September 04, 2003
Danger licensing Java
They're licensing J2ME (Java 2 Standard, Micro Edition), and are expected to launch products supporting the standard in the first half of next year. No word whether the existing Sidekicks would support Java. If they did, this would certainly go a long way to jump-starting developer efforts on the Sidekick.
July 29, 2003
Moving on - Kicking the Sidekick
When I bought my Sidekick in December, I was jobless, and thought I would be using it primarily as a portable e-mail device and occasionally as a cell phone. By getting a 200-minute plan and a generous rebate, I decreased my monthly cell phone bill. In February, I went back to work regularly, and haven't been as happy with the Sidekick, since the phone is not so great, and it can't be used as a GPRS modem when I travel.
A more general weakness of the Sidekick as a platform is how slowly the developer community appeared, and the fact that T-Mobile essentially has to bless every application on the phone. I'm always happier on a platform that lets you do your own thing, customize your environment, and find your own way.
I don't have it yet, so I can't offer any firsthand experience, but online reviews suggest it's a good phone, with good reception, a speakerphone, voice dial, and iSync contact support. It has Bluetooth built-in, so I can use it as a modem with my miniBook, and T-Mobile now offers unlimited data usage for $19.95/month.
It also features a 640 x 480 camera, which was a big selling point for me. I have found myself on the road, wishing I had a digital camera with me, a few times lately, but not so frequently as to justify packing my somewhat bulky Nikon.
Finally, theres a lot of software available for the 3650.
March 03, 2003
Sidekick two months in
I'm still liking the Sidekick as a Crackberry equivalent. The phone, however, sucks. My reception is bad at the office, sitting directly in front of a floor-to-ceiling window on the 8th floor smack dab in the middle of Buckhead, with several million square feet of office space. Same story from Miami, sitting on a 19th Floor balcony overlooking Biscayne Bay.
I even like the low-resolution camera, which can send 90 x 120 pixel color pictures through e-mail in seconds. For AIM, for e-mail, and even for web surfing, it does a better-than-okay job. Unfortunately, now that I have a job, the cell phone is more important than I intended it to be.
I suspect I'm going to have to buy a phone, and the existence of the incredibly cool Sony Ericsson Clicker suggests it should have Bluetooth. Is there a Bluetooth phone available in the US besides the T68 and T68i?
Update 3/4/03: Sony/Ericsson have introduced the T610, a replacement for the T68/T68i.
December 31, 2002
Sidekick resolution and bug
So I went back to the very same T-Mobile location this afternoon. I noticed the woman who was little help last night, but managed to avoid her. To review, my Sidekick would sometimes (twice, so far) appear completely dead when I came out in the morning to take it off the charger and go to work. No button pressing or plugging/unplugging would bring it back.
The guy who took my case was the model of customer service. I was amazed, because my expectations were so low. He took me back to the office, and borrowed a charger for the Sidekick, which had no effect. He said they wouldn't have a battery there, but started to order a new unit for delivery to my house, even thought I bought it through Amazon.
As he was entering my information, he saw a note and started fiddling with my reset button (which is notably absent from the documentation). On the second try, my scroll wheel lit up, and everything was back to normal.
Turns out, there's a known bug, where the unit will fall into a 'deep sleep' mode (intended for shipping purposes) while on the charger. The solution is to hold down the reset button (under the edge of the screen when it's deployed) while powering up the unit with the power button (remember to press it for 3 seconds).
Sidekick update update
Thursday night, T-Mobile phone support suggested I take the errant Sidekick to a T-Mobile retailer, so they could try an alternate charger or battery, and just replace the bad part, instead of the whole shebang. I didn't get there on Friday, and on Saturday, the device had a miraculous third-day resurrection, so I didn't go. It charged Saturday night, worked all day Sunday, charged last night, and was dead this morning.
I dropped by T-Mobile on the way home and the helpful sales lady said they wouldn't open a box to test my unit ("No one will want to buy a used phone," she said). And they're not really technical at the store -- "we used to have somebody like that, but now they're all in LaGrange" (Georgia, where Powertel, later VoiceStream, now, with Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile, got started). Fortunately, I have a friend of a friend who's a VP at T-Mobile, and he says the retail manager should definitely open a box for quality assurance, if necessary. Guess we'll find out tomorrow.
December 28, 2002
Called T-Mobile service, which directed me to one of their retail stores to test a) the charger, and b) the battery. Couldn't go yesterday, so before I left for there today, I plugged in the Sidekick, and voila! it was back to normal.
I'm at a loss to explain it, so I'll be keeping a very close eye on it for a week or two.
December 27, 2002
Sidekick honeymoon over?
So I've had my Sidekick for exactly a week. I typically charge it overnight, and use it all day. Last night, I forgot to charge it, and the battery was nearly dead this morning. The unit coached me to plug it in, and it would turn on "in a few minutes", so I did. I left it plugged in for a couple of hours this morning at work, and used it at lunch, and maybe once after lunch.
When I went to call home that I was heading out of the office, the screen was blank. Plugging it in didn't make any difference. T-Mobile's support number suggests that I drop by one of their retail stores and try a different charger or battery before trying to send it back to Amazon (which I can do within the first 14 days for a new replacement; outside of 14 days, I have to deal with T-Mobile and am likely to get a refurb).
More as it happens.
December 23, 2002
Sidekick review 1
I've added a category for Sidekick stories (Sidekickin').
The Sidekick is an answer to the Research in Motion "crackberry" pagers, which have led to pager addiction among a segment of self-obsessed executives everywhere. Danger's goal is to bring equivalent technology to the mass market, including kids who IM more than they telephone, people who rely on electronic calendaring and address books, and anyone who wants to surf the web wirelessly (via T-Mobile's GPRS network, part of their GSM service), and to add telephone capabilities, which are only recently available with the Blackberry.
The size of the Sidekick is manageable; it fits in a front or jacket pocket without jamming, but it's big enough to be comfortable when thumb-typing. The OS, developed by Danger, looks reminiscent of the Newton more than the Palm, but doesn't allow you to change the display size, which is on the small side to maximize information on a single screen.
The device also takes a somewhat different approach than the Palm wireless PDAs. Where the Palm VII and 705 are essentially PDAs with wireless capabilites added, the Sidekick is like a thin client you can put in your pocket. Any content coming from or going to the Sidekick gets there through the web. If you take a picture with the built-in camera, it's automatically duplicated to T-Mobile's servers, where you can view it on your personal page. Likewise, to import contacts to your Sidekick, you upload them through a web page.
Danger's servers do some smart things to improvve the service they provide, as well. The Sidekick can display the text of email-attached Word and PDF files, as well as displaying JPEGs and GIFs.
Danger has promised a developer program, but not yet delivered. This means there are essentially zero programs for download. For me, this is a bit of a problem, since I have a small library of programs I use for everything from tracking passwords to finding subway stations in unfamiliar cities (which, of course, I can now do with the web browser on the Sidekick, but not underground). That points to the solution for one-off programs, as well: Converting the application to a web app, accessible through the browser, makes it available to the Sidekick.
It's a lot of fun; more over the next few days.
December 20, 2002
I'm posting this from work, on my new Sidekick. More details soon.
By the way, I'd love to try out the instant message features: feel free to AIM me at FrankSt.
December 16, 2002
I'm a sucker for portable computers. I've had my eye on the Danger Hiptop since they were preannounced, and I've decided to take the plunge. I'm way overpaying on my cell-phone plan (since I use fewer minutes now), but I can't change without signing a contract for another year, and I doubt my phone will stand another year.
Since Amazon is selling the T-Mobile version of the Hiptop, called the Sidekick, for $99.99 after mail-in rebates from T-Mobile and Amazon, I'm taking the plunge. Add in a $15 promotion from Amazon on any order over $99, and I'm paying about $85 for the Sidekick and camera attachment.
I'm expecting the Sidekick to drop my "number of toys carried" by one, as the Palm VIIx and the phone morph into one. More when it arrives.