Learn About BlackBerry's Hidden Bargain

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From THESTREET.COM: How about a BlackBerry world phone that can save you lots of money?
It's Research In Motion's(RIMM) brand new BlackBerry 8820 that went on sale this morning at T-Mobile, part of Deutsche Telekom(DT).

In addition to being a quad-band, GSM/GPRS/EDGE world phone, the 8820 also has built-in Wi-Fi and supports T-Mobile's HotSpot @Home service -- it routes all your calls and data through your home/office Wi-Fi network for one monthly fee.

I shouldn't have to tell anyone about BlackBerry handsets, how they work and what they can do.

As for the phone itself, it measures 2.6 inches by 4.5 inches by 0.6 inches and weighs 4.7 ounces. The 8800 series has a full Qwerty keyboard for all sorts of instant-messaging and Internet email options, stereo Bluetooth, a microSD memory card slot and one of the best smartphone Web browsers around. No digital camera, though.

Talk time on a fully charged battery is said to be five hours with a standby time of 22 days (not a typo -- that's more than three weeks). I received this phone late Thursday afternoon. I completed set-up and charging Thursday evening. By Sunday night, the battery meter read 55% remaining. Not bad after three days of medium use.

The big deal here is the HotSpot @Home service. For only $10 per month (in addition to your cellular call plan) you get unlimited super-fast data as well as nationwide voice calls via your Wi-Fi connection.

Don't have a Wi-Fi connection?

T-Mobile has a Wi-Fi router just for you. These models give priority to Wi-Fi cellular calls (it's called UMA technology) and are free -- you pay $50 and get a rebate for $50).

Cool.

On the other hand, when you're not near a friendly Wi-Fi network -- you're using your regular plan minutes to make calls. And your data is sent and received at slower EDGE (2.5G) speeds. The people at RIM, though, are experts at getting the most of the older data technology and EDGE is just as fast as more-modern 3G networks from other handset manufacturers.

As for the price of the phone, after an instant discount, T-Mobile is selling the phone for $350 with a two-year service contract. And, just so you know, you have many, many choices for levels of service -- phone only contracts, data/email only, voice and data, myFaves (unlimited calls to five selected "friends") and more. To get the most out of your new BlackBerry 8820, you're going to be spending a bit of change each month. The $10 extra for unlimited HotSpot @Home calling is a bargain.

As for the handset, I thought I was having Wi-Fi connection problems twice and both times the phone was actually telling me that my Internet service was not connected to the wireless router. RIM/T-Mobile's 8820 worked seamlessly and flawlessly for me everywhere I've tried it -- including three separate wireless networks. Audio quality over Wi-Fi is excellent.

So, if you make lots of calls from home or your wireless office, the 8820 could be a huge bargain.

 

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