BlackBerry 8820 (AT&T) review: BlackBerry 8820 (AT&T)

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
  • Overall: 8.0
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 9.0
  • Performance: 8.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The RIM BlackBerry 8820 is the first BlackBerry to offer integrated Wi-Fi. The smart phone continues to offer Bluetooth, GPS, and push e-mail capabilities as well as push-to-talk and multimedia functions. We were also impressed by the long talk-time battery life.

The Bad There's no 3G support and no option for a camera version. The QWERTY keyboard can be slippery, and the device uses a proprietary instant messaging client.

The Bottom Line The addition of Wi-Fi makes the RIM BlackBerry 8820 an even more powerful communication device for business users, taking it beyond just e-mail and phone calls.

Editors' Top Picks

A lot of people have been waiting for this, and the day has finally arrived. Today, AT&T and Research In Motion officially released the RIM BlackBerry 8820, the first BlackBerry to offer integrated Wi-Fi. The 8820 supports 802.11a/b/g standards and is compliant with Wi-Fi security protocols, giving users another avenue to connect to the Web--a good thing since the device shows no love for 3G just yet. It also continues to offer Bluetooth and GPS support like its older sibling, the RIM BlackBerry 8800, as well as push e-mail and multimedia. It's a device built with the business user in mind and definitely won't have the mass appeal of a BlackBerry Pearl or BlackBerry Curve. There's not even a camera option. That said, for the intended audience the 8820 will certainly deliver the goods and performance. The RIM BlackBerry 8820 will be available starting on September 20 for $299.99 with a two-year contract and after rebates.

Design
The RIM BlackBerry 8820 shares a very similar, if not identical, look and feel to the BlackBerry 8800. It sports a classic but sleek all-black casing and measures 4.5 inches tall by 2.6 inches wide by 0.5 inch thick and weighs 4.7 ounces. It's not the quite the compact package of a BlackBerry Curve and as we noted in the 8800 review, the handset is pretty wide, making it slightly uncomfortable to hold when held up to the ear during phone calls. Still, it's slim enough to slip into a pants pocket or bag.


The RIM BlackBerry 8820 (left) next to the trimmer BlackBerry Curve.

The BlackBerry 8820 sports a 2.5-inch screen that displays 65,000 colors at a 320x240 pixel resolution. Text and images are clear and vibrant, and the screen also features light-sensing technology that automatically adjusts the backlighting of the screen, as well as the keyboard and trackball, depending on whether you're indoors or outdoors. We found that this function works well, and we had no problems reading the display under harsh lighting. As with most BlackBerrys, you can adjust the menu style, background image, and theme of the home screen.

The navigation array and full QWERTY keyboard remain unchanged from the BlackBerry 8800. Just below the display you have Talk and End keys, Menu and Escape buttons, and a trackball navigator. These controls are easy to use, but the keyboard may give some users pause. There isn't much space between the keys and though the buttons are pretty large and have a raised ridge to make them more tactile, we found the lacquered finish made the buttons slippery.


The BlackBerry 8820 features the same keyboard found on its older sibling, the BlackBerry 8800. Though the buttons are large, they're a bit slippery and lack spacing in between.

There are volume up and down keys on the right spine, while on the left side, you will find a 2.5-millimeter headset jack, a mini USB port, and a convenience key which, by default, launches AT&T's push-to-talk (PTT) services. There is a microSD expansion slot, but unfortunately, it's located behind the battery, so you'll have to take off the back cover every time you want to access it. Finally, the power and mute buttons are on the top of the unit.

Considering it to be a business-centric device, RIM decided not to include a camera on the BlackBerry 8820. This will be a joy to those who work in corporate environments that ban the use of camera phones. And while we certainly appreciate this precaution and understand it's a growing trend among businesses (for security reasons), we still would have liked the option of having a model with a camera. Without one, we think it'll be a disappointment to many potential buyers, especially since this is the first BlackBerry to offer Wi-Fi.

The RIM BlackBerry 8820 comes packaged with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a leather belt holster, a wired headset, a software CD, and reference material. For more add-ons, please check our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and help page.

Features
Obviously, the biggest news here is the integrated Wi-Fi, as the RIM BlackBerry 8820 is the first BlackBerry to offer this option. It supports 802.11a/b/g, whether you're using your home or corporate network or hopping onto a Wi-Fi hot spot. There are enterprise security features, including WEP, WPA, and VPN settings. Our review unit was able to detect our test access point immediately, and we had no problem connecting to it or the Web.

Editors' Top Picks

 

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Where to Buy See All

BlackBerry 8820 (AT&T)

Part Number: 8820 (AT&T) Released: Sep. 19, 2007
Low Price: $249.99 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Sep. 19, 2007
  • Technology GSM
  • Service Provider AT&T
About The Author

Bonnie Cha is chief correspondent for Crave, covering every kind of tech toy imaginable (with a special obsession for robots and Star Wars-related stuff). When she's not scoping out stories, you can find her checking out live music or surfing in the chilly waters of Northern California.