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Few features have been added to the device, but for some people they will really make an impact depending on where they do business.
The most notable new feature in the 8820 is Wi-Fi wireless networking, as well as the capability to make calls over any active Wi-Fi connection in place of strong cell tower reception. Just like the T-Mobile HotSpot@Home service, this can help out those who lack proper coverage in a given area, but still have a perfectly good Wi-Fi network up and running.
Since some of you are probably more than willing to go out and buy this phone right now to use the new Wi-Fi capabilities I just mentioned, know that AT&T has not fully supported this feature just yet. While the phone can pull data off your home or office network, it can’t make phone calls over it at this time.
AT&T has said it will provide this service at an additional charge sometime in the near future, but to date does not have the infrastructure to support it.
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Overall this phone works just like its older sibling, with just an addition of Wi-Fi logo on the back cover, as well as one on the home screen.
The interface to connect to various networks is quite simple, letting you first scan available networks, then choose which one you would like to hop onto. The list also tells you what, if any, encryption is enabled for that network.
After picking a network, you can save its profile to a list for future connections. This list can also be reprioritized depending on which network you would like to connect to over others which might be present at the same time.
Internet browsing is quite fast over the Wi-Fi connection on the 8820, and with a solid connection reaching load times above faster EV-DO cellphones. Being near an accessible access point made all the difference between a lagging Internet connection over EDGE, or a peppy experience over WIFI.
But there’s more bad news. At this time email doesn’t enjoy the same benefits, still falling back to the EDGE connection during testing. This meant large attachments could take a great deal of time even if you were on the fastest wireless G connection possible. Hopefully AT&T will implement email over Wi-Fi when they roll out full VoIP support for this phone.
Mostly Still a BlackBerry 8800
Like I said earlier, aside from its somewhat limited support for Wi-Fi, the 8820 is basically a BlackBerry 8800. The shape and size haven’t changed, and neither has the software.
It would have been nice if RIM had added 3G to this version but it didn’t; this new model still tops out with the 2.5G standard EDGE.
So if you’re interested in the new version, you should read Brighthand’s review of the original one: RIM Blackberry 8800 Review.