“The Storm is a striking device. From the second you lay eyes on it, it’s clear that a lot of time and care went into crafting this phone. The majority of the front panel is display… sitting just shy of flush with a silver bezel that runs around the sides, top, and bottom of the device. The bands seem to be plastic, not metal, and trace the outline of the moderately thick (0.55-inch) phone, looping around the back, while the rest of the surface is a high gloss, piano black plastic,” Joshua Topolsky reports for Engadget.

MacDailyNews Take: In other words, “It looks good because it’s mimicking Apple’s iPhone external looks.”

Topolsky continues, “It’s not completely rainbows and unicorns, however. We noticed backlight leaking in through the sides of the screen, which partially killed the continuity of the design (and had us raise eyebrows at build quality), and the screen sort of slides around when it’s pressed down and held. [The Storm] utilizes a completely unique ‘click’ technology called SurePress which actually allows you to click the screen down like a mouse button. The purpose of this technology, ostensibly, is to provide two aspects to touch screens which are currently lacking in most devices: the ability to ‘hover’ without selecting or moving an on-screen element, and the physical sensation of ‘clicking’ when you type or navigate. The Storm’s screen certainly provides those two things in spades, but our question is whether or not they actually improve the experience of using this sort of device — and in our opinion, they do not.”

“Unlike the iPhone, which is most certainly the closest competitor on the market to this phone, the Storm’s UI is not custom built for touch navigation — touch navigation is added after the fact. Things which flow naturally on an iPhone — flicking through lists, scrolling for a contact, moving around in a webpage or looking through photos — feel inelegant and uncomfortable on the Storm. There’s no inertia to movement, no assurance that your finger is the lynchpin to control of the device. The screen is sensitive enough, surely, but how its software reacts to those touches makes all the difference, and here the feeling is that you’re never completely in charge of the phone,” Topolsky reports.

“The slant from RIM’s PR on the Storm is that the new clickable touchscreen delivers another high caliber typist’s dream to their roster — but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Rather than the click making things easier, it actually makes them more difficult. As you press down to engage a ‘key,’ you’re required to release before moving to another, which means that you can only type so quickly. In our tests, we were constantly frustrated by the staggering, laggy movement when trying to type with any speed. You have to let the click depress before you can strike another character, and that makes for a stuttery input process. Additionally, hovering over characters is represented by a blue glow, which looks nice when moving around, but in practice doesn’t do a very good job of letting you know what key you’re touching. We had spelling errors aplenty. All of this would be helped greatly by an intelligent software component that guessed what you meant to type — much like the iPhone’s predictive element. Unfortunately, what RIM provides is more of a glorified T9, which means if you type ‘fo,’ it doesn’t know you meant to type ‘do.’ Ultimately we found ourselves slowly and carefully pecking out messages that should have taken less time to put together, clicking screen or not,” Topolsky reports. “If speed isn’t a concern, you’ll probably find it manageable, but for BlackBerry addicts and those accustomed to typing on the iPhone, this will be a disappointment.”

“It’s clear from the device itself and the massive promotional push that both RIM and Verizon are giving the Storm that they view this as a proper threat to the iPhone’s dominance in the smartphone market. Over the last few weeks we’ve been bombarded with commercials, leaks, press releases, and special events all celebrating the arrival of the Storm,” Topolsky reports. “The only hitch in this plan is a major one: it’s not as easy, enjoyable, or consistent to use as the iPhone, and the one place where everyone is sure they have an upper hand — that wow-inducing clickable screen — just isn’t all that great… It feels undercooked — and that’s not enough for us.”

There’s much, much more in the full, very comprehensive review, including video – highly recommended – here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “scopie” for the heads up.]

Two for two, RIM. (See: PC World reviews RIM’s BlackBerry Storm: ‘Awkward, disappointing, a failed experiment’ – November 20, 2008)

At least it’s convenient that the company is based in Waterloo.