RIM's BlackBerry 7100t is the first data phone under the Duo's microscope. It's available from T-Mobile for $200, and its keyboard is embedded in a standard numeric keypad. Each key has two letters, and the phone guesses which letter you intended as you type. Though it's a good guesser, Steve felt the keyboard was too cramped and Angela found it too hard to correct typos. The 7100t also requires a multitude of special keys and modes to navigate and enter different types of data, making it hard to use with one hand.

Angela isn't keen on the 7100t's Web browser, and points out that e-mail is tedious on this phone. Worse, if your company doesn't run a BlackBerry server, you'll have to manage a special Web mail site RIM offers or run a "redirector" program on your computer that relays messages between your mail server and your BlackBerry. Either one is a hassle, so Angela's not a fan.

Next up is one of Angela's favorites: the T-Mobile Sidekick II. With the biggest keyboard of the bunch, this $250 handset is ideal for instant messaging, but it doesn't make a great phone. You can dial numbers from your phone book with the screen closed; manual dialing requires opening the screen to get at the keypad embedded in the keyboard, and holding the thing to your head in either configuration makes you look ridiculous.

What the Sidekick II lacks in style, it makes up for in software. The Web browser works well, and the versatile e-mail service lets you read Microsoft Word and Adobe PDF attachments. Steve points out that you only get 6 MB of storage, which is easy to blow through pretty fast, especially if you're receiving a lot of spam, attached documents, or pictures of the latest cute thing your niece did today.


Steve: DELETE both
Angela: SAVE Sidekick only

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At a Glance
  • BlackBerry 7100t

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