Verizon Wireless is giving mobile professionals another way to be productive on the go, with the release of the BlackBerry Tour July 12 for $199 with a new two-year contract.
The last major BlackBerry for Verizon was the Storm, and it featured a large touchscreen, and a unique input method that required the user to press down on the screen to compose messages. While the Storm has been a hit with consumers, some mobile workers may appreciate that the Tour's form factor has a portrait QWERTY keyboard.
The Tour has a keyboard that's similar to the Blackberry Bold, but the handset is sleeker and thinner. It uses Verizon's CDMA network while in the United States, but globe trotters can use the smartphone on EDGE/GPRS/GSM networks abroad.
The Tour is still a BlackBerry, which means it will have strong integration with corporate e-mail and calendar programs like Lotus Notes and Microsoft's Exchange. Users can have business e-mail pushed over the air, as well as personal messages from Web-based providers such as Gmail or Yahoo Mail.
The handset can use Verizon's EV-DO Rev. A 3G network for surfing the Web, or downloading e-mails and files. Some may be disappointed that the device lacks Wi-Fi, but it does have GPS that can be used for things like location-based searches, and navigation.
The Tour is not just for work though, as the smartphone packs numerous multimedia features. It can play various types of audio and video files, and consumers can use iTunes to synch and manage unprotected media with the preloaded BlackBerry Media Sync. It comes with a 3.2-megapixel camera with auto-focus capabilities, and the Tour can access Research In Motion's App World for downloading new programs over the air.
The BlackBerry Tour will also be available for Sprint Nextel at the same price, but the carrier has not given a specific release date.
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