BlackBerry Storm Pricing Revealed?

Andrew R. Hickey
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According to the "fine print" for the NYC Storm Hunt, a citywide scavenger hunt of sorts that kicks off in New York tomorrow in which the BlackBerry Storm smartphone is the grand prize for several winners, Verizon indicates that a BlackBerry Storm coupled with a $50 Verizon Wireless gift card has an approximate retail value of $549. Take out the $50 gift card and that means the Storm will run $499. Granted, that amount is for an unsubsidized device. Verizon will likely offer the Storm at a considerable discount when coupled with a Verizon service contract and rebates.

The pricing details come as the smartphone world speculates on when the BlackBerry Storm will officially hit stores. It is anticipated that the Storm will be available later this month in time for the bustling holiday shopping season.

News of the Storm's pricing comes after the BlackBerry Bold made its first in-store appearances yesterday at AT&T stores and authorized AT&T dealers. The BlackBerry Bold 9000, BlackBerry's first 3G smartphone, became one of the most coveted devices in BlackBerry's 10-year history, likely due to its slick appearance and the seemingly endless delays that kept it from being released for several months. The Bold has received praise from smartphone users alike, but some are waiting to buy a BlackBerry Bold to see how the Storm stacks up.

The Storm is also expected to attract the BlackBerry faithful, which have been eagerly awaiting BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion's (RIM) answer to the Apple iPhone 3G. The Storm will officially pit BlackBerry in the arena with not only the iPhone, but other touch screen titans like the recently released Google Android-based T-Mobile G1.

The BlackBerry Storm, which features what RIM is calling a "clickable" touch screen that depresses slightly with a tap and clicks to tell the user the action has been taken, is BlackBerry's official answer to the Apple iPhone. The touch screen measures 3.25 inches with 480 x 360 resolution 184 ppi.

The smartphone operates on Verizon Wireless' 3G EV-DO Rev A. network in the U.S., promising lightning quick data rates and Internet surfing.

The device offers a full HTML browser that works in both portrait and landscape orientation. Icons along the bottom of the display enable accessing and switching between page view and column view as well as the ability to toggle between pan mode and cursor mode. The browser supports file downloads, streaming audio and video and built-in RSS support.

On the multimedia side, the Storm offers 1 GB of onboard memory storage and a microSD/SDHD memory card slot to support up to 16 GB of additional storage. The built-in media player can play movies in full-screen mode, display pictures and slideshows and manage music collections; playlists can be created directly on the handset and there's an equalizer with 11 preset filters -- including "Lounge," "Jazz" and "Hip Hop" -- for customized audio ranges when using wired headphones or external speakers. The handheld also features a 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack and supports Bluetooth.

The Storm also features a 3.2 megapixel camera with variable zoom, auto focus and a flash that also provides continuous lighting while recording video.

Like all BlackBerry devices, the Storm also delivers BlackBerry's mobile e-mail and messaging, supporting both personal and corporate e-mail, SMS, MMS and instant messaging from most consumer and enterprise platforms. It also offers easy access to popular social networking sites, like Facebook.

Similar to other new BlackBerry models, the Storm also offers built-in GPS for location-based services and geotagging of photos. The Storm, which measures 4.43 inches x 2.45 inches x 0.55 inches and weighs 5.5 ounces, features a removable and rechargeable 1400 mAhr battery with up to six hours of talk time on 3G networks and 15 days of standby time.

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