BlackBerry Wireless Handheld 957 - handheld review:

BlackBerry Wireless Handheld 957 - handheld

MSRP: $349.00
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CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Constant access to corporate e-mail.

The Bad No frills; expensive.

The Bottom Line The best way to remain continuously connected to your business e-mail.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

6.0 Overall

The RIM 957 Wireless Handheld is strictly business. It functions as a mobile version of Microsoft Outlook, and that's it. There are no colors, games, or any other frills. But for busy executives who need to be connected to e-mail all the time, it does the trick. The RIM 957 Wireless Handheld is strictly business. It functions as a mobile version of Microsoft Outlook, and that's it. There are no colors, games, or any other frills. But for busy executives who need to be connected to e-mail all the time, it does the trick.

The 957 isn't radically different from the popular RIM 950. They both use the same BlackBerry service, which provides wireless e-mail access, and they run the same software. However, while the 950 is a chunky-looking pager, the 957 is sleek and smooth--just a hair thicker than the Palm V. More importantly, the 957's LCD is larger and very crisp--even in sunlight--which makes reading lengthy e-mail much easier. Unfortunately, though, both devices use the same teeny, tiny keyboard. We found it tiresome to peck out more than just a few, brief sentences. On the upside, the battery lasts for a week without recharging, so you can just leave the device on, ready to receive your next e-mail.

Wireless e-mail
The one thing that the RIM 957 does better than any other device we've seen so far is work with corporate e-mail accounts. Our review unit came with the BlackBerry Exchange Edition desktop software and service. With this software, there's no need to set up a separate wireless e-mail address if you are currently using Microsoft Outlook. An e-mail redirector program running on your desktop will forward incoming e-mail to the handheld. It took less than a minute for a new e-mail from our in-box to arrive at the handheld. And the BlackBerry service, which delivers e-mail to the handheld, has nationwide coverage, so no matter how far you wander, you should always be able to get your mail. If you don't use Outlook, another version--the BlackBerry Internet Edition, which comes with a separate e-mail address for the handheld--is also available.

If you get a ton of e-mail, the software can easily be configured to forward only the messages that are important. Any e-mail that you send from the handheld returns to your desktop and is sent through your own Outlook account by the redirector, so it appears that the message originated from your desk. No one will ever know that you were at the golf course when that message went out rather than sitting behind your desk.

Large companies wishing to outfit a number of employees can install special software directly on the e-mail server to manage the redirection of e-mail to and from the handheld. With this software installed, there's no need for individual users to keep their respective PCs running 24 hours a day.

Simple to start
Setting up the handheld couldn't be easier. Simply install the BlackBerry software, hook up the recharging cradle to your PC's serial port, and you're done. All of your contacts and schedule information, as well as mail from your in-box, will be automatically loaded. The handheld comes preloaded with the core functions of all handhelds: a contact list, a calendar, an alarm clock, a calculator, a to-do list, and a memo pad. The only other software options are Internet clipping services provided by GoAmerica and PocketGenie.

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