Thursday, March 5, 2009

Nobody loves the new touch-screen phone

The reviews are in on the Storm, the new touch-screen phone from Research In Motion, and nobody loves it. Check out takes from CNET, Engadget, Gizmodo, and Time for a sample.
In particular, the mechanics of the touch screen--you have to press areas on the screen with some force, as if they're actually keys--have been greeted with almost universal frustration.
But for a would-be iPhone killer, the reviews are remarkably light on the Storm's music features. It's true that BlackBerry users are traditionally e-mail junkies, and the phone's communications features (apart from the touchscreen weirdness) are expectedly top-notch. But if this is going to be a consumer phone--Verizon's attempt to make up for its epic fail in passing up first rights to the iPhone--music is critical. A big part of the appeal of the iPhone is that you don't have to carry around a separate cell phone and MP3 player anymore.
Apparently, though, the Storm isn't much of an improvement over the nontouch BlackBerry Bold, which was announced in the summer and came out a couple weeks ago. The Storm's got an 8GB microSD card, as opposed to the Bold's 1GB, but otherwise, it uses the same media management program from Roxio (known for creating functional but not particularly user-pleasing software) and the same ability to sync your iTunes library, and that's about it. There's no on-board music store, although this Time review says a deal with Rhapsody is imminent. (No V Cast? That's no big loss.) And the BlackBerry app store isn't set to launch until March--the current iteration has only eight apps--which means you won't have any great musical add-ons like Shazam, Bloom, Finetune, OurStage, or JamBase.
Of course, if you want a smartphone with a touch screen, and you insist on using Verizon, you're probably going to buy one of these. In fact, you probably already have. But if you're a music fan, don't count on replacing your MP3 player with this particular phone.

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