I am admittedly a very big fan of physical keyboards on my mobile phones and have what fellow MobileTechRoundup podcast co-hosts James and Kevin call "magic thumbs". I am able to pick up devices like the Palm Treo Pro, HTC Fuze, T-Mobile G1 or BlackBerry Bold and quickly type emails of 250+ words. After a day of using the Verizon BlackBerry Storm I have to say I am still a fan of these physical keyboards. I do think it has a wonderful display and the touch screen, SurePress, technology is very cool, but it isn't an iPhone and I think is too big of a departure from all other BlackBerry devices for serious texters or email fans to be productive.
I shot the video below showing how the different keyboards work on the Storm as it switches from a SureType layout in portrait mode and full QWERTY keyboard in landscape orientation. This is rather interesting because it will require people to learn two text entry methods on a single device. I was also a bit faster and more accurate using the portrait mode SureType keyboard than I was with the landscape full keyboard. Entering text on the keyboards takes longer than even on the touch screen iPhone because you have to physically push in on the display to enter a character. I am finding that I regularly press the wrong character and I don't even have fat fingers. I also have been having lots of trouble entering the wrong password and having to reenter it 3 or 4 times with extreme care to get it right. Even though the iPhone doesn't provide any feedback, I can enter text faster on that device and as you can see in my video I actually may have entered text fastest on the iPhone (maybe I don't need a physical keyboard?).
BlackBerry devices are used by people for heavy texting and emailing and I wonder if the messages people write will now be shorter due to the keyboard on the Storm that seems to take more effort to use than others I have tried.
I am also finding times when I want to hide/minimize the keyboard and there doesn't appear to be a way to do this. Then again, maybe this is application specific. For example, while scrolling through my replies on Twitterberry the keyboard is present and only gives me a small area to scroll down and read and I feel a bit claustrophobic and not in control.
I plan to spend more time this weekend with the Storm, but if I was going to stick with a BlackBerry then the Bold would be my preferred device and I still think the Bold is the best BlackBerry device currently on the market today.
Until I get my larger review up on the blog, I recommend you check out Jason's thoughts on the advantages of the iPhone over the Storm and advantages of the Storm over the iPhone, as well as Josh Taylor's Storm review.