While PalmOne gets all the attention with its line of Treo smart phones, it's easy to overlook the simple yet highly functional BlackBerry line of smart phones from Research in Motion (RIM). Whereas the represents the marriage of a business-oriented smart phone to a multimedia-enabled handheld, the BlackBerry 7750 stands as the poster child for utilitarian simplicity. And that is exactly why we love it. Having experienced a few missteps with its first attempts at the wireless e-mail device/PDA/cell phone, RIM has learned a few things, listened to users, and with the BlackBerry 7750, offered by Verizon, Sprint PCS and EarthLink, consumers get a nice little package. The first thing you'll notice about the RIM BlackBerry 7750 is its size. At 4.7 by 3.0 by 0.7 inches and 5 ounces, it's much larger than older BlackBerry devices such as the or the newer 7100t. Because of its size, carrying it around in your pants pocket is uncomfortable. Furthermore, some people won't want to walk around holding up a PDA to the side of their face. We suspect that most users will opt to use the 7750 with the included swivel holster and the earbud-style headset.
Of course, this extra size isn't for naught. The 7750 sports an enormous 3-inch-diagonal display that supports 65,536 colors. In BlackBerry-speak, that translates into a display that shows four rows of icons instead of three. And while we appreciate the size of the display, which makes it easy to read e-mail and surf the wireless Web, the screen wasn't very bright. Even with its backlight set on high, the display doesn't necessarily pop as much as the 7100t's does.
Similar to more traditional BlackBerry devices, the 7750 provides a mini-QWERTY keyboard that is actually easy to use. Firing off e-mail messages, navigating to Web pages, and entering alphanumeric data is easy to do with your thumbs. Typing special characters require first pushing the SYM key, which accesses a screen with the necessary options. This, however, is merely a learning-curve issue that users will quickly overcome.
Dialing a number can be done in one of two ways. Using the scrollwheel on the handset's right side, you can highlight, then activate the Phone icon. This brings you to the Phone interface, in which the left-hand side of the keyboard behaves like a more traditional number pad. Type in the number you wish to call, then hit the Return key. If that involves more fumbling around than you'd like, hitting the Phone-mode quick-launch button above the scrollwheel automatically takes you to the Phone interface.