BlackBerry may have had a bit of a set back lately with the whole “outage” issue but that hasn’t really stopped them from pushing the sales of their new products. One of the latest devices to make it out of the Canadian manufacturer’s domain is the totally-touchscreen enabled BlackBerry Torch 9860. Here’s a closer look at the device that might just help you decide if it’s worth your while.
Taking its cue from the Storm series of touchscreen devices previously launched by RIM, the Torch is quite unlike its predecessor and the current updated model of the same the Torch 9810. The 9860, although quite chic is a little heavy (135g) and features a 3.7-inch capacitive touchscreen with a 480 x 800 pixel resolution. The display itself is unfortunately far from resistant to scratches. After a couple of weeks of usage the handset already looks quite “used”. The simple removal and placement of the handset from my pockets was the primary cause of the display getting scathed. That being said, the 9860 is however quite a sturdy device and has managed to withstand some rather hard knocks and falls. The falls also left a few scars on the display but the handset on the whole is still quite intact and relatively damage free.
Slick as they come
The top portion of the device serves as a screen lock. On the right hand side are the 3.5mm handsfree socket (the new bundled handsfree kit is of top notch quality), followed by volume keys with a tiny play/pause button in between. At the bottom, on the same side, is the BlackBerry Convenience key that can be assigned to any specific function available with the handset which include – camera activation and shutter release, Voice Dialing, etc. The rubberized, slim keys are quite easy to access when holding the device in one hand.
Elegant and sturdy
A micro USB port for charging and USB connectivity is located on the left hand-side. RIM has provided four physical buttons below the display for answering and disconnecting calls, a return key and pop up menu option. The optical trackpad might seem redundant to some but can be quite handy in some web-browsing instances. A microSD hot swap slot is just under the hood and the 9860 also comes with 2.5GB of internal storage as well.
Features and Performance
The OS du jour for the 9860 is BlackBerry OS 7 running on a 1.2GHz processor that was not as impressive, in terms of functioning, as we hoped. The OS is well designed and so much better than the older versions, but for some reason didn’t seem to function as well as it did on the Touch and Type Bold 9900. Although there was a smooth flow to the access and navigation of the menus etc., the more the handset was used, - and we used it a lot - we noticed that it kept hanging while trying to download apps for App World and in certain other spaces.
Keypad is a little small
The on-screen keypad was a little bit too small and kept closing quite frequently whenever anyone with stubby fingers tried accessing the top row of keys. In landscape mode though it was a little better. The integration between the phone book, your email and SN accounts makes it easy to keep track of information. All that being said, BlackBerry users looking for a slightly different feel and a definite upgrade to an OS they were looking to see go up a notch or two will find BlackBerry OS 7 on the Torch 9860 quite a good option. It’ll take a while to get used to the keypad though, unless you’ve got slender digits.
As usual, RIM has ensured that most of your media needs are met with satisfaction. The music player is excellent and with the added support for Audio Boost and presets you will thoroughly enjoy your music experience on the 9860. The video player supports 720p HD files as long as they’re in MP4 formats. We did expect 1080p playback though considering the 1.2GHz processor supporting the devices functionality.
Excellent audio quality
The handset is equipped with enough codec support to read most formats. However with an upgraded system and RIM’s recent issues, to sell this product better to those looking for a better media offering, we feel the 9860 could have had support for more codes. As is though most AVI files will playback without the need for conversion, but not all.