BlackBerry Storm browser keeps pace with peers

Research In Motion's BlackBerry Storm features a Java-based full-HTML browser, which RIM claims is in the same class with the browsers on iPhone, Palm Pre, Nokia, and Android devices. In many respects, that assertion is true.

Research In Motion's BlackBerry Storm features a Java-based full-HTML browser, which RIM claims is in the same class with the browsers on iPhone, Palm Pre, Nokia, and Android devices. In many respects, that assertion is true.

The Storm's main browser window provides an address bar at the top and a Google search bar underneath. The window shows your bookmarks and last visited sites under the two bars, and you can click two little blue arrows to expand your bookmarks and your history.

When you tap on the address bar to enter a URL, the Storm will present you with a SureType keyboard (two keys on a button, as on the BlackBerry Pearl) and with a full QWERTY keyboard when in landscape mode.

A progress bar at the bottom of the screen tracks the page-loading progress and also lets you know when data or a script is loading. The page's title appears next to the status bar at the top of the screen; meanwhile, the 'www.' button on the black bar at the bottom of the screen offers quick access to the main screen, where you can enter another URL or perform a Google search.

Storm's browser can perform adaptive zooming, a feature also found on the iPhone and Palm Pre that lets you zoom in on various areas of a page by double-tappping. To zoom out, however, you have to use a dedicated button (labeled with a magnifying glass and a minus sign) on the bottom bar. A vertical scroll bar indicates your position on the page, and a horizontal scroll bar appears when you zoom in.

Clicking the page view/column view button on the bottom bar reformats the page's text, wrapping it to the screen's width so you can read it without having to scroll horizontally. Text on the page gets smaller, but images do not. Pressing the button again restores the page to its original state.

The middle function on the Storm browser's bottom bar is the cursor/pan mode button. In the default Pan Mode, you can finger-flick up/down left/right through a page or double-tap to zoom in. But when the browser is in Cursor mode, an arrow tracks your finger's movement on-screen, similar to a mouse on a desktop PC.

In Cursor mode, when you move the cursor over an image, you can save it (by selecting Menu, Save Image) or you can highlight text for copying and pasting. The Storm currently has no tabbed browsing option, but industry observers expect RIM to add this feature in a forthcoming software update.

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Daniel Ionescu

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