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BlackBerry, Bluetooth Miss a Shot to Move Into More Hands

The 7100's control menus are clogged with irrelevant and confusing options, it's too easy to lose data or settings, and even such basic actions as adding an appointment to the calendar take too many steps.

The Web browser included on this phone can display standard Web sites, but it frequently hangs up while trying to download their content. Like other BlackBerry devices, this one can access your e-mail -- but RIM has yet to offer non-business users the option of turning off mail delivery. As long as the 7100 is on T-Mobile's network, your e-mail will keep piling up in your inbox, whether you care to read it or not.

BlackBerrys and Bluetooth have fervent, but still limited, followings. (The Washington Post)

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The 7100 ships with Windows-only desktop software to synchronize the 7100's applications with Microsoft Outlook and a few other applications via a USB cable. The Bluetooth on the 7100 -- a first for a BlackBerry -- does not allow data transfer between computers; the only thing I could do was use a wireless headset.

And that brings me to the Motorola V710. Verizon, having decided to offer Bluetooth for the first time, made the same mistake as RIM, but much more so -- it went out of its way to take away Bluetooth capabilities.

Specifically, the V710, sold by Verizon for $300 with a one-year contract, can't use Bluetooth to synchronize its address book with the one on your computer, nor can it transfer files to and from your computer -- even though Motorola built in both features.

Instead, the V710's Bluetooth support is limited to allowing a connection to a computer as an external modem -- a task so poorly explained by Verizon's documentation that I resorted to a Google search for help, which turned up usable instructions in somebody's weblog -- and linking the phone to Bluetooth headsets and hands-free kits.

Brenda Raney, a Verizon spokeswoman, said the company will release a software update that would restore address-book synchronization, but she did not explain why that feature got cut in the first place.

File transfer, however, won't be added, even though that would be the simplest way to move pictures and video taken with the V710 to a computer. Why? Verizon is afraid people would steal the downloadable programs sold through its "Get It Now" service.

But if people want to use Get It Now programs without paying, they can link the phone to a computer with a cheap USB cable and transfer all the stuff they want.

This is an embarrassing debut for Bluetooth on Verizon. Much like the woeful software on the BlackBerry 7100, it risks turning off newcomers to the technology entirely. That would be a sad waste, but the wireless industry works like that sometimes.

Living with technology, or trying to? E-mail Rob Pegoraro at rob@twp.com.

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