♬ She is the torch and she is the theme
She could be a dream but – oh boy – is she real…♬
Lyrics and music by: Marc Almond, David James Ball, recorded by Soft Cell.
I have had my BlackBerry Torch on the Rogers network here in Vancouver, BC now for a few weeks and thought I would share my thoughts on this device. It replaced an older “World” BlackBerry 8800 on the Telus network (that barely worked in the US, much less the world…but I digress…)
BlackBerry Torch 9800 Key Features and Tech Specs (courtesy of crackberry.com):
One of the difficulties I had with my older 8800 was the tiny keyboard. I happen to be a big guy at 6′ 2″ (1.88 meters) with hands to match. My thumb easily covers over 1/2 the keyboard on the BlackBerry 8800 which meant that I found it very difficult to type accurately on the 8800. I had hoped that being a ‘slide’ phone, that the physical keyboard on the Torch would be easier and more accurate than on my older Blackberry. Alas, it is not the case. The keyboard on the Torch, while it does slide out of the way (up and down – see the picture above), is about the same size as the one on the older 8800. I guess it was hoping too much that BlackBerry would have made the Torch slide ‘ the long way’ – rather than just ‘up and down’ as it does now. Sliding the long way would have allowed a keyboard to be about the same length as the BlackBerry is tall – allowing a much bigger (and hopefully more accurate) physical keyboard. My daughter’s Samsung slider has such a keyboard and she is adept at typing with two thumbs as a result.
This means that I am forced to use the on-screen touch keyboard. At least when I flip the phone lengthwise the touch keyboard is much larger than if I use the phone vertically. The keys do take some getting used to – I find I must aim at the top of the key rather than the middle – which is a bit counter-intuitive – for the best accuracy. All in all, the touch keyboard is an improvement over the cramped slide out one but still not as easy or as accurate as I would have desired.
One of the major annoyances with my old 8800 was the number of dropped calls. I am pleased to say that my Torch on Rogers has cut the number of dropped calls to a small fraction of what I was accustomed on the 8800 on the Telus network. A definite plus!
One of the most important features for me for any smartphone is the quality of the phone call signal. My benchmark here is my old 8800 – and I have to say that I used the phrase “I am sorry can you repeat that…” far too often when using my 8800. I am pleased that the phone call quality on the Torch is improved – still not stellar as compared to a land line – but certainly better. I should say that I am using a Plantronics bluetooth handsfree device (the same one as I used on my 8800). One benefit – the pairing of the Bluetooth device was much easier than on the 8800.
However, don’t expect wonders here…If you are out walking on the street the people to whom you are speaking are going to hear the background noises of traffic and such. I don’t know why Bluetooth devices seem to be so adept at picking up noise and muffling the call! As a result, I generally try to avoid calling people when I am not in a quiet environment.
One feature that I did like on the Torch was the ability to adjust the call quality a bit – you can boost the treble (or bass) on the phone call and headset – which should make comprehending a caller a bit easier. I did find that the sound volume to be too low in some circumstances – I have adjusted the default call volume to be 100% (another nice feature) which may help.
Ease of Use:
The touch screen is a joy and a vast improvement over the 8800. I particularly like ‘flipping’ the phone sideways (landscape mode, if you will) which made access a bit easier. I liked the ability to adjust the Torch’s myriad settings – the ability to customize it for the way that you work is great (within reason, of course!).
The notifications of voicemails is an improvement over the 8800.
The Calendar is great – you can swipe your finger sideways and scan appointments on different days. Due to the link to Outlook (via the office’s Exchange Server) appointments made in Outlook or on the Torch are synched and appear on the other quickly and effortlessly.
BlackBerry Messenger (which was on the old 8800 but never used because of the difficulty of trying to compose a text message on the 8800’s keyboard) is actually a novel pleasure – at least it isn’t an excruciating ordeal! It also can connect to Windows Live Messaging, Yahoo Messaging, Google Talk and AOL Messenger.
The GPS/Maps feature will be handy.
The Torch comes with a 5 megapixel camera which is actually a higher pixel count than my old digital Canon (I know – I need to upgrade that too…)
Social Networking is also included – with icons to connect to YouTube, FaceBook, Twitter and MySpace right on the main screen. Watching a video on YouTube is a pleasure – the screen is bright and sharp (and doesn’t darken automatically as did my old 8800). There is also a ‘Social Feeds’ icon for aggregating your social networking feeds in one place.
“App World” will connect you to the BlackBerry Applications (provided this is enabled on your phone – it isn’t on mine).
Another great feature is the ability to connect to a Wi-Fi network as well as the cell signal from Rogers – this should save $$ for those who can find a Wi-Fi network to use rather than using the Rogers cell data plan!
All in all the Torch is a vast improvement over the old BlackBerry 8800. You can find a very detailed review of the Torch on Crackberry.com as well.
The Torch’s features could be just a dream but in this case, she is real.