capsule review

RIM BlackBerry 8703e

At a Glance
  • BlackBerry 8703e PDA Phone

    PCWorld Rating

RIM's business-oriented PDA phones have had the market sewn up since the release of the original Inter@ctive pager 950 in 1998. Today, the BlackBerry is a refined and honed business machine that few professionals can do without.

Put simply, the BlackBerry 8703e has all the features that a corporate user needs, with none of the frills that might annoy a surly IT administrator. Taking center stage is the 8703e's impressive, intuitive e-mail system, which works with your personal e-mail, your business account (via a BlackBerry Enterprise Server), or a custom BlackBerry e-mail address.

You can view (but not edit) attachments in full. Typing on the QWERTY keyboard, though slightly cramped, is easy. Available from Verizon Wireless for $350 (with a two-year contract), the 8703e supports EvDO networks, ensuring fast e-mail downloading and Web browsing.

The 8703e resolves any lingering problems older BlackBerry phone models may have had handling voice calls. The device is slightly bulky at 2.7 by 0.8 by 4.2 inches (width by depth by height) and weighs 5 ounces, but it's reasonably proportioned to make calling satisfactory. Voices come through loud and clear; a headset is included in case you need extra volume.

Aside from the BrickBreaker game, the 8703e is devoid of superfluous features. You get no camera, no media player, and no expansion slot; instant messaging isn't included, either. About the only fun thing you can do is assign MP3 ring tones to various contacts. If you long for a more entertaining BlackBerry, check out the Pearl instead.

With 5 hours, 43 minutes of talk time in our lab tests, the 8703e's battery life is passable. The 2.6-inch screen (at 320 by 240 pixels) could be brighter, but it's perfectly acceptable for reading monochrome e-mail text.

Though I missed having a camera and media player, not every user wants or needs such frills. If your requirements-or your employees' needs-are similarly modest, the 8703e is a solid selection.

Christopher Null

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This all-business device offers impressive e-mail features and works well as a phone, but it lacks a camera and media player.

    Pros

    • Offers easy access to e-mail
    • Supports EvDO networks for fast access

    Cons

    • Lacks a camera
    • Lacks access to IM networks
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