Research in Motion’s Blackberry was the device that started many people’s mobile email addiction, leading to it being nicknamed the “Crackberry”.
The 8707v follows the original recipe of being a capable messaging device aimed at the business-user market. It uses the “fat” Blackberry design, being quite squarish and wide while not outlandishly big.
The width allows for a decent-sized QWERTY “thumb-board” and a large, glorious colour screen with 65,000 hues that is easy to read outdoors. Thumb-typing at good speed is easy on the 8707v, but the SureText predictive input wasn’t as good as that of Windows Mobile.
Menu navigation and selection clicking is done with a righthand-side thumb wheel. It’s a little awkward at first, but you get used to it quickly.
An Intel PXA901 processor running at 312MHz and 64MB of memory lives inside the 8707v. This suffices for most tasks, but the phone would occasionally pause for a few seconds.
With quad-band support (850, 900, 1800 and 1900MHz), the 8707v is a good roamer for voice calls and supports UMTS 3G for fast data, as well as the slower EDGE and GPRS protocols.
Setting up the 8707v with a browser-based utility was very easy. I had my IMAP and Exchange server accounts hooked up in no time at all, similarly with freemail ones like Gmail and Yahoo.
Overall, email handling worked well bar one annoying miss: the email client doesn’t understand the IMAP NAMESPACE feature and can’t see any folders underneath the INBOX. There is no workaround for this. I also found that the 8707v did not always sync the inbox properly, keeping messages on the device when they had been deleted or moved on the server.
Attachment-handling on the 8707v was rudimentary, however. Some popular formats such as Word and PDF are viewable, but none can be edited as is possible with Windows Mobile 5.
Battery life was acceptable — the 8707v lasted a whole working day, despite frequent use. Also good was the ability to charge via a USB port.
Reception on the 8707v was good for data, but some people I called complained about crackling noises and sound cut outs.
Unusually, there is no camera, but the 8707v comes with Bluetooth for wireless headsets and devices, and the phone can be used as a cable-less modem over it. Unfortunately, wi-fi is missing, and there’s no memory expansion through mini-SD cards either.
Integration with Windows was so-so, too. The Blackberry desktop software does not allow browsing of the contents of the device’s storage.
For corporate customers, RIM offers Enterprise Servers that fit in with messaging platforms such as Notes and Exchange. They also have the ability to wipe the 8707v, either manually or remotely.
The new 3G 8707v handles email well and comes with messaging tools for enterprise use, but so do Windows Mobile devices and these are better data devices. However, the Blackberry is undeniably a better phone than most Windows Mobile phones, and you can use it one-handed, which is a big plus.
Blackberry 8707v (Vodafone)
Price: $1,199 inc. GST
Excellent, bright screen
Short battery life