The BlackBerry Pearl.

I obtained a BlackBerry Pearl last weekend, and wanted to spend a week on the road with it before passing judgement.

Firstly, let me list my requirements.

  • BlackBerry eMail service.

  • Reliable

  • Clear display

  • Light

  • LONG battery life.

  • Sexy

Until you hold one in your hand, you just dont realise how small it is. Or how good the colour display is. Or how good the camera (it has a 1.2mpixel camera - with a flash) is. It even has a Memory card slot (inconveniently located behind the battery).

Its about the same physical size (give or take a few millimeters) as my motorola razr is - when its CLOSED. Can you use a keyboard this size ? Actually, thanks to the predictive text typeahead (and only two characters per key) its very effective.

What about the pearl itself - the joystick ? Its very odd and took some minutes to get used to. Because it doesnt move. You stroke it. And when you do it lights up.

So basically most blokes are addicted - you stroke your ball and it lights up. However a lady this week made a surprising connection to another (female) body part, and loudly commented that most blokes would have difficulty finding it -hence the reason it lights up.

(I'll leave that mental image seared in your mind).

Okay. Enough of the waffle. Does it work ?

Very very well. I charged it fully on Sunday (off a USB port on the blingmaster), and went on the road. Monday - using it as a normal BB device - no worries. Tuesday - the battery indicator had moved, but only to the 75% bit. "Sod this", I thought. How can I get this to run down ?

I know. I'll enable Bluetooth, and use it as a modem whilst I'm on the train! Now, I tried to do this with my previous BlackBerry and it was fairly hairy. However, thanks to an article on, I was up and running in about 10 minutes. I think I took longer to get bloody windows XP to actually do the bluetooth stuff.

Okay, by now, all my previous devices would have failed. Not so the Blackberry.

Final test: The alarm clock. Well. Last night, I had a curry frenzy with Spug, Pants and JVS in Malmesbury  followed by a drunk in the Smoking Dog pub (Sorry to the ladies last night - the comments about the "tramp stamp" were not in order).  Spuggy entertained us with one of his Festival Ukes, and then afterwards I crashed at JVS and Debbie's place.

Would this little delicate flower of a phone raise the dead ? Would it awaken the slumbering hippo from his drunken slumber ?

Ah. Yes. Actually jumped out of bed to silence the device. Where I discovered that it had a "snooze" button... Bliss.....

And this morning on the train ? Wanted internet access. No thought. Just hit the "connect" button on my pooter and I got a normal mobile telephone link. No fuss, no swearing.

An hour on the train with it as a bluetooth internet modem. And finally the battery dies. But it dies gracefully, shutting of expensive power options so you can still use it as a PDA till you get it charged.

Okay. So it absolutely rocks as a phone, a camera, an alarm clock, a bluetooth device, a modem. And its georgous. Every woman I've shown it to wants it NOW. Even my luddite wife...

The last bit is really important. BlackBerry/RIM are an old pager company. They know how to build and program devices.

I havent found ANYTHING on this device that didnt work as I expected. I havent found anything on this phone that I couldnt immediately work out, configure and use. Amazing. Its like someone actually sat down and thought about it.

So. Bottom of my "mobile phone recommendations" is the XDA 2s - an excretable windows-based phone with a 50 minute battery life and a shape like a brick. Horrible. Any windows phone - complete rubbish. Seriously. Choose life.

Middle of the list - my Razr. Its reliable (mostly), has a good three-four day battery life, but does die suddenly. Not good.

The Pearl. Seriously. Go to a shop and try one. Be amazed.

I've been a cynical technology user for over 20 years, and heard everyone promise the earth and not deliver. The Pearl actually lives up to its promise...  Go see for yourself.

[Note. I'm presenting at the View conference in Vienna on the BlackBerry MDS toolkit in a couple of weeks, and also hosting a Blackberry workshop there, for which they are paying me. However, I'm not being paid (or even instructed) to comment on the Pearl. Thess are my own opinions ]