The BlackBerry range of products have traditionally been rather stuffy little business gadgets, lacking the style and panache of classic consumer electronics products and instead focusing on great functionality and commercial services. The BlackBerry Pearl takes all of the original BlackBerry functionality but repackages it with trackball navigation and an invigorated interface in a sexy package. But what did the world think? Blompo.com has been following the word on the web.
The first review came in from PC Magazine on the 7th of September and announced proudly that "the first multimedia BlackBerry plays music, takes photos, and still handles e-mail with aplomb". ABC were no less eager: "The BlackBerry Pearl is a delight. It combines truly excellent push e-mail, a gorgeous screen, a relatively high-quality camera, and the beginnings of some great media functionality in a very pretty package. As long as you can cope with the little hybrid keyboard, it's a much classier and more powerful alternative to the Sidekick and other BlackBerry models."
Unfortunately, not everyone was so happy with what they saw. Here's infoSync: "The eponymous Pearl trackball gave us headaches. And while the handset's multimedia features and friendly main menu may draw in plenty of RIM newbies, they'll be scratching their heads once they dig into the typically arcane, text-only submenus, calendars and contact lists." And infoSync were not the only ones unsure that the new diversification would be a success: "The problem with the Pearl really is that it's neither a mainstream consumer phone nor a hardcore business device", said Tom's Hardware Guide.
However, Crunch Gear were happy to give Blackberry their due saying that "although it doesn’t have a full keyboard or look like a blue robot liver, it brings mobile email and IM to the masses." No less optimistic were WCBS-TV in New York who said that "overall, the 90 gram BlackBerry Pearl hits the nail on the head for combining all the popular BlackBerry features from the beginning and a few newbies that make it much more usable and more like a standard cell phone than ever before."
Its rare that a manufacturer ever gets a product as new as the Pearl out the door without technical glitches, and the Pearl has already had its fair share. PDA Street reported the first such issue: "Early reports say a bug causes the trackball, which replaces the traditional BlackBerry scroll wheel, to silence the smartphone's ringer with the slightest movement." Unfortunately, that was not all, as engadget were happy to point out: "RIM got so wrapped up in that stupid Pearl of theirs that they forgot how crucial the typing experience is on a mobile communicator with a QWERTY (or in this case SureType) keyboard. They're smushy, mushy, wobbly, and weak. Know why? Because they're just keys glued to a thin, flexible rubber film beneath."
So, what's the verdict? Well, ultimately most reviewers seemed happy despite the issues, but if you're new to BlackBerry and looking for the perfect communicator it may be a good idea to wait until the next generation, when hopefully RIM will have smoothed out the impurities in its newest release. But if you're a BlackBerry devotee looking for more style and more phone-like functionality, the Blackberry Pearl seems like a great option.