RIM BlackBerry Pearl Review
You can personalize the home-screen of Pearl in numerous ways. Thanks to its inner themes (and additionally downloaded ones) it can acquire an entirely different outlook without following any pre-set pattern. The themes have options to put shortcut-icons there, as well as an active today screen, which supplies information about missed calls/messages and upcoming events from the calendar. You can also put main menu icons directly onto the standby screen. There are definitely a lot of opportunities to personalize but they all depend on the themes.
Depending on the theme, the main menu is also different: we looked at one of the preloaded themes of the phone (coming from T-Mobile USA), called BB Dimension Today.
The main menu consists of a wide grid with numerous animated icons. In case they are ‘small’, the screen can accommodate 4 rows of 5 icons each and provide scrolling for the others. The icons are animated and change their appearance at pointing. They are in color and have a very pleasant look that backs the vision of a modern phone. You can easily change their location at will.
Unfortunately this vision is available SOLELY in the home-screen and the main menu; all sub-menus are text lists, in which one can only move up and down (rendering the trackball useless) and lacking any graphic layout at that. There is simply text with monotonous font and size there. In our view, they look exceptionally unsightly and are also inconvenient, thus spoiling the otherwise good impression made by software. Creating a more youth and multimedia oriented model, they should have been more assiduous and made efforts to substitute this ‘pre-historic’ look of the menus for something to match the modern main menu and appearance of Pearl.
However, the menu navigation is quite fast. One can seldom be irritated by a tangible delay and that is a good achievement for a smartphone. As a whole, working with the device is stable and it rarely ‘crashes’ unlike the Symbian models for example. Since the phone supports multi-tasking, in order to replace the application with another one that is loaded at the moment, you have to press the Menu button while in the main menu and choose the ‘switch application’ option.
The phonebook of 8100 Pearl is praiseworthy – it is a serious one and to work with it is convenient, fast and pleasant despite its unsightly interface. At adding a new contact (here referred to as ‘address’) you have lots of spare space for all types of numbers and information at your disposal. Unfortunately the ugly unformatted interface makes the navigation to a certain much used line a bit slow and it is difficult to find exactly what you are looking for - very much like Windows Mobile for Pocket PC OS. You can easily add a personal ring-tone or a call-appearing photo to a contact. The phone enables the user to crop only a part of the photo image kept in the device memory.
One can start looking up in the phonebook by typing a text in the list where all the contacts are visualized. This can also be done by entering the text directly from the standby screen – this will call up the dialing interface simultaneously with contacts matching the typed text.
The phone has at its disposal voice commands via the Voice Signal software. They are speaker-independent and operational without preliminary settings and recording of names. Unfortunately, apart from voice number dialing (and being strongly recommended that these are popular names from English speaking countries since different ones are hardly recognized) and the senseless checking of battery status and coverage, there is no other available voice function. In our view it would be much more convenient if one were able to use commands to enter various applications – alarm, calendar, calculator, instead of looking for them in the long menu.
Since most options are scattered directly in the main menu rather than in several groups, you will find the organizer distributed in separate icons of the same menu as well. You can be directed by the images of the icons, which do not lack logic in what they represent.
The calendar can be viewed either by month, week or day. The default mode at opening can be set as well as the day with which to start the week. In order to add a note (‘event’) for a specific day you must simply select it, select an hour (or use the option ‘All day event’) and enter a subject. In case you are using the Active Today Screen theme the upcoming events will be visualized there to pre-remind you of the event.
Apart from events for a certain date, tasks can also be added. These are reminders with no specified date. Simple notes can also be typed – but the indispensable name here is not convenient; the Windows PPC phones save time by automatically taking the beginning of the note text.
The phone can be programmed as an alarm clock as well. It is a ‘day alarm’ and once switched on, it will go off at one and the same time every day. You can also set a snooze but unfortunately it is only one, so it is not possible to use several ones for different hours. There is an option to switch the alarm on or off during the weekends.
There is also a separate icon for the Calculator. It includes the Converter, which is not very convenient to use – you must enter the value and then from/to currency every time you want to convert; it is not possible to enter the type of converting so that to be capable of fast input of various numbers afterwards.