BB Storm not for Geeks but for Professionals (cont...)

Read first part of this article here.

Finally, I found the Storm to have the edge on battery life. The iPhone does show smarts in conserving battery life by automatically turning off GPS when it's not in use, a trick the Storm would do well to emulate. But if you manually turn off the GPS, the Storm, like other BlackBerries, stretches out a charge better than most. You can expect up to 15 days of standby time and 5.5 to 6 hours of talk time with a single charge.

To touch or not to touch?

OK, enough of comparisons. How does the BlackBerry Storm stand on its own? Pretty darn well.

True, the Storm has gotten already taken a lot of flack from some analysts. Some longtime BlackBerry fans question the move to the touch-screen and some critics cite the awkwardness of the software keyboard (even though it's arguably the best on the market).

Fact is, the Storm is a "tweener." It's a phone that combines the business power of previous BlackBerries — including full-device encryption, push e-mail, enterprise-management tools, etc. — with the large screen that makes surfing the Internet and viewing e-mails much more enjoyable.

What's more, the phone — oh, yeah ... besides the Internet, e-mail, music, videos and camera, the Storm actually includes a telephone function — offers very clear sound.

There are a few glitches I found in this first edition of the first BlackBerry touch-screen phone. To begin with, some of the menus are less than intuitive.

Also, the device comes with so many applications preloaded that performance suffered. When I freed up application memory by unloading some unneeded applications, things improved considerably. I decided I could do without French and Korean character sets, and even the BlackBerry Messenger applications. Once I disposed of the excess, the unit's pauses and hiccups for the most part disappeared.

Finally, I found the phone to be extremely slow to charge through a USB connection. Fortunately, that's not a major issue unless you're traveling and forgot to bring along your wall-socket charger.

The upside is that all these glitches — save, perhaps, the last one — can be fixed with software updates.

The bottom line

There are so many cellphones on the market that the real question isn't whether this particular phone is good or bad. The real issue is who will want this phone.

The BlackBerry Storm is a phone of choice for traveling professionals who view — but don't write — a lot of e-mails on the phone and who want to cruise the Internet with the extra elbow room offered by the Storm's touch-screen. Don't expect the flash, sizzle or slick consumer applications of the iPhone. But do expect reliability, security, long battery life and management tools of the BlackBerry line.

The device is currently available only from Verizon Wireless for $249.99 with a two-year contract commitment. A $50 mail-in rebate is available. Verizon offers service plans tailored for BlackBerries that range from $49.99 to $99.99 per month.


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