Watching video is hampered a little by the size and ratio of the screen – widescreen video won't fit easily into it, and sharp as it is, you'll still need to squint a bit if you plan on any extended viewing. It supports a good range of formats though, including MPEG4, H.263, H.264 and WMV3.
The music player offers easy navigation and not a bad sound either
The music player is well laid out and easy to navigate, with cover art support and a Find option to help you get straight to the tune you want. Sound quality through the supplied headphones was surprisingly good, with a wide dynamic range, and it will also go very loud – it even comes with an onscreen warning, if it thinks you might damage your eardrums.
It's easy to add your own headphones via the 3.5mm headphone jack or take the wireless option with A2DP Bluetooth, and there's a 12-preset graphic equaliser including bass and treble boost options. It'll handle MP3, WMA9/10, AAC/AAC+/eAAC+, MIDI, and it comes with a 2GB microSD card on board.
Functionality can be expanded with downloads from BlackBerry App World
BlackBerry App World is filling up nicely, and there are also quite a few interesting apps already preloaded, including document viewers for Word, Excel and PowerPoint, U2's Mobile Album, which has audio tasters, video, lyrics and more of the band’s latest release, No Line On The Horizon, though it's a streaming version, and you won't be able to transfer any of the files.
The GPS worked fine, locating our north London location in a few seconds. As usual, there's the choice of BlackBerry Maps or Google Maps, but the added features and superior map layouts of the latter make it the favoured one. Battery life was reasonably good, giving us a day and a half of moderate to heavy use, even with push e-mail and Wi-Fi enabled throughout.
The BlackBerry Bold 9700 is a terrific messaging device thanks to its push e-mail and excellent Qwerty keyboard, but it also makes a fair case for itself as a media player, with a terrifically sharp screen that's only let down by its small size. The browser could perhaps be next in line for an update, and the camera improvement is welcome, though it still lags far behind the best. But the 9700's ease of use and speed of use mark it out as an exemplary smartphone for work and play. ®
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RIM BlackBerry Bold 9700
It's the back end what matters
Am sure this is a neat device. But BB messaging only comes alive with a BES sitting in the background. What's the point in having all this fancy hardware if you have to USB to a PC to sync your sent items, contacts and calendar?
For "work phones", OTA sync can usually be assumed, but for Joe Public it means Hosted BES at about £20 per month, plus a real chance of being further screwed by the carriers for BES provisioning (UK Voda want another £25 pm).
Compare and contrast the slew of devices with ActiveSync support, where this highly desirable functionality is already built into every Exchange server, and costs about a fiver a month from most email hosting providers.
And this minor upgrade has taken them... what, 18 months? That's hardly a blistering pace of innovation.
Consider too the Storm2.. basically a bugfix of the original Storm that took them a year to come up with.
I wouldn't keep hold of those RIMM shares much longer if I were you.
I don't know what you're talking about - T-mobile charges me a fiver a month for a "BlackBerry booster" and messaging works just fine.
Another brilliant positioning of the headphone jack...
... I loved my original Bold. Right up until I realised that the positioning of the headphone jack on the side of the device was putting huge amounts of strain on the headphones when I tried to fit the device in my pocket or bag, and eventually breaking the connections in the jack.
Two pairs of not exactly cheap headphones later I put the Bold back in the box in the cupboard and went back to my old phone. As much as I like the look of the 9700 I'm afraid I'll be steering clear of RIM devices until they actually spend some money redesigning the chassis' for how people WANT to use their phones, and not rehashing a ludite layout from the last geological time period.
Not for us
The value of the Bold 9700 is that it does 3G at US frequencies. Otherwise the 3.2Mp camera (when there are plent of 5, 8 and 12Mp on the market) is pathetic. The screen a tiny imporovement and all the other things insignificant. The browser is rubbish.