BlackBerry Torch: Refined to perfection

When a new Blackberry is described as a game-changer, one cannot help but be curious and take a look. The new Blackberry Torch (9800) is, hands down, the best device RIM has produced. My Bold 9000 now seems archaic and has been relegated to my desk drawer with previous generation devices including the BB Curve and Pearl.

What makes the Torch the best Blackberry yet? It’s the hardware. The device stands out with a slim form factor and solid build. It’s the perfect weight (5.68 ounces) and the slider opens and closes very smoothly. I’ll admit – I love the slider. Walking down Bay Street and sliding open the phone to take an important call can make us all feel a little bit like Gordon Gekko. 

The device has a large 3.2-inch touchscreen and an excellent keyboard. Anyone familiar with the Bold 9700 will recognize the keyboard in terms of appearance and usability. One thing that stands out when you use the new Torch is how seamlessly you can interact with the device through the use of the touchscreen, trackpad, or keyboard.
When the BB Storm first launched, I traded in my Bold 9000 expecting never to look back. I was wrong. At the time, the touchscreen with Surepress wasn’t exactly geared towards corporate users and my productivity took a dip. The Storm lasted four hours before being tossed in the desk drawer.
RIM has got it right this time around; the onscreen keyboard rivals the iPhone in terms of speed and accuracy. Of course, with a physical keyboard available I don’t find myself tapping out messages on the screen often.
The Torch can support up to 32GB of flash memory, more than enough for music and video. One highlight is the addition of a 5MP camera. I’m a big fan of the Blackberry camera, especially when there is an autofocus and flash to help in low light situations. The camera on the Torch is more than adequate for point and shoot applications and replaces the need to carry around a digital camera.
In addition to the above features, 802.11n WiFi is also standard and makes for fast browsing using the new Webkit browser or using social networking tools such as Twitter, and Facebook.
Of course, great hardware alone doesn’t make the phone, and RIM’s new Blackberry OS 6 shines.
One thing you will realize immediately when using the Torch is that it functions just like every other Blackberry past and present. The keyboard shortcut commands still work, and icons are where you expect them to be. One change, however, is that there is a more polished look and feel to the operating system, making touchscreen input extremely user friendly.
From an end-user perspective, the new Blackberry Torch is easy to use and a marked improvement over previous generation models. The combination of multiple input methods and familiar features allows anyone to pick up the device and use it without reading a manual.
And that’s important and also a key reason enterprise will not hesitate to adopt the device.
Even though the home screen may look different and there is a new browser, anyone who has used a Blackberry before will have no trouble using the Torch.
Some reviewers indicate disappointment that RIM didn’t change the OS to look and function more like an iPhone or Android device. Had RIM done this, corporate adoption of the device would slow down while IS departments assessed how management functionality was different from previous devices, and new training programs were developed to educate staff on using the phone.
To the IT group, managing a Blackberry Torch is no different than any other RIM device. It’s simple to provision on the Blackberry Enterprise Server, and existing policies apply without any trouble.
The Blackberry Torch pairs excellent hardware and refined, albeit familiar, software to deliver another fine corporate device that will soon take its place on the belts of many professionals.


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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