Less than one week after rumored technical specifications for a new BlackBerry "slider" device, or a BlackBerry smartphone with a slide-out, full-QWERTY keyboard, hit the Web, blurry images of a handheld that seems to match the description have also surfaced.
The source of the new shots, BBLeaks.com, "cannot confirm the legitimacy" of said images, and neither can I—in fact, I'm skeptical. But the pictured device appears to be a "portrait-oriented," or vertical, slider device, as recently described on BoyGeniusReport.com, with many modern BlackBerry features: a trackpad; BlackBerry Menu and Escape keys, and a BlackBerry "Bold" keyboard.
If the images prove to be genuine, one noteworthy feature is an optical trackpad, which appears in addition to what many are assuming will be a touch-sensitive display. The first images of a full-QWERTY/touch-screen hybrid BlackBerry showed a device with both a BlackBerry keyboard and touch-screen, but no trackball or track pad for navigation.
Though many mainstream blogs seem to think the BlackBerry slider images are legit, including uber-'Berry-blog CrackBerry.com, I'm still not so sure. The images are shot from far away and, if you zoom in on the picture, there are some suspect areas around the device display that look as though they may have been touched-up in Photoshop.
Maybe it's just me, but I'm sort of hoping that's the case. The pictured device looks awkward, unwieldy, and worse: unoriginal. From what I can see in these new shots, the device looks a lot like the Palm Pre with a BlackBerry Bold keyboard and Storm-like screen.
I reviewed the Palm Pre shortly after its release last year, and though I thought the device showed potential, I'm not at all a fan of its vertical slider design. I found the Pre to be uncomfortable to use for long periods of time, because the keyboard was too small and the top of the device felt too heavy and awkward when opened vertically.
Based on these purported images, the first BlackBerry slider could also be similarly hindered by a vertical slider design. However, it does make sense for RIM to go with a vertical slider form factor vs. a horizontal slider, because the company's real strength is the BlackBerry keyboard, and that keyboard is better suited for a vertical slider than a horizontal one—the traditional BlackBerry keyboard would either need to be "stretched" or there would be lots of extra space on both the left and right sides of a horizontal slide-out mechanism.
Some blogs are also suggesting that this new device could be RIM's "Storm3" smartphone, but I've got word from a few sources that this is not the case.
For now, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that these new images are either fakes or early shots of a BlackBerry slider prototype, which is also a possibility. Frankly, I expected RIM to come up with some new, innovative—or at least—unique slider design. And perhaps I'm overlooking something noteworthy about this pictured device.
Bottom line: I'm not sure these new images are authentic, and I'd be a fool to dismiss the BlackBerry slider, anyway, until I can get my thumbs on it. Still, it looks as though a BlackBerry slider device is indeed in the works.
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