This one is going to be interesting.... Ever since RIM introduced the notion of a touchscreen that "clicks" with the BlackBerry Storm it has been met with some degree of polarity. There are those who don't see the need for it, there are those who love the concept of getting real tactile feedback while typing on a flat piece of glass and there are those who would maybe like it some of the time (but not necessarily all of the time).
RIM's SurePress design theory does have its benefits. Separating navigation from confirmation allows you to minimize accidental presses/taps (selecting something you don't want) - when browsing the web this is really handy in allowing you to hone in and click the right link the first time or still allowing you to type with accuracy in a bumpy environment (back of a NYC taxi cab). Of course, the main intent behind SurePress was for the device to be great for everyday typing and messaging. I hate to re-hash Storm 1's less than smooth rollout, but between the hardware design and initial software issues, using SurePress tended to be more of a challenge than convenience (though there are many a Storm owner who invested the time into the device and can now hustle with it).
The good news is that with all that we have seen of Storm 2 so far, the hardware design behind this next evolution of SurePress looks to be a lot better and early hands-on reports (including my own) suggest the device will be much improved for typing/everyday use compared to Storm 1, and easier for the average person to pick up and get the hang of immediately out of the box (keep in mind we're referring to Storm 2's tech as SurePress for this post though RIM may rebrand it - TruePress, ClickThru, VirtualClick, who knows!). That said, on CrackBery Podcast 040 we got onto the topic of Storm 2 and SurePress and I posed a question that's definitely up for debate... With SurePress, is RIM giving people what they want or are they trying to tell people what they think they need?
For the three of us on the podcast, we all sort of had the same feelings that while we prefer using a physical keyboard for typing/messaging, that when it comes to adjusting to using a touchscreen device we find it easier to use a fixed capacitive touchscreen (a la iPhone) vs. a clickable touchscreen (Storm). For me, one of the benefits of a fixed touchscreen is that it provides for effortless typing - I can type/click for a long time on a device like the iPhone without my fingers getting tired, which on a BlackBerry physical keyboard or the Storm's SurePress can begin to feel like work after a while (especially if you're a Crackie and spend a lot of time on it). My tapping dexterity/accuracy is pretty good, so when it comes to a touchscreen BlackBerry, for me personally I'd rather be able to disable SurePress or wouldn't mind if RIM simply made a touchscreen BlackBerry without a moving display (and spent some time tweaking how it treats swipe vs. tap instead of how to make it click good). That's not an easy statement for me to make - since the first time I laid eyes on the Storm I was excited for the potential of SurePress. But if you can only have one or the other, the benefits of effortless typing for me outweigh the benefits of a clickable one as stated above. Your thoughts may be different - feel free to debate in the comments and cast your vote!
So why is RIM so in love with SurePress? We had a couple thoughts here on the last podcast as well. One - RIM is an engineering company at heart that sees a lot of value in innovating and refining (and patenting) their own technologies (remember SurePress did win a Technology Innovation award last year!). They don't want to build an iClone, but something differentiated and better (especially at typing - RIM's has always been known for awesome keyboards), and a screen that provides movement/tactile feedback in RIM's eyes is a way of making a touchscreen better. The other thought here is that it's easier for RIM to bend the BlackBerry Operating system around the concept of SurePress (seperating navigation from confirmation - just like trackwheels, trackballs and trackpads do) where as making it work in a what you tap is what you get form might be more difficult. The other debate here is that for the time and effort going into refining SurePress on Storm 2, maybe RIM could have built a more touchscreen-focused OS vs. keeping the traditional OS and making it work with a touchscreen.
Is there a perfect solution? I know some of you reading this will be all for having an iPhone-style BlackBerry while others will be hell bent on SurePress being the only way to go, period. I think the optimal solution would be to give BlackBerry users the choice. We've already seen with the BlackBerry Storm 2 that when powered off the device's display is fixed - it doesn't move, but when powered up it becomes clickable. We've seen the tear down pictures and know that underneath the Storm 2's glass there are some pretty darn cool sensors/buttons/resistive things working together - if anything it looks over-engineered. Though we haven't seen it in an early Storm OS yet, my dream would be that this SurePress evolution (regardless of whatever technology it is using - piezo or otherwise) would allow you to change the click settings on the phone, from making the screen relatively soft/easy to click all the way up to where it's essentially a fixed piece of glass and you skip the navigation and go straight to confirmation with no click required (will still need some sensitivity for swiping around of course!). I think that would make every touchscreen BlackBerry user out there happy. Will Storm 2 have that feature? I honestly don't know... but regardless Storm 2 will be much better than Storm 1 and even if you can't turn off the click I have a feeling I'll be able to happily use it as my daily driver.
So what say you CrackBerry Nation? Love SurePress? Scrap SurePress? Or Give me SurePress that I can adjust/disable at my choosing? Sound off in the comments and cast your vote!
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