Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Torch

I've been evaluating a BlackBerry Torch for the past few days. It's a pretty phone, but I can certainly understand what people were talking about when the early reviews came in blasting it as not ready for prime-time.

The interface is somewhat clunky to operate - distinctly unlike BlackBerry's of the past. It's slow, in about every respect - perhaps because you're used to things working instantly on a traditional RIM device. It is buggy - I've had the screen lock in sideways mode just pulling it out of my pocket, and couldn't get it un-stuck but to press the dial button. The layout and operation takes some getting used to, and the screen is so sensitive, you often finding it doing things you had no intention of it doing. This device would turn a 30 year old systems engineer into a 70 year old car salesman...muttering, "what dit...why?, go did I..."

The screen is good, and people I call say I sound great in either handset or speakerphone mode, but that's where the compliments begin and end. I constantly hear my own voice in a robotic, almost water-in-the-ear "echo" when using it as a handset phone, and it's really irritating. Then of course, we have the AT&T network's propensity to drop calls at will - so it's obviously not a device problem.

We did learn you can press ALT+"n m l l" to have the handset display the actual signal strength in dBm (I think it's dBm). It's at least more useful than counting bars. I see it bounce between -70 and -130 sitting at my desk, immobile. When it does say -70, it's typically not doing anything - as soon as you start hitting the mobile network, it falls like a stone. Still goes back and forth between GPRS / EDGE and 3G - I've probably talked about this before.

Anyway, we won't be deploying them, and that's all that matters. We have a couple hundred RIM handhelds, and I don't want a fleet of people who have devices they hate. Probably for the first time ever, we'll start looking into MobileIron or Good for Enterprise to open the gates a bit. When Amazon starts chopping the price of a new smartphone in half less than a week after it debuts, it's not a good sign. RIM is, as Gordon Ramsay would say, "Deep in the $#!+".