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RIM attempts to create Apple-like buzz with BlackBerry Torch event

In an uncharacteristic move, Research in Motion held a media event Tuesday in New York City to generate buzz for its new BlackBerry Torch 9800 smartphone, an AT&T handset with a multi-touch screen and slide-out keyboard.

The new BlackBerry Torch has a 5 megapixel camera and 8GB of internal memory — 4GB flash and 4GB MicroSD. The hardware also includes a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and optical trackpad, and has support for 802.11n. The touchscreen is a 480x360 pixel display.

The Torch features BlackBerry OS 6, the latest mobile operating system, which packs a completely revamped Webkit-based Web browser with multi-touch input gestures. The new operating system offers integrated connectivity with social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, and has integrated search and a new user interface.

The device will be available exclusively on the AT&T network starting August 12. It carries a $199 price with a standard two-year contract.

The name of the product came from the company Torch Mobile, which RIM acquired. That company's Iris mobile Web browser laid the foundation for the new BlackBerry 6 OS browser.

Eliminating some of the surprise RIM hoped to generate, however, were a number of leaks that occurred before Tuesday's event, including approval by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission for the device, and posting of the handset on AT&T's site moments before RIM's event. Videos, pictures and details on the smartphone were available on AT&T's official site before the announcement was made official.

RIM showed its first glimpse at BlackBerry OS 6 in April, revealing that the software will include multitouch input for its Web browser, e-mail, media player and more. The mobile operating system also has iPhone-like features such as pinch-to-zoom.

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