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  • BlackBerry Storm: First Impressions of a BB Novice

    Posted on November 24th, 2008 Shawn No comments

    Alright, it’s Storm time.  After months of discussion, three hours of waiting in line at a Verizon Wireless (VZW) store, only to be told the computers were down and to come back later, I got myself a BlackBerry Storm at 6:00 PM Friday night.  I’ve had some time to play with it, though a lot more time is needed to get a full review.

    Keep in mind, this is my first foray into the world of BlackBerry (BB).  This is my first hands-on a BB device, coming from several Palm OS (i.e. Treo) devices.  You can bet my take on the Storm will be quite different from the long-time BB users.

    As I started playing around this weekend, I realized that my first impression would be a mixed bag.  In an attempt to decide how to write the first impression as a fanboy or a naysayer, I will take the approach my parents taught me growing up.  For every negative thing I have to say, I will say two positive things.  So, here goes.

    Naysayer: Typing, is not easy for me.  I’m coming from having a QWERTY keyboard always available.  I have no idea how to use SureType or T9 typing (which is what you get in the Storm’s portrait mode). Passwords, to me, are near impossible to type in this mode.  In landscape mode, you get a QWERTY on-screen keyboard.  This is easier to use, but is taking me a couple days to get used to it.  You highlight a letter to type, and then click it to select.  I had a lot of mistypes these past couple days, thanks to my fat fingering. You need to press a function key to bring up numbers and symbols.  I haven’t figured out how to keep those screens up, so if I need to type four numbers in a row, I need to type the function key, then the number, four times. Not liking that too much. I’m guessing that most of this is just learning curve, and I’ll get better at it as time goes.
    Fanboy: This is a sleek looking device.  The hardware looks real nice, and the UI looks crisp, sharp, and generally eye-appealing.  At first glance, many people will be immediately drawn to it.
    : Out of the box application integration.  I’m quite impressed with the apps that are included out of the box, like Documents To Go (the best MS Office suite for smartphones), Facebook, Flickr, AOL Instant Messenger, Gmail Talk, Yahoo IM, Windows IM, and more.

    Naysayer: In two days, I have seen two system freezes. Oh, how I’m reminded of the Palm OS days.  The first freeze came as I was browsing around different apps and webs, getting used the thing.  I was at the default home screen with a little clock in the center.  The picture of the clock with spinning arms (i.e. just like the hour glass on Windows), was still there 10 minutes later.  Buttons and touchscreen were dead.  Looked dead to me.  So, I pulled out the battery and put it back in to force a reset.  All was fine for about a day, until yesterday afternoon.  I was at a birthday party, and taking some photos with the Storm.  Next thing I noticed was a white screen (I guess I’d call it the white screen of death), with the clock again.  After a few minutes of waiting, I impatiently reset it by removing the battery again.  Then white screen again for 5 minutes.  I removed the battery again.  White screen…so I waited.  After more than 10 minutes the Storm came back online.  My quick techie guess is that it was in the process of dumping cache and rebooting, and possibly I had so much stuff cached from taking photos, that it took so long to restart.  Definitely, not impressive.
    Fanboy: Bluetooth is just great!  I was able to connect my Motorola S9 Bluetooth Stereo headset in a matter of seconds. That automatically setup Bluetooth for calls, video, audio, etc.  Very easy, and works flawlessly. coming from the abysmal world of Palm’s implementation of Bluetooth, the Storm is light years ahead.  Bluetooth on the Storm is just perfect, IMO.  Listening to music and watching videos, is working great.
    Fanboy: BlackBerry maps. I think that’s the name of the app.  The pre-installed Maps application works great with GPS.  I haven’t played with it much, but it kept my location accurate at all times.

    Naysayer: No WiFi.  The VZW fanboys are saying, “who needs WiFi when you have the best network in the U.S.?”  I disagree.  My old fashioned suburb, has the worst VZW reception.  It’s so bad that I had to wait until today (at work) to try out most of the features.  I barely get 1 bar on 1X at home (basically 1G or no-G).  I’m quite disappointed with the lack of WiFi.  If my local townies can stop shutting VZW out of putting up new towers, then I will stop complaining about lack of WiFi.  Until then, the Storm is no use to me at home.
    Fanboy: Since this is a phone, let’s talk about that.  Solid, works great.  The phone app looks great, is easy to use.  The call quality is excellent.  Speaker sounds great.  Bluetooth is wonderful.  Voice activated dialing is best I have ever used.  Phone is outstanding.
    Fanboy: Storage capacity.  9+ GB out of the box, thanks to the included 8GB microSD card.  That’s excellent, and the storage space will go a long way with apps, music, and video that I plan to put on this.
    Fanboy: The price.  At $199 for new contract, and $99 for renewing VZW customers…let’s face it, the price is a steal.

    UPDATE: Naysayer: Sluggish UI.  To quote my wife, “This is B.S.” The UI is a bit sluggish to me and my wife. Compared to the BB Bold, the Bold wins hands down in snappy UI competition.  Hopefully, it’s not due to the Storm having laggy hardware, and hopefully it will be updated with a forthcoming ROM update.
    Fanboy: Multi-tasking.  What a great feeling to be able to keep 10 apps open and be able to navigate back and forth between them.  As I type, I’m syncing music from Windows Media Player to the Storm, and I’m able to move around the device and use other apps, simultaneously.

    I will bring you more of the Naysayer vs. Fanboy approach to reviewing the Storm, but need to get some work done.  Check back later today (or tomorrow)…

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