Digital Gear: iPhone clone tries to whip up a storm

The BlackBerry Storm

The BlackBerry Storm

The iPhone has stolen the hearts of millions, but nowadays it's far from the only slick-looking touch-screen phone in town. Two recent additions to the pack are T-Mobile's G1, which launched last month, and Research In Motion's BlackBerry Storm, which came out just this week. The Storm has a great touch screen and battery life but lags on storage. In handheld video cameras, Pure Digital Technologies took some cues from the iPhone's design with its Flip Mino HD camera, which shoots high-definition video but is a bit costly. For One Laptop Per Child's XO laptops, some colorful and affordable accessories have gone on sale at ILoveMyXo.com.

Blackberry Storm

Research In Motion's BlackBerry Storm is on my holiday wish list next to the G1. Like the iPhone it can make calls, browse the Internet, navigate roads via GPS and show YouTube videos. But the iPhone and the Storm differ in many respects, and each has its own advantages.

The Storm has a higher-resolution display, at 480-by-360 pixels. It offers five-and-a-half hours of 3G talk time, according to RIM, compared to five hours for the iPhone. And the Storm has a 3.2-megapixel camera with built-in flash, besting the iPhone's 2-megapixel camera with no flash.

They are similarly sized but the iPhone is tops for weight, storage and connectivity. The Storm weighs 155 grams (0.34 pounds) and has just 1G byte of onboard memory, while the iPhone weighs 133 grams and comes with 8G bytes or 16G bytes of storage. (The Storm also has 128M bytes of built-in flash storage and a MicroSD card slot for adding more.) The Storm doesn't have a Wi-Fi networking option, which the iPhone does, and it doesn't yet have an equivalent to Apple's App Store, but that should be coming next year.

The decision on which to choose may come down to ease of use, for which the iPhone is famous. I haven't tested the Storm thoroughly yet, but BlackBerry devices are known to handle e-mail better, which is handier for me. The Storm is priced at US$199.99 in the U.S. with a two-year contract from Verizon Wireless. It is also available in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Flip Mino HD

Pure Digital Technologies' sleek-looking Flip Mino HD video camera is sparse on features but high on price. It's small enough to fit easily in the pocket and simple to handle. But at US$229.99 it may be unappealing at a time when many people are counting pennies.

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