Blackberry Storm

I don’t suppose I can resist talking a little about what everyone else seems to be talking about.  In the world of super-duper phones, there’s the iPhone, BlackBerry devices, and then Windows Mobile devices.  (Oh, okay, fine, there’s Symbian, and now, apparently, Android, too.  Have I missed anyone?)  I personally use a Treo 800w, and I like it a lot.  Is WM 6.1 frustrating?  Yes, it is.  Have I found a fix to what was causing me problems?  Yes, I have.  I happen to like having a Qwerty keyboard, and I don’t mind the stylus at all.  I’m naturally predisposed against the iPhone because I loathe iTunes, and again, there’s the whole Qwerty thing.  I used to have a Blackberry, but I hated it immensely, though I hear that things have gotten much better in the two years since I used one.  (In the interim, I used a Motorola Q, which I will never, ever, go near again.)

So, BlackBerry has been on a rampage lately, and now the latest device is the Storm, which has a “clickable” touch screen.  So what are people saying about it?  Let’s find out:

AppleInsider, which is collecting a compendium of reviews, brings up the Chicago Tribune’s Eric Benderoff review.  Benderoff calls it “a flurry, failing to add much more than a trace of innovation.” He thinks the Bold might be a better idea for BlackBerry users.  In fact, he says the touch screen is worse than the iPhone and G1 touch screens, and when the whole point is supposedly to improve on the touch screen, well, that pretty much kills the deal, there, dunnit?

Rosemary Hattersley and Mark Hattersley over at Macworld say, however, that the touch screen succeeds in taking on the iPhone.  “To a certain extent.”  They tend to like the Pearl-esque Suretype mode, which appears when the phone is vertical.  But they also call it clunky.  So, maybe that’s not such great praise.  But they do love the ability to cut and paste.

Mossberg at the WSJ says it’s pretty slick, though the tactile feedback is not the same as using a physical keyboard.  Also, when the phone is vertical you get a Pearl-esque keyboard; you only get a full Qwerty layout when the phone’s horizontal.  And there’s no Wi-Fi.  That’s plain loony.  Even my Treo 800w has Wi-Fi.   There are some advantages over the iPhone, though: higher resolution, better battery life, a removable battery, nine Gigs of memory (rather than the iPhone’s eight) and expandable with flash memory, and the ability to shoot videos.  Oh, also, MMS, the ability to cut and paste, edit Office docs, and tethering are available, too.  It’s not as sleek as the iPhone, though.  And Mossberg’s test phone is pretty sluggish.  He allows that it might improve with finalized software, but it debuts tomorrow, you know?  Generally, he seems to like it and says “the Storm is a very capable handheld computer that will appeal to BlackBerry users who have been pining for a touch-controlled device with a larger screen.”

Wired’s Daniel Dumas says “keep looking” for the iPhone killer, and gives it 6 out of 10 points.  He says that the touch feedback is quite awesome, and is “just as easy as typing one out on a MacBook’s keyboard.”  He likes the 3.2 MP camera and the video and MMS features, too.  He also hates Verizon’s iron thumb regarding control of the OS.  Generally, he’s not a big fan of the Storm.

PC World’s Yardena Arar says it’s “awkward and disappointing.”  The clickable touchscreen really disappoints Arar:  “I’d tap a menu item, for example, but then when I depressed the screen, the selection would somehow shift and a different item would execute.”  Also, typing is a chore: “Typing on the Storm isn’t much fun, either. You have to click the screen keyboard for each keystroke (the keys flash blue under your fingertips as you click), which ends up feeling like a lot of work in a way that typing on a hardware keyboard (or on the iPhone’s software keyboard, for that matter) never did.”  On the other hand, Arar, unlike Mossberg, likes the Pearl-esque keyboard presented when the phone is vertical.

Lance Ulanoff at PC Magazine doesn’t love the Storm, even though he wanted to.  He thought the interface slowed him down immeasurably.  He also brings up an interesting point about the benefit of having a physical Qwerty keyboard:  “if I look at my Treo’s ‘real’ keyboard, I see characters like ‘Q,’ ‘H,’ ‘L,’ and ‘M’ with symbols—a question mark, dollar sign, apostrophe, and comma—above each of them, respectively. So, I know where the crucial comma can be found. On the BlackBerry Storm, I have to go through a multistep process to find a comma.”

Generally, then, it looks like the Storm has problems that are fairly substantial.  Substantial problems, however, didn’t stop people from buying the iPhone, so it will be interesting tomorrow when the Storm goes on sale.  As it is, there is apparently a software flaw that may cause shortages.