Tuesday, May 17, 2011

T-Mobile Sidekick 4G Review

The newer Sidekick 4G seems to follow in the footsteps of its predecessors that used the Danger OS formerly owned by Microsoft. And who can forget the 3-4 day data outage that cause a lot of problems and inconvenience for many people? The keyboard was a great advantage. Its built-in AIM client when the vibrating part was set right, was quite strong. In some cases, strong enough to vibrate itself off a table. I would venture to say it was strong enough to generate a few comedy bits...

"But officer, this big thing vibrated my car right into the pole..." We all know not to text and drive. In some cases, it felt kinda like a joy buzzer, making you look like when you're shaking hands with someone who had one.

If you were waiting for a relay phone call, you could easily put it under your head or chest and the vibrating could wake you.

On to the Sidekick 4G. The Android OS was a nice change including the touch screen. The trackball is still there, but not as a rolling, but as an optical. Just roll your finger over it. Some other basic features were kept like the Menu and other keys. It doesn't vibrate as strongly as the old Sidekicks did, but it's still a good vibration. The screen doesn't do a 180 degree flip, rather, you're pushing it upwards to open to show the tactile keyboard underneath. I'm a little worried about some people who tend to open their screens a little hard, thus possibly breaking the little plastic piece in back. The thing is probably a bit tougher than it looks. Rather than hold down the lower right button to put it into sleep mode, you tap the power button. Turning it off, hold it down and press "Power off" when the menu pops up.

The number of applications available, more free than pay, are quite a few. Some look better than others. One of the first things I installed was the AIM program. Next thing I noticed was that the vibration wasn't much of a vibration. Just a quick "boomp." Kinda felt like someone fell over and died unless I missed something in the setups. I looked around for other AIM and other IM clients and came across Meebo. It used a longer vibration time, about the same as the old Sidekick. But its buddy list isn't that great.

The included browser was pretty nice, and a little looking around netted me Firefox, Opera, and some other browsers. The browser had a couple bookmarks that you couldn't delete. A workaround was to create a folder, move them into that folder, and delete that. You can even uninstall and delete an app that you downloaded, but the included apps you can't quite remove.

Other included apps were Maps with GPS directions, Calendar, an office kind of editor, Files access on the SD card, front and back camera, YouTube, TV, and a whole lot more. One big thing is the YouTube application also includes captioning support, as evidenced from when I watched an Annoying Orange video.

Battery power seems to be a bit short, unless I recharged it wrong when I got it. It uses a standard Samsung EB504465VA 1500mah battery. The USB connector isn't the standard size connector but a smaller size one. Next post in a week or two will tell how to put your exported data back in.

The Sidekick 4G isn't exactly a smartphone killer, but it does the job for those who don't heavily use their phones like others do. But of course, there's always the pads, tablets, and netbooks out there.


CDM said...

Sounds interesting... I've had the Sidekick 3 and LX2009 and was happy with them. I wasn't too sure about the new Sidekick with the Android (wasn't all that impressed with the demo videos that came out), so I decided to switch over to AT&T and got the Blackberry Torch. Am quite happy with the Torch, but I do miss the full QWERTY keyboard the Sidekicks have (more similar to the computer's keyboard). The Blackberry's keyboard is all squashed together, so it's taking some getting used to.

Robert G said...

The Blackberry's keyboard didn't quite appeal to me when I was looking around for a phone. Like you said, it's just way tiny and squashed as you said.

Another phone I saw was Samsung's Galaxy T, which had a sliding keyboard hiding a QWERTY keyboard. There were a few others, but I kept coming back to the Sidekick.

One thing I found with the AIM app issue. Go to http://www.trillian.im - It's got a longer vibration time like Meebo does and it stays running unlike a couple other apps.

The TMobile Mall has this for $5, but if you go to the developer site, it's free!