Test review: The 21st-century BlackBerry Bold


Test Center review: The 21st-century BlackBerry

The BlackBerry Bold, RIM's new executive QWERTY handset, enters the scene at a time when the utility of the fixed keyboard is under debate. This review overlapped with my longer-term evaluation of touchscreen and touch/keyboard devices, including the BlackBerry Storm, T-Mobile G1, AT&T Fuze (HTC Touch Pro), HTC Touch Diamond, and of course the iPhone 3G. I've had to ponder the question myself: Is the Bold worth its $299 price tag, much less worth a look at all?

BlackBerry Very Good 8.5
- Research In MotionExtensibility (20%)
- Messaging (20%)
- Networking (20%)
- Usability (20%)
- Multimedia (10%)
- Value (10%)

Cost: $299.99 with two-year contract after $100 mail-in rebate

Windows PC with USB or Bluetooth for BlackBerry Desktop backup/restore tool; any system with USB Storage Class support for file transfer; Windows Outlook for desktop e-mail redirector; optional microSD or SDHC card for file storage Bottom Line RIM's new flagship QWERTY handset has everything: AT&T 3G, Wi-Fi, GPS, wide-aspect display, microSDHC memory expansion, Office document editing, video camera, media player, and Bluetooth stereo. It's the priciest BlackBerry but worth it for serious users who put messaging first.

I started out unimpressed, but after AT&T pushed out some substantial firmware fixes to the device, I resolved that the Bold has a real place in RIM's lineup and the enterprise mobile market. The Bold respects the enterprise formula, keeping sacred everything that makes the QWERTY BlackBerry a unique business and IT tool but enhancing it in well-selected places. The enhancements start with a platform modernization that exploits a fast CPU and accelerated graphics, enabling an updated GUI framework that makes high-res, widescreen QWERTY look like a million bucks.

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