RIM releases new BlackBerry phone with Intel's Hermon

RIM has released a new BlackBerry for EDGE networks that uses Intel's Hermon mobile phone processor.

Research in Motion (RIM) announced the BlackBerry 8700c handheld Tuesday, which combines the popular BlackBerry push e-mail software with an integrated mobile processor from Intel and fast wireless networks.

The new BlackBerry is the latest device from RIM that integrates a phone, personal digital assistant, and wireless e-mail receiver in a single device. This one is notable for making its debut on Cingular Wireless' EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution) network, an upgrade to the widely-used GSM/GPRS (Global System for Mobile Communication/General Packet Radio Service) networks around the world.

EDGE networks are common in the U.S. as a stepping stone to the faster data rates of UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) networks. They allow carriers to offer an upgrade to GPRS data services, but at a lower cost than rolling out UMTS networks. RIM's new device also supports quad-band GSM/GPRS networks, allowing it to be used in several different parts of the world. EDGE networks allow download speeds between 70K bps (bits per second) and 135K bps, better than a dial-up connection but not as good as the 384K bps data rate promised by UMTS.

RIM's BlackBerry devices are popular with traveling businesspeople and e-mail addicts. The BlackBerry software allows corporate and personal e-mail to be wirelessly delivered to the devices, and an integrated QWERTY keyboard allows users to reply to those messages on the go.

The 8700c features 64M bytes of flash memory, 16M bytes of SRAM (static RAM) and Intel's long-awaited Hermon processor, formally known as the PXA901 processor.

Intel has been trying to develop a chip that combines an applications processor for mobile phones with the communications technology for connecting to wireless networks. Its first attempt at this market was panned by the mobile phone community, but mmO2 PLC committed to a revamped version of that first product earlier this year. RIM is the first major device manufacturer to adopt Hermon in a deal first announced at the CTIA Wireless IT and Entertainment conference in September.

Hermon was designed for UMTS networks in addition to EDGE and GSM/GPRS networks, and Intel has pledged to have a Hermon-based UMTS phone from a yet-unnamed vendor out by the end of this year.

The 8700c can be found in Cingular's retail stores starting Nov. 21, the company said. It will cost US$299 with a two-year contract and a mail-in rebate, but several contract options are available. Unlimited data and voice service in the U.S. costs US$49.99 a month, and the monthly total including unlimited international service is US$64.99.

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