Sidekick 3 Review-ish Thing

I don't think I really do normal reviews. Unless there's a glaring issue, I tend to focus on the positives more than the negatives. In any case, here's what I like about the Sidekick 3. If you're a Mac user, this is probably your phone.

I looked at a lot of different phones, and almost went with the Windows Mobile-based MDA, but Steven Frank's review pushed me towards the Sidekick 3. This turned out to be a very good thing.

There's a lot of Mac UI inspiration in the Sidekick, and things just work the way you'd expect. It seems like Danger was very careful to not go into feature overload. The are a lot of places to read about what apps are included, but the gist is that you can do phone calls, text messaging, email, web browsing and instant messaging. There's also a camera, MP3 player, and so on. More apps can be downloaded.

The web browsing is slowish, but just fast enough to be useful. You also get access to real web sites, not just watered-down versions. The Sidekick plans gives you unlimited text messages, email, web browsing, and instant messaging for $20 a month (this is on top of the normal T-Mobile voice plan).

The most important thing the device does is get out of your way. It doesn't try to sell you on a certain mindset. The key stuff is out front and center, and the rest can be reached with the menu key. The scrollball makes the entire experience very fluid and natural. The size and weight are solid, and the keyboard is comfortable.

I don't really gravitate towards PDAs or smart phones, but this one really makes sense to me. Danger also provides a web-based interface to almost all of the data on the device, so you can get to contacts, notes, events from any web browser. I haven't looked into it, but I get the impression the Windows Mobile-based phones rely on Outlook Express syncing, so that doesn't really help me.

The battery tends to last about a day with moderate usage. The call quality is very solid, even in low reception situations. I don't think I've had any dropped calls yet, though the signal does fluctuate sometimes. There's no iSync support built-in, but Mark/Space has a conduit for $30. I just opted to enter the important contacts by hand instead.

Until Apple releases a phone, this is the best bet for a Mac-like user experience on a mobile device.
Design Element
Sidekick 3 Review-ish Thing
Posted Aug 3, 2006 — 3 comments below


Engine Joe — Aug 03, 06 1494

You've sold me... unless Apple announces a phone before the end of September.

Blain — Aug 04, 06 1495

Having gone through several displays on my Handspring Visor, and a few of the previous Sidekicks, one advantage that's almost never mentioned is the inputs. The SKs were not given a touch screen of any sort, and I think this is an advantage. The screen can be made more rugged, a critical point of failure is removed, and we get tactile feedback in the buttons.

Most phone functions on the SKs can still be done even if there is an input failure, such as a nonworking button, wheel/ball, or the keypad. It takes some work, but it is even possible to use the phone without a working screen. My last Sidekick 2, I cracked the screen. (My own fault.) It was still usable to a degree while I waited for the insurance replacement to come in.

It does bug me that one can't upload MP3s into ringtones, and it's also annoying that the shift in API does mean backward incompatibility. I don't know if Terminal, the Telnet/SSH client has been ported from the SK2s yet, but when it does come out, it will be a must have (again). Until then, or even after, there's always the option to void one's warranty in fun and creative ways.

I was going to mention it earlier, but it's one factor of many on the Apple-like magic. Or rather, it's an interesting point of note. As you know, Danger, Inc. is the company behind the Sidekicks. Take a look at their Advisory Board.

Scott Stevenson — Aug 05, 06 1497 Scotty the Leopard

Until then, or even after, there's always the option to void one's warranty in fun and creative ways

Wow, I didn't know about this. Thanks.

Take a look at their Advisory Board

I actually briefly worked at the same company (Catapult/Xband) as the two founders, Joe Britt and Matt Hershenson. Not that it affects my review because I rarely saw them.

Dan Wood is one of the few people that will probably recognize the Xband reference.


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