscreen only becomes an issue when using the application launch screen
Of course, email is a major selling point. Corporate BlackBerry users are already used to the “push” aspect of BlackBerry email that allows for immediate delivery of messages. Having it for consumer/prosumer use takes the IT department out of the picture but keeps the fast email experience.
You can use a BlackBerry email account, or use a personal one from services such as Google, Yahoo, or Hotmail.
Regardless of the service used, consumers utilize the BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) servers rather than the enterprise-level BlackBerry Enterprise Servers (BES). The difference in these services is the type of support, and whether they are integrated with an enterprise IT department.
To me, about the only real fault in the email system of the Curve — and this is apparently the case with all BlackBerry devices — is that there is just one messaging center for all types of messages: email, SMS, and voice mail. While this seems like a great idea and works well, when training several users it is a problem. I would have expected that a device sold on the consumer level to have different means of handling those three very different message types.
- Address Book
- Voice Recorder
- Password Keeper
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These are for the most part simple and to the point. There is nothing spectacular about any of them, but it is good to see a mobile device come with a solid password application as part of the default suite.
Some other applications that come with the Curve include:
- Sprint TV
- Sprint Music Store
- Handmark’s Pocket Express
- an instant messaging application that does AIM, Yahoo, Google Talk and BlackBerry Messaging
- A voice dialer
The 8330’s battery life is something that caught me completely off guard. I am used to having to charge devices once a day, and sometimes more if its a busy day. The Curve took my hardest day and still managed to make it easily to the lunch of the next day just fine.
I am not really sure how RIM has managed to do it, but the battery life being so good is an unexpected and very nice feature.
Palm OS Treo users might find the lack of a touchscreen disconcerting, and the menu structure a bit tedious. However, the user experience of the BlackBerry operating system is largely similar to the Palm OS, so there is at least not as much of a learning curve to get started.
The BlackBerry Curve 8330 for Sprint is not a fancy device, nor is it extra special in any real particular way. However, it is solid, well built, and has the kind of ability to just blend into day-to-day activities without requiring too much in the way of tweaking and modifying the default setup.
Areas that can be improved with third-party software include the browser (Opera Mini rocks on the Curve). The ability to personalize with themes also helps to take some of the stodgy looks and give it some personality.
But when it comes down to it, the Curve is all about getting information to you from one point to another. The GPS integration is the best demonstration of this; the email is the best integration of this. Whether it is enough to move you from a current mobile to the Curve really depends on your needs and budget. But you can be assured that what the Curve lacks in iPhone-like flash, it makes up for easily in its ability to be enjoyable enough to get the job done.