About a year ago, Vodafone called RIM, the manufacturer behind the BlackBerry brand, to a clandestine meeting in New York.

There it set RIM a challenge - to create a phone that would bridge the space between the business and consumer worlds. And apparently the wish list of features was huge.

But the Canadian team cracked on and months later, leaked specs and rumours started appearing about the BlackBerry Thunder.

This model has finally be released today and renamed the Storm.

It is a 4.4 x 2.4 x 0.55 inch HSDPA handset capable of 7.2Mbps data transfer, which supports quad-band: 850, 900, 1800 and 1900MHz GSM, GPRS and EDGE networks.

You get the business features you would expect in a BlackBerry from a whole host of messenger services to the address book, tasks and memos (and you can write emails, or surf the web, at the same time as taking a call).

But the innovation is the new touchscreen technology. Rumours were flying that the Storm would boast haptic feedback but not so.

RIM has gone and created something completely new.

The Storm's touchscreen combines normal touch tech with a new suspension system, which means that you physically "click through" for information.

This means that to type a message on the virtual QWERTY keyboard or open an email, you press on the screen, and the keypad will make the same click, and feel the same, as a normal computer keyboard.

This technology sets the phone apart from its predecessors, but so do the multimedia facilities that it offers.

The Storm has a 3.2 megapixel camera as well as offering video recording facilities at 30fps.

There are apps pre-loaded on the phone that allow users to send their images or movies straight to websites including Facebook, YouTube and Flickr (and more apps are promised thanks to the release of the BlackBerry SDK today).

The Storm also has a media player where you can view MPEG4 H.263, MPEG4 Part 2 Simple Profile and WMV files, and audio-wise, you can listen to MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA and WMA ProPlus files.

And to store all of your images and movies, you have a microSD slot, which can take cards up to 8GB in capacity.

Also worth a mention is the GPS tool, which comes with BlackBerry Maps loaded on and ready to get you to your destination.

Available exclusively in the UK from Vodafone (and from Verizon in the States), it is set to be on shelves by Christmas on what the phone operator promises will be fair rates (we were told about £35 per month for what could be a two-year contract).

Make sure you check out our quick review.