The BlackBerry 8800 is RIM's latest email-centric device and one of its most attractive to date. Similar to the BlackBerry Pearl, the 8800 features a trackball and a thinner, sleeker form factor. It also comes with a built-in GPS receiver, so you can use it as a sat-nav system.
If you've been put off in the past by RIM's boring and somewhat chunky designs, then the BlackBerry 8800 might surprise you. Like the BlackBerry Pearl, it features a pearl-like trackball and a smoother, thinner and overall more stylish design, but the main difference between the two devices is that the 8800 is much wider and comes with a larger screen and a full Qwerty keypad.
The extra width means you can hold it comfortably with two hands and we also found it quite easy to hold in one hand -- it's relatively thin and light.
The large screen is bright and good for viewing pictures and videos, and reading emails. It features light-sensing technology that adjusts the brightness of the screen depending on ambient light, which we found useful as it saves battery power without you actually needing to do anything.
A small trackball underneath the screen makes navigating through your emails and other parts of the phone quick and easy. It takes a little time to get used to, but overall we found it much faster than clicking a four-way navigation key. It's particularly useful for scrolling down long emails.
Typing text messages and emails is also quite straightforward using the full Qwerty keypad. Each key on the keypad dips in on one side and is raised on the other, making it easier to distinguish between them. We did find the keypad a little too small and squashed together to type on quickly, though.
The 8800 is a mixed bag when it comes to features. BlackBerry devices in general aren't known for being crammed with the latest features, and if you're looking for a camera or a plethora of connectivity options then you won't find them here. That said, it does do email very well and has a few features you might not expect.
For example, it features a built-in GPS receiver that turns it into a sat-nav system, a feature unseen on any previous RIM device. Our review model came with BlackBerry Maps, which you can either use as you would a normal map or it can display directions using the GPS functionality.