BlackBerry Storm On Sale Next Week

Promise seems to be fading for a breakthrough in its touch-screen keyboard

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Steady advertising by Verizon Wireless is helping make the Storm the most anticipated new BlackBerry, which goes on sale next week (for $200 with a new 2-year plan). But for me, the ads are actually dulling the buzz. Seeing somebody holding and using the keyboard has reminded me of the limitations of a touch-screen keyboard, despite the nifty new tech that BlackBerry is building in.

That the keyboard will audibly and physically respond to finger touches seemed promising. But the ads remind me that the touch screen remains a flat piece of real estate. I see no way to get the feel of where a key is without looking. And that will slow down typists, even if an audible and physical click confirms when they've hit a key.

In fact, the Storm keyboard won't even include haptics, which might have helped distinguish one key from another through tiny vibrations, says a thorough article at Tom's Hardware. Research in Motion apparently feared the hit on battery life.

Like just about everybody else, I want the benefits of a touch screen. But I also don't want to give up my BlackBerry keyboard. We'll see RIM has unanticipated tricks under its screen.