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Danger Hiptop Sidekick 3

Step 4: Danger Hiptop Sidekick 3
  • Built in instant messaging client over multiple platforms, trackball, D-Pad and keyboard input options
  • Bulky form factor, no corporate email access, limited synchronising options

Available through T-Mobile in the UK, the Sidekick (also known as the Danger Hiptop in other markets) provides a well thought out messaging device that's become popular on the celebrity circuit, but isn't quite ready for a corporate assignment.

The hardware itself is pretty impressive, if a touch on the large side. Similar to the BlackBerry, the Sidekick 3 features a trackball, except here it's not on the spine, but on the right of the display (the left side has a D-Pad controller), and the display is one of the gee-whizz features of the Sidekick. Rather than slide out, it spins through 180 degrees to cover the highly usable QWERTY keyboard. If you're looking for James Bond styling, then you've found it.

And that sums up the Sidekick. It's very much a gadget lover's heaven. With an operating system built around Java, support for MiniSD cards, USB connectivity (albeit USB 1.1, so transfer speeds can be slow) and MP3 playback.

But the biggest thing for a business user is what the device lacks. There is no corporate email access - all you have available is POP3. While it is possible to access an IMAP box via POP3, you won't have access to any folder structures. And if you're looking for MS-Exchange or Novell support, the Sidekick is definitely not for you. Synchronising is also unusual as there is no desktop client bundled with the device - everything is done through the mobile data connection, and synchronising goes to a web based client which you can log onto. You can purchase additional software to sync to Outlook on your Desktop.

What is a step up on the Sidekick compared to any of the other devices is the built in client for Instant Messaging. You'll be able to chat on AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo and MSN Messenger, and because of the keyboard, you'll be able to be actively involved in a conversation. The browser runs through a proxy, which means that al the data the Sidekick won't be able to display is discarded before being sent - which is great if you are on a pay as you go data plan. It also means the browser doesn't have to be programmed to expect anything other than what the proxy server will deliver - which means that while it might not rival Pocket Internet Explorer, it is rare for the information on a web page to be unreadable.

The Sidekick is tightly focused on a specific demographic, one that has a small crossover into the business world. If staying in touch means IM and basic email, then the Sidekick is pretty much the perfect device, but it's no all-rounder - and the modern business smartphone really needs to be able to do a lot more than the Sidekick manages.

Verdict

If staying in touch means IM and a POP3 email, then the Sidekick is pretty much the perfect device, but it's no all-rounder - and the modern business smartphone really needs to be able to do a lot more than the Sidekick manages.

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