The biggest difference between the Pearl line of BlackBerry devices and other lines, is that the Pearls have a compressed QWERTY keyboard. With the keyboard being only five keys wide, each key corresponds to two different letters on the keyboard. For most typing, you will be using SureType technology where you press a key once, regardless of which of the two letters you want, and the device will present you with a list of possible words. The longer the word, the more likely it is that your desired word will appear. Simply scroll to the word you want and press enter. SureType works well unless the word you want is not in the dictionary.
The other typing method is called MultiTap. The device will default to MultiTap if you are entering in a password, but in all other instances you will have to change a setting to use MultiTap. Just like texting on an old phone, one press gives you the first letter, and two presses gives you the second. It isn’t that bad, except when you need to use the same letter twice in a row, since you have to wait for the cursor to advance before you continue typing.
The keyboard has always been the biggest drawback of the Pearl models, and one of the biggest reasons why people don’t know how to use the Pearl. I’m kind of disappointed that they didn’t change the design for the Pearl 3G. Once you get used to it, it is not as terrible as it is when you start, but until then typing will be a bit of a chore.