Tuesday, August 3, 2010

New BlackBerry Torch announced 8/3/10

news story now-A new BlackBerry called the Torch, with both a touchscreen and slide-out QWERTY keyboard, was unveiled Tuesday by Research In Motion, which hopes to stop which the bleeding of customers migrating to the iPhone and phones using the Android operating system.

The phone, also known as the Torch 9800, will be available Aug. 12, and cost $199 with a two-year contract with AT&T, which will be the exclusive provider of the Torch.

The device will use RIM's new Operating System 6, which includes a badly needed re-do of the BlackBerry Web browser, which is painfully slow and frustrating to use. The new browser is called the Torch Mobile browser. It is based on WebKit, the same engine used by Apple and Google.

The Torch, noted NPD analyst Ross Rubin, looks "a bit like a high-end Palm Pre" with its touchscreen and slide-out keyboard. It has a 3.2-inch, 360-by-480 capacitive touch-screen display.

The phone, with Wi-Fi, has pinch-to-zoom on the touchscreen, something the iPhone and other devices already feature. It also has a 5-megapixel camera with flash and autofocus, as well as "environment" settings. The camera will name pictures by location.

A hallmark of the new operating system is universal search, RIM CEO Mike Lazardis said at a press conference. Universal search is something offered already on the iPhone, Android and Palm devices. It lets users search their devices by keyword to find anything on the device — in e-mail, contacts or music, for example — to that keyword.

The operating system "is cool," but there's not much there that "we haven't seen before elsewhere," said Michael Gartenberg, partner with Altimeter Group, a technology research and advisory firm.