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Review: BlackBerry Pearl

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The time is always displayed on the home screen, but is not always displayed when an application is open. The messages application and a few others have a large status bar that displays the time and other important information on their main screen, but it does not exist deeper in those applications or in other applications at all. Getting to the home screen to check the time is fast with a quick press of the end key. If you had to stop doing something important to do so, most applications remember where you were, so returning to that screen can usually be accomplished just by selecting that application again. Even with the keypad locked, you can check the time by pressing any key. The Pearl will turn on the backlight too, unlike many phones, so that you can see the time even when it's dark.


Bluetooth on the Pearl is relatively easy to configure and control. There are separate menu icons for configuring Bluetooth and turning it off / on, making it easier to get to what you want. Pairing the Pearl with a headset or computer is easy, and the phone works well with headsets. However the Pearl's relationship with computers is more tenuous. The Pearl can send pictures and other multimedia to a computer with ease by selecting that option in the application. However it cannot send a contact card (vCard) or pretty much anything else via Bluetooth. Furthermore it cannot receive those types of files either, and in order to receive pictures or other files it can send, you need to go to the appropriate media application and select receive via Bluetooth first. This is because unlike most phones, the Pearl uses the file transfer protocol instead of object push.


The built in alarm clock has a number of options, including the ability to just wake you during weekdays. It will turn on the phone to wake you even if the phone is off. The calculator takes advantage of the extra keys on the hybrid keyboard and allows you to quickly access most functions without the need for menus.

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The Pearl has a basic audio and video player. The music player can play all the MP3 and AAC files in a specific folder, but it will only play songs in order of file name, or in order of the date on the file. It cannot even play the tracks in a random order. The player itself displays the ID3 information for a track during playback.

The Pearl is excellent at multi-tasking, so you can play your music while checking your mail or doing most anything else - except for viewing pictures. Because the gallery is part of the same media application as the music player, the music will stop playing as soon as you try to back out to the top level of the media application to look at your photos.

The video player has the same features - and shortcomings, of the audio player. It can play MP4 and H.263 files with a number of popular extensions including .AVI, .3GP and .MOV. Unlike the audio player, the videos will not play in the background. If you leave the video player to check your mail or do anything else, the video is paused.


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