What version of BlackBerryOS are you using?
Version 3.8 that comes preinstalled on the 7290, is slightly slower than the Version 4.0 that is available for download in the BlackBerryOS 4.0 Download Thread
As for categories, all the categories are merged for the whole PIM. That's the way it is currently designed to work. You can add/delete categories from within your BlackBerry. (This won't modify the category fields in the records, just affect your ability to filter them) .... To simplify things, you may wish to recategorize some of your Tasks/Notes so that the same category is used, if feasible. Or you can prefix them with a word, so that "Filter" category lists automatically sort in groups. Like "AB Business" "AB Personal" for addressbook, and "T Shopping" "T Household"
for task lists, etc. Kludgy workaround, I know, but if you must have separate groups of categories for each PIM application.
At the moment, there is no way to list the addressbook the way you describe listing phone numbers for all contacts in that manner.
You might also wish to take a look at a third party PIM such as PocketDay, which might cover certain missing needs; the author of PocketDay is very happy to add simple feature requests, this application is currently undergoing rapid development..