Cheat Sheet: New BlackBerry Product Line

blackberryPicture%202.pngWith the speed new gadgets come out, their clever names like RTU-4789r and the ever-dwindling time we have to keep up, we can all use a refresher course once in a while.

So today we're giving you a cheat sheet for the updated BlackBerry line. Once upon a time, you just owned one kind of BlackBerry. And so you'd say things like, "I own a BlackBerry," and it was more than enough explanation. But now, their lineup has grown to three models with confusing, overlapping functionality. So what's the deal?

BlackBerry Pearl (8100)
Good For: Push email in your pocket
Bad For: QWERTY lovers
Retail: $499

The BlackBerry Pearl was the first "new" BlackBerry. Shrunk from the holster-sized units of the past, the Pearl can fit in your pocket. And because it's a BlackBerry, you still get full-featured push email. However, due to its smaller form, the QWERTY keys have been shrunk to a double letter SureType format—which is a topic of contention among Pearl users.

The Pearl also introduced the "pearl"—or trackball (see: Centipede) interface to replace the trackwheel. Since its Pearl debut, the trackball has been incorporated into all new units. The Pearl also features a 1.3MP camera and MicroSD for MP3/MP4 etc. media playback (also BlackBerry firsts).

Many of the Pearl's features have since been incorporated into the entire new line, like the trackball and MicroSD media playback. But if you can handle the lack of QWERTY, the Pearl's smaller form is the way to go.

BlackBerry (8800)
Alias: 8830 on Sprint & Verizon
Good For: Straight upgrade of old BlackBerry
Bad For: Those who really want a less business-streamlined product
Retail: $299

The BlackBerry 8800 is the new traditional-style BlackBerry (translation: full QWERTY). Despite the slimmed form factor, the 8800 still wide enough for awkward-pocket land. And just as with the Pearl, the trackball has replaced the scrollwheel and we have MicroSD media playback.

Many users will take advantage of the built-in GPS, which trumps a lot of its smartphone peers and reportedly functions very well. Also, push-to-talk walkie talkie style communication has been added, which is a bonus for those post-meeting sleepovers.

At its simplest definition, the 8800 is the "new BlackBerry". The lack of camera won't bother most businessmen (or women), though the lack of Wi-Fi could be a dealbreaker when coupled with no 3G support. But that's the price of owning any BlackBerry for the time being.

BlackBerry Curve (8300)
Good For: BlackBerry users who want a camera
Bad For: The 8800. Non-AT&T users.
Price: TBA

So if the 8800 is the daddy, and the Pearl is his scrawnier teenage son, what does that make the Curve? Maybe it's the trophy wife who both men find kinda hot. Or maybe it's the dad post-midlife crisis.

The BlackBerry Curve is a sexier version of the 8800. It's the thinnest QWERTY BlackBerry ever, measuring almost an ounce lighter than the 8800 (or nearly 20%). The keyboard is considered more comfortable than the 8800, and a full-sized headphone jack is a nice addition to round it out the experience (no pun intended).

Plus, the Curve features a 2MP camera, which is the most powerful in RIM's lineup even though it still cannot record video. So why would anyone buy the 8800 when the Curve is basically a nicer 8800? GPS. That's it. And for a little more bulk, using the Curve's Bluetooth could remedy the GPS situation. The only catch is that the Curve is only available on AT&T at the moment...well...when it's actually released any day now.

Now go ace the test.

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