By Harry McCracken | Thursday, November 20, 2008 at 10:47 am
I haven’t laid eyes on a BlackBerry Storm in person yet. More to the point, I haven’t laid fingers on one–so I have no first-hand impressions of how the first touch-screen BlackBerry compares to traditional BlackBerries, the iPhone, and other alternatives. But a gazillion reviews hit the Web today–so many, in fact, that I can’t read every word of every one.
So I’m doing what I often do: skipping to the last paragraph in hopes that it’s a useful, pithy summary of the review’s buying advice. And I’m finding that almost all of them are at best pretty diffident about this phone. Especially given the fact that BlackBerries tend to get good reviews.
After the jump, a bunch of last paragraphs for your perusal…
Boy Genius Report (The Boy Genius):
At the end of the day, if you’ve been eyeing the Storm, we suggest you either go play with a demo unit at a store, or go ahead and buy one. That way you’ll be able to decide for yourself if you really love the thing, or maybe just don’t care for it. This isn’t a cookie-cutter device, and it’s not for everyone. That said, we’re sure these things are going to fly off the shelves at Verizon stores on Friday, we just have a feeling there will also be a lot of returns.
CNET (Bonnie Cha–her last graph didn’t summarize, so I’m cheerfully violating my own policy and running her first one):
The anticipation has been brewing for months, and the time has finally come for Verizon Wireless to open the floodgates on the RIM BlackBerry Storm (aka BlackBerry Storm 9350). The Storm is not only the first touch-screen BlackBerry, but it’s also unlike any other touch-screen smartphone out on the market now. Research In Motion developed its own technology, called SurePress, which uses a suspension system that lies beneath the display, so that when you go to select an application or enter text, you physically push the screen down, mimicking the feel of pressing a tactile button. In theory, it’s a great concept, but in reality, it’s a bit awkward and takes some acclimation. It’s just not a natural feeling to push down on the screen, and composing e-mails and text messages is difficult on the cramped onscreen keyboard, so if you need a messaging-centric device, we recommend going with the BlackBerry Bold or another QWERTY smartphone.
DVICE (S.E. Kramer):
Instead of comparing the Storm to the iPhone and whining grumpilly about the Storm’s lack of multi-touch, consumers will compare it to other BlackBerries. And when they do, they may find that they like what they see: A big, fun to use touchscreen, a 3.2MP camera that takes video and has a bright flash, a respectable Web browser and a typing system that really works.
Engadget (Joshua Topolsky):
Going into this review, we really wanted to love this phone. On paper it sounds like the perfect antidote to our gripes about the iPhone, and in some ways it lives up to those promises — but more often than not while using the Storm, we felt let down or frustrated. Ultimately, this could be a great platform with a little more time in the oven, but right now, it feels undercooked — and that’s not enough for us.
Gizmodo (Matt Buchanan):
The Storm is a strong effort from RIM, but it’s not quite the killer phone that they or Verizon need it to be. It’s good—RIM clearly put a lot of thought into the design. But I think it fall short of what they were aiming for, and ultimately what all the hype is driving people to expect. Some of this is fixable: The damn thing needs to crash less often. But SurePress is not the end-all, be-all of touchscreen technologies—it’s not really an evolutionary step forward, even. The experience may be fairly refined, but more polish is still needed. Had this Storm been left to brew a bit longer, it would’ve been much more powerful.
PC Magazine (Sascha Segan)
I’m excited by the RIM BlackBerry Storm 9530, but I can’t recommend it strongly yet. Like the BlackBerry 8220 Flip, it’s just too buggy right now. If the phone worked as advertised, it would be one of the two best smartphones you can get in the U.S. (along with the Apple iPhone)—a true breakthrough and a potential 4.5-star product. But until RIM fixes the many scattered bugs, you should wait out the Storm.
PC World (Denny Arar):
But people who were hoping for a credible iPhone alternative fortified with BlackBerry’s strengths as a mobile tool for corporate travelers will likely find the Storm a disappointment. When it comes to touch interfaces, Apple still has no peer.
Silicon Alley Insider (Dan Frommer):
Bottom line: If we could buy any one phone in the world, we’d still buy an iPhone. If we were serious BlackBerry email users, or signed onto a long-term Verizon contract — the carrier has 70-plus million subscribers — we’d buy a Storm. (If we were BlackBerry email users and not under Verizon contract, and preferred a real keyboard, we’d opt for the Bold at AT&T.)
TIME (Anita Hamilton):
If, like many Americans, you’re planning to scrimp your way through the holidays, the Storm isn’t worth busting your budget for. Even die-hard BlackBerry fans would be better off with RIM’s new Bold, Pearl or Flip. All three have many of the same pluses as the Storm, minus the drawbacks of the unusual display. This is one storm you’ll want to steer clear of this winter.
The Wall Street Journal (Walt Mossberg):
Overall, the Storm is a very capable handheld computer that will appeal to BlackBerry users who have been pining for a touch-controlled device with a larger screen. And it offers yet another good option for anyone who is looking to buy one of the new, more powerful, pocket computers.
Of these reviewers, only Walt (and maybe DVICE’s Kramer) give this phone a hearty thumbs-up. In some cases, the nits reviewers are picking relate to issues RIM might fix in software, or to out-and-out bugs. It’ll be interesting to see if it makes the Storm more appealing. And whether real people will agree with the blah critical reception from the pros. And whether the Storm is the first of many touch-screen BlackBerries to come, or an odd wrong turn…