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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Switched On: BlackBerry STORM

What happens when the efficient menu-driven user experience of the BlackBerry meets the discoverable new user experience of finger-driven touch? The answer for the BlackBerry Storm has been that the BlackBerry experience wins, and who loses depends on what you were expecting from RIM's first departure from a physical keyboard. While adorned with a few on-screen buttons and simple gesture support, the Storm is much less of an iPhone-like experience than, say, the T-Mobile G1.

The Storm's main advantage over other BlackBerry devices is that it has a larger screen, not necessarily one that is controlled by touch. However, to accommodate the removal of its trademark keyboard, RIM has taken touch-screens into a literal new dimension by requiring users to depress the screen to activate a button on the screen, which lowers and springs back like a giant keyboard key.

The screen's ability to respond to presses as a physical button (like the trackpad in Apple's new MacBooks), helps provide a more natural feel to typing on the Storm; the feedback is certainly more satisfying than the solely visual feedback that the iPhone gives. Just because it feels good, though, doesn't mean you should do it.

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