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Hardware

T-Mobile Sidekick Reviewed 249

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the hardware-to-lust-after dept.
I'm nothing if not a toy junky, and when Danger sent me at long last, a review unit of their excellent little HoTop PDA/Cellphone, now known as the T-Mobile Sidekick. I jumped at the chance to get into the thing and get my opinions out there.

First up, lets talk about the form factor. This unit is much more comparable in size to my Nokia 5560 than a Palm 5 or Clie. About the same length,a little thicker, and maybe half again the width. You'll find it a little thicker than a Palm 5, but also a bit narrower. What really makes the unit stand out is that its screen does this sweet little flip thing to reveal a thumb keyboard that is actually usable.

The interface is usually a little wheel (which can be clicked as a button as well), a 'Back' button, a jump button, and a menu button. When the screen is flipped out, you have a keyboard as well. The interface largely revolves around a sort of spinning menu which quickly rotates to select your application (Calandering, Photos, Phone Calls, etc). It's surprisingly usable, but I did notice a few glitches- for example when trying to mail a picture, I couldn't return and send the picture... I ended up having to actually go to the pictures, and choose mail picture instead of writing an email and attaching it there.

I might as well mention it: the little $30 camera attachment is just a novelty. Its postage stamp sized pictures are amusing, but practically worthless. Thats probably fine with just 16 megs of memory on board anyway- you wouldn't have room to store a nice 1024x768 image anyway... I think it was more proof-of-concept in this model. And the concept works, so with any luck, a year or 2 will give us a HipTop with more memory and higher res.

The screen itself warrants mention. First off, it is a 16 scale of grey, backlit job that really looks quite stunning. Without going to a color screen, this is quite simply the nicest looking screen I've seen on a handheld.

I found the cel phone functionality to be quite usable. Rings have custom tones, and the sound is that multichannel stuff that sounds really silly thats all the rage with the kids these days. You can use an external ear thingee, or use it in the standard carcinogen position. Reception was fine, but may vary for you depending on how good the GSM network is in your area.

The web browser was also surprisingly functional. Typing in URLs on the built in keyboard is quite quick. Far faster than any graffiti handwriting recognition crap. It rendered the pages I looked at without trouble, although big graphics are quite slow, and requires some scrolling. Slashdot in light mode worked fine.

The PDA functionality is good. Contacts are interconnected with the cell phone functionality. You can use the calandering and TODO tools to keep track of schedules.

The unit also supports POP mail servers. This worked without hitch and was quite nifty. IMAP support would be nicer, but I suspect that it would be horribly slow over the phone's internet connection. There also is IM functionality, but no IRC.

There are a few nifty little games you can play as well. The form factor of the device is fairly similiar to a Gameboy Advanced, and when held in that position, makes a reasonable gaming platform.

Danger says that the phone can auto update itself as new features and bug fixes become available, so hopefully new and exciting features will roll out pleasing users with improved user interface.

Battery life is claimed to be 8 hours in use. I never managed to drain it, although I left it on quite a bit. But its still enough to easily make it through a day or 2 depending on your usage.

The thing to remember is that this thing costs just $200. FOr that you get a fully functional PDA, and Cell phone. You get a good keyboard, a web browser, and a remarkably bright screen. It's a little larger than a cell phone, a little smaller than a PDA. All in all, this is a great combination and one thats easy to recommend, especially at this price. If you have GSM network support in your area, this warrants a serious look. If the next generation adds a color screen, IRC, IMAP support, and maybe shrunk things just a little bit, I think this could truly have the integrated cellphone/pda I've been waiting for. Now if it just had 20 gigs of memory, we'd be all set. Course my fingers aren't crossed.

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T-Mobile Sidekick Reviewed

Comments Filter:
  • Buy a treo instead (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Mastedon (156598)
    My handspring treo kicks ass. Best form factor out there, palmOS, color. Choice of tmobile, cingular, or sprintpcs as carrier.

    I highly recommend it for anybody looking to consolidate pda and cell phone.
    • Or a Kyocera 6035 (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Andy Dodd (701)
      A lot of people think the Kyo 6035 has an even better form factor - You can't dial on the Treo or use it as a phone without lifting the flip, wherease the 6035's keypad is externally accessible and there is no need to open up the phone to use the phone features. PalmOS based just like the Treos, and since it has a greyscale screen it has excellent battery life. (Many of the people on the Smartphone Source boards only put their phone on the charger once a week or so... *8 hours* of battery life for this Danger piece of crap? You have to be kidding me.)

      As to the data charges one of the people who replied to the parent commented on: I use Verizon's Mobile Office service, which gives me free "dialup" internet access. The only thing I pay for are my minutes, which are billed the same as voice.

      For those who have a 6035 with Verizon: Ditch Mobile Web, just set up a connection with #777 as the number and qnc/qnc as the user/password. (Note: This also works if you're using a Verizon phone with a serial cable as a modem for another PDA or laptop.)

      If you absolutely need a color screen, get a Treo (and deal with Sprint's bad coverage) or wait for the Kyocera 7135, due out either this month or next. The 7135 has:
      16M RAM
      PalmOS 4.1
      SD memory slot
      Built-in MP3 capability (Including MP3 ringers)
      2.5G Sprint Vision/Verizon Express Network capable
      Reflective color LCD screen

      Unfortunately it's a StarTac-style flip phone. :(
      • Re:Or a Kyocera 6035 (Score:3, Informative)

        by hdw (564237)
        Just a minor point.
        You don't have to flip the Treo open to use it as a phone. If you use the headset you can dial any of the 50 numbers in quickdial or pick any number from the phonebook.
        I don't have any problem dailing any of those numbers, even if I only use one hand. And you can of course answer any incoming calls without even taking the Treo out of your pocket or beltclip. Just push the button on the mic.
        Except for some irritating delays (it stops reacting to any user input for some seconds while it recieves an SMS for instance) it's given almost everything I need from either phone or PDA.

        And with GPRS (got it working yesterday, in Sweden) it's really a bliss.
        No connection delays or being forced to disconnect to make a call or missing calls because I'm online.
        And some of the other features in the upgrade is really nice.

        For example:
        You get an SMS from a co-worker with a URL for their new site.
        Click on the url in the SMS and click GO
        The pages load in Blazer, scaled down so it makes sense.
        Tap the SMS button, select the message and click on dial to call back.
        While on the phone you can go back to the browser and move around the loaded page.
        You can not load any new page while on the phone, but you can go between the pages in your cache.
        When your call is finished you can go back to browse more pages without waiting for your data connection to come back.

        Using SSH to twiddle my OpenBSD boxes while at the pub, PalmVNC to reschedule recordings on my PVR while in a meeting at the office, or monitoring my firewalls using a custom X11 application (displayed with PalmVNC) or clearing spam from my mailbox while waiting for the metro.

        I can't say that I'm willing to replace it with anything currently available. And that's with a Treo 180g, greyscale/graffiti

        hdw // sligthly on love with his Treo
      • Re:Or a Kyocera 6035 (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Sparks23 (412116)
        Actually, I'm a 6035 user, and I want the 7135. Not for the color or anything else, though I admit the MP3 ringers would be amusing...but Packet, my 6035, is just too darn BIG. I miss my little StarTAC; I got the 6035 because my StarTAC met an untimely accident involving a cement parking lot and a heavy vehicle and was rather unsavable...the 6035 was inexpensive for me because it I was eligible for upgrade, and I liked the idea of being able to hotsync my phone list.

        However, I do remember now why I stopped carrying around my Visor in the first place; the Palm's form-factor is just too big to fit easily in a jacket pocket or something, and I don't want to always carry my purse. If the 7135 folds up and fits in the pocket of my windbreaker, then I'll definitely be picking it up.

        Other than the size issue, the 6035 is a wonderful phone; I love the ease of use of Eudora to check e-mail and SMS is much saner. It also has, amazingly, the best speakerphone of any cellular phone I've ever seen; when home, I leave the 6035 in the hotsync cradle by my computer (to keep AvantGo fairly up-to-date) and if someone calls I can just use it in speakerphone mode. Also very handy when left on hold. ;)

        If the 6035 (and Verizon) just supported GPRS, it'd be perfect. I would love to be able to have an instant messenger open without having to be dialed into Verizon's #777 PPP service...
        • Even when I had an old Kyo 2035a (Small compared to the 6035), I couldn't stand to put it in my pockets because I already had too damn much in my pocket.

          I have a belt clip - My phone could be twice the size and I wouldn't notice it. I also don't have to pull it out of my pocket to check caller ID.

          It's not usually visible because I rarely wear shirts that tuck in, so most shirts I wear cover the phone.
      • Unfortunately [the Kyocera 7135] is a StarTac-style flip phone.

        To each his own -- I swear by clamshell designs. More compact, lower SAR, better conformance to face.

        The Samsung SPH-i500 [phonescoop.com] (announced last week [businesswire.com] for SprintPCS) is smaller in four dimensions (including weight), does AMPS, and has an integrated 16MB Palm 4 PDA. I am going NUTS waiting for it to appear locally so I can finally get a good look at it. I was very disappointed when I finally saw the Treo -- there's no way I could have one of those big flat things on my belt all day long.

    • I thought I did everything right.

      I bought the Sidekick at CompUSA in Oakland. I got the $150 rebate forms. I set it up at my friend's house in Oakland... bam. It connected quickly and set me right up. Pages loaded fast. Everything was fine.

      Then I went back to the neighborhood where I live... the Mission in San Francisco, and I get no coverage at all. This is true on 22nd and Misison. This is true on 18th and Valencia. This is true in various parts of town.

      Now I am faced with returning this unit to CompUSA and having to pay a $50 restocking fee just for trying it for a day.

      T-Mobile? No help at all. I called them and they had me do a hard reset on the unit. No change. The guy then said he could send me another unit to try, but he doubted that was the problem. Of course they send the unit from Ohio by regular postal mail, and if you happen to get it after the 14 day period has expired, you're SOL... stuck with the year contract.

      Will they help me with the restocking fee? No. I should have read my contract with them. They do not guarantee service even where their maps show service.

      Will they now update their map to show that there's no service in the Mission in SF?

      No. They I should take that up with their legal department.

      It's too bad, because I really like this device.

  • by Hrshgn (595514)
    I immediately have to buy some stocks of this company ;-)
  • Penny Arcade [penny-arcade.com] has the usual take on things.

    • Re:Check out PA (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by unicron (20286)
      Yeah, it's bascially the slashdot article, but add the word "fuck" a few dozen times and a phrase "knob-slobbing corporate fucktards" for good measure.
  • by Frank of Earth (126705) <frank@nOsPaM.fperkins.com> on Thursday October 03, 2002 @01:26PM (#4381730) Homepage Journal
    might as well mention it: the little $30 camera attachment is just a novelty. Its postage stamp sized pictures are amusing, but practically worthless

    From what I read, you can use the camera to take pictures of your friends and families and then associate that picture to caller id. After setting it up, when you receive a call, it will show the person's face.

    Albeit, 30 bucks seems a little much for crappy pictures and you probably can just import your own picture.

    One thing I really do like about the sidekick is the service plan which is flat rate, unlimited usage. The treo plans are all pay per meg.
    • Unlimited downloads is only for the first year. After that it becomes 15MB/month and $3.50 each additional MB.
      • Re:Read fine print (Score:4, Informative)

        by Frank of Earth (126705) <frank@nOsPaM.fperkins.com> on Thursday October 03, 2002 @02:02PM (#4382064) Homepage Journal
        After reading some more of the fine print, I also noticed that the camera attachment is free.
      • Still, even 15MB/month isn't bad given the data volume you're likely to transmit on this thing. Most likely email with occasional Googling and quick /. refreshers. Many news sites nowadays have a light mode, so you should be able to stay well within the 15MB.
        • Many news sites nowadays have a light mode, so you should be able to stay well within the 15MB.

          They do? If so, does anyone maintain a nice index of such sites? It would be nice if there were a standard for lightweight low-bandwidth web browsing, like if sites started putting up text.sitename.com in addition to their www.sitename.com addresses.

          Unfortunately, this probably won't happen as everyone would start using those sites instead of the version with four flash banner ads and 10 little animated GIF buttons flashing and dancing...

    • might as well mention it: the little $30 camera attachment is just a novelty. Its postage stamp sized pictures are amusing, but practically worthless

      My boss just bought a Sidekick yesterday at the local CompUSA, and he says that the camera was included for free. So the crappy images may not justify a $30 price tag, but they probably will justify a $0 one.

  • by jakkalsdrif (557405) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @01:27PM (#4381747) Homepage
    "their excellent little HoTop PDA/Cellphone"...Hmm...."HoTop"? I think I want one of these after all. Do I have to go to a seedy part of town to pick one up?
  • by Mwongozi (176765) <slashthree@david ... g ['glo' in gap]> on Thursday October 03, 2002 @01:28PM (#4381751) Homepage
    Although I've heard it will soon(?) be available on Orange [orange.co.uk].

    My solution is currently an iPAQ H3970 [compaq.com] talking to a Nokia 6310i [nokia.com] via bluetooth. I can leave the phone in my backpack and send and receive e-mail, SMS, surf the web, even connect to IRC on my iPAQ. Pretty sweet.

  • ... and for a chunk less than I paid for my then-topline "Beam Me Up Scotty" model Motorola a couple of years ago. It looks a little awkward for use as a cell phone (I prefer flip-open models) and a little small for a PDA, but I'd definitely be interested when mine finally breaks.

  • Does it do ssh? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by geekd (14774) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @01:29PM (#4381774) Homepage
    My main use for "internet anywhere" would be ssh. I am on call 1 week out of 6, and if there's a problem, I need to log into the server(s) affected and fix it.

    Plus, with a remote term, you can basically do anything a unix box can do.

    Anybody know if it can do ssh?

    For $200, I'd definitly pick one up if it can.

  • Something to note... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FortKnox (169099) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @01:30PM (#4381784) Homepage Journal
    First of all Circuit City has a $100 rebate on it atm, but something to note:

    After 1 year, the 'unlimited internet' becomes something like $30 for 15MB a month. Good luck breaking your browsing habits after a year.
  • It doesn't sync (Score:5, Informative)

    by Devlin-du-GEnie (512506) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @01:32PM (#4381814)
    I love the look and user interface.

    Beware, though. It acts like a PDA, but it's missing a vital piece of functionality. There's no way to share information with other devices. Sidekick gives you a calendar all right, but you can't sync it with your desktop. Ditto for the ToDo and Address Book.

    I'm waiting till it plays nice with other hardware before I plunk down my money.
  • IMAP support (Score:4, Informative)

    by ShavenYak (252902) <`bsmith3' `at' `charter.net'> on Thursday October 03, 2002 @01:32PM (#4381815) Homepage
    The unit also supports POP mail servers. This worked without hitch and was quite nifty. IMAP support would be nicer, but I suspect that it would be horribly slow over the phone's internet connection.

    What?!?! Are you on crack?

    IMAP is the perfect protocol for email over wireless internet connections. If you think it's horribly slow, you've been using Outlook Express's piss-poor implementation too long.

    The huge advantage IMAP brings you is you only have to get the headers of the email. If you want to get the message, you can get the message, otherwise you save it for later. Also, your email sits on the ISP instead of in your phone/PDA/whatever with its limited storage space. It's also possible, IIRC, to download message bodies to read but not download attached files until later. Finally, with IMAP you can read your email on your desktop at home, then refer to it later on your (other device).

    If I can't use IMAP, I'd rather use Webmail than POP. Blech.
    • I thought POP also supported getting just headers. It's less flexible and network-savvy overall, but it should be possible to delete messages without viewing their bodies or attachments. OTOH, I haven't seen a major mail client that implements this ...
    • Re:IMAP support (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rot26 (240034)
      The huge advantage IMAP brings you is you only have to get the headers of the email. If you want to get the message, you can get the message, otherwise you save it for later

      I've never seen a pop server that didn't support this too. It's not that big a deal.
      • Re:IMAP support (Score:3, Informative)

        by rplacd (123904)
        It's actually a non-standard POP protocol extension -- which pretty much everyone supports. The syntax is

        top

        If num-lines is 0, you get just the header.
        • If num-lines is 0, you get just the header.

          What's wrong with "top x 1" to get just the header, then do an rset (if you want to)?
    • Re:IMAP support (Score:3, Informative)

      by Otterley (29945)
      As the other posters noted, you can use a POP3 extension to grab the headers.

      But one thing you can do with IMAP4 but not with POP3 (that I'm aware of, anyway) is on-demand transfer of attachments. That is useful.
  • Flat Rate? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by viper21 (16860) <scott&iqfoundry,com> on Thursday October 03, 2002 @01:34PM (#4381831) Homepage
    I believe that the flat rate for unlimited megabytes turns back into a flat rate for 15 megabytes/month then 3.50 dollars for 1 additional megabyte after 1 year.

    Somebody mentioned this in the LAST article about Danger. Not that you bothered to read it.

    Hidden somewhere in the EULA I would suspect ;-)

    -S
    • I believe that the flat rate for unlimited megabytes turns back into a flat rate for 15 megabytes/month then 3.50 dollars for 1 additional megabyte after 1 year.

      Basically the consensus is that this whole 'unlimited' thing is an experiment of sorts, and the provider thinks that most people will end up using less than 5MB per month (because of the way webpages are reformatted before being sent over the air to the device), but they put that clause in there in case they are wrong and people actually use a lot more bandwidth.

      After they get a year to watch how much people *really* use, they will probably tweak all their plans anyway.

      More discussion here [howardforums.com].
  • by dubiousmike (558126) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @01:37PM (#4381846) Homepage Journal
    How come Sprint takes so long for cool phones that support their technology to come out?

    I know they do eventually, but it sucks to be the last in line for *drool* phones. All of their new ones, I find pretty useless. Great - I can take a picture with a Sprint phone, but can ONLY send it to another Sprint user with one of the newest phones.

    Bleh!

    • Because Sprint didn't want to use GSM like all the other kids on the playground, they had to be different and go with CDMA.

      Oh, and the ghost of my English lit teacher asked me to point out that it's "Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink."
  • Looks like a nifty device. Gotta love having a keyboard. All it needs now to be the all purpose on-the-go geek tool is an SSH client. Of course if it ran EPOC (the O/S developed and used in Psion PDAs) it would already have that plus an Inform interpreter (for all the adventure games addicts out there) a bunch of games and databases, a macro programming language and all sorts of other good stuff. But it's not based on EPOC *or* on PalmOS so it doesn't. Too bad. When is someone going to come out with a small IP wireless device with a long battery life, a keyboard and an open API? Come on Handspring, you can do it.
  • It's cute, but... (Score:2, Informative)

    by mmoncur (229199)
    It's cute but without features like Sync, it's just a novelty. And I don't really find tiny keyboards any more practical than phone keypads. The kids will love it.

    I'm dreaming of the Kyocera Smartphone 7135 [kyocera-wireless.com]. Full color screen, Palm OS, expansion slot, 3G, and it's barely larger than my Startac. NICE!
  • Rings have custom tones, and the sound is that multichannel stuff that sounds really silly thats all the rage with the kids these days.

    Umm... does it come with all 5 speakers and the subwoofer? ;-)
  • I've been with them for a while... but my current plan is 3000 anytime-minutes for $60 per month. Yea, ATT has an unlimited promotion going-on, but I've never come close to using my 3000 minutes... and I've essentially replaced my land-line w/ my cell phone.

    Unlimited nights/weekends and free long distance if I call from anywhere within a 4 state "Home" area. Yea, their coverage might be spotty (whose isn't?), and I've had a couple of billing issues over the 3 years I've been with em... but this plan speaks for itself.

    Compared with the best plans offered by Sprint PCS (250 anytime minutes?!? hahahaahaa), Verizon, AT&T Mobile and Cingular (what is there new thing? oh, your minutes rollover!?! hahahahaa) -- my current run with T-Mobile will last for a few months more.

    Anyone else with a plan I should know about?

    • Verizon and AT&T. Both have excellent coverage.

      Sprint's coverage is pretty skimpy, but even they are far ahead of T-Mobile (formerly Voicestream)

      Good luck when you leave the highway.
  • I was under the impression that America didn't use GSM for their mobile networks. Is this still correct? I'm going to Denver on Tuesday so I'll find out then whether my phone will work or not. Can anybody explain?

    • GSM networks at being used in america, but they are not ubiquitous (voicestream's has always been GSM, and AT&T is building one in addition to their current TDMA network) Also, GSM runs on a different frequency here in the US than in Europe, so your phone probably wont work anyway.
    • by tempmpi (233132) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @01:56PM (#4382011)
      There are some GSM networks in the US but they are using other frequencies.(T-Mobil is operating one) GSM networks outside of the US are using frequencies at around 900 Mhz and around 1800 Mhz. US GSM networks are using 1900 Mhz.

      You need a so called TriBand GSM phone to be able to use it in USA and in Europe. Most european phones are DualBand phones that support only 900 and 1800 Mhz. You also may need to select 1900 Mhz in the setup of your phone.
    • TMobile (formerly Voicestream) is the largest GSM carrier in the US. I think there are carriers in all the metro areas.
  • I'm using an Ericsson R380 World [cellular.co.za]. Runs EPOC, calls, syncs, surfs and is only 99$ bucks (without contract).

    There are still a bunch of them [ebay.com] on eBay.

  • /. works (Score:3, Funny)

    by _ph1ux_ (216706) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @01:49PM (#4381953)
    "...Slashdot in light mode worked fine"

    That's it - I'm getting one!
  • If T-Mobile wants their built-in web browser to be useful, they're going to have to provide some way for web developers to test out their pages on the devices. A few emulators for non-computer browsers exist (WebTV springs to mind), but not nearly enough.

    T-Mobile (and Handspring, and Palm, and Nokia, and...) need to get cracking. And developers need to start taking CSS-driven design (with separate stylesheets for SCREEN, PDA, PRINTER, TV etc.) seriously.
    • Palm offers a free-as-in-beer emulator. It's even skinnable, and the hardware configuration (memory, etc) can be changed. Palm licensees customize it to support their devices. I believe Handspring has; I know Sony does.
  • Currently, T-Mobile has misfired on this as anything more than a replacement Blackberry. Their website by all accounts doesn't allow the syncing of the calendar and address data, though this will likely be fixed.

    Only on plan exists, $39 for unlimited data and 200 anytime voice minutes. I really want to keep my current voice package that I have with T-Mobile since my phone is my business phone, but I really don't want to be adding another device. I want to eliminate them. The Sidekick could be my phone, my pda and a net device, but it's currently only one of those thanks to the single plan. I'd gleefully pay the full $39 to just add the Sidekick to my current plan, but that's not an option yet.

    Those of you who can live with the limitations. Enjoy. I'm waiting until T-Mobile gets it together.
  • by ispel (266661) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @02:04PM (#4382078)
    This may be OT, but what good is a cool cellular device if you can't use it most places? T-mobile's coverage is pathetic. If you look at their coverage map [t-mobile.com], you'll see a broken spider web of purple blotches across the US. Their website doesn't make it very clear that their service offers *no* coverage outside these splotches. If I go out of town w/a T-Mobile phone or neato Sidekick, its highly likely that I won't be able to call for help or SSH into my box in an emergency :(
    • T-Mobile can't even cover all of New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the nation. If they can't cover all of NJ, I feel sorry for anyone dumb enough to subscribe to their service in the Midwest.
    • What a pain. If you try to look at their coverage map, you get an error if you don't accept cookies. Tacky, tacky, tacky.
    • Their website doesn't make it very clear that their service offers *no* coverage outside these splotches.

      I think you mean "any coverage", but still. I've been considering switching to T-Mobile in November specifically to get a GSM phone for trips to Europe. I get a discount for Nextel, but Nextel locks their SIM cards, and T-Mobile offers to unlock them immediately.

      Then the Wall St. Journal covered cellular plans today and said T-Mobile has horrible coverage. They said that TM does indeed offer free roaming, but as others have mentioned, no free nights, just weekends. And at that, weekends start midnight Saturday! No matter how much I spit acid at the thought of Verizon raping my wallet every month, WSJ did say that you get what you pay for and Verizon is among the best and the most expensive.

      Does anyone know if the T-Mobile GSM phones will roam onto CDMA networks? That would be spiffy.

      Right now, I need a phone that works roughly from DC to Boston, Los Angeles, Orlando, and in Australia, Germany, Paris, London and Brussels. I thought T-Mobile would be my best choice based on the coverage maps in the US. The Nextel might be a better choice, and I'll just have to put up with expensive international rates.

      To compare Verizon to what I've found with T-Mobile (and who I think is better):

      To share 2 lines: Verizon $99/mo for 750 mins, T-Mobile $69/mo for 800 mins (TM)

      For 144k data: Verizon needs a separate account that CANNOT share minutes, with T-Mobile you move the SIM card to the Merlin PCMCIA card (TM)

      With Verizon you burn minutes for high speed data, T-Mobile you're billed by volume (VZ during nights and weekends)

      T-Mobile GSM phones can roam internationally and they'll let you change SIM cards, Verizon will loan you an international phone (TM)

      With Verizon you burn peak minutes calling cellphone-to-cellphone within the family share plan, but you get nights and weekends free (VZ wins for free long distance calls to off-plan phones at night)

      With T-Mobile all cellphone-to-cellphone calls are free within the family share all the time, but no free weeknights otherwise (TM wins for frequent peak calls to the other Family Plan cellphone, i.e. "honey I'm on the way home.")

      I guess its time to give Nextel a look and see how they do.

    • I believe their website map understates their true coverage. What I was told when I got my VoiceStream phone is that "if the phone connects, no roaming charges". It appears to be true - I live in the Washington DC area, and I've taken my phone into the wilds of North Carolina (down I95, where the map says no coverage), connected to Cingular (well, that's what the phone's screen said), and successfully placed calls with no roaming fees. I had similar success recently all up and down the peninsula between San Jose and San Francisco. They must have some sort of network swap arrangement with the other up-and-coming GSM providers in the US.
  • by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@corne[ ]edu ['ll.' in gap]> on Thursday October 03, 2002 @02:10PM (#4382136) Homepage
    The Kyocera 6035 is PalmOS-based (i.e. you can run PalmOS apps on it, not just whatever Danger has preinstalled for you. This includes Liberty, AvantGo, any of the hundreds of PQAs out there).

    The 6035 has been out for well over a year. In fact, it's being phased out in favor of the next-generation 7135, due out in 1-2 months. In the meantime, you can get 6035s *FREE* with a Sprint service activation from OfficeMax. (While I don't like Sprint, at least they're better than T-Mobile - The US GSM footprint is horrendous.)

    The 6035's phone/PDA integration is excellent. (Unlike its predecessor the pdQ, which apparently sucked.)

    So why the excitement over a device that costs more and does less than the 6035?

    No, I don't work for Kyocera or Verizon. Yes, I have a 6035 and LOVE it. Check out http://www.smartphonesource.com/ for more info.
    • The excitement is due to the people behind the phone and their excellent PR department and the fact that a number of the people who worked there used to work at famous places around Silicon Valley.


      There is an article [theinquirer.net] over at the Inquirer which talks about this.


      These people are smart, they know that the slashdot crowd is filled with people who are early adopters and have happily suckered us in. I wonder if they are astroturfing slashdot as well.

    • Aside from the hype, it seems to me that there are a couple of things that make a lot of sense.

      * The T/Mobile plan at $39.95 a month includes UNLIMITED data access - plans for previous units do not. This, of course, enormously increases the utility of the unit. After a year, your included bandwidth goes down, but it's still one heck of a deal compared to anything else out there.

      * The Danger handheld includes a spiffy keyboard, which is probably a lot easier to deal with than Graffiti.

      * The shape and size appear to excite a lot of people.

      So there are rational reasons to like this unit. I think I'll wait for the colour screen, though; I hate looking at monochrome.

      D
  • its wonderful (Score:4, Informative)

    by NotLad (225478) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @02:14PM (#4382174)
    I bought one of these gadgets the day they came out. I'm here to tell you that it is truly a marvel. After your phone is activated, it displays a setup screen that allows you to create a tmobile username and acount. This has several wonderful advantages. You get an easy to remember email address (username@tmail.com) instead of using the phone number for mail (777-777-7777@tmmobile.com). tmobile.com has a webpage that they call the "desktop interface". this page gives you access to your email, address book, calendar, to do list, notes, and camera applications. This makes it very easy to make a large number of changes on your device (while using a full size keyboard).

    I purchased the device thinking that i'd use it mostly for web browsing. I couldn't have been more wrong. The browser is well designed and the interface is easy to use. However, the always on AIM application has proven to be more useful. So far I've spent 90% of my time on the device using AIM, the email client, and the text messaging(not AIM) client. That other 10% was spent using the web browser for looking up words while I was studying a little physics.

    having the ability to have dictionary.com, google.com, and always on AIM in my pocket is definitely worth $200 ($39 a month).

    I only have two complaints. Tmobile is only offering the device with one service plan. This plan is great for data, but 200 anytime minutes just isn't enough talk time. I decided to pay the extra $5 a month for 500 tmobile to tmobile minutes. My second complaint is the lack of a calculator. I can't believe they didn't put a calculator on this thing. get rid of one of the stupid games and add something useful. hopefully they'll add this later.
  • Bandwidth pricing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sheddd (592499)
    I almost ordered a T-Mobile PocketPC a couple weeks ago until I figured out what bandwidth costs. They want $20/month for 10MB transfer. Ouch. The voice capability probably sucks 64KB/sec so if you look at it a certain way,

    10,485,760B (10MB) = 65536B (64KB)*seconds
    Seconds = 160!

    So I can get 300 or so minutes per month @ $20/month but $20 only buys me 1 minute 40 seconds of data transfer. Damn they're trying to stick it to the early adopters!
    • Actually, you get unlimited bandwidth for 1 year, then it's 15MB/mo included and $3.50 for each additional meg. Unless they change their minds by then.

      Nextel, for example, also has an 'all you can eat' plan for their phones, but it's $10 a month over their normal rates, which for me ends up at $54 a month total, and there isn't a graphical browser in any Nextel phone.

      So if you compare the plans, since T-Mobile's sidekick plan at $40 is $14 a month cheaper than what I now pay. Let's see... $14 x 12 months = $168. I can get the Sidekick for $249 - $50 from T-Mobile - $100 from CompUSA + $35 connection fee... that means it's cheaper to get the Sidekick than to keep my Nextel service!

      How about that?

      Only problem: no speakerphone...
  • Now I have to wait for 3 painfully slow days before I get it in the mail. :-(

    I've heard nothing but good things about these units. My two biggest questions for the sales person were this:

    1) Does it use a standard 2.5 mm jack that most other cellphones use for the headset?

    2) Does it come with (or can I buy) a desktop charger?

    She didn't know the answer to number 1 and the answer to number two is "not yet". It comes with a travel-type power supply. But, there was not a nice desktop stand unit available yet.

    I can't WAIT to check this thing out! The price is right and the features are great! Why hasn't anyone else been able to come up with one of these before?

    One thing that should be noted -- The $39.95/mo. unlimited data rate is only good for one year! After that it becomes $39.95/mo. for 15 MB of transfer and $3.50 / Mb after that.
  • I'm nothing if not a toy junky, and when Danger sent me at long last, a review unit of their excellent little HoTop PDA/Cellphone, now known as the T-Mobile Sidekick. I jumped at the chance to get into the thing and get my opinions out there.

    Jesus...let's try this again...

    I'm a self-proclaimed toy junky. So when Danger finally sent me a review unit of their excellent little HoTop PDA/Cellphone (now known as the T-Mobile Sidekick), I jumped at the chance to try it out and get my opinions published.

    A little proofreading goes a long way.
  • There also is IM functionality, but no IRC.

    Whose IM client is it compatible with? AOL?
  • I got one (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wizarddc (105860) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @03:17PM (#4382667) Homepage Journal
    I have a danger hiptop/sidekick. I got it because I wanted a pda with a keyboard. That could do web and email. But the big selling point for me was integrated AIM. Plus unlimited data. So far, the battery ran good for about 20 hours, which is plenty. Plus, you have to factor in new factor, where I'm playing with it everywhere, not just when I need it.

    Don't know what it is, but I really don't like the palms. I don't want a touch pad, or handwriting anythng. The keyboard on this thing rocks. Plus the scroll wheel does everything you need it to, and it's relatively quick at doing it.

    I haven't gotten into the to do/calendar/PIM stuff yet, but I'm not sure Ill use those excessively. Although the contact manager just makes sense, and makes speed dialing really easy.

    I'm giving my own +1 Wicked moderation to this cool little device.

    Btw, you can see some of the pics I took with this thing on www.hiptop411.com [hiptop411.com]. I'm MediumDave on there, and yes, that is my dog ;)
  • There are a few nifty little games you can play as well. The form factor of the device is fairly similiar to a Gameboy Advanced, and when held in that position, makes a reasonable gaming platform.

    I'm assuming what was meant that when the sidekick is held as if it were a Gameboy Advance, it has a similar feel and would make a reasonable gaming platform. Is this just a comment on the ergonomics or did you actually play any games for it? Are there any games yet?

    You get a good keyboard, a web browser, and a remarkably bright screen.

    How well did the web browser handle web sites? Is it XHTML 1.0 compliant? Was it fast?

    Isn't this supposed to be a review? Geez, getting information about this thing it's like pulling teeth!

  • No CDMA? No thanks. (Score:3, Informative)

    by smithmc (451373) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @03:39PM (#4382886) Journal
    Maybe when there's a CDMA version I'll be interested. GSM sucks, at least in North America. Not everyone lives in cities with 1,000,000+ population, you know.

    I wish I had known just how bad GSM coverage is before I bought a Handspring Treo 180. It turns out I've had to keep my CDMA StarTAC (after having given away all the accessories... grrr...) to take with me whenever leaving the NYC/Long Island area. A couple of weeks ago, I went down to Ocean City, MD for a golf weekend - no GSM service, but the CDMA phone worked fine. Last weekend, I headed for upstate NY (Warwick) for dinner with the folks - no GSM service, CDMA no problem. I've used my StarTAC in all kinds of places, and only very rarely have I had a problem getting a connection.

    Then again, it sure was neat to be able to use the Treo in Europe by swapping the SIM out of the company cell phone... but I don't travel to Europe often enough for that to be a reason for me to keep the Treo.

    Now, there's the Treo 300 with Sprint service - but $500? Yeesh...
  • Attaching pictures (Score:4, Informative)

    by jimmcq (88033) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @05:17PM (#4383588) Journal
    when trying to mail a picture, I couldn't return and send the picture... I ended up having to actually go to the pictures, and choose mail picture instead of writing an email and attaching it there.

    All you have to do is hit the menu button while composing a message... There is an "Attach Picture" option right on the menu.
  • by Mr_Silver (213637) on Friday October 04, 2002 @04:41AM (#4385857)
    Slashdot in light mode worked fine.

    Oh god, please no.

    At the risk of some blatent plugging, if you're going to read Slashdot on a PDA or offline web-browser (like AvantGo [avantgo.com]) then try AvantSlash [fourteenminutes.com] instead.

    Hopefully someone a little less biased than me will post a review in reply to this comment. In fact, any suggestions for improvement would be appreciated.

  • The unit also supports POP mail servers. This worked without hitch and was quite nifty. IMAP support would be nicer, but I suspect that it would be horribly slow over the phone's internet connection. ,

    Check out Gopher King [gopherking.com]. They offer a cheap, but not-free, service for checking any mail on the web and presenting it in a lite format perfect for PDAs. I have used it on a Palm VIIx and a Kyocera 6035 and it works great with both thru a PDA. Their regular site should work fine thru the HipTop's built-in browser, as it is built to be lite on the images and efficient in the HTML.

    And yes, they will do POP, IMAP, AOL, etc.

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