Fortunately, there are other avenues for multimedia on the Curve 8330. The smartphone's built-in media player supports MP3, WMA, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, AMR-NB, and MIDI music files, and MPEG4, WMV, and H.263 video clips. You have the capability to search for songs on the smartphone, create playlists on the fly, and shuffle and repeat songs, and there's a full-screen mode for video playback. The included software CD also contains a copy of Roxio Easy Media Creator, so you can create MP3s from CDs and add audio tags. There's 96MB of flash memory onboard, but we'd load multimedia files on a microSD/SDHC card to conserve storage. The expansion slot can accept up to 8GB cards.
The RIM BlackBerry Curve 8330 also features a 2-megapixel camera with video recording capabilities. In regular camera mode, there's a 5x zoom and flash, as well as three picture sizes and three quality options. You also get white-balance settings and several color effects you can add to the photo. Video options are bit more limited with just two video formats (normal or multimedia message), three color effects, and a video light. Picture quality was OK. As we found with the Sprint Curve, objects had sharp definition but there was a slight grayness to the photo.
Other applications on the Curve include a calendar, a tasks list, a memo pad, an alarm clock, a password keeper, a calculator, a Brickbreaker game, and a voice recorder. Of course, you can add more applications to the BlackBerry, depending on your interests. For suggestions, check out CNET Download.com.
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 850/1900; EV-DO) RIM BlackBerry Curve 8330 in San Francisco using Verizon service, and call quality was good--better than Sprint's model. We enjoyed clear audio with very little to no background noise or distortion while we were talking to friends and using an airline's voice automated response system. On the other end, callers had similar praises though they said our voices sounded slightly tinny. Audio quality diminished slightly when we activated the speakerphone as voices sounds just a bit garbled; that said, we were still able to carry on conversations. We were able to successfully pair the Curve with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset or the Motorola S9 Active Bluetooth headphones.
The Curve 8330 was generally responsive with minimal performance delays. Thanks to Verizon's EV-DO network, surfing the Net was relatively painless and swift. The Curve's improved Web browser, which features a mouse-like cursor, also does wonders for making page navigation easier than previous BlackBerrys. Multimedia performance was OK. We transferred several songs and videos to the smartphone, and as expected, music playback through the phone's speakers was mediocre but much improved when we plugged in a decent pair of headphones into the 3.5mm jack. Videos also looked a bit blurry, but sound audio and picture were synchronized. We are currently waiting for VZ Navigator to be activated on our review unit to test the GPS capabilities, and will update this section soon.
The RIM BlackBerry Curve 8330's 1,150mAh lithium ion battery has a rated talk time of 4.3 hours and up to 11 days of standby time. In our battery drain tests, we were able to get 5 hours of continuous talk time on a single charge. According to FCC radiation tests, the Curve 8330 has a digital SAR rating of 1.54 watts per kilogram.