Sunday, July 24, 2011

BlackBerry Curve 8310 Review

In a nutshell: If you want to keep in touch with your email on the move, then the BlackBerry Curve is the choice for you. With a full QWERTY keypad and BlackBerry's renowned push email applications, you really will have a mobile office in your pocket. It also includes a camera, a media player, Bluetooth connectivity and a memory card slot. The BlackBerry 8310 is our pick of the Curve series, as it also includes GPS navigation.
BlackBerry Curve 8310
The BlackBerry 8310 is our favourite of the current Curve series of BlackBerries. More compact than the 88xx series, yet with a full 35-key QWERTY keypad, the Curve series treads the line between dedicated business machine and consumer-friendly smartphone. The 8310 retains the core features that made BlackBerry into a household name and indispensable business tool: full keypad and push email. It also adds some new features that make the Curve more like a multimedia smartphone: a camera, media player and GPS satellite navigation. It is this last feature - the GPS navigation - that distinguishes the 8310 from the other Curves (the 8300 & 8320).

All of the BlackBerry Curves are essentially the same, except that the 8310 has GPS navigation, the 8320 has WiFi and the poor little 8300 has neither. It's obviously a personal choice as to whether GPS or WiFi is the more useful tool. In our opinion, the GPS is more useful, but that's just us! The GPS implementation in the 8310 is a good one, and can be used both on foot and in the car.

Looking at the core features of the 8310, we really love the full keypad. Really, serious mobile emailing is out of the question without one, in our opinion. The BlackBerry Curve delivers, and takes mobile communication to another level - whether by email, or text messaging. The one thing that we dislike about the Curve is the trackball, which is used to navigate around the screen and select options. When it works, it works well. But when it doesn't, then it can be really annoying. We've deducted one mark from our rating because of the trackball. Apart from the trackball, the Curve works well ergonomically. The display is large, at 2.5 inches across, and high resolution. It's not in the premier league of LCD displays (the iPhone has double the resolution and most smartphones now have 16 million colour screens), but it's good enough. One thing that we definitely like is the user-selectable font size. There are other features such as password protection, user-definable keys and voice dialling that make the whole Curve experience that little bit better. The Curve is large, and you'll need both hands to use it, but the keys are easy to press and the overall experience is positive.

Obviously, most people buy a BlackBerry to keep in touch with their email. The BlackBerry 8310 handles email very well indeed. Not only is the system very easy to use (pretty much as easy as on a PC), it supports all of the systems and protocols that people will need:

  • BlackBerry® Enterprise Server for Microsoft® Exchange
  • BlackBerry® Enterprise Server for IBM® Lotus® Domino®
  • BlackBerry® Enterprise Server for Novell® GroupWise®
  • Integrates with an existing enterprise email account
  • Integrates with existing personal email account
  • Integrates with new device account
  • Support for AES or Triple DES encryption when integrated with BlackBerry Enterprise Server

The 8310 also has a decent web browser. However, with no 3G or WiFi, it's unlikely that anyone would make extensive use of this feature. 3G is conspicuous by its absence. In fact the only connectivity is Bluetooth.

What's new about the latest Curve series is the multimedia features that help to bridge the gap between the traditional BlackBerry and the modern multimedia smartphone. The 8310 incorporates a 2 megapixel camera and a media player. BlackBerry are not at their strongest in this area: the camera can't complete with the cameras on most other smartphones, and there's no video recording capability (although you can play back video.) Nevertheless, it's a move in the right direction. The media player supports features like playlists and shuffle, and you can listen to music whilst using other applications. On the positive side, there is a 3.5 mm stereo headset port that will fit standard third-party headsets, and the 8310 is also compatible with Bluetooth stereo headsets.

The battery life of the BlackBerry 8310 is excellent, especially when compared with most other smartphones. Despite this, and despite the large size of the device, it's weight is surprisingly low. Really, it's in many ways a very practical device. If email on the move is your priority, then the BlackBerry 8310 is our top recommendation. It may not have all the bells and whistles of some other phones, but it does its core job amazingly well and does most other things well enough too. Consider the BlackBerry 8320 as an alternative if the WLAN appeals.


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