Staying ahead of the curve

Staying ahead of the curve

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Over the last few years the Blackberry range of smartphones has moved away from being a Rubicks Cube with cellphone capabilities, used only in the world of business and boardrooms, to a far more accessible and user-friendly communication tool.

The result of this shift has been an ever increasing market share by Research in Motion (RIM), the developers of the Blackberry and with the introduction of the latest model, the Curve 8520, this upward trend is expected to continue.

As everyone is reaching deeper into their pockets in these times of ‘doom and gloom’ recession, anyone on the market for a new phone will be pleased to know that this model is considered a low-cost one in the blackberry range – with Vodacom offering it at R149 per month on contract. Although it does mean that certain features are scaled down, you won’t have to cut down on your monthly grocery bill to afford one.

For those that are already avid Blackberry fans possibly the biggest change from previous offerings is the new trackpad navigation system, which replaces the trackball. The ball was at first a hit with users as they were able to move their way through the Blackberry system with a tiny white ball. However, with increased use it was found that the ball often got clogged up with ‘gunk’ – such as suntan lotion and dirt, making it harder to use.

Blackberry have responded with the trackpad – not dissimilar to the trackpad on your average laptop – which should solve this problem. The trackpad is touch sensitive and a pleasure to use. Simply scroll your finger over the square pad and select the icon you want, it really is that easy. The keyboard will take some getting used to if you have been using a ‘normal’ cellphone keypad with three letters on each key. As you will see from the pictures the Curve 8520, and most of the Blackberry range, feature a QWERTY keyboard which you will notice is the same as your computer keyboard. Once you are used to having one key per letter, writing a message or email will be a pleasure.

More proof that Blackberry are moving out the boardroom and into the schools and universities is the increased focus on the less mundane with music and other media featuring prominently. With dedicated music control buttons on the top of the phone and easy access to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, the Curve 8520 is the perfect tool to stay connected and entertained. Of course anyone stuck in a marathon boardroom session can also use these tools to stay distracted and connected.

With video capabilities included you will definitely want a lot of storage capacity on your phone and with the 256Mb of onboard storage you will most probably need to increase this. Luckily Blackberry have made space for a MicroSD slot which effectively allows you to add 16GB of memory through the purchase of a tiny memory card. This equates to roughly 8000 pictures-worth of storage.

To be able to offer such a low cost model you would expect there to be some features that suffer and the camera bears the brunt of this. Sitting at a mediocre 2 mega pixels and with no flash, the Curve 8250 is certainly not a replacement for a traditional digital camera. The fact that the screen has rather poor resolution does also not help the phone’s case but in the end you do get what you pay for and aside from the camera and screen issues no real fault can be found with the highly affordable Blackberry.

If you are looking for a phone that can connect to the Internet, allow you access to email and social networking sites, take decent pictures and video and of course make phonecalls and you are working on a budget, then the Blackberry Curve 8520 is definitely a phone you should consider – this reviewer certainly has.

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