How to pump up your new BlackBerry Storm – accessory guide

Research In Motion’s new touch screen BlackBerry Storm is no exception to the rule that top-of-the-line electronics rarely come cheap: at $250 with a new thre-year Bell Mobility or Telus Mobility service contract]–and as much as $599 off contract – the BlackBerry Storm’s a rather pricey new toy.

Fortunately for new Storm owners, protecting your investment and optimizing your smartphone experience doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, each and every one of the following 10 BlackBerry Storm accessories – skins, cases, batteries, chargers, media cards and more–can be had for less than $100…some even go for less than $10.

Individually, each Storm accessory on my list is guaranteed to help protect and/or enhance your BlackBerry user experience. But beware: Using all of the suggested products at once could lead to the Perfect Storm, and I’m not talking about the George Clooney flick.

BlackBerry Storm Screen Protectors

First things first, you’ll want to ensure your Storm’s beautiful 480 X 360 display remains in pristine condition, even after bouncing around in a pocket or catching a ride in your holster. The best way to do so is to purchase some sort of screen protector, like the $8.95 Anti-Glare Screen Protectors for BlackBerry Storm 9530 from Fommy.com.

Composed of micro-thin polymer, these screen protectors aim to reduce glare while keeping your Storm’s screen scratch-free. They’re also easy to remove and come in packs of six.

As an alternative, consider Zagg’s $14.95 invisibleSHEILD BlackBerry Storm screen protector.

Cases, Holsters and Skins for the BlackBerry Storm

New BlackBerry Storms ship with RIM’s original equipment manufacturer (OEM) leather pocket case, but if you’re anything like me, the cases that come with new RIM devices quickly find new homes in desk drawers or storage shelves. It’s not that the default cases aren’t functional…they’re just boring.

Luckily, RIM has already posted a variety of cases and holsters for the Storm on its ShopBlackBerry.com website so potential owners can see what’s in store. I’m not a big fan of holsters, so the current listings don’t have me jumping for joy, to say the least, but there’s already a selection of three different holsters listed, ranging in price from $29.99 to $39.99. Any Storm user seeking a new holster ought to be able to find a suitable option here, but third-party vendors are also already offering Storm cases.

Another possibility is the skin. Combined with one of the screen protectors mentioned above, a BlackBerry Storm skin can provide total protection for your precious device. Best of all: Skins are cheaper, so you can even buy a few of them in varying colors to match your mood or getup.

RIM hasn’t listed its official OEM Storm skins for sale quite yet, but I saw one at my local Best Buy the other day for $14.99. Additional retail stores should also already be selling the OEM skins, or will be shortly. CrackBerry.com usually sells the OEM skins for a few dollars less at just $9.99, and it’s likely you’ll be able to find Storm skins for this price via CrackBerry in the near future.

Third-party skins will also soon be available.

BlackBerry Storm Charging Pod and Related Battery Supplies
The Bell and Telus BlackBerry Storm 9530 is a 3G CDMA device, and as such, it’s a bit of a battery hog: 3G smartphones use more power communicating with cellular networks than their 2G or 2.5G counterparts, and 3G CDMA devices typically consume more battery than comparable 3G GSM handhelds.

That means you’ll very likely be recharging often, and there’s no better way to power up a BlackBerry than with RIM’s BlackBerry Charging Pod. I’ve been using a BlackBerry Charging Pod with my Curve 8320 for months, and though I love it for powering up, I really wish you could also sync data through the pod; right now it’s only for charging.

Enough users like me must’ve complained about the lack of sync functionality, because the new $49.99 Charging Pod–ne, Sync Pod–for the Storm now allows for syncing. And that’s not all: In addition to charging and syncing, the Storm Sync Pod also cradles your device for easy video viewing.

The fact that the Storm’s a 3G CDMA phone also means that a spare battery and charger could really come in handy, especially when travelling. RIM is already selling replacement Storm batteries for $79.99. That’s a bit pricey, but you can spend a few minutes on Google and find the very same batteries for significantly less on sites like Amazon.com.

If you decide to purchase a replacement battery, it also makes sense to pick up an external battery charger so you can power up that second battery without first inserting it into your device. The OEM external battery charger for Storm currently sells for $39.99 through ShopBlackBerry.com, but again, you should be able to find it cheaper through third-party resellers.

microSD Memory Cards for BlackBerry Storm

The BlackBerry Storm is the first RIM smartphone that’s meant to be a full-fledged media player, and accordingly, RIM and carriers are shipping the device with an 8GB microSD memory card. That’s all fine and good, but audiophiles like me have a heck of a lot more digital media than one 8GB media card could possibly hold.

Thankfully, the Storm’s memory card is removable and swappable, meaning users can purchase as many microSD cards as they can afford, load them up with music, images and video and interchange them. Currently the largest capacity microSD card is 16GB. Not surprisingly, 16GB is the highest memory card storage capacity supported by RIM’s BlackBerry handheld OS.

Though the 16GB cards can be a bit pricey, Amazon’s currently charging just $61.89 for a SanDisk version. That’s actually very reasonable, and if you want to get the most of your digital media collection via Storm, I’d strongly recommend picking one up.

Or course, smaller capacity microSD cards are also available for bit less scratch.

BlackBerry Storm and Bluetooth Headsets
If you’re rushing out on launch day to pick up the BlackBerry Storm 9530, it’s probably a safe bet that you’ve already got a Bluetooth headset. With more provinces considering the banning the use of handsets while driving without the use of a Bluetooth ear piece, consumers are purchasing such accessories not because they’re cool or because they can free up hands while chatting on the phone, but because it’s the law.

Whatever your motivation, you can’t got wrong with either Aliph’s Jawbone or BlueAnt’s V1 Voice Control Headset, two of my personal favorites. Both are a bit pricey, at $99.99 and $89.99 respectively at the CrackBerry Store, but they’re worth every penny when you consider their stylish looks and advanced feature sets.

For example, Aliph’s new Jawbone headset features the company’s “NoiseAssassin” technology to separate your speech from background noise, so callers on the other end of the line hear little to no distortion. Of all the Bluetooth headsets I’ve used, the Jawbone offers the highest call quality.

BlueAnt’s V1 Voice Control Headset comes in a close second. The most noteworthy feature of the V1 Voice Control is, hence the name, its ability to respond to a wide variety of voice commands, reducing the need to use your hands to place calls and perform a number of related functions. The headset even “responds” to your commands by speaking back to you. The Jawbone is also voice-powered, though it doesn’t work as well in this regard as the BlueAnt V1, in my experience.

Micro USB-to-Mini USB Adapter for BlackBerry Storm

The final recommended BlackBerry Storm accessory on my list is a micro USB-to-mini USB adapter. If you’re not a current BlackBerry or smartphone owner, this suggestion may be moot; however, if you’re like me and have owned and/or used more mobile devices than you care to remember, you probably have an equally daunting collection of charging and syncing cables.

For the past few years, mini USB has been the most commonly used power/sync cord specification for smartphones and mobile devices, and until the release of the BlackBerry Pearl 8220 last month, all of RIM’s latest devices featured mini USB ports. The Pearl 8220 was the first BlackBerry to feature the new, smaller, microUSB port, and the Storm also has microUSB.

The vast majority of the charging/sync cables I have are miniUSB, and they won’t work with the Storm. But instead of simply disposing of all those cables, a mini USB to micro USB adapter enables me to use my various cords with the devices like the Pearl 8220 and Storm.

Prices on such adapters vary, but Amazon.com is currently selling a Motorola adapter for less than $2.

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