I’ve been heavily debating getting one of the new T-mobile Sidekicks, AKA the Danger Hiptop. Reviews are very positive everywhere I look but there are some complaints people have had and some questions I have before I make an investment like that. I should also mention that at the moment I’m getting rid of my Sprint PCS phone because a) I don’t want to pay for two phones and b) the reception sucks here in Houston. That leaves me with the company phone. A nice, usable nokia 3390 with t-mobile service paid for by work. Usable as it may be, it simply isn’t equipped with enough features to get me through any span of time. Heck, the phone is 3+ years old.
The main advantages to the Sidekick would be:
– The company would likely cover the phone plan ($29.99 I think)
– I would only have to pay $20 a month for unlimited internet, email, etc.
– I could update my journal on the go, chat through AIM and text message as much as I wanted.
– It’s color, it has all the PDA features I use and is basically a BlackBerry on crack.
– Since our mail server uses a secure log-in, I probably couldn’t check my email… I’d have to set up a new account some place since I doubt we’d un-secure email just for me.
– The web browser doesn’t have Java support. Not like that a huge deal, it’s just a good thing to have.
– I’ve seen no information on either downloadable ringtones, programmable ringtones, downloadable games and/or content (pictures, icons, etc). If I’m going to pay that much for a new phone, it better have decent ringtones.
– The price tag ($300 from t-mobile on its own, but only $150 @ Amazon with a service contract)
– T-mobile service. I know for a fact that it works well here in metro Houston and surrounding areas. I also know it works well in places like Dallas and Lubbock. What I don’t know is how well it travels. The one advantage to my Sprint phone is that I never lost service traveling anywhere.
– Service plan mumbo-jumbo. I can save $150 on the phone is I sign up for my own service. If I do that then the special deal we have with all the office phones won’t work (we have a free phone-to-phone deal) and I’ll have to figure out a way to get work to cover the cost of the phone portion of the bill.
All the reviews I’ve read seem to suggest it’s the second-coming as far as phones are concerned. The only complaints people have are that the ringer is to soft (people can’t hear it in their pocket) and that its far too big to use without a handsfree set or other headset type setup. I’d have to “test drive” one before I’d be convinced either way. My main concerns are probably email compatibility and the service plan. If I could get those two straitened out then I’d be all for it. Hey, if the guys over at Penny-Arcade like it (or at least it’s little brother), that’s probably a good sign.
Matt: We went through this debate at work a few months ago. We wanted e-mail access through cell phones (or similar) on the road. What we found was as follows:
1. Blackberry – works well but with limited coverage. Not Palm or WinCE compatible, no internet access. Bottom line – expensive, cumbersome, good for e-mail but not much else.
2. T-Mobile – terrible coverage! At least it would not work here, and the coverage map shows BIG holes.
3. Sprint (Handspring Treo). Works well for e-mail and as a digital cell phone – note that these devices are NOT dual mode (they don’t revert to analog if there is not a digital signal). Some complaints about coverage, but it is better than Blackberry. Internet access works, but it can be VERY slow. Bottom line: Best choice, but very frustrating for internet use.
We get around the mail server problem by having our people use “out of office assistant” to forward e-mail to their Sprint account when they are away from the office. This works very well. Frankly, the internet browsing on these things SUCKS! The special sites formatted for the PDA work fairly well, but regular sites are slow and cumbersome. People like that it is Palm compatible and so can load lots of games and Eudora PDA works VERY WELL! I think if you want to use it for primary internet access you will be very frustrated and disappointed.
I’ve had my eye on the Kyocera 7135 for a while now. It’s a tri-mode phone with PalmOS 3 something on it. You’d be able to play games for PalmOS, use any Palm apps, even ones that do network access. It can also be connected to a computer via USB and used as a modem. The only disadvantage over a seperate Palm device, like your Clie, is that it’s a low-res 160×160 screen, and it costs about $500 from Verizon with a 2 year plan.
I think it’s probably the most flexible option, similar to the Treo, but with better phone network support and a more solid design. Mark at SimPro has a Treo, and it feels cheaply made to me. The flip cover has mostly broken off once already, and I find the keyboard to be cumbersome after having used Graffiti. I believe the 7135 supports Graffiti and text entry using the keypad, standard phone text-message style.
I actually wanted to back away from the nearly 100% PDA phone. I saw this as simply a phone with BlackBerry capabilities. The website says its sync-able with Outlook and the coverage map does show big holes with a few exceptions. The NY metro area, N.Carolina and TX. If you look at TX, nearly the entire area near the gulf shows service. The T-mobile service here is good. My only concern, like I mentioned, would be traveling. Also, I really like the Kyocera 7135, I’ve also wanted one for a while. Unfortunatly, Verizon service down here is a joke. The big players in the TX area are T-mobile and AT&T. I really, really hate AT&T, so they’re not even an option. I either go with T-mobile or try and make do with spotty service from others. It kind of sucks that way.
Small update: we called T-mobile themselves and asked about simply upgrading our existing plan and they’d only give us a price brake of $25 or so. This puts me in an odd position of wanting the phone but really not wanting to pay more than $200-250 for it.
Also, whats this “out of office assistant”. I need to find out more about that one. That would indeed solve the email problem. Links?
Matt: Sorry, I should have explained better. We use a Microsoft Exchange server for the e-mail and run Microsoft Outlook on the terminals/desktops. Out of Office Assistant is a feature on Microsoft Outlook. If you use this setup, the only “trick” is getting the server to allow re-routing messages. Ours would not work for ages (years) until I found an article about the problem on the Microsoft web site. It is actually a simple fix. (Change a setting!)
My guess is that other mail servers/software should do a similar re-routing trick. Or Tucows may have some software that will do it. The only other trick is to make sure that the “reply to” address in the e-mail sent from the handheld is set to the main e-mail address or people start e-mailing directly to the handheld account.
Good luck – keep us posted on what you find/what works etc.
Almost forgot – I agree with Chip about the Treo – I get along with the mini keyboard O.K., but Graffitti is better – I don’t understand why they cut it out of the Treo. The two we have do seem to be holding together pretty well – and one of them belongs to a person who has destroyed TWO Handsprings by dropping them!
I’ll keep everyone up to date. No worries about that. I just found out today that my health insurrance isn’t going to be cheap, so, if I’m going to buy the phone, it’ll be within the next few weeks. After November 1st, money will probably be tight. I could swing the extra $20 a month for data transfers, but not the $300 for the phone. We’ll see what happens.
Oh, Chip, do you have any suggestions about mail forwarding, since you’d obviously know more about hindy-mail than I would.
We can easily enough do mail forwarding on Hindenburg. We could setup something with procmail to only forward messages that arn’t marked as spam by SpamAssassin to your phone, or something like that. It’s fairly trivial.
I wouldn’t mind have a BlackBerry again, the tiny keyboard was decent to work with, and the screen was pretty good for reading email. The newer ones seem to big to me, I hope they still make the smaller pager-sized ones.