My Blackberry Pearl has started failing on me after only 45 days of use. The external speaker no longer works so the phone does not ring and the speakerphone does not work (nor does playing MP3 files without the headset).

I decided that I would move back to a two device configuration and get a really “good” phone and then carry the BB when I needed access to email (e.g. not when I am out to dinner with my wife). The Nokia N95 was at the top of my list, but with a $800 potential price tag and a release date yet to be determined, I looked elsewhere. One model that quickly rose to the top of my list was the Nokia N81i (“i” meaning Internet Edition). This phone has all the features I am looking for, plus one killer application in that it can use 802.11x networks to make SIP compliant VOIP calls. I am a huge VOIP fan and currently use Vonage, VoicePulse, Skype, iChat and Gizmo for a variety of purposes. My Vonage phone saved me so much money when I traveled to Japan that I invested in a wireless vonage phone. It works well, but is cheaply made and I’ve found I don’t often carry it as it represents yet another device to charge and carry with me. The idea of having SIP compliant VOIP in my primary cell phone has a lot of appeal.

One interesting thing I discovered when I was searching the web for info on the N81i was the Nokia Blogger relations program. It turns out that Nokia sends bloggers phones to evaluate and then aggregates their comments on a central blog. This central blog is an essential resource as it saved me tons of time searching on Google and Technorati. To Nokia’s credit they link to both the positive and negative reviews which helped establish instant credibility with me. So Nokia, if you or Andy Abramson are listening, send me some phones and I’ll do a review from a heavy-user CEO perspective. Link—>