Lets talk about one of the most important bits on a Blackberry- the Keyboard. There’s only one type of keyboard configuration that I like- a full keyboard in a portrait mode. I’ve tried all other kinds- T3 type input, landscape sliding-out keyboards etc. but could never get myself accustomed to them. Thus I was a [...]
Lets talk about one of the most important bits on a Blackberry- the Keyboard. There’s only one type of keyboard configuration that I like- a full keyboard in a portrait mode. I’ve tried all other kinds- T3 type input, landscape sliding-out keyboards etc. but could never get myself accustomed to them. Thus I was a bit disappointed when I received the Storm that could only do a full keyboard in landscape mode. However, a quick search revealed that one of the official firmware (v.113) does allow for a full keyboard in portrait mode and since its generally a good idea to evaluate a device with the latest software. I upgraded my unit right away.
The keyboard on the Storm, unfortunately doesn’t work as well as the iPhone. I kept switched between a full keyboard and SureType in portrait mode as well as the full keyboard in Landscape mode but even after a week of practice and getting a hang of it, I was nowhere close to being as fast as the iPhone and miles away from a standard Blackberry such as the Bold. There are three problems that I think need to be addressed with the Storm’s keyboard. First of all, when you hover over a key, it turns blue. But considering the fact that your thumb in ON the key, its not easy to see which key is highlighted. The iPhone solves this by magnifying the key above your thumb so always know where you are.
Secondly, once you have identified the key, you have to Press it which automatically becomes slower than using a touch keyboard. Too add to the injury, as I mentioned above, the click is not the most sensitive on the edges which sometimes makes it frustrating to realize if you have already pressed a key or not. Last and certainly not the least, is the auto-correction feature. Its alright, but not as good as the iPhone. To give you an example, mistakenly typing “hellp” always converted it to “help” and not “hello” which is what I wanted to type. The Storm didn’t bother learning this even after I corrected it three times. It gets even harder when you type non-English words. I pretty much lost my appetite trying to type Chelo Kebab Bakhtiari and Kashko Badamjan to my wife for picking up dinner.
Last but certainly not the least, the Phone Application has gone through an update on the Storm and one of the good things is that when you click on a contact’s number, it shows you a brief history of calls made to that number. What’s obviously lost is the ability to assign a quick dial/short cut to a keyboard button, however, you can assign speed dial for numbers 2-9 on the soft keypad. This leads to one of the efficiencies of the Blackberry platform that is lost in Storm- you can no longer start typing a name like you would on a QWERTY blackberry to bring up a contact. Now, you have to go into the phone app, switch to the contacts page and then type the name in the search field using the soft keyboard- a process similar to one on the iPhone. Another complain is that the screen stays active when you answer a call and put the phone next to your ear which has, at least once, caused an accidental pressing of the soft buttons on the screen and disconnected my call.
RIM claims that they’ve put their highest capacity battery on the Storm-1400 mAh which is the same found on the new Curve 8900 but given the extra power required by a big touch screen, it doesn’t necessarily compare that well to their recent devices. If I turned on 3G, I would just about get one day’s use which is almost similar to the Bold. However, switching to 2G/Edge gave me two days on the Bold but the Storm couldn’t last more than just over a day, which is half of what I got from the same battery on the Curve 8900. That too, when the Storm was mainly used for emails and phone calls- If I was to browse the web, download applications, listen to some music or watch videos then it was back to one day with 3G turned off.
I feel the Storm is trying to bridge two gaps- one between a full touch device like the iPhone and the Blackberry Platform and the other between a consumer and a corporate user. Unfortunately it doesn’t succeed at either. As a business user, I would rather carry my Bold or an 8900 Curve that allows me to be much more efficient with calling and emailing along with providing me an excellent battery life. As a consumer my iPhone offers me a much better experience with its user-interface, browsing and multimedia capabilities.
RIM should decide on how it wants to position the Storm- as a consumer product or as a business product. Using the Blackberry O/S and simply adding touch capabilities to it doesn’t cut it. I wont argue about the hardware as I feel that its pretty powerful and the clickable touch screen is certainly very innovative. The fault in the Storm lies mostly in the software- RIM seriously needs to study the end-user experience with the Storm and turn it into a product that its set out to be.