We had a chance to play with Research In Motion's upcoming BlackBerry Bold handset tonight, and we came away happily impressed. To start things off, the keyboard felt easy enough to use, at least easier than the 8830 we're often forced to use for work email. Gone are the sharp protrusions, replaced with a nice flat surface upon which to click.
Of note was the Bold's user interface. Menus are clean and easy to read (despite some strange icon choices, see below), and response time is about as quick as one could hope, especially compared to other phones out there that seem to struggle with their operating systems.
Blackberry Bold hands-on
The unit's HSDPA radio was turned on, and web browsing was quick and nimble, bringing up a mobile version of Engadget in no time. Pocket applications of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint were on display, and combined with the bright screen and UI response time, actually felt like something a business mack could use.
On the down side, icon choices were questionable and too similar -- we found it difficult to just eyeball the images to find what we wanted and instead looked to the spelled-out helper text. To be fair, it's more than likely possible to choose another icon theme to alleviate that issue. In addition, video playback was underwhelming, but we've probably been spoiled by the bigger screens of other recent handsets. Similarly, camera functionality was passable at best. We didn't get a chance to check out sound quality, but we were told there have been major improvements in that area. We'll just have to wait and see.
All in all, we don't see why RIM won't continue to dominate the khaki crowd, with its full QWERTY keyboard and no-nonsense design.