BlackBerry Storm 2: Review roundup

RIM improved the lackluster original BlackBerry Storm, making a touch-screen smart phone that can better tackle the iPhone.

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Last year's BlackBerry Storm had a very short honeymoon. Early reports about the touch-screen smart phone had BlackBerry fans excited. But reviews soured the mood. Initial sales lagged. And soon, eyes turned toward the horizon in hopes a second Storm would roll in.

Well, the raindancers have been rewarded, for the most part. Today brings the first round of reviews. Most say the $200 BlackBerry Storm 2 corrected many of the problems with its predecessor. Here's the report card:

New features

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Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal said the first Storm "didn't convert droves of traditional BlackBerry lovers" because of its quirky typing system (the screen moved as your tapped on it) and the lack of Wi-Fi. "The Storm2 fixes all those flaws. The screen now stays still when tapped, providing tactile feedback electronically instead of mechanically. This allows for faster, smoother typing. The new model also has Wi-Fi. And you can now use a full, albeit squeezed, virtual keyboard in vertical mode."

"Add to this the push e-mail and unrivaled security features that makes BlackBerry the default choice for industry worldwide, and the result is a very fine phone indeed," says the Times Online. "But it is a fine phone in a changing market. Just how fast that market is changing can be gauged by the applications that BlackBerry now includes as standard, such as Twitter, Facebook and apps to play video and music content."

The network

"Call quality over Verizon's 3G network was very good, with no background static or hiss," reports PCWorld in its mostly positive review. "Voices were loud enough for me to hear easily, and they sounded natural. Parties on the other end of the line could hear my voice clearly while I was standing on a busy street corner.... Pages loaded quickly over Verizon's 3G network, and even faster over Wi-Fi."

Finer details

The smart phone boasts a 3.2-megapixel camera and identical measurements to the first Storm, but a slightly sleeker look. There's no official US release date, but signs point to early November.

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