I've read a number of posts here and the other major BB forum talking about the keyboard and some dislikes for the design of it on the 8800.
I don't personally have a problem and consider it easy to use. I do however, feel my old 7290 and perhaps others will as well with their 8700's tends to have a better overall feel for long periods of typing and overall 'feel' why pounding out text. However, I don't believe the 8800 should be seen as a direct replacement for any of the other devices. It's simply and evolution of a series of BB's so now there are three choices for those that want to use RIM Technology.
As I see it, the older 7290's up through the 8700 and soon to be 8300 are for those that pound out mostly text and want a device that's also a phone.
The older 7100's and newer Pearls are for those that prefer the look and feel of a phone with a device that's also an email tool. Then there's the 8800 that IMO was brought out to merge the best of both...someone like me who wants a phone first, but also does email and who desires a more user friendly qwerty keyboard. Viola! The 8800 is for us.
I did a real quick series of photos to show the differences and similarities between my 8800 and 7290. IMO, I think the keyboard issue is a bit overblown, but again, the decision is yours. There's no wrong answer. Image 1:
7290 vs 8800 photo - Tim photos at pbase.com
The keys of the 7290 are farther apart, but for me, there's no problem typing on the 8800 and double keying or fat-fingering things by accident. The reason is that the actual contact patch of each key outlined here is essentially the same. The 7290 just has more non-key area contacted during each press which isn't necessary.
The contour of the keyboard on the 7290 and overall shape/feel and ergonomics are better for long time typing but as I said above, the 8800 is an evolution of those wanting the size and shape of a more traditional phone as the in the BB Pearl, but with a more user freindly Qwerty keyboard. Image 2:
Side by Side photo - Tim photos at pbase.com
As one can see the leading edge of each key on the 8800 is only about 1/32-1/16th of an inch closer than the same leading edge of keys on the 7290.
The difference I find in day to day use is that the 7290 tends to cause me to pick up my thumbs when typing, whereas the 8800 I tend to leave my grip on the 8800 alone and simply slide my fingers from key to key. Image 3:
Overlay of the two photo - Tim photos at pbase.com
Shows the center portions of the keyboard shows the overall contact patch of the leading keys is still essentially the same.
Again, the above is just my opinion, there's no right or wrong.