BlackBerry 7100 review: BlackBerry 7100

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The Good The RIM BlackBerry 7130c sports a very sleek and compact form factor, as well as a solid feature set that includes Bluetooth, EDGE support, and a speakerphone. The 7130c also has excellent call quality and can deliver e-mail in real time.

The Bad The SureType technology on the RIM BlackBerry 7130c takes some acclimation.

The Bottom Line The RIM BlackBerry 7130c is an excellent phone and e-mail device for consumers and professionals alike; plus, it's one of the best-designed BlackBerrys we've seen to date.

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8.3 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 9

RIM BlackBerry 7130c

Research in Motion's BlackBerry 7100 series was a new direction for the company, offering its customers a more compact and consumer-friendly device with the familiar BlackBerry functionality. The line has continued to evolve over the past year, and its latest model, the RIM BlackBerry 7130c, is a winner. It offers many of the features found in its siblings, such as a speedy Intel processor, robust e-mail capabilities, a sharp screen, and Bluetooth, but it also boasts a more refined and lightweight form factor that makes it the best-designed model we've seen to date. You may be thinking, "Great, it has a nice design, but how does it perform?" The answer: very well. It's an excellent phone and e-mail device with EDGE capability and a vast range of features. The RIM BlackBerry 7130c is a great smart phone for mobile professionals and consumers alike who need to stay connected on the road. It's now available through Cingular for a fair price of $199 with a two-year contract.

The RIM BlackBerry 7130c has a great design, plain and simple. Though the 7100 series has always had a compact form factor, the BlackBerry 7130c most closely resembles a candy bar phone in look and feel. It's sleek (4.5 by 2.1 by 0.7 inches) and incredibly light (4.2 ounces), which makes it comfortable to hold up to your ear for conversations. As a bonus, the handset is attractive, with an appealing silver and midnight blue color scheme.

The 7130c's 2.25-inch (diagonal) screen dominates the face of device and displays 65,000 colors at 240x260 resolution. It's not quite the 320x240 pixels of its full QWERTY cousin, the BlackBerry 8700c, but the 7130c still shows off sharp images and text. It's also equipped with light-sensing technology that automatically adjusts the backlighting depending on your environment, and unlike that of many other phones, the display is readable in sunlight. Customization options are plentiful, including the ability to change the backlight time and the font family, style, and size, as well as to turn antialiasing on or off.

RIM BlackBerry 7130c
Easy viewing: the RIM BlackBerry 7130c's screen shows off sharp images and bright colors.

Navigating the phone's menus is simple, thanks to the 7130c's intuitive controls. Below the screen are the Send and End keys for making calls and a center convenience key that you can program to open any application. Below those buttons, you'll find the SureType keyboard that's present on all devices in the 7100 series. This modified QWERTY keyboard features two letters per button (the number keys share space with the keys in the three center columns) and works with SureType technology, which, like predictive text, guesses the word you're typing after you input the first couple of letters. Admittedly, we've never been huge fans of SureType, preferring the ease and speed of the full QWERTY models, but we're so enamored by the compact form factor that we're willing to make that compromise. The keys themselves are well spaced and adequately backlit.

On the left spine, there is a 2.5mm headset jack, a mini USB port, and another customizable Convenience key, while the familiar trackwheel and Escape button are on the right spine. All these controls make it easy to operate the 7130c with one hand. There's a power button and a mute key on top of the device and a small notification LED on front. Finally, the speakerphone is located on the back. Cingular packages the device with a number of basic accessories, including a wired headset, a travel charger, a USB cable, a belt holster, a CD containing the BlackBerry Desktop software, and reference material.

Just because the RIM BlackBerry 7130c is small in size doesn't mean it skimps on features. Like the latest BlackBerrys, the 7130c is powered by a speedy Intel processor, and it comes with 64MB of flash memory and 16MB of SDRAM. The phone book is limited only by the available memory, and for each contact, you can store up to eight numbers, home and work addresses, a Web URL, notes, and more. For hands-free calls, you can use the speakerphone, which can be activated only once you're on a call, or you can wirelessly connect to a headset, thanks to the 7130c's integrated Bluetooth.

RIM BlackBerry 7130c
The BlackBerry 7130c's speakerphone delivered excellent audio quality.