BlackBerry Pearl Gets Wi-Fi Upgrade


Released this week, the Pearl 8120 will run on AT&T's network, giving business users access to mobile email and applications anywhere in the world. It supports Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g networks, meaning users can extend their BlackBerry use to public hotspots, corporate WLANs and home Wi-Fi while maintaining the existing BlackBerry security architecture. The device also runs on AT&T's nationwide EDGE network that reaches more than 13,000 cities along nearly 40,000 miles of major highways.

"The BlackBerry Pearl 8120 combines AT&T's leading domestic and international coverage footprint with its position as the world's leading provider of BlackBerry services to create a compelling global solution for business customers," Michael Woodward, AT&T's vice president of business voice, data and wireless products, said in a statement.

Adding Wi-Fi into the mix gives BlackBerry users the ability to link their devices on their company's wireless network for access to email and Web browsing. Wi-Fi on the device also enables access from Wi-Fi hotspots while making calls in the 200 countries covered by AT&T's network.

The Pearl 8120 features a large, ultra bright 240 by 260 pixel display that can support more than 65,000 colors. The smartphone is 4.2 inches tall, 2.4 inches wide and half an inch deep and weighs roughly 3.2 ounces. The shell is sapphire blue and utilizes BlackBerry's SureType keyboard with word-completion functions, a built-in spell-checker and a user-customized dictionary. And when connected to a Wi-Fi network, the Pearl 8120 can simultaneously access voice and data.

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The device, while geared toward business users, can also have consumer crossover appeal, hitting that elusive pro-sumer market, the segment that uses the same device for both work and play.

"With a range of hardware and software enhancements, including built-in Wi-Fi, the BlackBerry Pearl 8120 is an ideal choice for customers who want a new phone with powerful communications and multimedia features in an incredibly small candy bar design," said Mark Guibert, vice president of corporate marketing for Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM.

On the multimedia side, the new Pearl includes a 2-megapixel camera with video recorder, an advanced media player, a 3.5 millimeter stereo headset jack and a microSD/SDHC memory slot for additional storage. The Pearl also supports Bluetooth 2.0 and can integrate with headsets, car kits, stereo headsets and other Bluetooth accessories.

According to RIM, the BlackBerry Pearl 8120 is available for business customers starting at $199.99 with a two-year contract, unlimited data plan and $39 voice plan. Other plans, which include personal email access and Web browsing with BlackBerry Internet Service start at $30 per month with a voice contract; and unlimited corporate email and data access via BlackBerry's Enterprise Server start at $35 per month when a qualified voice plan is chosen. For those who travel overseas, BlackBerry's International Unlimited data plan starts at $65 a month with a voice plan.

Along with the business plans, the Pearl 8120 also supports AT&T's Mobile Music subscription service and Push to Talk for walkie-talkie like communication at an extra $10 per month with a voice plan.