Blackberry Pearl 8100 Review

Blackberry Pearl 8100 Review

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RIM eschews its traditionally bulky and unattractive BlackBerry design to make the Pearl 8100 more appealing to the masses. We take a closer look.

MAKE no bones about it – the Pearl 8100 is one helluva sexy device. This may be because it looks more like a slim phone than it does a standard BlackBerry device, which is traditionally bulky and thick, and often unattractive.

Just like its bulkier siblings, the Pearl 8100 comes with a full Qwerty keyboard.

However RIM opted to have a few characters sharing the same key in an effort to keep the size of the Pearl down.

In any case, the Pearl has RIM’s proprietary SureType predictive entry software, which allows users to still type as fast on this new keyboard layout.

BlackBerry what

In case you are still in the dark as to how the BlackBerry system works, here is a quick rundown.

BlackBerry is a combination of a service and a handheld device made by RIM and marketed primarily for its wireless e-mail handling capability.

The service also supports HTML-based Internet viewing and instant messaging – with applications from Yahoo!, Google and BlackBerry preinstalled.

Data travels to and from a RIM server through a local telco’s wireless networks to users. Once activated, BlackBerry pushes all e-mail received (including any JPEG, BMP, PDF, Word and Excel file attachments) to your device automatically.

When users send an e-mail from their device, a copy of the e-mail will also go to the users’ home e-mail box.

The service gives users access to up to 10 e-mail accounts, plus a new BlackBerry e-mail address.

Celcom offers two Blackberry service packages – for enterprise and personal users respectively. In this review we will be looking only at the latter.

I had the chance to try the service while I was in attending a conference in Europe and am glad to report that it worked flawlessly. I was able to receive and send e-mail as well as browse the Internet without any problems.

Just roll it

The pearly-white trackball in the centre of the phone is probably what gives this phone its name.

It glides easily and is very responsive, which enables users to navigate through the menus with ease.

The Pearl 8100 display comes with a built-in light sensor, which increases or decreases the brightness accordingly. It’s usable even under bright sunlight. BlackBerry devices have traditionally lacked cameras, but the Pearl sports a 1.3-megapixel shooter.

As such, the picture quality is not as sharp as other camera phones and you cannot even record videos with it (but you can still watch MPEG4 files on Pearl’s video player).

Type fast

The SureType keyboard software is another plus point for the device.

Firstly, you need to familiarise yourself with the unconventional keyboard layout but once you get the hang of it, typing with the help of the software was fast.

The application thinks ahead, interprets what you are typing and helps to fill in the remaining letters based on its extensive built-in word list.

Once it notices a word is chosen twice in a row, the word will become the default word in the list the next time you type in the same key sequence. RIM calls this feature Frequency Learning.

If a word in not in the built-in dictionary, it will automatically save it into the wordlist – and it will also have a higher priority in the list when you type in the same sequence.


The Pearl 8100 is a no-nonsense phone, which enables you to take your work e-mail with you while on the go.

In our opinion, the only features it lacks are today’s must-have 3G and WiFi connectivity options.

You can also use it as a standard phone without subscribing to the BlackBerry service.

However when used together, the BlackBerry service and handheld gives users a simple and effective way to stay in touch via e-mail, browse the Internet and web chat while travelling.

Pros: Responsive trackball, easy to set up and operate; SureType software; cool design.

Cons: No video capture; lacks 3G and WiFi; soft audio.

PEARL 8100

(Research In Motion Ltd)

BlackBerry device

Camera: 1.3-megapixels

Display: 2.2in, 65,000-colour TFT

Messaging: SMS, MMS, e-mail, instant messagingConnectivity: Quadband, GPRS, EDGE, Bluetooth, USB

Phone memory: 64MB Flash memory and comes with; the slot supports up to 1GB.

Expansion slot: microSD (128MB card included)

Battery type: 900mAh lithium-polymer

Standby/talk time: 360/3.5hours

Other features: Multimedia player, Java applications, document viewer, SureType

keyboard software, personal organiser functions.

Weight: 89.5g

Dimensions: 107 x 50 x 14.5mm

Price: RM1,599

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