Friday, October 17, 2008

Cool Technology of the Week

A number of new mobile devices are entering the market - the Amazon Kindle 2, the Google G1, and the Blackberry Storm. Each has its own ideal uses and unique technologies. I'll test all of them by the end of the year and report the results.

I am a minimalist and carry few gadgets. My only current personal devices are a Macbook Air and a Blackberry Curve.

I've tried the iPhone 3G and although it's a remarkable device, the lack of a tactile keyboard makes it less than ideal for my daily high volume of email.

Although I have not yet tested the Blackberry Storm (the Verizon/Vodaphone model should arrive in my office for testing in a few weeks), I am impressed by the design which includes a tactile touch screen.

What's a tactile touch screen?

The user distinctly feels the screen being pressed and released with a gentle "click," similar to the feeling of a key on a physical keyboard or a button on a mouse. The "clickable" touch-screen, which Blackberry calls ClickThrough, gives the user positive confirmation that they have made a selection and the result is an enhanced touch interface and a more intuitive typing experience. ClickThrough lets you depress any portion of the screen to make a selection so it feels like there’s actually a button below your finger, thanks to mechanical switch suspension below the surface of the display that lets each press feel like a separate button, even though the entire screen moves as though it is one large button.

The Storm contains an accelerometer and when the device is tilted horizontally, a full keyboard appears rather than then tiny compressed keyboard of the iPhone or the "cell phone-like" SureType keyboard of the BlackBerry Pearl. The fact that Blackberry Storm enables a full sized keyboard in horizontal mode with tactile feedback could make the touch screen usable for high volume email users.

I'll report back as soon as I test it, but the idea of a touch screen Blackberry with a full size tactile keyboard is cool!


Unknown said...

Hi John,

The Blackberry Storm does look like a great new mobile device and I am very interested to see if the tactile keyboard will live up to the hype.

However- I would still bet the farm on the Apple iPhone ending up as "King of the Mobile Devices."

The key differentiator between mobile devices is going to be the applications built specific to that device. No one has been able to build the hype that Apple has built with the iPhone SDK and the AppStore. Google Android may be close due to the openness of the platform, but until they have a solid manufacturer backing them, I won't have my company develop on their platform.

New features like a tactile touch screen are nice, but RIM needs to build the developer support Apple has built or they will fall behind in the Mobile race.

Thanks for the blog.

mxganse said...

oddly enough, the new macbooks and macbook pros use this type of "clicking" for the mousepad. and get this: the mousepads are now GLASS.

there are a few complaints that you need to click the pad "just right" or it doesn't work. i wonder if this blackberry will suffer the same issues...

Stu Parker said...


Stuart Here From The IS Helpdesk. I am kind of curious as to how that would work myself. The storm is going to be a great phone. A friend of mine was telling me that works for Verizon that Verizon was first approached by apple for the Iphone. I have a touch and am not too comfortable with sending emails.

John Halamka said...

Folks - thanks for the comments. I met with Verizon today and they confirmed the Storm for me to test is on its away. I'll report on the ease of clicking the screen and ability to send a high volume of emails via the touch screen.

Unknown said...

Enjoyed the feedback on the various phones. Agree wholeheartedly regarding the need for a tactile keyboard. The touchscreen is not as responsive as some folks think and it is easy to misfinger one letter for another. I use my PDA for GPS as well in leveraging the telenav service, which has been excellent in providing directions (including pedestrian) and destination recommendations (food, store, etc.) Unfortunately my phone does not have built in GPS as I use an external receiver, but my next phone (most will anyway) will definitely have GPS embedded.