BlackBerry Bold 9000 review: Berry with guts
The video player is great
Watching videos on the BlackBerry Bold 9000 is a really nice experience. The large landscape screen and its great picture quality are a great start and the good variety of supported codecs makes it all the better.
The video player usually works in fullscreen with the virtual buttons only appearing upon a key press.
The best part about the Bold video player is that it comes with DivX and XviD support unlike its supposedly multimedia-oriented Storm sibling. MP4 and WMV support are also on board of course but we guess they won't be needed as much.
The DivX and XviD support is only partial and this became quite evident as we tried playing various videos. The Bold played successfully only about 3/4 of the videos with the rest displaying no video but only sound.
So in most cases you will only need to upload the video to your Bold and start the player - no converting necessary. Now add the good picture quality and the landscape screen and you got your self a pretty good deal indeed.
Gallery is fine
The image gallery of the BlackBerry Bold is identical to the one found on the Curve 8900.
It has standard functionality including thumbnail and list view of the images. We are particularly happy with the 100% zoom shortcut available in the menu when looking at a single picture. It gives you a quick and easy way to review photos in the finest detail possible. Further zoom steps are also available but why would anyone really need them?
Quite naturally the photos can only be browsed in landscape mode. You can alternate photos without returning to the gallery view but you have to enter the menu for that purpose so it's arguably too convenient. It's still better than nothing though.
Overall, picture browsing is decently fast and the zooming also seemed the fastest we have seen on a BlackBerry. Not that this is too hard as the Storm and the Curve were hardly inspiring but the Bold is actually pretty decent.
Yet another basic camera
The BlackBerry Bold 9000 is equipped with a 2 megapixel fixed focus camera and a LED flash. This is the worst performer on paper among them recent BlackBerries so we weren't really full of hope about it. And even though we expected nothing of it the Bold performed so bad that it managed to disappoint us.
The camera interface is as basic as it gets but we have to admit that compared to the Curve 8900 and the Storm it is a step forward. You can now set the viewfinder to occupy only the central part of the screen, making proper framing actually possible, unlike the just mentioned handsets.
The camera options however are still pretty uncomfortable to access as there are no shortcuts on the screen meaning that you have to dig in the menu. Not that there are too many settings you can apply but still.
The best part of the camera is undoubtedly the image-geotagging, which allows you to automatically record your location in the images EXIF data.
The few other offered settings are: white balance, color effects and image stabilization. There is also the obligatory picture size and quality.
At least the image quality of the Bold isn't too bad. It is about average for the 2 megapixel league, which however in turn makes it completely obsolete in the times where 8 megapixel cameraphones are available for the same price as the Bold.
The amount of resolved detail is somewhat low but this might be due to the aggressive noise reduction applied, which eradicates all fine detail and gives the photos a distinct watercolor painting look.
Contrast seems pretty low too and the dynamic range is hardly impressive. The color balance is generally a miss rather than a hit, although the phone manages to get them correctly on some of the photos.
Here go several samples so you can judge the image quality yourselves.
Truth be told, imaging is far from being the BlackBerry Bold 9000 element. It might only do the trick if you use it to take contacts photos but than again it's all about the target audience. And the one of the Bold will hardly be too impressed by an umpteen megapixel shooter at the back of their business tool.
Video recording is also a letdown
Now the 2 megapixel camera didn't promise much so its low performance wasn't too great of a problem. The video recorder however claims to be able to provide videos of HVGA resolution and that left us intrigued.
As it turned out the 480 x 320 pixel count is achieved through the magic of digital interpolation, leaving the user with nothing but disastrously pixilated videos. Only good for sending through MMS the videos have neither the frame rate nor the resolution to make them watchable on a computer (or even YouTube).
Videos are captured in 3GP format and if you still fancy them, you can apply various color effects on them. The LED flash can also be set to work as a video light. We doubt that anyone will take video recording with the Bold seriously though.
Here is a sample video for you to check out