BlackBerry Curve 8300

GCN Lab Reviewer's Choice selection

One of the most annoying things about smart phones is their inability to use standard ports to connect to a PC or charge the battery. Finally, a company has put together a smart phone that not only takes advantage of pre-existing technologies but also adds everything you need in a true enterprise client.

The Curve interfaces with your computer or wall socket via a basic 4-pin USB connection the same way I charge my generic Bluetooth wireless headset. This means I have two simple, inexpensive and easy-to-replace chargers that work with either device.

Weighing 3.9 ounces and measuring 4.2 inches by 2.4 inches by 0.6 inches, the Curve isn't much larger than any other standard smart phone on the market and is much easier to carry that the older BlackBerry design with its wider platform. The new design, which is similar to the Palm Treo's, feels more like a phone and is more comfortable to use than previous Black- Berry versions. That is fortunate because the Curve's rechargeable lithium-ion battery gives the user four hours of talk time or 17 days of standby.

One of only three units in the review to offer a removable battery, the Curve also boasts a beefed-up 312 MHz Intel PXA901 Hermon processor, which does a great job of processing commands and maintaining a constant flow during navigation. The only negative in the design is that the mini-SD card slot is inside the device behind the battery.

The Curve runs Version 4.2.2 of the BlackBerry operating system with Java support. This system is easy to learn and even easier to use for e-mail or organizing your schedule, and it includes bells and whistles associated with pricier handhelds, such as a built-in 2 megapixel digital camera.

Another great feature is the Curve's transition from a black-and-white display to a 2.4-inch Quarter Video Graphics Array screen. The new screen is capable of producing a sharp 320 x 240 image, which makes pictures look as if they are popping off the screen.

A final positive feature is Push to Talk capability. This makes the Curve act like a walkie-talkie or Nextel phone. Now you can communicate with any other phone that has the same Push to Talk feature. Prices vary depending on the carrier, but the feature is nice to have and further justifies the $449 price tag.


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