my sidekick replacement

ppc67001.jpgSo last week, I got caught in a downpour on my ride home and accidentally drowned my sidekick device. After letting it dry out for 2 days, it still would not be resucitated, so I prounounced it officially dead and decided to get a new phone. I considered getting another sidekick 2 (from ebay since I’m not enamoured with the most recent version which seems cheaply made and poorly designed to me) but in the end I picked up this Pocket PC from Sprint.

I’m not going to rant about the horrible experiences I’ve had with Tmobile (that can be a whole other post), but for the most part I decided on this device because I wanted to switch to Sprint – they have the least expensive data plan out of all the carriers (only $15/month for unlimited data compared to $39/mo at both cingular and verizon and $29/mo at Tmobile) and this was the most sidekick-like device they had. It’s actually smaller and lighter than the sidekick and at $199, it ended up being $50 less, with a whole lot more features.

Whether these additional features actually work or not, I don’t know yet. I’ve had it for 2 days so far and these are my first impressions.

First off, I have to say that I would NEVER EVER recommend this phone to anyone who expects things to “just work.” It’s a Windows machine so it’s going to be mercurial and arcane. If the idea of registry files and dlls living on your phone strikes terror in you (as it very well should) then this is not the phone for you. If you expect to use your phone mostly for talking, then this is not for you.

However, if you don’t mind tinkering, if you don’t have super high expectations (or just normal expectations), and if you like the idea of being able to access data at relatively high speeds from almost anywhere, then this phone is actually a lot of fun (since it’s not so much a phone as a teeny tiny tabletpc and as such, it’s both awesome and incredibly frustrating at once).

But first the good stuff. I haven’t had too many problems using it as a phone so far and it’s even a tad bit easier in this respect than the sidekick since you can have it dial certain people (and even launch apps) through voice tags. Browsing the web via wifi or EVDO works swimmingly and it’s *fast.* Also, I’ve been able to use the device as a wireless modem for my laptop where there’s no wifi. I actually got that working at home today. This means (thoretically) that I can use it to connect my laptop to the internet while I’m on caltrain (at speeds that are about as fast as really slow dsl) or anywhere I can get a signal from Sprint…and it doesn’t cost extra! $15/mo covers data on the device *and* on my computer. Not that I really need to do that since web browsing on the device works pretty well. Also, since it’s got a touch screen, I can *draw* on it like on my tablet!

Now for the bad part. As one might expect from a device that’s running a mini version of Windows and that has A LOT of features (most would say too many), it often runs out of memory if you have too many apps open at once. Since there’s no way to “close an app” from within an app, you have to go to something that looks like a task manager to do that. A task manager on a phone?! yes, retarded. I’m sure I will discover a lot more retarded things. I’m expecting a Blue Screen of Death at least once a month.

However the one thing that keeps me somewhat optimistic is that there seems to be a group of independent developers who are creating apps and hacking the device to make it better. (not possible on the sidekick since it was a closed platform…I wasn’t even allowed to change the cheesy background image on the device. With this one, I can mod the icons and background image to my heart’s content! )

Also this guy seems to be having a pretty positive experience with it so I’m hopeful!

UPDATE: 05/23/07 After 6 months, I have to say that this phone has been just awful. It started out great but then it began to freeze everyday for no reason. (when it freezes I don’t get incoming calls). It often doesn’t tell me when I miss a call. It’s erased the data off of my storage card 5 times on 3 different data cards. I could go on. But save yourself the trouble and DO NOT GET THIS PHONE.