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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tech: Blackberry Storm Review

I've been eagerly awaiting the Blackberry Storm for a several reasons; first, AT&T's despicable customer service (i.e. I would have gone for the iPhone but not at the expense of changing providers, and especially back to AT&T). Second, my phone is on its way to the graveyard, or at least the battery is, and so it's just time. Third, why not get the newest gadget?

Well, that latter would assume some lessons learned from Apple, at least, not to mention the other smart phone makers out there, and unfortunately, it's something that Research In Motion doesn't seem to have learned too well. The early reviews have been decidedly mixed, and trending toward negative; the Debbie Downers say — with justification, after I spent some time with one today — that the capacitive click-screen seems "more confusing than helpful ... feels like a failed experiment" (PC World). Wired was even more brutal:

The BlackBerry Storm is a lot of things: It's the first touchscreen device ever made by RIM, it has a 3.2-MP camera and it features cut-and-paste tech. But then there's an even longer list of what the Storm is not: The software isn't fully realized, the handset is no lightweight, the battery life is poor. Most of all, this isn't the iPhone killer RIM was hoping it would be.

How the hell do you brew up an iPhone killer?

Short of cracking open Steve Jobs' head and slurping out his big thinky brain, you could create a half-assed imitation that masters one aspect of the Jesus phone and fumbles the snap on virtually every other feature.

It's not that I hate the Storm; it just really didn't impress me as much as I had hoped. Among other things, it uses a godawful iTAP or iTAP-alike predictive typing system that, two years into a Motorola RAZR, I still have not mastered and for my money is wholly unintuitive. The two-key keypad used on some other Blackberry phones is the main interface for typing, something else to dislike (though there apparently is a QWERTY interface available); the glowing surrounding the keys, mentioned in The Boy Genius Report's review, isn't nearly as helpful as the iPhone's magnifying glass that appears over your finger on its QWERTY keypad. Some people liked the click feedback, others didn't; my feeling is that it doesn't add much to the conversation either way.

There are a lot of small things just plain missing from the Storm that will prevent it from being an iPod killer. One of them is the lack of screen "inertia", for want of a better term; that is, you can scroll the iPod's display and it keeps going. That just isn't the case with the Storm, which has a fairly clumsy scrolling mechanism. The Storm doesn't have WiFi, something that Blackberry units from other wireless companies provide, part of what the Wired review called "Verizon's totalitarian control over the Storm's OS" — typical of their approach to running phones. (Update: The Engadget review mentions that there is no way to sync to a Mac. None. Oh, man, that's a major flip-off right there.)

The hardware itself proved a pleasant surprise; for all that I'd heard it was a brick, it didn't feel nearly as heavy as I expected, and wasn't as thick as I imagined, either. The construction felt solid, and the display was crisp and sharp. I didn't bother checking out the web interface, though, mainly because of the frustration I had with typing. If you're going to get basic stuff wrong like that, it doesn't bode well. I hate to say it, but this no longer looks like a must-have.

Postscriptum: If you absolutely, positively gotta have a Storm, you're already out of luck, as any orders made now won't be filled until Dec. 5. Unreal.

Update 2: David Pinto reports that the phone shipped with an unforgiveable bug: the browser disappears! Good Lord, this is the reason you buy the damned thing!


The HD Touch HD or Pro makes the iPhone look like a piece of iCrap. While I'm not a huge Win Mo fan, using a bluetooth stereo headset for music is a must for any phone. iPhone still doesn't have it, and I've had it on my Treo, Mogul and this phone. That's extremely lame. And I can use it as a bluetooth modem for my laptop. iPhone is for the ignorant consumer. All flash, no substance.

And I agree AT&T is evil. Sold us all out to the NSA.
But ... but ... Windows? That's my other bugaboo. Besides, Verizon was also one of the companies that sold us out to the NSA. Qwest was the only one that stood firm, and its head honcho ended going to jail on some charge or other, which makes you wonder about politically-minded prosecutorial abuse.
I thought that the Blackberry Storm's new operating-system was sluggish and somewhat unresponsive. However, it may have been simply the model that I was trying at that specific store.

On a side note, it is probable that PocketMac or The Missing Sync will soon support the Blackberry Storm. I have the Blackberry Curve from Verizon Wireless and I have been able to sync my data with my Macintosh OS X iMac, although I am not using the official Blackberry Desktop Application (solely available for Windows Operating-Systems).

I enjoyed reading your review, though.
I insist on a qwerty keyboard, so I like the Pro.


And Win Mo is not stable, but as I said the bluetooth functions are an absolute must for me
Its a great phone, I love the touch sceen feature the most. a video review for blackberry strom can be seen at cellphones84.com
I assume you're talking about this ... not really a review so much as promotional material.

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