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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Today our friends at CNET UK had a special visit from the Vodafone BlackBerry press mini-bus to take a sneak peek at the BlackBerry Storm. Before they could say, "We won't all fit in there," three of the team were crammed into the dark, leather-upholstered van, with BlackBerry and RIM representatives holding Storms.

The first thing you notice about the Storm when you see it in real life is it's every bit as good-looking as the press pictures. A large touchscreen is surrounded by a solid casing and metal back. It feels like a quality product that will last some time.

Unlike the other touchscreen phones out there, the Storm's screen is clickable, which takes some getting used to, especially when texting using the onscreen keypad. It won't be to everyone's liking and we think many people will find it annoying.

Because the screen can be clicked, a gap had to be left around the edges so that it can pivot. We suspect this will fill up with dirt, lint and other assorted gunk. That said, the screen itself is very sharp and provides a vibrant viewing experience — similar to the BlackBerry Bold's screen.

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It's a relatively thin phone and features curved edges that make slipping it into and out of a pocket very easy. RIM has used quality materials, giving the Storm a premium look and feel — it looks every inch the high-end phone.

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On the back of the BlackBerry Storm is a 3.2-megapixel camera, which we tested out very quickly. The camera takes surprisingly sharp shots and even in low light seemed to handle itself well, but further testing is needed. Below you can see the metal battery cover.

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Similar to the HTC Touch HD, the BlackBerry Storm features a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you can plug your cans straight in.

Our first impressions of the Storm were good overall, but only time will tell if people really like the clickable touchscreen. It's an unusual concept that works better in some contexts than in others.

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