BlackBerry Storm's A Wet Blanket For Productivity-Minded Travellers

SIdewaysStorm.jpg I know I have something of a bias against touch-screen phones, but even allowing for that, it has to be said: the BlackBerry Storm is not going to be any use to you at all if you hope to actually get some work done on the road.Now, that doesn't seem to have bothered the large number of people who have already signed up to buy a Storm, which is being sold exclusively in Australia by Vodafone. Led by the iPhone, touch-screen phones have become the major development category for smart phones across the globe. And if all you want to do is make phone calls, take photos and send the occasional text, then the touch-screen option is worth investigating if it floats your boat. However, as regular Road Worrier readers will recognise, one of my major obsessions with gadgets is that they should allow you to get real, productive work done on the road. That's simply not an option with a touch screen. Writing a 1,000 word article is entirely possible on a keyboard-equipped smart phone like the BlackBerry Bold; it's never going to be pleasant with an iPhone, despite all the expensively patented technology which resides underneath. Having said that, the iPhone is a much better text entry device than the Storm, which I think hands-down wins the prize for the worst text input system I've ever seen on a portable device. Or as the six-year old who I gave a try on it yesterday said: "This phone is stupid for writing." His father, an experienced BlackBerry user, made several unprintable comments to the same effect. The unique "feature" of the Storm is that you have to physically click the screen in to get anything to happen. This is unintuitive, and slow, and inefficient. In portrait mode, you can pretty much guarantee that you'll select the wrong letter (which means predictive text is no use either). The situation is marginally better for landscape input, but still not to the point where you'd want to write more than a sentence. The basic OS underlying the Storm is the same as for any other current BlackBerry, so on that level there's lots to like: mail that actually works, a mobile-friendly browser, solid Outlook integration. But if you're used to an earlier BlackBerry model such as the Curve or Pearl, the input system will probably have you throwing the phone down in despair rather than leaping merrily into the air. And that's never a good situation to be in on the road. Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman has made a New Year's Resolution to carry around fewer phones in future. His Road Worrier column, looking at technology and organising tips for travellers, appears each week on Lifehacker.


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