RIM's 'Much Improved' BlackBerry Storm2 Goes Live

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Research In Motion's new BlackBerry Storm 2 officially went on sale in the U.S. Wednesday -- a slick new update to RIM's popular BlackBerry family and available on Verizon for $179.99 after rebates and a two-year Verizon lock-in.

Supposedly a much-improved update of the company's somewhat maligned BlackBerry Storm, the Storm2 is also another bid to help RIM and Verizon dominate a season marked by a wealth of new smartphone releases on all carriers and various operating systems.

The Storm2 is a touch-screen only smartphone and notably features BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5.0, which gives users better control over e-mail folders and remote file access, and is also said to offer better and faster JavaScript and CSS processing.

Specs-wise, Storm2 has a 3.25-inch display with 480 x 360 resolution at 184 ppi. It supports WiFi and offers 256 MB of flash memory and 2 GB of storage, expandable to 16 GB with a micro SD memory card. Its camera is a 3.2-megapixel unit with autofocus, video capture and image stabilization, and the Storm2 also provides Bluetooth connectivity, has a built-in GPS and Verizon's Wireless WZ Navigator, and includes other Verizon Wireless mobile features like V Cast Music with Rhapsody.

For Verizon Wireless, the new BlackBerry is a key piece of its fall smartphone lineup, which includes a dozen handsets and, among them, two Google Android-based devices from Motorola: the Cliq, and the just-confirmed Droid phone.

Verizon posted strong numbers in its most recent earnings report, but with 1.2 million new subscribers in its third quarter failed to match the 2 million added by AT&T, exclusive U.S. carrier of Apple's iPhone, in AT&T's most recent earnings.

The BlackBerry Storm2 will also be offered abroad. Vodafone will be carrying the Storm2 in the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands, as well as South Africa, by the end of the year.

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