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December 23, 2002

Sidekick review 1

I've added a category for Sidekick stories (Sidekickin').

I've been using my new Sidekick (design by Danger, wireless by T-Mobile) for four days now, and I'm quite impressed.

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.

A size comparison: (left to right) Motorola TimePort, iPod, Sidekick, Palm V, GameBoy, Palm VIIx, Newton MessagePad.

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 23, 2002 in Sidekickin' | Permalink


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as an addendum to your photo of all the misfit handhelds, it might be instructive to note when they were introduced to track the march of progress. MSRP info would also be interesting.

It seems safe to assume the Newton will be top o' the charts for cost and size: I think it was also earliest.

Posted by: paul at Dec 23, 2002 5:34:01 PM

Ouch, a homework assignment!

The TimePort was a $299 phone, purchased (not by me) in February 2000. The 5 GB iPod is almost exactly a year old, bought in Dec. 2001 for $399. The Sidekick retails for $249, first available in November 2002. The Palm Vx was bought in February 2000 for ~$450.

The Game Boy was about $65, and I honestly can't remember when it was bought, probably 1995. It's since been supplanted by the Game Boy Color and the Game Boy Advance with essentially unchanged pricing (though it seems like the game cartridges get more expensive with every generation).

The Palm VIIx was really expensive at introduction, possibly $599, circa 1999? By the time I bought it (2001), they were clearing them out at $199 with a $100 rebate after 3 months of service.

The MessagePad is an original MP100, circa 1993, circa $700.

Posted by: Frank at Dec 27, 2002 12:06:42 AM