The touch-screen is the headline grabber. The 3.25in. screen offers 480 by 360 pixels and dominates the front of the device. It sports RIM's SurePress technology, which includes a layer that can be depressed by 1.5mm. Press gently on an icon, a menu option, an on-screen keyboard or a web link, and the desired action takes place.
We spent half an hour with the Storm and while there's definitely a learning curve to negotiate, it shouldn't take most users too long to master the system.
RIM is chasing both the professional and consumer markets with the Storm. This is a good trick if you can pull it off, but it's fraught with potential pitfalls.
Notably absent from the features list, for example, is Wi-Fi, which some professionals and consumers may find a deal-breaker.
On the other hand, 1GB of built-in storage and a 3.5mm headset jack clearly pander to the consumer, and the Storm is liberally peppered with consumer-friendly applications like FaceBook, YouTube, Google Maps and BlackBerry Maps. Quad-band GSM, 3G/HSDPA, Bluetooth and GPS are integrated, and Vodafone's Find&Go service is free for six months.
The 3.2-megapixel camera will shoot video as well as stills. Our test shots suggest there may be considerable shutter lag to contend with, but RIM is proud of the unit's autofocus capability and auto-flash unit.
The user interface is intriguing. It takes a large leaf from the BlackBerry Bold book, and is a giant step forward from pre-Bold interfaces. An accelerometer swivels the screen when you turn the Storm in your hand.
New tariffs have been introduced exclusively for the Storm on both 18-and 24-month contracts.
After our 30 minutes of testing we had smeared the touch-screen with greasy fingermarks, which is precisely what the everyday user will do. This is a perennial problem, but at least Vodafone /RIM will provide a cloth in the box.
We expect to get a review sample next week, so check back soon for our full review.