18 Dec. 2008
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RIKLReviewTM The BlackBerry Storm (Part 1)

BlackBerry's Newest Smartphone

Never has a RIKLReview been more eagerly awaited.  A full thousand millireaders have asked me, twice, what I think of the BlackBerry Storm. 

The Ground Rules

I get to say anything I want about the product itself, from lavish praise to virulent vituperation.  But if I make a single, stupid pun or joke about the product's name you get to give me a noogie.

The Anticipation

I received my Storm yesterday, somewhat later than it was promised the first time.  You will recall that I wrote about ordering the Storm almost a month ago, and had ordered it several days before that, on the first day orders were being accepted.  I was promised a delivery date a couple of weeks later.  I was surprised and pleased to find that the Storm was "free" in the sense that with all the rebates and discounts and coupons and cheaper data "plan" it would more than pay for itself after a few months.  But, to pay for itself, it first had to exist.  I called Verizon when I realized it hadn't been delivered on time and, to save a lot of narration, their response was "What order?"

To save a lot of further additional narration, other than noting that I rarely suffer in silence, I was offered yet another $50 credit for my "inconvenience" and maybe my loyalty or patience or perhaps the color of my shirt.  Are these customer service representatives "empowered" or what?  If you bother to tally the list of credits against the $249.99 list price of the Storm, you will find that they are paying me $.01 to buy it.  I don't even have to wait for the data plan savings.  They also offered free shipping, and, in fact I received it one day before the latest delivery date promised.  Good Verizon.  Good Verizon.

Due to icy road conditions and a spasm of zeal, I actually got to play with (excuse me"evaluate") the Storm a little faster than I had planned to do.

Pre-Initial Impressions

The first thing you're supposed to do with a new electrogadget is to install and charge the battery.  There's always a sliver of paper in the package that shows you how to do this.  I removed the battery, charger, host of plug-adapters, Storm, and cablage from its package and began the process.

  • The Storm has a removable battery.  Unsurprising, but one of the features that makes its competitor, the Apple iPhone, anathematic to me.

  • The Storm has a charging and computer connector that they call "micro-USB."  This unfathomable choice guarantees that millions of cables already employed for previous devices will become useless, and force customers to purchase this silly, unnecessary, and fragile-looking variation.

  • The pretend-manual, which I had time to read while the battery was charging, sucks.  If I can summon the indignation to prepare a full-scale diatribe I shall do so later.  For now, "sucks" will have to do.  I would have had time to read it if the battery were already at 95% capacity.  If anything, the manual is worse than that for the Motorola Q.

  • The simultaneously vaunted and excoriated touchscreen, much like a fresh slice of Velveeta cheese, shows fingerprints in spectacular relief.  Never leave one of these at a crime scene.

Comparison of standard mini-USB and BlackBerry Storm "micro-USB" connectors BlackBerry Storm Touchscreen display
Comparison of a standard mini-USB connector and the one used on the Storm.  Same width, and the Storm connector looks to be about 1mm thinner. The BlackBerry Storm touchscreen in its refulgent glory.  I have no doubt that the FBI could identify me just by analyzing the fingerprint in this photo.

As it turns out, the battery had about a 50% charge.  I plugged the (included) charger into the Storm and read the manual, all the other paperwork, learned about the activation process, and looked at the paperwork again.  It seems that, although Verizon is paying me a penny to buy (antibuy?) the Storm, the State of New Jersey, still somehow manages to get their cut in the form of sales tax.  Also, in a few days, after convincing myself that I want to keep the Storm, I must take razor blade to packaging and remove the "proof of purchase" (not a photocopy!) from the box to apply for my rebate.

More Impressions

This is only Part 1 of the review.  Although it sounds dyspeptic so far, my petulance was just now aggravated by having to carry my single micro-USB connector from work to home since I have only one and don't even know where to get a second.  It will be making the return journey shortly.  Grrrr.  In fact, like all products, the Storm is a mixture of the good and the bad.  And, as usual, it could have been improved if they had only asked me first.  Part 2 coming up.

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