RIM's Dual-Mode Smartphone Arrives

The Blackberry 8820 combines EDGE/GPRS/GSM cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity as well as a built-in GPS.

 By David Needle
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Now that some of the iPhone mania has died down, Research In Motion has surfaced with a new Blackberry 8820 smartphone.

The mobile device is RIM's thinnest smartphone and its first dual-mode handset. The 8820 combines EDGE/GPRS/GSM cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity for data access and voice support; it also includes a built in Global Positioning System (GPS).

The 8820 has a raft of accessibility and storage features including: Speaker Independent Voice Recognition for Voice Activated Dialing (VAD), smart dialing, conference calling, speed dialing and call forwarding, as well as dedicated "send", "end" and "mute" keys. In addition to its "high quality, low-distortion speakerphone" the 8820 includes Bluetooth 2.0 support for use with hands-free headsets, car kits and other Bluetooth peripherals.

Storage includes a microSD / microSDHC (microSD High Capacity) expandable memory slot that RIM said can support current and future generations of microSD memory cards up to 32GB.

Addressing corporate security concerns, the BlackBerry 8820 is compliant with Wi-Fi security protocols including WEP (Wireless Equivalency Protocol), WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) and WPA2, as well as Cisco Compatible Extensions for simple, secure connectivity with Cisco wireless solutions.

For enterprises that require Wi-Fi users to access the corporate network through a VPN (Virtual Private Network) , the BlackBerry 8820 includes IPSec-based software that RIM said supports the most commonly deployed VPN gateways from vendors such as Cisco, Check Point and others.

RIM said the 8820 will be available from certain wireless carriers worldwide in the next few weeks, while distribution in the U.S., via AT&T, is slated for later this summer.

Analyst Roger Kay said the 8820 should appeal to RIM's loyal base of corporate users, but it needs to keep an eye on what Apple is doing with the iPhone to stay competitive.

"Features like the built-in GPS and corporate email support is going to keep RIM's customers happy," Kay, president of Endpoint Technolgiies Associates, told internetnews.com. "In the future I'd like to see them do more to improve the display, maybe add touch-screen features to keep pace with Apple.

"From a competitive differentiation view, it's probably wise for RIM to emphasize the 'phone-ness' of the BlackBerry, and all the features for corporate users, cede the music stuff to Apple and not even try. They can't win there."

BlackBerry 8820
The 8820
Source: RIM

The 8820 does include a variety of multimedia features including the most recent BlackBerry media player refinements which let users play music and search by simply typing the title, genre, artist or album name. Videos can also be played in full screen mode.

Also included is a new desktop media manager (the Roxio Media Manager based on Sonic's Roxio Easy Media Creator 9). RIM said the desktop media manager lets users easily search for media files on their computer, view and organize them, create MP3 music files from CDs, add audio tags, create playlists and automatically copy or convert pictures, music and videos for optimal playback on the smartphone.

This article was originally published on Jul 19, 2007
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