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Hey, good lookin’

tech reviews Updated: Feb 17, 2009 11:41 IST
Shayne Rana

The super stylish Pearl series is back with the BlackBerry Pearl Flip 8220 with Research In Motion (RIM) going out of its way, literally, in design and aesthetics. With the introduction of the Bold, RIM began marketing BlackBerry as a media centric handset for the business person. Now with the Flip, they are making an effort to appeal to a larger consumer base, keeping the core business features of the BlackBerry intact.

Form
The 8220 Flip is a clamshell handset with the traditional glossy black finish of a BlackBerry, lined with silver on the edges. An external 1.2-inch TFT-LCD with 128 x 160 pixel resolution offers a preview of emails and messages. Flip the phone open and you see the 8220’s large and very clear 2.6-inch TFT LCD with a 240 x 320 pixel 65k colour resolution. The internal screen is easily visible in light. The 8220 comes with a half-QWERTY ‘Sure-Type’ keypad, apart from a trackball that provides smooth navigation. ‘SureType’ is Blackberry’s innovation of having QWERTY letters share the same key, which takes some getting used to, if you’re a BlackBerry user. A 2 megapixel camera (LED flash) is located just above the external display with a dedicated camera key, a microUSB port, a 3.5 mm earphone socket and a Hot Swap microSD card slot.

Interface
There’s nothing new for those already familiar with the Bold or the Storm. Personally we’re big fans of the new OS (v4.6) and the UI is smooth and fluid with trackball navigation. The external display is convenient enough to get a gist of incoming mails so you won’t necessarily need to flip the handset open each time to read unimportant messages. One of the biggest issues with the BlackBerry OS is that it has no file system option wherein one can simply transfer files from the device memory onto the memory card.

Battery
RIM’s website states the 8220 can give up to four hours of talk time and our tests clocked in the same figure. The phone gave two and a half days of usage before the battery gave out completely. This included a few calls, messages, emails, audio, chatting and camera usage. With Wi-Fi on, the battery kept on for over two and a half hours, though by the end of it, the handset had become hot.

Video
The most annoying aspect of this device was how the preloaded video, which we could not seem to access via PC, was displayed on the whole screen in landscape mode, but none of our videos (that we converted in all the acceptable formats and resolutions) played in landscape. Baffled, we had to settle for a constricted view — a tiny space in the middle of the large display. Further, since the 8220 supports DivX and XviD formats, you can copy and paste files directly to the card. However, every time we tried to play them, the handset would restart.

Audio
The 8220’s audio capabilities are great — from the sound quality to the comfortable stereo handsfree that won’t leave you reaching out for your own set. The decibel level is high and the quality good too. EQ presets are available for adjusting the sound to your personal preference. Customisable setting would have been nice, but we’re not complaining.


Email
The 8220 continues the BlackBerry’s legacy of exceptional email — both both Internet and Enterprise — functionality. The technicalities haven’t changed, but some refreshing new features like better word prediction on SureType make your typing experience simpler. The phone does what it’s supposed to primarily do and that is, to sync with your company’s BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES). It also supports Microsoft Exchange, IBM Lotus Domino and Novell GroupWise and delivers corporate email real-time. Even on BIS, you can set up to 10 personal/business POP3 or IMAP4 email accounts.

Camera
The 2 megapixel camera is standard — it has limited settings that include white balance and a few colour effects. Like the video player, the camera doesn’t utilise the full screen. In daylight shots, images look pretty good on the device itself, but not on the PC. Thankfully though, the image quality isn’t too bad with enough lighting present. The camera also manages to capture moving objects fairly well when you’re at a distance but not when you’re closer to the subject.

Connectivity
We found the 8220’s Wi-Fi capabilities far superior to the other BlackBerrys. The 8220 is not 3G compatible but GPRS and EDGE are available besides the secondary browser for WAP profiles. Using BIS from your service provider is a faster option though. There’s Bluetooth with an A2DP profile that gives you a truly great audio experience, if you have a good Stereo Bluetooth headset. USB 2.0 for PC connectivity works like a charm and is quick when it comes to data transfer.

Internet
We’re used to seeing the BlackBerry with a wide screen format, so the 8220 does make you a bit wistful for space. To view Web pages, you do have an option of zooming in, but thumbnail images become blurry and pixelated. Browsing on BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) is fast. On Wi-Fi, it’s even faster and Web pages are rendered at blazing speed. That’s where the zoom in-zoom out features come in handy, as the full website gets loaded in a compressed form. It’s something like the Opera mini, but it’s a speed devil compared to the Pearl 8120.

Verdict
As a BlackBerry device, the 8220 is a consistent performer and also manages to fare a little better than previous models. The battery life is superb and so is the audio player. It loses points with the absence of internal GPS and a very annoying video player. The 2MP camera is just about alright. Priced at Rs 19,990 means you’ve got a winner in your hands as long as you can deal with its video capabilities and lack of GPS. http://tech2.in.com /go/59912