BlackBerry 7100t does it all

Device sports unique keyboard, speakerphone and messaging features

The new Research in Motion BlackBerry 7100t, available from T-Mobile, is the answer for folks who want their BlackBerry and a phone, too.

This device does it all: It's an organizer, Web browser, mobile phone and BlackBerry e-mail messenger that can connect you to 10 e-mail accounts at once.

The standout new features are a unique keyboard and typing technology called SureType. Developed by Research in Motion, SureType might solve the pesky problem plaguing most thumb keyboards that are impractical to use because the keys are so small.

The SureType system uses a 20-key QWERTY keyboard and software that recognizes common word patterns and learns your typing style.

The keyboard fits comfortably on this small device while boasting keys much larger than those on standard thumb keyboards. In other words, it's the best of both worlds. A standard numeric keypad is overlaid on the center keys, which are the largest.

Almost every key features two letters, but the goal is to type by punching each key only once and allowing the SureType software to figure out the word you're typing. In addition, the names, cities and streets in your contact list are automatically added to the device's vocabulary.

We tried it and were pleasantly surprised at how well it works. With a little practice, we were typing words quickly and the software chose the correct letters almost all the time.

We also liked the fresh new graphics. The fonts are updated, and the application icons look more 3-D and less cartoonish. And we were tickled when the receiver on the phone icon appeared to lift when we selected that option. The other icons had similar animation.

Other new 7100t features include a built-in speakerphone and Bluetooth capability. You can use the speakerphone with a wireless headset and Bluetooth with a car kit for hands-free talking.

Speaking of talking, you'll be able to do a lot of it because this quad-band phone works in 135 countries, and the battery is rated at up to four hours of talk time and eight days of standby time.

In addition to the new features and 32M of flash memory, the 7100t also comes with all the functionality BlackBerry users know and love.

You can manage all those e-mail accounts from one location using BlackBerry Internet Service or BlackBerry Enterprise Server. The device's push technology means corporate or personal e-mail is automatically forwarded to the BlackBerry in real time.

You can also send and receive instant messages and Short Message Service (SMS) messages in addition to viewing SMS threads.

As an organizer, the 7100t features an address book, calendar, memo pad, task list and centralized address book you can use to schedule meetings, send e-mail or SMS messages, or make a phone call.

The device supports HTML Web browsing, which is easy to navigate by using the side-mounted scroll wheel that doubles as an enter key. An escape key located just below the wheel quickly returns you to previous screens or closes menus.

A handy Convenience Key pulls up bookmarks and content channels. When you're browsing Web pages, this key activates hyperlinks within the pages.

We liked the built-in help feature that provides answers while you're on the go. You'll get application-specific help if you access the feature from within a program, or you can access a stand-alone help application from elsewhere.

All of this comes in a surprisingly small package that's comfortable to use as a phone. The device weighs about 4.2 ounces and measures approximately 4.7 inches by 2.3 inches by 0.8 inches.

The BlackBerry 7100t costs $200 after rebates, and T-Mobile service plans start at $60 per month.

Many features, small handset

The BlackBerry 7100t looks like a mobile phone. It provides wireless phone and e-mail capabilities along with other BlackBerry functionality in a small handset.

Some of the key features include:

  • Quad-band phone that can make calls in 135 countries.
  • Speakerphone for hands-free use.
  • Bluetooth functionality for car kits and other wireless options.
  • Connectivity for up to 10 e-mail accounts.
  • Always-on, push e-mail technology.
  • New QWERTY-based SureType keypad.
  • Built-in instant messaging from major providers.
  • Ability to view HTML Web pages.
  • Source: Research in Motion

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