Official-blackberry-torch-9800-2 The BlackBerry Torch, Research In Motion's new slider phone, is the company's most ambitious recipe to satisfy both its user base and those tempted by the iPhone and Android phones.

Take a BlackBerry Bold, add a larger touch screen, a slide-out keyboard, toss in an improved OS and a new browser, and mix it all together. The result is a product that operates much like its existing devices yet offers some of the advantages of the iPhone. Is it a recipe for success or a half-baked concoction?

While BlackBerrys still have no equal when it comes to e-mail, users have moved on and are demanding more from their phones. I'm one of those, having used five generations of BlackBerrys, and now using an iPhone and Android. So I was eager to try the Torch.

Physically, the phone maintains RIM's familiar look, a black chrome plastic housing and a nonslip back in an attractive rubber-coated ribbed pattern. The keyboard slides out from the bottom with a feeling of precision. You can open it with one hand, but there are so many buttons on the surface as well as a touch screen, that you're likely to accidentally navigate to a screen you don't want. Using two hands solves that problem.

The phone is larger and heavier than the Bold, and slightly thicker and shorter than an iPhone. The keyboard looks and works much like those found on other BlackBerrys. While a hair narrower, it's still one of the best keyboards found on any smart phone. There also is also an on-screen keyboard in portrait and landscape modes, but one prominent key is inexplicably dedicated to selecting the keyboard language, a function you perform just once.

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