Test Center review: BlackBerry Storm bridges business and lifestyle
The first touchscreen BlackBerry pairs RIM's familiar enterprise strengths with superior ease of use, but Wi-Fi goes missingFollow @infoworld
The new BlackBerry 9530, commonly called the Blackberry Storm, has the familiar fingertip navigation and flick-to-scroll gesture common to most widescreen phones. Apart from that, the BlackBerry Storm is very much its own device, unmistakably a BlackBerry in its strong messaging, connectivity, and extensibility, but carried to a new level of usability by a touchscreen display and a redesigned GUI.
The iPhone, T-Mobile G1, and Touch Diamond have Wi-Fi; BlackBerry Storm does not. For some readers, the absence of Wi-Fi and the inferior Web browser (RIM's is barely serviceable) will add up to a showstopper. I can't keep you from blowing off the Storm for the lack of Wi-Fi, but I'd advise that you'd be making a mistake to do it without at least looking at the smartphone yourself.
RIM had to make some sacrifices to bring the Storm to Verizon for less than $200. This isn't a device that RIM could stamp out from its standard QWERTY template. Everything is new, and until the R&D is paid down by volume, something had to give. In the BlackBerry Storm, Wi-Fi got the chop. If this inclines you to blow off this handset, I suggest you take a beat. Omitting Wi-Fi made room for an enormous combination of features you don't find in sub-$200 devices. It's a matter of balance, and I consider the scales tipped decisively in the buyer's favor.
Getting past Wi-Fi
For file transfers, BlackBerry Storm works as a mountable USB Storage Class device; no drivers or proprietary client software is required. Storm operates on CDMA/EvDO and GSM/UMTS 3G networks, so it's global without caveats; plus, once you've paid your debt to Verizon, it will jump with you to any carrier you choose. Verizon bundles a removable 8GB SD (Secure Digital) card, and its data plan supports tethering, so you can use the phone to connect your notebook to Verizon's network with functionality identical to Verizon's very popular cell data access dongles/cards. Verizon client software for Macs and PCs configures the Storm as a modem automatically, but even that utility is optional.