By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Research In Motion's (RIM) second-generation touchscreen phone, the BlackBerry Storm2, will offer a more responsive touchscreen, more accurate typing on its virtual keyboard and other enhancements when it rolls out in coming weeks, RIM said in unveiling the phone.
It will also get Wi-Fi, which its predecessor lacked.
European carrier Vodafone announced plans to roll out the device later this year. Verizon Wireless, which is 45 percent owned by Vodafone, has said it would have a U.S-network Storm2 in time for the holidays but, at press time, hadn't announced pricing or a firm availability date.
Verizon's first Storm was launched late last year at $199 but currently retails for $49. It operates in 3G EV-DO Rev. A mode in the Verizon network and in HSDPA mode in 2.1GHz-band 3G networks overseas. It was RIM's first touchscreen phone.
Like its predecessor, the Storm2 lacks a hard dialing keypad or QWERTY keypad, and their overall dimensions are the same, as is the 3.25-inch display size. Both also feature GPS for location-based applications, 3.2-megapixel camera and 1400 mAhr battery.
With a new electronic version of SurePress touchscreen technology replacing a mechanical version, the new model responds quickly to gentle presses, the company said. The new SurePress also accelerates typing by allowing users to type one letter with one finger while another finger might still be resting on another letter. The enhancement also enables multi-key actions such as Shift- or Alt-key combinations.
The new model also adds BlackBerry OS 5, which delivers usability and visual enhancements, including inertial scrolling, enabling finger-flick scrolling through contacts, pictures and the like. The OS also provides spin boxes to make it easier to set dates and times, gradient shading on buttons, more animation, sharper icons, brighter colors and blacker blacks than provided by the BlackBerry OS 4.7, RIM said.
In another change, a QWERTY-style keyboard will appear when the phone is held in portrait and landscape orientation. The phones' predecessor displayed a QWERTY keyboard in landscape mode but, in portrait mode, it displayed a dialing keypad with multiple letters per number.
In other changes, the new model incorporates 2GB of embedded memory, up from 1GB, and a MicroSD/SDHC slot with ability to support future 32GB cards, up from 16GB.
A proximity sensor blanks out the screen when a user is talking on the phone to prevent accidental touchscreen clicks.
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