Blackberry loaned me one of their mobile phone handsets to try out displaying web pages for emergencies, such as an tsunami or a bird flu pandemic. You can read the short and long versions of my talk notes about how any why to have a mobile web page for an emergency.
The Blackberry 8700g Smartphone is optimized for text display, rather than making phone calls. It has a landscape screen and full (but small) QWERTY keyboard. This makes it easy to read mail messages and type brief replies. You can scroll up and down using the wheel on the side and click it to select.
But as a phone the 8700g is difficult to hold up to your ear. It never seems to be in the right place and it is difficult to hear clearly with it. If you are a bluetooth cyborg, with a cordless headset permanently on, then that will be fine. Blackberry also have models with a portrait screen and skinner keyboard, more like a regular phone.
The web page conversion to the little screen worked very well, and email reception also. The Blackberry was let down by an overly protective holster. I had a lot of trouble getting it on to my belt and off again. I also had difficulty getting the Blackberry out of the holster without accidently pushing a lot of buttons. But presumably that would improve over time and there are no doubt lots of third party cases available.
In the end I decided to send the Blackberry back, even though RIM offered to let me keep it. I would have ended up with it and a more conventional mobile phone as well and that is just too much to carry around. At one stage I was trying out an iPod loaned by Apple, and had an iPod, Blackberry and phone all clipped to my belt, which looked like something from a Batman costume.
But if I was in the emergency business, or some other 24 x 7 job which needed full time real time text communications, the Blackberry might be just the gadget. But then I would first want to look at rival fat-phones, such as the Nokia E61.
ps: For more on displaying web pages on a smartphone, see: http://www.tomw.net.au/2006/wd/smartphone.shtml