I don't normally reply to "should I get a Pearl" threads because it's not up to me to convince anyone to buy a phone. Basically, I could care less if someone else on the planet buys this phone.
But yours is an interesting query.
IMHO I think people forget that WITHOUT a data plan the Pearl remains an awesome multimedia device. While "turning on" the e-mail and data services is beneficial to many, the "naked Pearl" still makes a great phone, plays MP3, and runs feature length movies if one wants, all for a very low price or even free [depending on how you purchase the Pearl].
As I have said before, I used to pay $500 for a cell phone whose only "feature" was that it was the smallest cell phone of the time. And that was in 1998 dollars, for example.
Now for $200 or less [upgrade price] one can get a phone that weighs about 3 ounces, has a speaker phone, a nice interface, plays media and looks cool. Well that's a good deal in my book.
Also, Members should not forget that many phones that compete with the Pearl do NOT have the BB service. Even without such service, the phones compete with each other. In fact, the Pearl was developed to compete with other non-BB phones. So getting a Pearl without data or e-mail services is a reasonable option.
I dunno about being able to use Google Maps, etc. without a data plan. I thought that Google uses "the net" to get updated maps. Maybe it does not require a data connection? I have a data plan so I don't know what works and does not work without a data plan.
Bonus Tip: I know Cingular is more expensive than my carrier, T-Mo, for data and e-mail services, but I assume Cing is like T-Mo where you can try out the data and e-mail services, consider if it is worth the extra cost, and if not, just cancel it. In other words, you are not bound for a contract term for such, like you are with a phone plan. So why not give it a try for a couple months. Make sure you can in fact cancel it after a few months.