Archive for January 22nd, 2010

By January 22, 2010 Read More →

BlackBerry Storm2 Review

RIMs original Storm was not the best device, although it was the first touch screen BlackBerry. Now that RIM have redesigned a few features, most importantly the screen, will the Storm2 make current BlackBerry users switch to it or entice other platform users to give it a try?

Storm2-angled-left

BlackBerry Storm2 9520

 

What’s in the box:

  • Device
  • Battery
  • Wall Charger
  • Case
  • USB Cable
  • Cleaning Cloth
  • Headset
  • Manual
  • Software Disc

You can get an insight into the OS by viewing Matt’s BlackBerry Storm2 unboxing video.

 

The ten second review:

Device: BlackBerry 9520 Storm2

Price: From free with contract

Summary: A touch screen messaging device with all the good bits you would expect.

Best of: Push email, Wi-Fi, 3G, Media

Worst of: Screen is an acquired taste, weight.

Buy it now from: Vodafone

 

 

BlackBerry 9520 Storm2 Specification:

  • 2G Network : GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
  • 3G Network: HSDPA 2100
  • Dimensions: 112.5 x 62.2 x 14 mm
  • Weight: 160 g
  • Display: TFT capacitive touchscreen, 65K colors
  • Size: 360 x 480 pixels, 3.25 inches
  • Memory: Internal 2 GB
  • Card slot: microSD (TransFlash) up to 16GB
  • GPRS: Class 10 (4+1/3+2 slots), 32 – 48 kbps
  • EDGE: Class 10, 236.8 kbps
  • 3G: HSDPA, 7.2 Mbps; HSUPA
  • WLAN: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g
  • Bluetooth: v2.1 with A2DP
  • USB: microUSB v2.0
  • Camera : Primary 3.15 MP, 2048×1536 pixels, autofocus, LED flash
  • Messaging: SMS, MMS, Email, IM
  • GPS: with A-GPS support
  • Document editor (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF)
  • MP3/WMA/AAC+ player
  • MP4/H.264/H.263/WMV player
  • Battery: Standard battery, Li-Ion 1400 mAh
  • Stand-by: Up to 305 h (2G) / Up to 280 h (3G)
  • Talk time: Up to 5 h (2G) / Up to 6 h (3G)

 

General:

Located on the top of the BlackBerry is the power and standby mode buttons. These are flush with the casing and if you dont know they are there you may miss them!

Storm2-top

BlackBerry Storm2 9520 Top

 

The bottom of the device is bare apart from a tiny microphone.

Storm2-bottom

BlackBerry Storm2 9520 Bottom

 

On the left side of the handset is the MicroUSB port and also a shortcut key. This is pre-set to voice commands.

Storm2-left

BlackBerry Storm2 9520 Left Side

 

Over on the right side is the 3.5mm headset jack, the up/down volume rocker and the camera key.

Storm2-right

BlackBerry Storm2 9520 Right Side

The rear of the device contains the camera lens and flash.

Storm2-back

BlackBerry Storm2 9520 Rear

 

At the top of the front of the Storm2 is a speaker grill and light sensor. At the bottom are the four hardware keys.

Storm2-front

BlackBerry Storm2 9520 Front

 

 

Highlights:

  • Connectivity
  • Multiple Push Email Accounts
  • Video Player
  • BlackBerry Messenger

 

Lowlights:

  • Touch Screen
  • Weight

 

Review:

I was pretty excited about getting the BlackBerry Storm2 to review. Firstly because I had not had a go with the original Storm, so I was intrigued, and secondly as I am a BlackBerry user myself and wanted to check out the touch screen action.

Out of the box I was pleased with the look of the Storm2. Its not really different from the first edition but still, its a good looking phone. Its pretty heavy though, weighing in at 160g which is a dammed sight more than my Bold 9700 at only 122g. Size wise its very similar to the 9700, being only slightly bigger in each of the three dimensions.

The device feels extreamly sturdy and I should think so too, due to that weight! The back cover on the Storm2 is made from metal and this gives it a bit more of a robust feel. Its a wee bit slippery though! The buttons on the sides are identical to those on the 9700, being made from a rubbery plastic.

 

The main feature on the BlackBerry Storm 2 has to be the touch screen. The original Storm got some stick, so those issues it had have been sorted now. Originally there was one sensor under the centre of the screen. This has now been replaced with four, giving for a much better typing experience. Before, you needed to press a key and make sure your finger was off it before pressing the next. Now, the Storm can handle pressing two keys at once so typing is more fluent.

Although the screen still clicks when you press it, it does not move around from side to side like on the original Storm. I have had no experience with the Storm1 but I would imagine if the screen was loose it would be prone to getting dust under it. Thank god the Storm2 screen is fixed!

The screen is extreamly sensitive but it takes a bit of getting used to. If you touch an on-screen item it will then appear highlighted. To actually select it you click the screen. Yes its odd, but its a case of adapting to it.

Another feature that is present in the Storm2 which was not on the original is Wi-Fi. Dont ask me why it wasn’t on the Storm1 as many other phones had it, but at least its here now.

If you have used a BlackBerry before then getting to grips with the operating system will be a piece of cake. Its more or less the same as on other BlackBerry devices but just set out slightly different due to having a large touch screen.

The Storm2 also comes with an internal memory upgrade, double in fact. With 2GB now, you will be able to store a decent amount of documents and media files on the device.

If you are going to buy a BlackBerry then messaging is going to be most important to you. Using email and sms is just as easy on the Storm2 as on any other BlackBerry. The only difference is using the onscreen keyboard instead of a hardware one. Being a BlackBerry means you get BBM, BlackBerry Messenger. This is an instant messaging client unique to BlackBerry devices and once you have it, and you have some mates with a BB, its great. I would not want to be without it!

The BlackBerry Storm2 gives you a few different keyboard options to allow you to use the one that is most suited. This is great when using the device one handed in portrait mode. In landscape mode though you really want the full QWERTY.

Storm keyboard1

SureType on BlackBerry Storm2

 

Storm Keyboard 2

Full QWERTY on BlackBerry STorm2

 

 

Most other things on the BlackBerry Storm2 are more of less the same as on other recent BlackBerry Smartphones.

Storm2 Home Screen

BlackBerry Storm2 Home Screen

 

You now get eight icons on the home screen instead of six like on the Curves and Bolds. Below these on screen icons are the hardware keys. They consist of call send/end, back and BlackBerry menu. The menu key is used a lot as it not only takes you to the main menu but once in an application it then allows you into the options within that application.

Storm2 Menu
BlackBerry Storm2 Menu

 

One of the first things you need to do when you have your new Blackberry is download Blackberry App World. Although its not on par with Apples iPhone app store its not bad. There is some decent stuff in there and the prices are reasonable. Of course there are loads of free apps as well . Its easy to navigate round App World and you are given a lot of info about the apps before you download, including screen shots. The graphics are not great for gaming but you must remember that a Blackberry is primarily a messaging device.

 

The web browser on the BlackBerry Storm2 is typical BlackBerry and not the best, but it works. Having this nice big screen means a better browsing experience compared to the standard BlackBerry devices. The screen auto rotates on the Storm2 really quickly so you have the option of using the phone in portrait or landscape. Zooming is done one of two ways. Either a double tap on screen or there are zoom in and out buttons at the bottom of the display. Unfortunately I could not get the screen capture software to work on the Storm2 for some reason so I cant show you any images. You will have to watch my BlackBerry Storm2 demo video.

 

 

With built in A-GPS you will never get lost again with your Storm2.

Storm Maps

BlackBerry running Google Maps

 

The BlackBerry Storm2 comes with BlackBerry maps pre-installed but you can download Google Maps as well, which I prefer. Although no voice guided turn by turn navigation the maps do look pretty good on the Storms screen.

 

 

The 3.1mp camera on the Storm2 is far from superb but its okay for taking snaps and uploading to Facebook or Twitter. The LED flash is blinding but obviously the subject needs to be reasonably close to get a decent shot in very low light conditions. The camera interface is dead easy to use.  The only thing I did not like was the positioning of the camera button. It just felt a bit strange using it.

IMG00005-20100115-1350 IMG00006-20100115-1350

BlackBerry Storm2 Camera Samples

 

 

One thing I love about using a BlackBerry is the way I can keep my life organised. The Storm2 will hold an infinite number of contacts and calendar events. I use my BlackBerry as my diary so when I am out, doing what I do in the daytime, I can enter contacts and make appointments straight onto my BlackBerry. When I get home I sync the device with Outlook via Bluetooth and within 30 seconds all my new recorded information is on the PC. I know most other Smartphone platforms do this but I particularly like using it on BlackBerry. Its simple pimple to use!

 

Listening to music on the Storm2 was not at all bad. The external speaker is really loud but you clearly get a better quality when using the earphones. As I have said in previous reviews I really dont like the earphones supplied with BlackBerry handsets but as the Storm2 comes with a 3.5mm jack you can use your own.  The music interface is not the best eye candy but it does the job.

Storm Music

BlackBerry Storm2 Music Player

 

Watching video on the Storm2 is great. The screen is a perfect size and the picture quality is on par with other touch screen devices. If not using earphones the loud external speaker really helps out here. With 2GB of onboard storage available and extra via microSD you can get a lot of movies onto the Storm2, perfect for travelling.

 

The BlackBerry Storm2 has all the usual bits found on most smartphones such as document viewers, calculator, memo pad, voice dialling. The alarm clock is wicked and I use this daily. Still manage to oversleep most days though!

 

 

Conclusion:

My overall impressions of the BlackBerry Storm2 were that its a decent device. I’m not sure if hardcore BlackBerry users will be going out and getting one, just because they love their hardware keyboards, but for new BlackBerry users or someone who wants their first smatphone its not a bad choice, as long as you are on Vodafone in the UK!

Compared to other touch screen devices on the market such as the iPhone and some of HTCs and Samsungs its certainly not as flashy to look at but that’s just the BlackBerry OS for you. The Storm2 does exactly what it says on the box but I just feel that its stuck in the middle between the for mentioned touch screen devices and the other BlackBerry devices with proper hardware keyboards. You really need to try before you buy with this one I think.

To see the the device in more detail please have a look at my BlackBerry Storm2 demonstration video.

Posted by: James

Posted in: Reviews
By January 22, 2010 Read More →

eXpansys Friday deals 22nd January

nokia booklet
   

eXpansys Friday Deals: Selected deals between 11am and 5pm, 22nd January 2010

   
HTC Tattoo Android Smartphone
Info

HTC Tattoo Android Smartphone

Normally £249.99
Now £209.99
Save £40

TriSpecs Bluetooth Stereo Fashion Eyewear
Info

TriSpecs Bluetooth Stereo Fashion Eyewear

Normally £99.99
Now £79.99
Save £20

Freedom Pro Universal Bluetooth Keyboard
Info

Freedom Pro Universal
Bluetooth Keyboard

Normally £84.99
Now £54.99
Save £30

GMAX 2-Bay Alloy Desktop Hard Drive Enclosure
Info

GMAX 2-Bay Alloy Desktop
Hard Drive Enclosure

Normally £34.99
Now £29.99
Save £5


These deals are available on Friday the 22nd January 2010 between 11am and 5pm by following the links above only. Normal pricing will apply outside of these hours*.

*Voucher codes do not apply with these deals. Limited to 2 units per customer, available while stocks last.

 

Posted by: Matt

Posted in: Deals & Offers
By January 22, 2010 Read More →

Nokia N900 replacing N97?

We reviewed the Nokia N900 recently and were quite impressed with the new Maemo OS, personally I like it better than Symbian. We also reported that the Nokia N97 and N97 mini seem to have been withdrawn from sale, at about the same time that the Nokia N900 hits the market.

Working in London I’ve started seeing posters and adverts for the Nokia N900 popping up all over the place and there are some huge adverts on the tube too so I’m guessing that Nokia are aiming the N900 at the consumer market now. So is the N900 ousting the N97 so that Nokia can sell the more expensive handset or is the N900 filling the void left by the N97 and N97 mini?

My personal opinion is that the N900 is probably filling the void. There have been lots of problems reported with the N97 that Nokia did not, apparently, address when they launched the N97 mini and according to one of our friends at the Carphone Warehouse, the N97’s were probably the third most returned handset just behind the Satio and Aino.

We did also hear a rumour recently that Nokia stated that 90% of the N97 handsets returned had no faults and that the reason for the high return rate was that customers were not able to get used to the user interface!? If that’s true then I think that the average consumer is definitely going to struggle with the N900 as I would have said that was more of an enthusiast phone than the N97’s were!

Anyone else have any thoughts on this?

 

Do have a look at our Nokia N900 unboxing (complete with fox) and subsequent N900 demo and N900 review.

 

Posted by: Matt

Posted in: Editorial