A Week with the BlackBerry Storm Smartphone Day 4, 5 & 6



I spent the weekend and today trying a few of the Storm’s built in applications including the suite of Documents To Go applications, Visual Voicemail, and the video viewer. I also revisited the Yahoo! chat client to try a feature that had failed for me on my first try last week.


Documents To Go from DataViz allows you to view and edit Microsoft PowerPoint, Word and Excel files right on your BlackBerry Storm device.


When you start one of the three apps (Word to Go, Sheets to Go and Slideshow to Go), it will allow you to search the Storm’s internal memory, or an installed MicroSD card for .DOC, .XLS and .PPT files.


The Excel application called Sheets to Go easily opened several .XLS files that I tried. I didn’t have anything too complex, just simple spreadsheets with some formatting (colors, fonts) and calculations.


Just like using a spreadsheet program on your desktop computer, on the BlackBerry you can edit cells and insert functions. My issues with the touchscreen came into play again as I tried to tap specific cells for editing. Of course, the smaller the cells, the harder it is to select them with your finger. This made me wish for a stylus.

I didn’t have any problems with the Word to Go application either. I was able to view large documents with embedded images relatively well. Scrolling through documents with images feels a bit sluggish when you hit a image and it would need to load it. The only issue I noticed was when I entered edit mode. In order to take advantage of some of the features such as check spelling, tables, inserting bookmarks, etc., you have to have to buy the premium version of Documents To Go. The version on the Storm is only the Standard version.

The app I had the most trouble with was the SlideShow to Go app. As long as my PowerPoint file was less than 1mb in size, it seemed to load and display just fine. Anything much larger and I would see the spinning clock. At one point, when I was loading a PowerPoint around 3mb in size, it locked up the phone and I had to remove the battery in order to reset it.

Documents To Go is handy for viewing files, but I would not want to do any heavy lifting with it…


I also played around with the video player application. I tried .WMV, .MOV, .MP4 and .M4V files. The only video file that gave me errors when I tried to play it, was an .M4V file. These movies didn’t look anywhere near as good as the demo BabylonAD movie trailer included on the phone though. I’m not sure what format it is. I wouldn’t have any problems watching a full length movie on the Storm if it was thet same quality as that sample. The Storm really has a wonderfully bright and vivid display.

I revisited the Yahoo! instant messaging client and tried sending a file again. It worked this time when I sent it to someone who was using Pidgin (opensource multi chat client). So I guess the issue with my first try was entirely the fault of Adium.


I also played with the Visual Voicemail feature, which is ummm… similar to the visual voicemail feature on the … wait for it… iPhone 🙂 Sorry, couldn’t resist. It works the same way. You are presented with a list of voice messages, the person’s name (if they are in your contacts), the number and timed they called. Just click on the play button to hear their message. You can also easily call the person back, send them an SMS or a record follow up voice message (which I guess only works if you are responding to another Verizon customer).

I also spent some time making and receiving phone calls. No one complained that I sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher, so I consider that a good thing 🙂

Tomorrow is going to be my last day using this phone. I plan to test VZ Navigator, Email and the Opera Mini browser. I’ll post my experiences with these apps and my overall thoughts on the BlackBerry Storm in a last entry to this series on Wednesday.

Posted in: Wireless
{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Caroline January 13, 2009, 2:56 am

    I’m Down Under with a Vodafone 3G Storm 9500, have been using it for about a month. I have longish fingernails (as in they go past my fingertips) and this makes using the touch screen quite tricky as I have to use finger pads rather than finger tips (so not accurate enough)… I am getting better with practice but it still takes me ages to type messages. I find myself making calls in preference to sending SMS coz it’s just easier. Before the Storm I was using an iMate K-Jam – I loved the pressure sensitive screen, great with fingernails for menu selection, and I could handwrite War and Peace in an SMS with a stylus in no time flat. I never used the keyboard though, so I was looking for a keyless touchscreen in my next phone. I love being able to surf the internet free on the BlackBerry Storm, although I think there is room for improvement with the Browser – but I haven’t used any other mobile browser so I am making no comparisons. I looked up a phone number on a web page the other day, and clicking on the number on the webpage activated the phone and called it direct – I didn’t have to copy the number and open the phone app. How cool is that?!! I was looking forward to using Vodafone Compass (the GPS app) but refuse to pay another $8 a month for it on top of my contracted $79 a month. Google Maps seems to work ok though, so I’m not going to get lost. I use a BlueAnt bluetooth headset which works reasonably well most of the time, although sometimes the Storm decides not to send the call to the headset, very annoying when I am driving (it’s illegal to use your hands on your phone while driving here). Am very pleased that the voice dialling app works well on my bluetooth – even though the app has an American accent, it has managed to understand my Australian accent and select the right contact every time. I could not get my old Nokia or iMate phones to talk to the Storm via Bluetooth – the Storm discovered them but refused to communicate. I synch my Storm with my Outlook 2003 calendar, tasks and contacts every day with no problems at all. I have email set up on the Storm which is good – it only downloads the header information. I choose whether to download any attachments. Facebook works ok – and it alerts me when I get a Facebook update just like it does with SMS and emails. I have to charge the Storm every night docked to the computer – I can barely get through 2 days without going flat – but I can talk under wet cement And it plays music and all the other media stuff too… wish I could get some new themes, no one has released any yet Overall, I am very happy with the Storm – just wish the screen was pressure sensitive…

  • Jan January 13, 2009, 8:21 am

    Julie, thank you for the reports; very informative if not very entertaining.

    I believe that there is a very important part of a smart phone that doesn’t get enough attention though: the OS. Most new phones run an evolutionary development of an older phone OS, and it shows: layer upon layer of menus. From what I understand, even the Storm runs on an OS that was originally developed for other phones with a totally different UI. And that is not going to change, no matter how many OS-revisions or updates RIM throws at it. Though Palm has recently introduced their new WebOS, Apple’s OSX has a very broad, proven and familiar base, and is by far the most simple and intuitive. It was solely developed for the iPhone, making 100% use of its hardware potential.

    Next comes the fact that all phones except the iPhone have to adapt to another brand of (computer) hardware to sync mail, music, etc. This may be fine for the moment, but both parties will constantly have to take changes and updates (Windows 7 anyone?) of the other into account. Besides, both parties have their own financial picture to color and sometimes those colors don’t match. The iPhone and a Macintosh computer speak the same language (iTunes) or more precise, they are from the same household. Updates for the iPhone are normally to enhance its functionality, rarely to correct problems, and a three-year old can do the job.

    So no surprise here: For me, it is the iPhone.

  • Tony January 13, 2009, 10:25 am


    As others have said- thanks SO much for taking the time to record and share your experiences. Personally- I have a business phone with Verizon here in the US (right now, an LG VX8300) which is really a terrific phone. Nothing too fancy, although I use just about all of it’s features for work and leisure. I do need a phone that can display and send email, and just from a coolness factor- I do wish that an iPhone was an option for me – which it is not – again as I am a Verizon subscriber and the coverage in my area is literally perfect (which for me is the most important aspect of owning any mobile phone or device)

    I’m a techie of sorts, but seldom if ever have the latest anything, as the first iteration is usually when all of the bugs in any device or complex product are sorted out. What I am eager to see is if the Storm is something that is worth buying now (now that many of the early bugs are known and worked out) or if major bugs still persist (and are perhaps inhearant in the OS) that might require a complete
    reworking of the device. In that case I may not be interested in getting a Storm now, as it may be better to wait for the next software revision, or perhaps the Storm II.

    Anyway- if you read enough comments at the various review sites online- you are likely to be left with the feeling that people either dislike Apple and their iPhone, or love their iPhone and dislike just about everything that is not an iPhone. I personally am amazed at the ingenuity of human beings, and am awestuck that people can figure out all of this complex technology, and for the most part- get it all to work together pretty reliably. I am not a “power user” and think I would really use and enjoy a device like the Storm or the iPhone- (or perhaps another device) but I’d rather get one once the device is stable, and without anythig too major crashing on a frequent basis. I’m not an anything snob- and think I have realistic expectations from any of these amazing machines. I look farward to the rest of your review. Thanks again for doing this!


  • Hai Vu January 13, 2009, 10:54 am

    I noticed in the first screen shot that the BlackBerry wastes a considerable amount of screen estate.

  • karl January 14, 2009, 5:46 am

    Thanks for the great review. Your reviews are always helpful and fun to read. Can you tell me if when viewing Word docs if you have to scroll side to side to read? My older blackberry fits all the text in the screen. Thanks again, karl

  • eugene January 14, 2009, 10:39 am

    Hi Julie,
    First time reader to your site, and am loving your day by day review of the Blackberry Storm. Thanks for doing this!

    Much of what I’ve read elsewhere is very negative of the Storm, particularly the click screen, and the buggy OS. Others have reported improvements when they did an OS update, which seemed to address the vertical/horizontal orientation issue, and others. Have you updated the OS already? I’d be interested to find out if any of your issues would be fixed.

    I’m THIS close to getting one for myself, I never thought I would, I always wanted an iPhone…

    • Julie January 14, 2009, 11:17 am

      @eugene: Yes, I have the latest firmware update and still have ‘issues’ with the click screen. For me, it is sluggish when rotating from landscape to portrait orientation. Accidentally pressing the wrong picks in menus happens to me if I rush things. Other than that, the touchscreen works ok.

  • Melvin January 14, 2009, 11:19 am

    I really apprciate your review. The reality is that 90% of us would rather have an iPhone but in many cities AT&T is fighting it out with sprint for last place in service quality. In the vast majority of the markets Verizon is hands down the best provider. Usually t-Mobile is 2nd and then AT&T and Sprint flip flop for last (of the big 4). The bottom line is when I pick up my phone to call someone and don’t get a signal it does not matter what bells and whistles the phone has. I live in the Atlanta metro and GSM phones don’t even work in the grocery stores due to the weaker radios. SO I guess I am stuck with the Storm cause the iPhone ain’t commin out on Verizon any time soon!

  • Paul January 14, 2009, 1:55 pm

    Very interesting review, I wonder if anyone has tried to use the storm with a portable bluetooth keyboard, such as the igo Stowaway or something similar?

    I use mine a lot with my PDA and smartphone, when using word or typing lengthy texts, and find it a lot easier. I am looking at the Storm as a possible upgrade to my old HP iPAQ and wondered if anyone out there has used it in this way?

Leave a Comment