Now that some of the iPhone
mania has died down, Research In Motion
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
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)
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
not even try. They can’t win there.”
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.