Monday, November 24, 2008

My first day in the Storm..BlackBerry that is

Well, it showed up in the mail room today, just as Verizon promised me last week. I was fortunate enough to get approval from the higher ups to go ahead and order the BlackBerry Storm so that it would ship first thing Friday morning.
Side note: Here's something that doesn't make sense to me. Why can Amazon ship the latest Harry Potter book a day or so early so it shows up on the release date, but Verizon has to wait until the release date to ship the device? And to top it off, the release date is on a Friday, so you have to wait until Monday to get it.

So like a happy little kid on Christmas morning, I ripped into the package to release the latest geek boy goodness. My first impression was the size. It is just about the same as my current BlackBerry, the Curve, and actually fits very nicely in that case that I had for it. Once powered up, the touch screen was the hardest part to get use to. I have an iPod Touch and I love that screen and the interface there. However on the Storm, I am not really digging how the text is entered. I understand why they created the device to have the "clicking" functionality, but it just doesn't seem that smooth. To often, especially when typing in a password, I am fat-thumbing the wrong keys, thus making navigating and getting around a lot slower. Another thing is navigating a webpage. Trying to select the username and password field and then the submit button, can be a real chore at times. Normally on the Curve I would use the scroll wheel to navigate around. On the Storm, it's all by touch. Not great. And then there's the issue with the screen orientation when you flip the device around. Since I've never been a fan of the suretype text entry like on the BlackBerry Pearls, I'm constantly having to tilt it over to enter text effectively. Another problem I've run into is when I am exiting out of the media functionality to go back to mail, the device seems to lock up and I actually had to pull the battery once to recover. The Verizon tech I talked to at the mall over the weekend told me that it appears to be a known issue and a fix is suppose to come out soon. So alot of this review so far is just the issues I am having overcoming the new fuctionality and I'm a geek. I should be loving this! But not completely. I enjoy being able to quickly do things with one hand on the Curve where the Storm pretty much requires both hands to operate properly. For the on-the-go buisness person that may want to get one of these because they look cool, I would have to strongly advise against it for now. The Curve and/or the Bold still reign supreme in my mind for a true business device. The Storm is a nice diversion for someone that wants that iPhone experience in the BlackBerry world.

Now for what I do like about it. The screen is awesome! The video playback is smooth. For example a movie I have looks as good, if not better on the Storm then it does on the iPod Touch. The built in speaker sound is great and is something that I whish existed on the Touch. Another cool function that is available is GPS! Verizon finally caved in a little bit it and allows for the built in GPS to work with BlackBerry maps, and it works FANTASTIC. On the way home today, it was bouncing off of up to 11 satellites at a time and was dead on as to where I was. So if you are not into paying the $10 a month to Verizon to use their software, it appears that it may work for you. But it doesn't yet work on Google Map for the BlackBerry. That still is finding your position off of the cell towers and not GPS. As for the voice quality, no complaints. Sounds nice and clear when I called home this afternoon.
So there are some strong pluses and minus with this device. The biggest plus is the screen image and quality. The biggest minus is the lack of a real keyboard and rollerball.
I'm going to hold onto it through the long weekend and use it in my travels. I'm sure after using it for several days, I'll have more to say, so stay tuned.


Kevin Pettitt said...

Waited in line Friday at the Verizon store in downtown DC. Slowly coming up to speed, but have concluded that this device is much better for consuming content than creating. Reading emails and news off of mobile sites like on the larger screen is a treat. The AV features, including the "visual voicemail" all seem to work well.

The problem with the unlock...

In order to unlock with one hand I defined a numeric PIN and only use in portrait mode. I also enabled the "allow outgoing calls when locked" setting which at least lets you get to the phone without a hassle (essential when driving).

Typing into web forms in landscape with the full qwerty keyboard suck big time, since the keyboard swallows 60% of the screen. You can't see both a username and password field on the screen at the same time. And unless your username is a real word, Suretype will choke trying to figure out your intent.

Typing email in landscape is a bit better - certainly passable for viewing what you are typing. Setting the screen real estate issues aside, the full keyboard seems better than the iPhone for accuracy since you see the key highlighted *before* you "click it", but I doubt hardcore blackberry typists will enjoy the experience.

Another problem with the qwerty keyboard is that the width of the phone makes it hard to reach keys in the middle, so I find I need to tilt the phone a bit to put those keys within reach of one thumb or the other. Maybe I need to hold the phone differently, with my thumbs coming up from the bottom instead of in from the sides, but in any case, I wasn't a good Blackberry typist to begin with, so keep that in mind.

I'll put these and more thoughts into a blog post eventually. I may or may not keep it, since hooking it up to Prominic's BES won't be cheap and I may decide to spend the extra $$ on a Symbian phone and use Lotus Traveller. 30 day return policy...

Kevin Pettitt said...

Blogged in more detail here: