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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I went to check out T-Mobile's version of the Danger Hiptop today. CompUSA is running a special through the weekend where you buy the Sidekick (T-Mobile's name) for $249, they rebate $150 (through the mail), and you sign up for $40/month service in the store. According to the saleslady at the store I was in, they're even throwing in the camera attachment.
I just wanted to make a call or two on a functioning device, to see how the phone interface works, and how the calls sound, but none of the three locations I visited had functioning demos. They were either plastic boxes that looked like Sidekicks, or they were for sale.
I'm currently in a cell-phone plan with lots of minutes that costs almost $70/month, and I'm still carrying Palm.net service for my Palm VII. I was hoping I could spend a little up-front on the device and cut my monthly outlay significantly, but I'm not sure I can.
It turns out there's a catch (isn't there always?). T-Mobile has only one (1) billing plan for the Sidekick. If you want it to be your only device, you'll have to make sure you don't go over 200 anytime minutes (and 1000 night and weekend). Minutes above your allocation go for 35¢. Each. If you were to use 500 peak minutes in a month (300 above allocation), that's an extra $105 slapped on your bill, and no way to upgrade to a high-volume plan.
Update: I forgot to mention that the data, which starts out unmetered, only remains so for 1 year. At the end of your first year, you get a 15 megabyte/month cap, with overage costing $3.50/megabyte.
I was always impressed by how nice a job the Palm VII did with web pages, even though I had to convert a web page into an application to be able to view them.
Apparently, the Hiptop/Sidekick has a few problems with some pages, but Danger hasn't seen fit to document their expectations and requirements so webmasters can fix their pages or provide alternates to Hiptop browsers.
Too bad Danger is a private company: Every single review I've seen of their new Hiptop/Sidekick has been gushing.
They should be showing up in stores in the next couple of weeks....
A reader with some experience with the device mentions the bad quality of the phone (and every review I've seen has as well). This is a shame, and hard to imagine -- it seems like the stuff you need for a decent cellphone is pretty widely available these days.
A 'blog with updates on Danger's new Hiptop. Looks like its updated almost every day Monday through Friday. The Sidekick (as T-Mobile will call it) should be available late next month at $199.
Seen on Hack the Planet.
Supposed to be available in late September, at $199 with an unlimited data/200 minutes peak/1,000 minutes off-peak monthly charge of $39.95.