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T-Mobile SideKick

I bought a SideKick so I can do email and answer our customers tech problems (via home-made web-based system) on the go.

I have used it for a few days, and need to decide soon whether to keep it or return it.

When it works well, it is great. Response time from web page to web page of a few seconds. Hardly cable modem speed, but quite functional. The interface of the device is wonderful. They reformat web pages (resizing images, redoing tables...) to completely avoid horizontal scrolling. Vertical scrolling is via a thumbwheel that jumps from link to link as well as scrolling the text. Push it down on a link to go there. Works very well. Typing with my thumbs is much faster than I would have guessed.

HTML web pages only. No Java, Javascript or Flash.

The built in email program seems useless (unless you want to only do email on the device) but I can do email pretty well using a web service:

The notepad and To-do list seem well done, but I haven't used them much. Interesting that it automatically synchs with a web page, so you can view and edit either on the gizmo or on a web page, and don't have to worry about synching or backing up -- it just happens.

So when it works, it is great. But for the last few days, it seems that the t-mobile system only works at all about half the time, and only works well about a quarter of the time. Are they having trouble in this area (Seattle) right now? Or is this what I can expect in the future. T-Mobile is not a responsible enough company to bother to post a web page explaining outages.

Coverage is US and Canada only, I think. Not the rest of the world.

If you use  a SideKick, I'd be very curious to hear of your experiences with availability and responsiveness.

Harvey Motulsky
Friday, August 15, 2003

A perspective from a rather disgruntled Sidekick owner:

Sam Livingston-Gray
Friday, August 15, 2003

Damn. This is worth quoting here:
"You may remember that earlier this year, the long-awaited, long-overdue SDK shipped, along with the news that only that code which had been approved by T-Mobile would be installable on any device.

They still haven't delivered a synch tool that lets you download your PIM data (calendar, contacts, to-do) from your Sidekick to your PC, and what's more, this latest move shows very clearly what you can expect to happen when you stop being a T-Mobile customer: they will "withdraw their support" from your handset, erasing your personal info.

Who owns your Sidekick? T-Mobile does, apparently, even if you spent full retail on it (I dropped $250 on mine). You need T-Mobile's permission to install software on their device. T-Mobile will, from time to time, decide to erase software from your device"



Friday, August 15, 2003

No, it is not an open system. The software you get is all you will get. It isn't like Palm or PocketPC, where lots of other stuff is available. If I were Danger or T-Mobile, I'd decide otherwise, but that is done. It is a closed system, with very nice software for what it does.

No, it doesn't synch with Outlook, a major failing for many (I don't use Outlooks so don't care). 

Despite those failings, it works great for me... when the service is up and running. I just need to get a sense of how flakey the service is around the country at various times. In Seattlle, the last few days, it has been awful.

Harvey Motulsky
Friday, August 15, 2003

I know someone who uses a SideKick.  While they love all its features, their only complaint, which is yours too, is with gettting a signal.  This is in the Philadelphia area, so it doesn't sound like it's a Seattle issue.

Wade Winningham
Sunday, August 17, 2003

Followup: I decided to keep the SideKick past the two week grace period. The outages during the first few days were far worse than since then, although the service still is far from perfect.

Overall, it is great being able to check email, our web-based tech support helpdesk, and other web sites from a pocket-size gizmo. It is far from perfect, but a useful tool and cool toy.

Harvey Motulsky
Monday, August 25, 2003

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