By Barry Levine / CIO Today. Updated May 03, 2007.
The BlackBerry family got a new member Thursday when parent Research In Motion introduced the Curve 8300 smartphone, which offers a full Qwerty keyboard, with one letter per key, unlike its smartphone cousin, RIM's Pearl.
The Curve 8300 also features a 2-megapixel camera, a media player, a Web browser, a trackball-navigation system, and a MicroSD expansion slot that supports cards up to the current 2-GB capacity. The 8300 also will support the 4-GB cards expected later this year.
Among some of the device's features, the Curve's light-sensing technology, which automatically adjusts backlighting levels for its 320 x 240 display, stands out. The built-in camera, with a 5x digital zoom, has three image-quality settings. Photos can be shared by e-mail, MMS, or BlackBerry Messenger -- over USB or Bluetooth.
In addition, users can listen to music or the audio from a video clip through the integrated speaker or via the 3.5-mm stereo jack.
Style But No GPS
The Curve 8300 is probably going to have appeal for consumers who appreciate its style, said Todd Kort, an analyst at industry research firm Gartner. RIM described the 8300's style as featuring "a liquid silver finish, chrome highlights, smooth edges, and soft curves," and it weighs a petite 3.9 oz.
But, Kort noted, the 8300 doesn't have GPS capabilities, although it can connect through wireless Bluetooth into a GPS module. Other BlackBerry models, such as the 8800 series, do have GPS.
The Curve, Kort went on to say, "is better than the 8700 series models, and it will cannibalize the 8800 models introduced earlier this year." He pointed out that RIM is doing very well in the smartphone market. The Pearl 8100 "was the first real smartphone from RIM," he said, and it has sold over a million units in the first quarter of this year.
But will your company buy the Curve for you? Kort said he thought a business might be more likely to buy a model such as the 8800 if it went the BlackBerry route because "a lot of companies won't want people to tote a camera around."
Roxio Media Manager
As smartphones become portable multimedia centers, the management of media files becomes as important as it might be in the living room. The Curve includes Roxio Media Manager for BlackBerry, an application that is based on the popular Roxio Easy Media Creator 9.
Media Manager is designed to help keep a complex digital life in order, with such capabilities as searching, viewing, and organizing media files, creating MP3 files from CDs, or organizing playlists.
For photos, Media Manager has Roxio Photosuite 9 LE for cropping, editing, and organizing photos into albums. Special effects can be added, photos can be straightened, and red-eyed photo subjects can be made more normal. The media player enables video to be played full screen, and also can be used to search for music by entering title, genre, artist, or album name.
The Curve 8300 is expected to be available worldwide this spring. Pricing has not yet been announced.