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Old 10-16-2005, 02:36 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default My CNET Review of T-Mobile's 7290 for those interested in buying it.

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note: this type of thread may have been posted already, but i haven't been around this forum in a few months so bare with me..

This is from a recently posted review of the 7290 based on my 3-4 months of using it. I gave it 3 out 10 stars. There may be some typos and basic mistakes (I wasn't sure of the actual RIM software in the 7290 but I knew the 7230 and 7280 used 3.7 versions) but what do you guys think?



INTRO:
I've been a T-mobile customer since 2001 and I previously owned the 7230 (for 1.5 years), and upgraded to the 7280 (owned that for 6 months or so), Then this June 2005 I upgraded to the 7290 for the bluetooth functions and the hope that the 4.0 software would fix all the minor gripes I had with the previous RIMs (also the 2 stage bright color LCD backlight).
Anyway, little did I know thatT-Mobile recently revamped their entire network from the way voicemail is handled to their signaling towers.
That combined with the annoyingly defunct 4.0 RIM software has made owning this phone a nightmare...read on.

PROS: Compared to the previous blackberries the 7290 has the most prolific screen in terms of backlight brightness (the 2 stage is awesome), and richness of color. The keys are also easy to use and the home or basic menu are very user friendly when combined with the key layout and scroll wheel. The size and OEM case of the blackberries make them snug and easy to clip on carry with just about any outfit from business attire to lounging on your deck with only your boxer shorts on. thats it for pros.

CONS:
1: Bluetooth is awful. It ONLY works with selected Bluetooth headsets. SO if you are planning on trading information between the 7290 and your bluetooth laptop or Palm/Pocket PC like I did, forget about it. It frankly doesn't work and its a waste of extra money and battery life spent for this feature. Even with the best bluetooth headset (Motorola HS820) there is, the 7290's sound clarity, battery life and user friendliness all was very poor. The Bluetooth menus and prompts only slow things down and are useless; the 7290 4.0 RIM software is set up to ask you "ARE YOU SURE?" in a yes/no pop up menu for just about everything it does. And you cannot configure it to not do that.
2: Battery Life was okay, but way lower than the 7230 and 7280 even with Bluetooth and Back lighting off. After a day of average use (20-40 minutes of talk time with bluetooth on, 10-20 mins online, 5-30 mins of backlight on) you go home with about 60% to 70% battery life left. The next day without charge and similar usage will deplete the battery to about %30 to %50. The third day the phone will die on you.
Not good at all.
3: Lots of 4.0 RIM Software Bugs + T-mobile = Horrible service, poor/slow/unreliable voicemail and data functions. Some days I have no signal in the middle of NYC for hours at a time. Then between T-mobile and the RIM 4.0 set up, there is NO voicemail notification set up. So if you get a voicemail, you have to dail into voicemail to see if you have voice messages. The 7230 and 7280 would leave a text message notifying you of the time, date and amount of messages you have recieved. The T-Mobile 7290 for reasons unknown to myself and to T-Mobile's poor customer service does not inform you of voicemails. That is probably my biggest gripe. Missing important voice messages because of this has been costing me money, time and friends since I've owned the 7290.
4: T-mobile's new customer service is also horrible when it comes to smartphones and data plans. If you have a problem you have to go thru some minimum wage farm boy in Arkansas who has no idea of what a smartphone is and then he transfers you to some tech dude in Pakistan or India who tries really well to help you, but may or may not speak english well to fully assist you. And the ONLY help you'll get after 30 minutes of back and forth is "turn your phone off and reset it". I BLAME T-mobile for all of that. I have no idea what they are doing anymore, but I'm switching to the cingular plan.
5: Poor Build quality: The OEM RIM case actually scratches the grey color off the back of the 7290. I took it back to T-Mobile and the service guy didn't believe me until he took a good close look at his own grey 7290 and saw that his 7290's color was being scratched off by the OEM case. Then a saleswoman in the same store showed us her 7290 and it had the same inherent flaw. $349 spent and wasted...go figure.
BOTTOM LINE: The 7290 is a great smartphone on paper and is an ideal tribute to the infamous RIM Blackberry line of awesome products. However, when coupled with T-Mobile's recent awful service and very limited/poor customer service this phone is not worth $5.00 much less $349.00. All the prime 4.0 software functions such as bluetooth, data software, and battery life have inherent flaws and limits that leads me to reject T-Mobile's 7290 for any possible reccomendations.
Do NOT waste your money and time.
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Last edited by delmarco : 10-16-2005 at 02:42 PM.
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Old 10-16-2005, 02:54 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I think the review is a waste of time because the release of the 8700 (the 7290's replacement) is coming in the next few weeks
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Old 10-16-2005, 03:30 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for sharing your frustrations.. I am just switching to 7290 from 7730 and it is a nightmare. becasue RIM and T-Mobile is still unable to switch my PIN on their network and because of that I do not have any email service.
I like T-Mobile but since they have upgraded their BIS it is horrible, I guess it was downgrade.
I have already prepared a big complain and I am going to mail to T-Mo and FTC and see what happens.
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Old 10-16-2005, 03:53 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Looks like some of your 7290 review contains frustration with TMO (point 3 & 4). That's not fair to RIM. The 7290 is made and performs well if recharged nightly. This is per the FAQ and I have found this to be true. So if you're trying to go 3 days (point 2) on a single charge then again, that's not fair to RIM. It's like blaming Buick cuz I can't go from Denver to Atlanta on a single tank of gas. If it were gas milage I wanted there are other cars???

I get voicemail notification on my 7290 (point 3) so if you don't then I don't think it's because of RIM. Also, bluetooth works better with the latest OS (point 1) but that's a YMMV.

So your valid point is 5, yes the OEM holder does scratch the case but I guess nothings perfect. You could have forked out for the leather case to protect you $349 investment but I guess you're not perfect either. (not an attack just a personal observation).
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Old 10-16-2005, 04:56 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Wow...
first of all thanks for that info on the 8000series blackberry. I had no idea. it looks awesome. Also 7290s are still extremly popular right now and I plan on getting rid of mine on Ebay for at least $250 based on it's popularity in bids. Also the 8700 BB doesn't look like it's appearing in real life anytime soon...I saw early SPR 2006 for release dates and not FALL 2005 as you stated roofus.

Soapm:
I see where you are coming from. However I was reviewing the T-Mobile's OEM version
7290 and believe it or not it does perform different (slower & and with more bugs) than Cingular's 7290. I switch for a day with my buddy's Cingular 7290 as a joke and I experience an entirely different user experiences. I noticed he got noticable text alerts for messages, his software was faster and Cingular used more of the RIMs potential than T-Mo's software. Not to mention CIngular's perfect reception and data connections.

> In terms of battery life, You should note that when your phone has low signal bars or is constantly losing and searching for a signal or has " data connection refused" displayed often...this wears your battery life. I was hoping that was a well known fact that would be read between the lines of my review. T-Mo's poor service = a 7290 with below par battery life. Again not a complaint against RIM but T-Mo.

My complaint was not that Bluetooth didn't work. But it is useless if I buy it only to find I cant share info with other Bluetooth devices. Bluetooth has been around longer than 4 yrs now. the 7290's bluetooth should not be packaged so primitively as that it ONLY works with a headset. And yes the damn "enable" prompts and pop ups are annoying. I'm an adult and when I select the bluetooth icon to link up to the headset, I'm usually sure of what I want and I do not need RIM's software to ask me in pop up everytime if I'm sure. That function is only cute the first time.

When I pay over $300 for something I don't expect it to wear and tear from simple OEM use. I'm not expected to go out and buy something extra to prevent this. When you buy a $100,000 Mercedes, Do you HAVE to buy a car cover because the rain scratches it? I don't think so. Same principle here buddy.
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Old 10-16-2005, 05:18 PM   #6 (permalink)
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There are a few things I disagree with in your review. First off, it seems like most of the stated problems are related to T-Mobile service in the area. Not very fair to RIM, or even T-Mobile, as service isn't going to be perfect everywhere regardless of carrier.

Quote:
Originally Posted by delmarco
3: Lots of 4.0 RIM Software Bugs + T-mobile = Horrible service, poor/slow/unreliable voicemail and data functions. Some days I have no signal in the middle of NYC for hours at a time. Then between T-mobile and the RIM 4.0 set up, there is NO voicemail notification set up. So if you get a voicemail, you have to dail into voicemail to see if you have voice messages. The 7230 and 7280 would leave a text message notifying you of the time, date and amount of messages you have recieved. The T-Mobile 7290 for reasons unknown to myself and to T-Mobile's poor customer service does not inform you of voicemails. That is probably my biggest gripe. Missing important voice messages because of this has been costing me money, time and friends since I've owned the 7290.
I don't have any of these problems. I get a pop-up notification with number of voicemails whenever someone leaves a voicemail. There is also a voicemail icon on the Home menu at the top of the screen. I'm also with T-Mobile in Southern California. This sounds like a strange technical problem specific to the account, and has nothing to do with RIM or the blackberry.

Quote:
4: T-mobile's new customer service is also horrible when it comes to smartphones and data plans. If you have a problem you have to go thru some minimum wage farm boy in Arkansas who has no idea of what a smartphone is and then he transfers you to some tech dude in Pakistan or India who tries really well to help you, but may or may not speak english well to fully assist you. And the ONLY help you'll get after 30 minutes of back and forth is "turn your phone off and reset it". I BLAME T-mobile for all of that. I have no idea what they are doing anymore, but I'm switching to the cingular plan.
Is Cingular's tech support really that much better? Tech support is pretty much the same everywhere from my experience. There are always the lower tiers to filter out the huge amount of user error problems, and it takes time to get to the top tiers with people who know what they're talking about. I think the only company that I've ever interacted with that had truly awesome tech support was IBM. But you had to pay a premium on their products to get the excellent tech support. That's not happening in the cellular industry where phones are given away for free and plans have to be competitive. So, this is not really an issue with T-Mobile or RIM. This is just the way things are done.

Quote:
5: Poor Build quality: The OEM RIM case actually scratches the grey color off the back of the 7290. I took it back to T-Mobile and the service guy didn't believe me until he took a good close look at his own grey 7290 and saw that his 7290's color was being scratched off by the OEM case. Then a saleswoman in the same store showed us her 7290 and it had the same inherent flaw. $349 spent and wasted...go figure.
The 7290 is the most rugged electronic portable device I've ever owned. I'm very rough on my devices, and it's done a great job of resisting my damage . So I really disagree with this. It also seems like the stated problem is with the cheapo OEM case, not the BlackBerry. Easily remedied by buying an OEM leather case for 16 bucks from webtreo at amazon.com.

Quote:
BOTTOM LINE: The 7290 is a great smartphone on paper and is an ideal tribute to the infamous RIM Blackberry line of awesome products. However, when coupled with T-Mobile's recent awful service and very limited/poor customer service this phone is not worth $5.00 much less $349.00. All the prime 4.0 software functions such as bluetooth, data software, and battery life have inherent flaws and limits that leads me to reject T-Mobile's 7290 for any possible reccomendations.
Do NOT waste your money and time.
You don't really state specifically what the "inherent flaws and limits" of the bluetooth and device software are, besides the constant Yes/No prompts (which I don't think I've ever seen..), so I can't really comment on that.

Overall, I disagree with your conclusion. The 7290 is one of the best always connected portable devices out there right now, and it's hard to go wrong with it.
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Old 10-16-2005, 05:30 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by delmarco
My complaint was not that Bluetooth didn't work. But it is useless if I buy it only to find I cant share info with other Bluetooth devices. Bluetooth has been around longer than 4 yrs now. the 7290's bluetooth should not be packaged so primitively as that it ONLY works with a headset.
AFAIK this is because of security concerns. RIM has to conform to strict government standards, and allowing bluetooth transfer with other devices may provide a way to easily circumvent the device's built in security. So unfortunately RIM's hands are tied on this. Once they can figure out a way to allow full device bluetooth transfer capability while maintaining security, I'm sure we'll see it in an OS update. A nonconvenience for myself, but for people who depend upon bluetooth it could be a major issue.
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Old 10-16-2005, 05:47 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by delmarco
When I pay over $300 for something I don't expect it to wear and tear from simple OEM use. I'm not expected to go out and buy something extra to prevent this. When you buy a $100,000 Mercedes, Do you HAVE to buy a car cover because the rain scratches it? I don't think so. Same principle here buddy.
Of course not, who would trust their $100K Merc to a car cover, you'd get a garage so the acid rain doesn't eat through the clear coat and we all know what hail does to a car. You'd also wax it often to keep that beautiful shine.Also keep in mind that shopping carts don't care what you paid for the car???

And even if time showed on your $100K Merc's exterior you don't blame Merc. Knowing the quality of what Merc sold you I would blame the owner. A guy at our church has a Bently. He rarely drives it but when he does he has seat covers, paper floor mats and uses gloves to open the doors. My point is it takes effort from the owner to sustain the beauty...
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Old 10-16-2005, 05:51 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by delmarco
CONS:
1: Bluetooth is awful. It ONLY works with selected Bluetooth headsets. SO if you are planning on trading information between the 7290 and your bluetooth laptop or Palm/Pocket PC like I did, forget about it. It frankly doesn't work and its a waste of extra money and battery life spent for this feature. Even with the best bluetooth headset (Motorola HS820) there is, the 7290's sound clarity, battery life and user friendliness all was very poor. The Bluetooth menus and prompts only slow things down and are useless; the 7290 4.0 RIM software is set up to ask you "ARE YOU SURE?" in a yes/no pop up menu for just about everything it does. And you cannot configure it to not do that.
When consumers complain about functionality that they WISH would be there but any sort of educated research would have told them that it was NOT there, then I have to say that this is no one's fault but your own.

With that said, starting with the combined BlackBerry Desktop Software 4.1 (available now) and BlackBerry Handheld Software 4.1 (available in a few months), you will be able to synchronize over BT from handheld to PC and vice versa, although it'll have to use Microsoft's Bluetooth Device Manager and not that of the BT OEM.

P.S. - We're now getting the 7290 handhelds for $99 (upgrades). heh.
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Old 10-18-2005, 05:00 PM   #10 (permalink)
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okay, i work all the time and whiles I love my blackberry and joined up on this forum to help me, I like alot of other hard working americans don't have time to bugger about with upgrades and pre-sale research...I'm glad that RIM decided to upgrade their BT to work on par with other BT devices, but that is after the fact. When I buy a product that has the BT emblem on the boxor in the advert I expect full and working BT, and not partial BT.

Next Up, I'm interested in these upgrades and thank you for bringing it to my attention. You guys are awesome
Anyway, I'm selling my T-Mobile grey 7290 cheap so if anyone wants it PM me. Also, I'm going for the cingular 7290 or the 8700 if it ever comes out. Thanks Jibi!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jibi
P.S. - We're now getting the 7290 handhelds for $99 (upgrades). heh.
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Old 10-18-2005, 05:15 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by delmarco
okay, i work all the time and whiles I love my blackberry and joined up on this forum to help me, I like alot of other hard working americans don't have time to bugger about with upgrades and pre-sale research..
Not meaning to keep poking at you but this is like saying I work so I don't have time to take my car back for recalls or pre-sale research. I look at it just the opposite, because I work I don't have money to buy without pre-sale research nor can I afford to dispose of something that the manufacturer has provided a fix.
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Old 10-19-2005, 12:17 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by delmarco
okay, i work all the time and whiles I love my blackberry and joined up on this forum to help me, I like alot of other hard working americans don't have time to bugger about with upgrades and pre-sale research...I'm glad that RIM decided to upgrade their BT to work on par with other BT devices, but that is after the fact. When I buy a product that has the BT emblem on the boxor in the advert I expect full and working BT, and not partial BT.

Next Up, I'm interested in these upgrades and thank you for bringing it to my attention. You guys are awesome
Anyway, I'm selling my T-Mobile grey 7290 cheap so if anyone wants it PM me. Also, I'm going for the cingular 7290 or the 8700 if it ever comes out. Thanks Jibi!!!


Hey sent pm, LMK...
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