Monthly Archives: August 2010

Sat, August 14th, 2010 by Graves and Allen


The folks at RIM (actually their PR people) provided me with a Blackberry 9700 (AKA Bold 2) working on the T-Mobile network for review purposes.  I have worked with it for the last month or two and like it very much.  It has a smaller footprint and thinner profile than the original Bold (9000)(which I have on an ATT account).  It has the same basic appearance, only smaller and more svelte, more like the Curve in size, but with a more substantial feeling. The 9700’s vital statistics are:    Height: 4.29 inches; Width: 2.36 inches; Depth: 0.56 inches; Weight: 4.3 ounces.   RIM claims the following battery information for the 9700: Standby time: GSM–up to 21 days/504 hours, UMTS–up to 17 days/408 hours;  Talk time: GSM–up to 6 hours, UMTS–up to 6 hours; Music playback time: up to 38 hours.  I continue to find myself impressed by the fact that the Blackberry devices do seem to hold their charge longer and get more use out of it than any other device I have experienced.

The smaller size also meant a smaller keyboard, which like the original Bold takes up about half of the front of the device, leaving the other half for the screen.  The smaller keyboard took some getting used to, but after a while, I accommodated to it and found it quite satisfactory.  If I had not bounced back and forth between the 9700 and the 9000, I probably would have accommodated to it more quickly, but, I preferred the larger keyboard.  As the 9700 is both smaller and lighter, I prefer carrying (and pocketing) that device and have gotten over the keyboard issue, deciding that the tradeoff made sense.

The 9700 also comes with a small trackpad instead of the traditional Blackberry trackball.  I strongly prefer the trackpad over the trackball.  The interface works smoothly and efficiently and it never sticks as the trackball sometimes does.  In fairness, I have never had the trackball stick on a newer device, only when the device has some wear on it.  The structure of the trackpad makes it less likely that a user will experience problems with the trackpad than the trackball.

The 9700 comes with the Blackberry OS 5.  While the OS5 offers some upgrades to its predecessors, it does not present substantial differences.  The Blackberry OS lags behind the Apple iOS4 and the Android operating systemS in terms of user interface and features.  Blackberry has now released a new OS (OS6), but it does not yet offer it on the 9700.  I have not seen the new OS in action yet, but should have a look at it soon.  It remains to see how far the new OS will move the Blackberry along the path to catching up with or surpassing the other operating systems available.

The Blackberry remains strong at what it does best, handling eMail;  but other systems have largely caught up to the Blackberry in eMail handling and also offer the push technology that made the Blackberry OS preeminent for such a long time period.  I like the clarity of the 9700’s display;  but it remains one of the smallest smart phone displays I have used in some time.  I prefer the larger display RIM employed with its Storm device.   The tradeoff here is the physical keyboard on the 9700 with the smaller display or the virtual keyboard with the Storm and the larger display.

When the original Bold came out, I thought it was the best of the Blackberry line.  By comparison to the 9700 the 9000 seems bulky and clunky, although it still works fine (save and except for the occasional catch in the trackball’s operation.  As both models remain current, I would choose the 9700 over the 9000.  If you have wide fingers and worry about the smaller keyboard on the 9700, don’t.  Both keyboards come with ridges that work well with fingernails, solving that problem.  The smaller size of the 9700’s keys will take some getting used to, but you won’t miss carrying the 9000 in your pocket!

As a telephone, the 9700 works fine.  I prefer using it with a Bluetooth earphone and have found it works fine with the several models I tried.  The reception will always be a function of your location and the service provider, but I have not found any significant difference in reception between the 9700 and other phones using  the same carrier.

The 9700 has both a 3G mode (the first Blackberry to work on 3G) and WiFi.  Both forms of connectivity worked well and I had no problem connecting it to my home or my office wireless networks.  The 3G brings the Blackberry into more modern times and provides a nice upkick in speed and responsiveness.  The 3.2 megapixel camera, while not overly exciting does the job nicely and gives you the ability to take grab shots when you do not have a better camera available.  It gives you a nice alternative to carrying a camera with you everywhere you go;  but if you want good pictures, you will do better with a dedicated camera than any smartphone including the 9700.

The 9700 comes with a built in GPS capability as well as Blackberry Maps.  The GPS appears to work adequately.

If you need to get a new phone, want a Blackberry and use a provider that offers the 9700, you can confidently get one and anticipate the type of reliability that has become a standard for RIM in its Blackberry devices.  I have no problem recommending it.  BUT, if you use or want to use ATT as the provider for your Blackberry, you may want to check out the Torch.  I just got one for review today and it looks very good.  I will review it shortly here.  The Torch (which comes with Blackberry OS6 preloaded) only works on ATT, so if you do not use or do not want to use ATT, you can’t get one except by paying the full price for it and then having it unlocked so that you can put another provider’s SIM card into it.

Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Allen.

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