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RIM Blackberry 7100t

Discontinued
9th August 2004

 RIM Blackberry 7100t Blackberry devices have been around for some years now and are extremely popular in the US. Primarily designed as messaging and PIM (personal information management) devices rather than traditional phones, they've built up a substantial market, especially with large corporate customers who like the way they can integrate Blackberry devices with corporate mail systems, such as Microsoft Exchange server. Personal customers also like the Blackberry because it's relatively easy to use with a variety of messaging platforms.

A new Blackberry device has been rumoured for a while, and manufacturers RIM made a joint announcment with carrier T-Mobile on the same day Nokia launched their rival Nokia 9300. Although similar in some respects to the 9300, the Blackberry 7100t is radically different in many others.

At 120x58x19mm and 120 grams (4.7x2.3x 0.8 inches, 4.2 ounces) it's about the size as a typical Symbian or Windows smartphone. The QWERTY keyboard has gone and has been replaced by something that looks a first glance to be a numeric keypad (but isn't). The screen is an unusual 260x240 pixel display. All-in-all, the Blackberry 7100t looks almost like a normal phone at first glance, but it isn't. In fact, everything in this phone is custom designed by RIM to their exact specifications, and the Blackberry 7100t shares very little with other phones.

 Blackberry 7100t keypad One big change from previous model Blackberrys is the keypad. On older models there was a full QWERTY keyboard with 33 main keys. The 7100t replaces it with just 20 input keys, arranged two letters to a key in most cases. This is a highly unusual move, considering the number of handsets we've seen recently with full QWERTY keyboards (Nokia 9300, 9500, T-Mobile MDA III, Voq Professional and Motorola MPx). However, RIM have used a combination of technologies they call "SureType" combining manual input methods and predictive text, which they claim makes text entry just as easy, or easier than the traditional keyboard. We haven't been able to test this, but a review at MSNBC confirms that this system is easy to use.

Email support is the Blackberry's strong point, and the 7100t can either pick up email in the traditional way by using POP3/IMAP4, or it can use "push" technology to deliver directly to the handset via the GPRS data network. In addition to email, the 7100t supports AOL, Yahoo and ICQ instant messaging and SMS.

In connectivity terms, this is a quad-band GSM 850/900/1800/1900 phone with GPRS and the 7100t has Bluetooth support. Software includes a web browser and PIM functions in additional to email and messaging. The 7100t's screen is one of the highest resolution on the market, certainly amongst handsets of this size.

We think the Blackberry 7100t is an impressive piece of kit, but it has some stiff competition - mostly from other Blackberry enabled handsets like the Sony Ericsson P910, Nokia 9300 and 9500 and others. Indeed, it's important to realise that RIM support Blackberry messaging on a variety of devices, and to a variety of different levels. However, the combination of hardware and software with the 7100t looks to be promising, especially for corporate customers.

Available from October 2004 in the United States. We are confident that RIM will partner with T-Mobile to bring this device (or a similar one) to European and worldwide markets during early 2005. In the US prices will vary from around $60 to $200 depending on call plan.

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RIM Blackberry 7100t at a glance

Available:

Q4 2004 (US)

Network:

Quad-band GSM

Data:

GPRS

Screen:

260x240 pixels

Camera:

No

Size:

Large candy-bar
120x58x19mm / 120 grams

Bluetooth:

Yes

Infra-red:

Not specified

Polyphonic:

Yes

Java:

Not specified

Battery life:

4 hours talk / 8 days standby

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