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Use this article to help decide if a BlackBerry is the right wireless device for you.

The BlackBerry is the most popular device from Canadian telecommunications company Research In Motion (RIM). [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
The BlackBerry is the most popular device from Canadian telecommunications company Research In Motion (RIM).

A BlackBerry is a hand-held personal digital assistant — otherwise known as a PDA — and wireless device that serves as a mobile phone, sends and receives text messages and e-mail, has a built-in organizer and provides Internet capabilities. Some BlackBerry models are equipped with Wi-Fi, GPS, a camera and video recorder.


The first step in setting up a BlackBerry e-mail account is choosing a wireless carrier that offers regular voice and BlackBerry data plans. Prior to selecting a service plan, make sure the service provider supports the e-mail accounts that will be used on the BlackBerry. Nearly all carriers offer per-megabyte and unlimited data plans, so customers should estimate the amount of data to be transmitted and select a plan accordingly.

Once the wireless service is set up an e-mail address is assigned. Most models give users the option of creating a new e-mail account or adding an existing one. AOL Mail, Windows Live Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, IBM Lotus Domino and Microsoft Outlook are compatible with most BlackBerry devices.

Instant Messaging

Instant Messaging -- or "IM" for short -- is the ability to transmit short text messages "instantly" between users, and is available on BlackBerry models. These models also have a message notification option that sounds any time a new IM is received. Some BlackBerry devices may require instant messaging software.


BlackBerry smartphones feature organizing software that manages appointments and can store personal contact information, create a "to do" list and compose correspondence. According to BlackBerry Insight, users may elect to install BlackBerry Desktop Manager or PocketMac (for Mac OS X) on their desktop computer to conveniently synchronize information from between the BlackBerry and their home or office computers. BlackBerries will synchronize with popular applications including Microsoft Outlook Express, Windows Calendar, address books and memo pads.

Surf the Internet

Most BlackBerry devices can view standard internet and web page formats, including HTML, XHTML, WML and SVG. More recent models support JavaScript, which gives the user access to Web sites that depend on Java for their functionality. Disabling certain options and images, like "Use Background Images," "Support Style Sheets" and "Download Images on Demand," also can improve a BlackBerry's browser speed.

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