RIM Launches Dual-mode BlackBerry 8820

Research In Motion Ltd. announced the new BlackBerry 8820 Tuesday, saying it's the first dual-mode BlackBerry to provide wireless voice and data access over both cellular and Wi-Fi wireless networks.

Available through AT&T Inc. later in the summer, the 8820 features a full QWERTY keyboard, a large 320 x 240 display and a trackball navigation system. Pricing was not announced. Previously, AT&T has offered some BlackBerry devices for as low as US$50, plus a monthly voice and data service plan.

The 8820 includes a built-in GPS support, a media player and an expandable memory slot for micromemory cards up to 32GB, RIM said in a statement. The battery is removable, according to the Waterloo, Ontario-based vendor.

The new smart phone switches "seamlessly" between EDGE, GPRS and GSM networks and 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi, according to RIM. It can operate with the BlackBerry Internet Service, allowing a user to manage up to 10 personal and corporate e-mail accounts, or with BlackBerry Enterprise Server installed inside a user's business, which provides IT administration ability for Lotus Domino, Microsoft Exchange and Novell Groupwise systems.

The phone comes with voice-activated dialing, conference calling, speed dialing and dedicated keys for muting calls and performing other functions. A speakerphone and Bluetooth 2.0 support are provided.

Wi-Fi security includes Wireless Equivalency Protocol, Wi-Fi Protected Access and WPA2. Also, Cisco Compatible Extensions are provided, as well as IPSec software to support virtual private network gateways from Cisco Systems Inc., Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. and some other VPN vendors.

Ken Dulaney, an analyst at Gartner Inc., said the new 8820 is "great," adding that "when RIM does something, it usually works well." He said it will be interesting to track whether people start using Wi-Fi for voice to bypass cellular carriers.

This story, "RIM Launches Dual-mode BlackBerry 8820" was originally published by Computerworld.

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