CIO - The BlackBerry Curve 8520 hit U.S. shelves earlier this week, and though it certainly won't send hard-core CrackBerry addicts rushing to T-Mobile stores to scoop one up - it's an entry-level device, meant for new smartphone users - the handheld has more "new" BlackBerry features and hardware tweaks than any other device Research In Motion Ltd. has released in a year.
I attended RIM's Curve 8520 launch event on Tuesday in Manhattan, and I've been using the device constantly since then. Here's my list of nine Curve 8520 features you won't find on any other BlackBerry device, though some will no doubt make their way to upcoming BlackBerries.
For more specifics on the BlackBerry Curve 8520, read: "BlackBerry Curve 8520: How to Tell if New Curve's Right for You."
1. BlackBerry 'Trackpad'
The BlackBerry Curve 8520 is the first smartphone from RIM to feature an optical "trackpad." The new trackpad replaces the traditional BlackBerry "track ball" found on the majority of RIM's devices since the Pearl 8100 was released in September 2006.
I've only had the device for a couple of days, but it didn't take me long at all to get used to the new trackpad. In fact, I really like it. I'm unsure of how durable it will prove to be, but RIM's intention in debuting the trackpad is to avoid many of the performance issues associated with the track ball. Dirty, stuck or impeded track balls are common, just ask any BlackBerry power user. So I'm hoping the trackpad will stand up to the test of time.
(Curious why RIM chose to ship the new trackpad on its cheapest BlackBerry to date? Check out both the BlackBerry maker's official explanation and my own personal take.)
2. BlackBerry Curve 8520 dedicated media keys
In another first, the BlackBerry Curve 8520 sports dedicated media keys: one button to Play/Pause music files or video clips, and two buttons for Track Forward/Previous Track.
The media keys are easily accessible atop the device. And as far as I can tell, they work well. (Note: Depressing the Play/Pause button for more than two seconds puts the device into standby mode.)
3. Display, Navigation/Call buttons all one surface
Unlike any other BlackBerry model, the Curve 8520 has navigation and calling keys that are literally part of the display. The Curve's 320 X 240 display extends downward and becomes the Call Send and End keys, as well as the BlackBerry Menu and Escape buttons; they're all one single piece of plastic. The new BlackBerry trackpad sits directly below the display area, set in between the Send/Menu keys and Escape/End Call buttons.
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