Networking

New BlackBerry Curve 8520 has optical trackpad

T-Mobile USA said that an updated model of the popular BlackBerry Curve smartphone will be available Aug. 5 for $130 and a two-year contract.

Perhaps the most significant difference with the new BlackBerry Curve 8520 from other Curve models, including the 8300 series, is that it features a touch-sensitive optical trackpad for scrolling and navigation in addition to a QWERTY physical keyboard. Other models have used a roller ball in the same position as the optical trackpad, which is located in the center of the device, just below the display and just above the physical keyboard.

Wireless carrier T-Mobile and Research in Motion Ltd., the maker of the BlackBerry, emphasized the ease of connecting to e-mail, messaging and social networks sites with the new 8520, as well as the physical keyboard, which is seen as important by some customers who have not adapted well to a touchscreen keyboard, which is used in Apple iPhone or the BlackBerry Storm.

The 8520 is also the first BlackBerry to feature dedicated media keys at the top of the handset, to give users easy access to music and videos. Travis Warren, director of product marketing at T-Mobile USA, said the media keys are one recognition by RIM and carriers that customers want diverse features in their phones as they “bring balance to the chaotic demands of a busy professional and personal device.”

The 8520 has a 512MHz processor for enhanced performance with 256MB of flash memory. A memory card slot is included to support cards of up to 16 GB (one is included), and will support 32 GB when they are available.

The 8520 is also a world phone, meaning it works on EDGE, GPRS and GSM networks. AT&T Inc. focused on the world phone capabilities of the recently released BlackBerry Tour as well. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth also run on the device.

Other than the optical trackpad, the 8520 looks similar to other Curve models, and will come in black and frost colors. It is 4.29 x 2.36 x .54 inches in size and weighs 3.73 ounces. Full specifications are available on the BlackBerry Web site.

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