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Old 10-15-2004, 08:03 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default [2004-10-15] BlackBerry device in a Smartphone wrapper

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RIM's latest BlackBerry device offers a format more like a mobile phone handset for those who admire the wireless email capabilities of BlackBerry kit but do not want the rather big BlackBerry clients that have so far been available.

While few would dispute that the BlackBerry has been a breakthrough device, some have carped that previous models have been awkward in shape because of their qwerty keypads.

To answer that criticism, the BlackBerry 7100 has recently been introduced, available in the UK initially through mobile carrier Vodafone and branded as the Vodafone BlackBerry 7100v. The device's innovative design is likely to find favour with many waverers.

Slim and lightweight, the 7100v looks from a distance like a standard phone. Close up, it becomes noticeable that there are more keys and they mostly have two letters inscribed rather than the usual three. This is the first clue to RIM's ambition of squeezing a qwerty layout onto a phone-size keypad without reducing text input to the multiple key presses often required to get the desired characters on a phone.

The most impressive trick RIM has pulled off with the 7100v is SureText, a predictive text input system that surprises with its accuracy. Predictive text is disliked by some handset users because it is often fiddly and tends to produce poor results. However, we found that SureText does an excellent job of guessing the writer's intentions without the user often having to select individual characters.

This capability applies to dictionary words but also word structures. Type in a name like Kelly, for example, and SureText correctly identifies it. SureText sometimes fails with unpredictable text or alphanumeric strings, but it recalls strings in the future after they have been used once.

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