The BlackBerry Pearl 8110 swaps the Wi-Fi for GPS when compared to the Pearl 8120 we reviewed back in November 2007. But should you choose GPS over Wi-Fi? We find out.
Bringing you the familiar compact design and the convenience of the "pearl" for navigation of the device, and available in a range of colours, the Pearl 8110 falls firmly into the consumer end of BlackBerry’s offerings.
In terms of design, the 8110 mirrors the 8120 so we won’t repeat all of the stats here, but will cover the juicy bits. Aside from the pearl itself, interaction is based mainly around the SureType 20-key pad, doubling up letters in a QWERTY layout. It might look baffling at first, but it is actually very easy to use given a little practice.
There is a dedicated button for the camera, volume, mute and voice dialling, perhaps reflecting the business edge of the phone. You can customise the buttons, so you can swap the voice dialling for keyboard lock which is a more sensible option, and perhaps camera for your main email inbox. You’ll also find a slot for your microSD card on the side.
BlackBerrys are famed for bringing email into your pocket and this is a breeze to set-up, even for multiple accounts. The keyboard will allow you to reply sensibly to these emails without the hassle that other mobile phone solutions present. If you are an intensive emailler, then the company’s other devices may be more to your liking with larger keyboards, but we found this a good compromise whilst still being small enough to slip in a pocket.
The BlackBerry Desktop Manager makes it very easy to sync your contacts with your PC from which there is seamless integration into the normal phone functions, calls, SMS, etc, as well as emailing. Cunningly if someone has more than one number or email address it will ask you which one to use. The contacts also integrate into the unique feature of the 8110, the GPS.
It doesn’t shout GPS like you’d perhaps expect and it is almost possible to overlook the fact it has GPS at all. Hiding under the Maps option in the menu, you can leap into the world of GPS navigation. You can get a visual plotted route and step-by-step instructions to view on-screen. A useful feature is the "Where I am" option to locate yourself and then you could send this map to other people.
Ok, it is not as comprehensive as a dedicated system and you wouldn’t want to use it for in-car navigation, but to meet friends at a pub, or get to that interview, it works pretty well. As an aid to someone walking around a city, it is pretty good. To get the most out of your BlackBerry you do need to consider the GPRS data costs and the plan that your provider will give you, as well as the features they support.
As you’d expect, you get all the normal multimedia features your expect from a phone, the ability to shoot and watch video, a decent music player as well as 3.5mm jack for your headphones.
The real thing that sells BlackBerry to us, and this comes back to data costs again, is how easy it is to do things: whether you video something funny and email it to your friends, or take a picture of a new product at a sales conference and email it back to the office, it is all really easy to do.
Overall the BlackBerry Pearl 8110 is pleasure to use and everything is very simple. As a consumer phone, it might not win design awards, but under the skin it gives you so many options. As a business device it will keep you connected in so many ways you’ll wonder how you managed without it. You’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons of GPS vs. Wi-Fi if having to choose between the 8110 and 8120, but the core functions remain the same, and we love it.