, MARCH 21, 2007
 (STAR) By Kathy Moran - If you are a texter like most Pinoys, then patience will come in very handy when you try to get the swing of the BlackBerry Pearl. Deciding which keys to press to get the text message across is one of the hardest things to learn about using this cellphone.

While it is lightweight and nice to look at, this is a little too business-like for my taste. But when one is to compare the Pearl with the first BlackBerry cellphones offered on the market, then this one is a beauty.

The BlackBerry Pearl is the latest model from Research in Motion (RIM). This phone breaks new ground, as it is its first model of any kind equipped with support for playing music and displaying video.

And as smartphones go, you know, the type that are a little more on the bulky side and definitely not winners on the looks side, the Pearl is one of the smallest around.

For those of you who have never used a BlackBerry, this one takes a little time to get used to. I took two days just to learn how to text, or answer an e-mail, if I had to. You see, instead of a regular QWERTY keyboard, the Pearl uses RIMís SureType system. What this means is that there are two letters on each keypad. The phone is small and then there are two letters on the keypad! Takes a lot of getting used to. The good news is that this is really the only drawback of the phone. RIM developed this keyboard so that they could put everything into a small device. This means each key has to do double- or even triple-duty.

Hereís how it works. To type the word "dog" you hit the "D-F" key, then the "O-P" key, then the "G-H" key. The Pearl will then display a list of possible words that can be spelled with that key combination. If this sounds complicated, believe me it can be. There were times I wanted to just go back to my ever-reliable cellphone. But I know that with lots of patience everything can be learned.

The good thing is that SureType does an amazingly good job of picking the correct one. All you have to do is type along and let your smartphone take care of the job of ensuring that what you meant to type is really what shows up on the screen.

I have never used a BlackBerry before, but from what I have been told and from what I have read, this model offers all kinds of features no BlackBerry has ever had before.

First, there is the ever-reliable trackball. It sits right above the keyboard, and is surprisingly easy to use. All you need to do is roll the trackball and this allows you to search for anything on the screen.

The Pearl also has additional buttons called the "convenience keys." The left key lets you do voice dialing, while the one on the right opens the camera application. But if you want to switch them around, just highlight the application you use more often and put it where you want it to be ó and then itís there. Easy.

The trackball allows you to move up and down, left and right, with just small movements of your thumb. This makes selecting items much quicker.

The most significant new feature in the Pearl is its support for playing audio and video, something no BlackBerry has ever been able to do before. It can play music in the background, and pretty much do everything else an MP3 player can do.

The Pearl allows you to store a bunch of images and display them. The screen isnít very large so youíre not going to be making any serious slideshow presentations, but the application RIM has written to handle this job works well.

The most important feature in this device is its 1.3-megapixel camera, a feature that has become pretty much a requirement for cellphones. The Pearlís fairly average, which means itís good enough to take casual pictures, but donít expect these to be really high quality.

I was a little disappointed with the Bluetooth connectivity. Just when all other cellphones are making their phones link with other brand cellphones, BlackBerry does not. I tried to transfer files using the Bluetooth function and was a bit disappointed. It was a bummer.

The Pearl is a huge step forward for RIM. This smartphone offers features that many current and potential BlackBerry users have been wanting for years.

I know that getting e-mail on a cellphone is no longer news. I know that there are many handheld devices that allow a person to get their e-mail and send instant messages in a flash, but when I got the Globe BlackBerry Pearl for a test run, I was impressed. Globe Telecom and RIM have been working together for a few years now.

Globe Telecom allows individuals to send and receive e-mail from work and their personal e-mail accounts, open attachments and browse the Web even while on the go through the BlackBerry Internet Service.

The BlackBerry Internet Service enables its users to access up to 10 supported business and personal e-mail accounts (including the most popular ISP e-mail accounts).

Globe Telecom users can also create their own unique BlackBerry e-mail addresses and manage all their e-mail accounts directly through the BlackBerry device.

For corporate customers, BlackBerry Enterprise Server software tightly integrates with Microsoft Exchange, IBM Lotus Domino and Novell GroupWise and works with existing enterprise systems to enable secure, push-based wireless access to e-mail and other corporate data.

The BlackBerry Enterprise Server is the complete wireless solution for the enterprise. It provides wireless access to communications and information, including e-mail, corporate data, instant messaging, phone, Internet access, SMS and MMS, and organizer capability.

This service is flexible, secure, easy to deploy and manage, reliable and reasonably priced, making it the leading wireless solution for connecting mobile professionals.

"We are glad to work with RIM and we are excited to offer the new BlackBerry Pearl to our corporate customers. This small, innovative and stylish wireless device, the latest addition to our portfolio of BlackBerry handsets, puts together business and leisure so that all a corporate individual would need is one mobile phone ó the BlackBerry Pearl," said Innove Enterprise Business Group head Jesus Romero.

"It is the phone that you can rely on for work as it enables you to get your e-mails from anywhere and keeps you connected to the office. It also has a 1.3-megapixel camera so you can take pictures and instantly send these to family and friends, a media player so you can enjoy your favorite music and videos, and an expandable memory slot to allow storage of music, pictures and videos. Corporate individuals wonít need to carry two or three phones anymore for their business and personal use," he added.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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