The tiny BlackBerry might be the ultimate pager

No matter how convenient wireless e-mail seems, it usually works only through a special address. A user has to figure out how to make the office e-mail system forward messages to that address.

If you don't use Exchange, Research in Motion sells an Internet version with its own e-mail address. The BlackBerry is one of the few wireless offerings that can integrate with existing e-mail accounts. As someone who checks seven mailboxes every day, I appreciate having one fewer address to remember.The GCN Lab uses Exchange, so I installed the BlackBerry software on my client system. The BlackBerry documentation was sparse and could be better organized, but the installation was relatively straightforward.I tested a BlackBerry 957 handheld, which at 4.6 by 3.1 inches and almost three-quarters of an inch thick was slightly smaller than a typical handheld computer. It weighed 5 ounces.The 957 model is about twice the size of a BlackBerry 950, which in turn is about the size of a pager.Whenever I started Microsoft Windows on the PC, the BlackBerry software would load along with the Redirector agent, which forwarded incoming e-mails to the 957 and sent replies back to Exchange Server and then through to the Internet.Redirector worked fine and usually fast, but the application always remained active on the Windows task bar.I would rather have it minimized in the system tray, away from the other active applications.Redirector must be up and running for forwarding to work, and the user must be logged on to the network. But Outlook does not need to be running on the user's PC.If Outlook is running, some strange e-mails will occasionally pop up, then disappear. If Redirector is not running, the e-mails do not disappear.Handily, the messages state their purpose, which has to do with the BlackBerry device, but they produce ghost alerts that the user has mail when in fact the messages have disappeared.Although Redirector can handle the basic e-mail functions of sending, receiving and replying, it cannot handle other e-mail functions wirelessly.For example, Redirector can't delete mail or mark it as read. For those functions, the BlackBerry 957 must be physically connected to the PC's serial port in a recharging cradle.The included software synchronizes the 957 whenever the BlackBerry is in its cradle during bootup or when requested by the user. I found it integrated well with PC-resident contacts, schedules and tasks, and it did not interfere with Outlook.The monochrome LCD readout showed 16 or 20 lines of text, depending on the user's choice. I found the 20-line mode quite acceptable. There was a red light for alerts as well as brief beeps, neither of which was annoying. The BlackBerry could also vibrate a silent alert.Beneath the 2- by 2-inch display was an abbreviated QWERTY keyboard with 26 letter keys, a space bar and six other keys'about the minimum for a two-way pagerlike device. An orange button selected use of numbers and other symbols.The keys required very firm pressure. Because they were not protected in any way, I'm guessing that's why the company made the keys unresponsive, even uncomfortable for long-term use. I much preferred the softer keys of the PageWriter 2000X from Motorola Inc. of Schaumburg, Ill.Navigation selections were via a wheel along the right side of the display and a button. I turned the wheel to move around and pushed it to make a selection. The button acted like a back button on a Web browser, returning to the main menu.The BlackBerry 957 had backlighting for use in dark rooms, although the keys were not lit.I could depend on the BlackBerry 957 for up to two weeks without recharging the internal lithium-ion battery.Inside the device was a 32-bit Intel 386 processor'remember the 386?'plus 5M of flash memory and 512K of RAM.'The no-frills applications included e-mail, address book, calendar, alarm, calculator, memo pad and tasks.Other applications are available, but the reliable BlackBerry does not have as many third-party applications as Palm OS or Microsoft PocketPC handhelds.That's why the BlackBerry is, at heart, a well-integrated, functional, two-way pager.Sure, it has features not found on a pager, such as e-mail and a calendar. But it lacks the little things that would make it a good personal digital assistant.For example, I would have liked to have a snooze button for appointment alarms.The best aspect of the BlackBerry 957 remains its integration with Exchange e-mail. That's what distinguishes this offering from other wireless devices.

By Michael Cheek

GCN Staff

No matter how convenient wireless e-mail seems, it usually works only through a special address. A user has to figure out how to make the office e-mail system forward messages to that address.

It's different for users of Microsoft Exchange Server e-mail. The BlackBerry wireless pager from Research in Motion Ltd. integrates directly with Exchange.'The necessary software can reside on the e-mail server or on the user's client PC.


The BlackBerry two-way pager's keys aren't lit for use in the dark and are annoyingly stiff for prolonged use.




















Ready, set, go







Box Score

BlackBerry 957

Exchange Edition

Two-way e-mail and paging device


Research in Motion Ltd., Waterloo, Ontario; tel. 877-255-2377

www.blackberry.net

Price: $499 plus $40 to $74 for monthly service

+Works with existing Exchange e-mail address

+Solid, no-frills two-way paging

'Documentation sparse

Real-life requirements:

Win9x or NT 4.0, Exchange Server 4.0 and Outlook 97 or higher versions, 32M of RAM, 20M of free storage













Cradle time





















Count on it







NEXT STORY: BUY LINES

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.