Tool offers multiple functions–phone, e-mail, planner–in a handheld device
If you’re a commuter, you probably see at least one BlackBerry device a day, if not more. You see people on buses and trains checking e-mail, typing (or more properly, thumbing) messages, going online, checking their daily schedules, and even using their BlackBerries as telephones.
Most of us would have to agree that it’s pretty amazing to have all these functions (and more) wrapped up in a device that’s about the size of a man’s wallet (folded) and weighs less than five ounces. This multiplicity of functions is what makes the BlackBerry 7250 Wireless Handheld such an interesting product for agents, brokers and other busy insurance professionals.
The device we evaluated was supplied by Verizon Wireless, which was also the wireless service provider. Research In Motion–a Waterloo, Ontario, Canada-based company–makes the hardware.
A bit less than half of the face of the device is taken up with a full-color display that is readable in ordinary lighting. The rest of the space is covered by a keyboard that tries hard to provide what a full-size keyboard would offer but understandably falls short.
Unless the circumference of your fingers is less than that of a number-two pencil, you’ll be using the edges of your thumbs to do your typing, and while I’ve seen some fairly facile BlackBerry thumbers, it’s probably safe to say that typing speed will suffer.
The key control of the device is the thumb-operated track wheel, located on the right edge of the device as you observe the display. The track wheel lets you shift onscreen highlighting, scroll through messages and, when pressed, select a highlighted item.
Just beneath the track wheel is an “escape” button whose function is fairly obvious. (A word of warning, however: It’s easy to roll the track wheel or press it and/or the escape button by simply picking up the device by its sides. That could result in a message being sent before it is completed, or in a host of other annoying and potentially embarrassing occurrences.)
Lesson: Pick the device up with thumb and forefingers on the top and bottom.
We found it easy to link the BlackBerry up to our work e-mail via connection to a network workstation and installation of software provided by the manufacturer. This allowed us to compose, view and respond to all of our e-mail from the device.
The size of the screen naturally limits the amount of information displayed at one time, however. The screen will display the first two kilobits (Kb) of an e-mail, which isn’t much. If you want to read the remainder, you need to use the “more” function and wait for the rest of the message to download.