Technology

Goodbye SideKick II, hello Blackberry 8700

I’ve been using the Sidekick, Color Sidekick, and Sidekick II for the past several years, and have remained fairly satisfied. The convenience of a full web browser, instant messaging, email, and typical PDA features in a phone, at a decent price point, with a $20/month unlimited data plan has been sweet. Funny how a cracked LCD can change things. T-mobile’s idea of an “upgrade credit” is that I can pay MORE for a replacement SK II than I paid the first time, AND I get to sign a 2 year contract. No thanks – after 8 years of loyal T-Mobile service, I’m going to have to kick them to the curb.

The more I really began thinking about it, the more I realized the SK II was beginning to wear thin on me. How the SK’s creators, Danger, stay in business releasing a single new phone every 18 months is beyond me. Even when they went from black and white Sidekick to the Color Sidekick, to the Sidekick II, they kept the system memory at 8 MB. They ignored Bluetooth. The form factor improved slightly. T-Mobile insisted that the ability to use MP3 email attachments as ring tones be disabled, trying to force users into their walled garden. The real clincher was the most recent update, where they finally enabled Javascript on the browser. The catch is that on JS heavy pages, the device would swap out all of my email off of the device, forcing me to either re-fetch the individual messages or reboot the device to get the swapped back in. I appreciate the feature, and understand that the device has limited memory, but flash memory prices have been plummeting non-stop. Would it kill to make 16-32MB standard?

So a busted SK II and a steep replacement cost meant I wanted a new phone. Main criteria were a full QWERTY keyboard, reasonable form factor, Bluetooth, full HTML web browser, Email and PDA functionality, EVDO or EDGE (high speed) wireless data, and a net acquisition cost of $100 or less. This ruled out Treos, most Windows Mobile devices, and even most Symbian devices. The only decent device that seemed to fit the bill was the Blackberry 8700c, which is currently free after rebate from Buy.com. I used and developed for Blackberry devices during my time at Air2Web, but this will be my first round owning one. It’s on order, so in the mean time, I can answer my Sidekick when it rings, and not much else. I’ll post Blackberry 8700 impressions once I’ve put it through the paces.

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2 thoughts on “Goodbye SideKick II, hello Blackberry 8700

  1. You’ll probably go back 🙂 . For me, the Sidekick II is simple and does what I want it to without crashing or just plain getting screwed up. The HTML browsing actually really works too better than any other phone I’ve tried including Treo and Blackberry. In fact I paid big bucks for a Treo and returned it because it just sucked usability wise compared with the sidekick. I’ve got enough stuff to hack on at work and at home. I could really care less about ring tones. In fact, I don’t even want to have to think about my phone except for when I plug it in. I am quite happy with it.

  2. I can see myself going back, but Danger’s going to have to work to earn my business back. They have indeed done an EXCELLENT job on the interface and usability, but they’ve neglected the hardware for too long. 8 megs of internal storage doesn’t cut it anymore. The walled garden approach of only letting users install software that T-Mobile blesses and charges you for is unreasonable.

    They’ll need to significantly improve and revise the hardware. The rumors that one of the next SKs will be a music-centric device doesn’t appeal to me at all.

    If I don’t return the Blackberry after the trial period, I’ll have a 2 year contract to fulfill and think about what my next phone will look like. I’ll probably head back to T-Mobile and get a free phone from them when that time comes.

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