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There’s a built-in GPS, which is pretty much par for the course these days. You have the option of using BlackBerry Maps or Vodafone Find and Go, but if you’ve got any sense you’ll do exactly what I did and download Google Maps the first chance you get. As with the Bold, Google Maps works very well and very fast. Strangely, the double tap doesn’t zoom in on Google Maps the way it does on web pages, and although the zoom in/out icons in the bottom left of the screen work well enough, they’re still no substitute for the pinching in/out method on the iPhone.
Since this is the first touchscreen BlackBerry it comes as no surprise that it’s also the most accomplished when it comes to media playback. The music player is very good indeed – OK, so it’s not quite as slick as the iPhone, which is basically an iPod touch, but it’s the best I’ve seen on a non-Apple phone. You get full screen album art, with basic playback controls along the bottom – the Mute button on the top of the device also doubles as a Play/Pause button, so it’s easy to stop playback without having to take the Storm out of your pocket. Hitting the Menu button brings up a plethora of useful options like Shuffle, Repeat and my personal favourite, Set As Ringtone. The Storm is also happy to stream its music to a Bluetooth receiver, which is handy since you get one of these in the box. The small, square receiver is nicely unobtrusive – it’s powered via its mini-USB port, and has a 3.5mm jack so you can connect it up to a pair of speakers or your hi-fi.
Video playback is also good, with the screen put to good use in landscape mode. Whether you think that a device this size is suitable for watching video is a personal thing, but if you’re happy with the iPhone or iPod touch, then you’ll be just as happy with the Storm. YouTube is also well integrated into the Storm, and if you’re the type that wastes many hours trawling YouTube, you’ll be able to make the most of any long journeys. The fast HSDPA data rate means that you really can stream video to the Storm anytime and anyplace. It’s also a blessing not to have to use iTunes to get media content on and off the Storm – my second biggest annoyance as an iPhone user is having to use iTunes, with the first being the appalling signal strength on my first generation unit.
The 3.2-Megapixel can produce surprisingly good images, but getting the best out of it is very hard. Although the camera has a solid auto-focus system, it also suffers from the worst case of shutter lag I’ve seen in years. It takes four seconds from the point that you press the button, to the point that the shutter sound is heard and the image is displayed. Given, it appears that the image is captured early in the four seconds of “black screen”, but it’s still hard to gauge exactly when the shot is taken. And shooting anything that’s moving is pretty much impossible.