RIM Defense

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RIM is the Rodney Dangerfield of smartphone providers – it gets no respect. Need an example – here is the killing lines from the Gizmodo review of the recently announced Torch 9800 with the new Blackberry OS6 driving it:

The distillation of this grand mishmash of observations and scenarios is this: BlackBerry isn’t good enough anymore if you’re comparing it to other smartphones. What does it do better than the rest? That’s the fundamental question. And the answer is that for most people, in most situations, compared to Android and iPhone, not a whole lot….People who love BlackBerry exactly the way it is will like the Torch and BlackBerry 6, because it’s pretty much the same. It offers a lot of marginal improvements in a lot of places—like the browser—even if it makes a mess of some things. That said, in a few months, they might like it a lot less. Nielsen numbers show that half of BlackBerry users are thinking about switching. This won’t change their mind. And even with all of those corporate accounts locked down tight, it’s hard to say that’s not a problem.

Maybe RIM’s too big, too entrenched to build the kind of phone that’ll make people want a BlackBerry again. But they could’ve at least given the damn thing a better screen.

Not pretty. But Engadget, the other major creative gadget website is bit more subtle in its slitting of RIM:

It’s tough to feel really excited about the BlackBerry Torch and OS 6 after heavy testing. We had high hopes coming into this review that the new operating system would be more than a fresh coat of paint on an aging user experience — that we were going to see substantial changes in the attitude and direction of the company. While there are notable improvements here and much that is laudable, what we’re ultimately left with is, at its core, more of the same. For all the improvements in the browser, the more upscale fit-and-finish of the UI, and the thoughtful changes in basic functionality, we still feel like this device is a generation behind the market.

However both reviews give top marks to some features of the Torch:
+ the antenna and reception is tops; no antenna-gate from RIM
+ keyboard is solid and works well, does what the Palm Pre tried with success
+ Webkit browser is major improvement with touch gestures fully implemented
+ Universal Search works very well allowing a user to find anything on the phone
+ personalization and iconography is much improved
+ 5MPixel still + video camera, 32GB SDcard slot [comes with 4GB], and Wifi are par for the course
+ speakerphone and call quality are tops
+ media syncing is big improvement
+ battery life is exceptional
Suddenly you find yourself counting all the good points about the new RIM Torch and the list is not short. Add this to the superior push email and messaging experience with guaranteed encryption so nobody gets to break in because of top notch Encryption[except in Saudia Arabia, Abu Dhabi and possibly India where the governments may terminate operations of RIM email services because they cant break in and RIM won’t/can’t disclose your encryption key].
Major problems from Gadgets guys-1) the 624Mhz Marvell CPU is underpowered in comparison to the 1000Mhz iPhones and Droids, 2)this causes problems in some UI and browser operations making them clunky at times, and 3)the screen at 480 x 360 is too small relative to the Androids and iPhone competition. “There’s nothing daring or lust-worthy about this design” is the considered verdict.
In contrast, Walter Mossberg at the Wall Street Journal largely agrees with the gadget reviews but adds a few more pluses:
+ the organization of apps and functions into readily accessible hub screens
+ Social Feeds merging of Facebook, Twitter and other social nets messages and status info
+ improved maps function and roster of built-in apps
but noted the big downsides:
– underpowered CPU
– small apps library of 9000 in comparison to Android’s 70,000 and iPhone’s 225,000.
Despite the nearly same review of pluses and minuses, Walter Mossberg comes to a different conclusion:

I’ve been testing the new Torch with BlackBerry 6, and I view it as a big improvement over earlier, stodgy BlackBerry models. It might help stem the urge to switch to iPhone and Android, and even steal some users from those and other platforms, especially as the company brings out additional models that use the new software. And it shows that, contrary to some recent speculation, RIM is hardly dead or dying. In fact, the new phone and software are just the start of its plan to revitalize the BlackBerry franchise.

So maybe RIM does get some well deserved respect and meanwhile Takethe5th will hold Engadget and Gizmodo to the Blackberry standard  [its got to be equal to or better than the iPhone + Android feature set to garner a good review] when they do their upcoming Windows Phone 7 reviews.

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