capsule review

RIM Blackberry 7130e

At a Glance
  • BlackBerry 7130e Cell Phone

    PCWorld Rating

    With word recognition software and a roomy screen, the 7130e is an affordable standard/PDA phone in-betweener.

RIM Blackberry 7130e
Photograph: Chris Manners

There's plenty to like about RIM's BlackBerry 7130e, especially its roomy screen, its compatibility with multiple e-mail clients, and its broadband-level data connections. Unfortunately, this standard cell phone also has some major flaws, especially when it comes to making calls.

BlackBerry devices are popular e-mail tools, and the 7130e includes some of the features that make them work so well. You can easily set it up to send and receive e-mail from as many as ten POP3, IMAP, and Microsoft Exchange accounts.

But unlike most BlackBerry models, the 7100 series lacks a QWERTY keyboard, which makes typing e-mail messages far more difficult. Instead, you get alphanumeric keys and RIM's SureType word recognition software, which completes words based on the first few letters you've typed. Getting used to the software took some time and training, but it wasn't too hard.

The phone was a pleasure to use for Web browsing: Pages loaded reasonably quicjly, thanks in part to the 7130e's compatibility with Verizon Wireless's broadband level EvDO network. The BlackBerry's roomy screen is big enough and bright enough to make viewing pages comfortable.

In addition to permitting easy e-mail and Web access, the 7130e has another signature BlackBerry feature: an extremely responsive scroll wheel on the right panel that makes menu navigation a piece of cake. Overall, however, the keys on the 7130e are very stiff and plasticky, and the handset cover felt a bit flimsy.

For phone calls, the handset is awkwardly bulky and unpleasant to hold. In my tests it delivered poor reception on calls; people I talked to said that they heard static noise in the background and noted that my voice sounded faint. Conversely, I had a bit of trouble hearing callers, too. The 7130e includes a speakerphone, but it also didn't perform well in my tests.

Talk-time battery life was another weak spot: The 7130e lasted only 4 hours, 27 minutes in our tests. The 7310e lacks a camera, as well.

If you want a BlackBerry and can live without broadband speed, consider choosing a different model, such as the 8700c or the 7250. At $300 (as of April 7, 2006, with a two-year Verizon contract), the 7130e is too pricey for its mediocre call performance.

Grace Aquino

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    With word recognition software and a roomy screen, the 7130e is an affordable standard/PDA phone in-betweener.

    Pros

    • Compatible with multiple e-mail clients
    • Supports speedy EvDO network

    Cons

    • Lacks a camera
    • Poor call quality
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