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AT&T Throws A BlackBerry Curve

Atlanta – AT&T/Cingular will launch the industry’s smallest BlackBerry with full QWERTY keyboard on May 31 through AT&T-branded retail stores, select national retailers, AT&T business channels, and the Cingular Web site.

The device, called the BlackBerry Curve, joins AT&T’s BlackBerry Pearl, which is the smallest BlackBerry to date due to its lack of a full QWERTY keyboard. The Pearl features a phone-like form factor with dialing keypad whose numeric keys each share two letters, with the letters arranged in QWERTY order. The Curve, in contrast, features a full QWERTY keyboard with one letter per key.

Both devices and a recently released 8800 are BlackBerry’s first devices with A/V playback. The Pearl and Curve are also the first BlackBerrys with digital camera, and they’re among the first with push-to-talk (PTT), said BlackBerry developer Research In Motion (RIM). Both feature quad-band GSM/EDGE voice and data service for use in may countries.

The Curve retails for $199.99 with a two-year contract and mail-in rebate. The Pearl is $149.99 or $199.99, depending on color.

The 3.9-ounce Curve measures 4.2×2.4×0.6 inches and is available exclusively through AT&T for an undisclosed period of time. The 3.1-ounce Pearl measures 4.2×1.97×0.57 inches and was launched by Cingular last November. The Pearl is also available from T-Mobile.

The BlackBerry Curve is the first BlackBerry handset to offer a 2-megapixel camera and spell checker for e-mail. The Pearl offers a 1.3-megapixel camera.

Curve ships with the new Roxio Media Manager desktop software for BlackBerry to transfer pictures, music and videos to the Curve for optimal playback. Supported audio formats are MP3, WAV, and the AAC family. Supported video codecs are MPEG-4, H.263, and WMV9. Curve also supports these audio and video formats when used with six other file extensions, including .avi and .3gp.

Curve also accesses AT&T subscription services such as AT&T Music and TeleNav Maps, which provides turn-by-turn driving instructions when paired with a Bluetooth-equipped GPS receiver.

Curve also features microSD memory-card slot, included stereo headset, large 320×240 display with 65,000 colors, noise-cancellation technology to offset background noise, speaker independent voice recognition (SIVR) for voice-activated dialing , stereo Bluetooth 2.0, and 3.5 mm stereo headset jack.

AT&T’s BlackBerrys access the BlackBerry Internet Service, which lets users access up to 10 personal and corporate email accounts, and BlackBerry Enterprise Server support for enterprises. Consumers who want personal email access and Web browsing via BlackBerry Internet Service can choose a BlackBerry personal unlimited plan for as low as $29.99 a month with select voice contracts. Unlimited corporate email access via BlackBerry Enterprise Server starts at $44.99 a month with specific voice plans.

Unlimited Cingular Push to Talk service is available for an additional monthly charge of $9.99 per device and $19.99 for Push to Talk Family. AT&T Push to Talk also features a pay-per-use option of $.15 a minute. AT*T’s TeleNav GPS Navigator monthly service is available for $5.99 for 10 trips or $9.99 for unlimited trips. Within the AT&T Music family of services, XM Satellite Radio and MusicID require monthly subscription fees of $8.99 and $3.99, respectively.

AT&T said it was the first carrier in the world to introduce a BlackBerry in 1999.