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Archive for the ‘Cellphone Reviews’ Category

How do you feel about Androids in your pocket?

Posted by rapaleeman on September 12, 2008

Here’s something that took me by surprise.  Sept 23rd is the “supposed” release date for the T-Mobile G1 (HTC Dream).  The big news is that it will be the first cell phone to run google’s new OS software Android.

Now I have heard of this thing called Android and followed it pretty close, but to hear that the release of the supported hardware is so close was a biggie.  Check this out.

Sorta Sidekick like right?

Sorta Sidekick like right?

 Now most people have hated it.  They have said it sucks and looks cheap.  While that may be true, I like it.  A grown up Sidekick would be awesome and is exactly what I need to keep my effed up life in check. 

Not only does this beast have a sexy keyboard, but it also has a touchscreen and trackball.  It is used in an iPhone like orientation when not in “Sidekick mode”.

Me like it.

Me like it.

 

I think I may have to pick this bad boy up.  I think it is sweet.  We’ll see come Sept 23.

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Review: Sidekick LX

Posted by rapaleeman on August 19, 2008

So the Nokia I bought off the internet was not exactly new and as such I was unable to unlock it.  I’m taking care of the matter, but that did not help me this weekend.  I needed a phone.  So I said eff it and I bought the LX.  I know, $400 cash for a phone is a tad steep but damn is it not actually worth it.

So I have previously owned a Sidekick 3, Sidekick iD, Sidekick 2008, and now a Sidekick LX and the LX is the best of the bunch.  I opted not to spend the extra 50 on the Tony Hawk model.  It looked cooler and all, but not worth fifty bones.  I bought Soul Calibur IV instead.

I’ll start with the first thing that people will see: the gorgeous 3 inch screen.  This thing is absolutely amazing.  It is made of the same tech that the Sharp Aquos TVs are made out of and it shows.  Clean, crisp, and surprisingly thin.  The screen is easy to read and makes reading even the smallest fonts readable.  Amazing.

The next thing is the form factor.  It is typical Sidekick (meaning held like a PSP), but the thing is so damn thin. From the front it looks huge what with the giant screen and flanking controls, but seriously, rotate this thing to the side and you won’t see much.  With that said it is still physically big in you hands and easy to hold up to your ear.  The controls are dead on and not as small as the buttons on the Sidekick 2008 which were almost too hard to press/find by feel.  The only button issue is the easy to press keys on the spine.  I have accidently turned the speakerphone on more than once.

In all though the feel of the phone is great.  The keyboard hidden under the is the best on any phone.  Hands down.  Perfect.  Plus, the phone doesn’t have that cheap Feeling of the 2008 version.  True the shell doesn’t come off, but the rubberized back is sweet and makes it easy to grip.  Plus the camera is in a little better spot.  I don’t keep putting my finger on the lens.  It just feels better overall to me than the 2008 did.  Easier to use and hold.

Ok, so I haven’t received the update yet, but even without it the phone is still worth it.  The camera, though less resolution, takes slightly better pictures and has an almost too bright flash.  It is speedy and while it has less RAM than the other models, it hasn’t skipped or locked up on me yet.

The software is again, typical Sidekick/Danger.  Everything is easy to find and use.  Plus with the Jump/Menu button shortcuts, life is a breeze.  The catalog is still there, but custom themes are cool.  I put the Tony Hawk one on.  It is sweet.  Also the e-mail, IM, and music player are sweet as well (thank you for the 3.5mm headphone jack).

I’m not going to keep beating the dead horse.  This is an awesome phone.  Period.  Quality, usability, and just overall form factor make this worth owning.  If you text a lot and need a powerhouse of a phone without all the Windows and Blackberry nonsense then this is it.  True it is a little bigger than the Sidekick 2008, but it is easier overall to use and has a sexier screen.  Definatley worth it.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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Review: Sidekick 2008

Posted by rapaleeman on August 11, 2008

So over the weekend my Sidekick iD finally took a crap on me.  It had been on its last leg for a while and a final drop caused it to shut off and then never turn back on.  RIP.  In its wake comes a new dawn.  A new era of the almighty Sidekick.

Ok enough with the drama.  I went to the T-Mob to buy a new phone and based on the monthly plan, decided to stick with the kick.  I really wanted the Tony Hawk one, but for $450 bucks it wasn’t worth it.  Same with the LX.  I really wanted the LX in terms of form, but an extra hundred for a phone with a screen that looked distorted (though bigger) wasn’t worth it.  So I bought the new Sidekick 2008 (or just Sidekick I think).

Well after a day with it I can tell you that the upgrade is definately noticable.  I now have a camera, music player, bluetooth, hi-res screen and just and overall awesome device.  In the store I was a tad worried about it being cheap since it is a) a replacement for the iD and b) had a weird cheap feeling plastic shell.  Well it isn’t.

The phone feels solid though really light weight.  It is thinner, and smaller than the LX and definately smaller than the iD or the Sidekick 3.  It is on-par with the thickness of the slide, but it feels overall smaller.  The screen actually locks into place and I don’t think it will pop open in my pocket which the iD and 3 did (and reportedly the LX does as well).

The big feature besides the technical side is the exchangable and customizable shells.  The feel smooth and actually lock into place.  It came with a really nasty green one and a sweet black one.  I am currently pimping the black one.  You can make your own or buy a pre-made one on the Sidekick site and I think it is really cool.  My only complaint is that they are smooth so it feels kinda slippery, yet I don’t think I’ll drop it.  Weird.

Now to the phone itself.  Sharp and Danger have finally made it to the year 2008 (well 2005 at least).  The new Sidekick has all the same features of the top-of-the-line Sidekick LX and more.  It has a better camera (2.0 megapixels) and a sharper screen, even though the screen is smaller.  Also it has more RAM and despite a slight pause when doing a lot of things (I mean like 5 tasks) it is quite speedy for such a little phone.

Stereo bluetooth works well and the music sounds pretty sweet over the airwaves.  The player is barebones, but it works.  No complaints.  The video is pretty bad though (30 seconds, 15 FPS), but it is on all the Sidekicks now so I can forgive it.  The pictures are slightly better than the LX.  Overall it is on average in that department with most of the midrange phones in the T-Mob and even the AT&T line-ups.  I did find the stills to look better than the Shadow I use to have which is good to me.

So I haven’t mentioned some things, but honestly the things that a Sidekick are good at no longer need to be given front row anymore.  IM/Texting/E-Mails are all great and work well.  The keyboard is a little different though.  A tad smaller, yet still plenty of room to type.  The buttons on the outside though (volume, jump keys, call/end) are a tad small.  Still easy to use, but still small and since they don’t light up can be a little hard to press/find at night.  Overall though still good and easy to use.

This is a messenger/text machine first.  Then a phone.  With that said the actual phone portion is pretty good.  Earpiece volume is good and loud without a lot of distortion.  Speakerphone is a little low, but I was still able to use it in the car without much problems.  Overall it beats the iD and what little I’ve used of the LX.

The catalog is still there and the Edge data speeds are better than the iD but not 3G which is sorely missed.  Edge does suffice though for checking funds at the bank or quick browsing.  It was pretty quick at dinner last night.  I’m not unhappy.  Also you don’t have to shut off the phone to install apps (thank you Danger).

Finally, the battery seemed good.  Not sure on the life total, but it seems to hold its own.  As long as it lasts a day, I’m good.  With heavy use it was only down to 74% after 8 hours, with about an hour of calls.  Not bad.

Ok, so here’s the bottom line.  If you want a messenger/texting machine first, then the new Sidekick is the way to go.  It is worth every penny and despite my initial reservations, it is a solid phone.  The usual shortfalls still apply (ringtones, and purchasing catalog) but the phone is so stable it makes up for it.  No crashes at all.  The size is just right and the customizations in terms of shells and themes is pretty sweet.  I added the Tony Hawk theme from the limited edition.  I feel cool now.  The camera is pretty good as is the MP3 player but the video is pathetic.

Still, if you want a phone to type on without the stupid Windows crap, and an alternative to the ultra business Blackberry, then the Sidekick is the way to go.  Plus $20 for unlimited internet/texts is a steal.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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Review: Sidekick iD

Posted by rapaleeman on May 5, 2008

As promised here is the review for the Sidekick iD or SKiD as I call it.  It won’t be as formal as the review for the SK3 (that was for another site as I said).  I think informal is the way to go with the reviews, but again, that may change.  Anyway on with the review (wow, do I need a new segway).

I picked up the Sidekick iD on Friday to replace the dead Shadow and much to my surprise it is actually not as “dumbed down” as I thought it would be.  All the research I did said it was essentially a Sidekick 3 without a camera, bluetooth, MP3 player, memory card and Edge speed. 

While all of that is true, the rest of the Sidekick interface is intact and besides bluetooth, the rest of the features are not missed at all (surprisingly).  The camera on the SK3 is pretty bad so that isn’t a huge loss and the fact that I alreapy have an iPod, means I don’t need another MP3 player.  The only thing I miss is the customizable themes which could be done through the memory card.  Not a big loss.  Losing Edge speed hasn’t really made a difference either.  It was slow before and guess what?  Nothing has changed.

With the negativity out of the way let’s get to the good stuff.  For one, the SKiD is a little thicker than the 3 but a lot lighter.  The rubber bumpers (which are interchangable) help add to the grip and make is easier to hold when combining with the lighter weight.  The battery door is plastic, but with the bumpers it doesn’t matter.  Also no camera means I’m not hitting the lense anymore.  Nice.

I will say that when I first picked it up the phone felt really cheap.  After using it that is definately not the case, but it does feel that way.  The d-pad is loose, but the trackball is tighter.  The bumpers cover the other buttons and do a good job to add a better feel to the phone and the tactile feedback. 

The screen is a tad smaller and a little bit more washed out than the 3 but it does the job.  Text and pictures are easy to see and read in any lighting condiiton.  The “kick” feels tighter with the screen being held closer to the body of the phone when closed.  It feels solid on that front.

The keyboard is outstanding.  Using the same one as the SK3, this is the highlight of the phone and the reason I picked this up.  Best.  Keyboard.  Ever.  Nuff said.

The interface is essentially identical to the SK3 meaning it is easy and simple to use.  T-Mob keeps your settings and address book backed up on their servers (well technically Danger does, but semantics really) so all my stuff was restored instantly.  Very cool and convenient. 

Like I said, everything is the same inside so it is all good.  The hidden Snowbored is still a blast. PumpJack, the new free game is cool.  The address book and e-mail/text/IM clients are all still great and easy to use.  Definately something that Microsoft and Palm (Microsoft did just buy Danger so…) needs to adopt.  Very easy, simple, and just works.  No hacking or maipulating required. 

Sound quality seems a little better.  Calls came through clearer and people said I sounded better and this was without bluetooth since the phone doesn’t offer it.  Speakerphone is good and loud, though still a tad distorted at the highest levels. 

The battery also seems to last longer.  With all the extra “crap” gone the kick seems to last a lot longer.  I went 2 days and still had some charge before I fed the SKiD.  Impressive especially from a device not known for battery.

Overall it is a great phone that texts, makes calls, gets e-mail, does IM, and surfs the web.  Period.  That is all it does.  If that is all you need, get a SKiD.  Definately does all of those and does them well.  It may be a little too basic for some (no bluetooth is almost a crime), but the price was right.  They cost $150 with no contract and if you can still get a contract on them they are on $50 bucks.  Defiantely worth it and with those caveats it is a must for anyone looking for a business phone but don’t want a Blackberry, or any of those “old people” phones. 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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Review: Sidekick 3

Posted by rapaleeman on May 5, 2008

Before I had the Shadow through T-Mobile I used the Sidekick 3 for a little over a week.  I wrote a review back then for some site and found it this weekend.  I figured I’d post it since it was actually pretty good (at least to me and that is all that matters).  I got a Sdekick iD review coming later today when I get it finished and edited.  Here we go.

The Sidekick 3 from Sharp is a great messenger that also has a phone built into it.  That is an important fact to realize about this device.  It is a texting machine with an added feature of a phone (and a few other things).

 

Hardware and Interface:

The operating system running on the Sidekicks have always been simple, easy, and very user-friendly.  The 3 is no different.  Everything is quite simple to get to and with the addition of the trackball, things are even easier.  A person can use the trackball to move in and out of menus and sub-menus quite quickly.  The d-pad is still there, but I found it to be too slow once I got used to the trackball.  The sensitivity was perfect for me out of the box, but it is customizable.

 

The rest of the phone is thinner than the Sidekick II but a tad heavier.  It is about the same size and weight of a HTC Tilt or Palm Treo 750.  The rubberized backing is perfect to get a grip to.  The camera lens is on the back and to be honest it was placed in a spot where my index finger kept hitting it.  Really minor, but definitely noticeable.  The side buttons are fine and placed in the perfect spots.

 

The screen seems to be a little brighter and cleaner than the II but it is still not up to par when compared to some of the other “smart phones” on the market if you consider a Sidekick to be a “smart phone”.  The kick function of the screen initially seems a little loose, but after a few flips I realized that it was quite secure to the phone.  The magnet that holds it into place is quite strong, but doesn’t affect other things around it.

 

Battery life isn’t bad.  I can go a whole 24 hours before a charge is needed.  Not bad and better than some phones I’ve owned.  Since it is constantly connected, a daily charge is a small price to pay.

 

The qwerty keyboard is the best I have ever used.  Period.  Nothing more.  Next section.

 

Texting, E-mail, and IM:

There is a laundry list of features pertaining to texting, IM, and e-mail.  There are plenty of natural shortcuts built into the phone and there is almost zero learning curve involved in using the Sidekick 3.  Everything is setup automatically using simple fill in the blank questions which makes you wonder why Microsoft hasn’t adopted this approach with their Windows Mobile messaging program which feels antiquated compared to the Sidekick.  Definitely what the phone was meant to do, though the lack of MMS is somewhat puzzling.  The phone is constantly connected to the internet so as long as you have service you will not miss an e-mail or IM once connected.  A definitely plus and something others should adopt as well.  Though corporate e-mail users need to look elsewhere.

 

Phone:

The phone part of the phone is a lot better than the Sidekick II and definitely better than a few higher-end more expensive phones (looking at you Mr. Treo).  The speaker is loud, but the speakerphone can get distorted at the highest volumes.  Even with only 1 bar using the T-Mobile service in Northern VA, I found call quality to be quite good.  No static or distortion on my end or reported on the other side.  Bluetooth works well, but only until about 10 feet.  A little shorter than I would like, but it hasn’t been a problem.  The phone also rings quite loud on the table or a car seat, but in my pocket it can be a tad hard to hear.  Plenty of ringing profiles and options all available through the menus or the +/- keys on the spine.  It does ge a little uncomfortable holding to your ear for extended amounts of time.  For long calls, Bluetooth it.

 

The Rest:

The internet is pretty slow admittedly since it uses Edge (T-Mobile does not have 3g as of this review), but for light surfing I found it tolerable and manageable.  Plus with the internet always connected to receive e-mail/IM/texts, it is pretty quick to just hop on and check a movie time or my favorite, ESPN.

 

The camera says 1.3 but it is honestly not that great.  Fine for quick shots at a club or party (make sure the night setting is on), but make sure you do not move while you are snapping the picture or it will blur.  The photos look better on a computer, or mySpace, but not good enough to print.

 

The MP3 player, while very basic, is actually quite good.  Playlists are supported, as well as MP3 tags.  Also, the phone acts as a USB drive when connected to the computer so it is easy to drag and drop songs with zero drivers required for install.  Music is a tad distorted through the speakers, but the included headphones sound pretty good.  Not an iPod/Zune replacement but definitely not a throwaway feature.

 

Finally, the catalog is the last thing that needs to be talked about.  With the Sidekick, you must pay for everything.  Ringtones, themes (though you can circumvent that one), and games (includes Rock and Rockets and hidden Snowbored game) are purchasable from the catalog which is always on (since the phone is constantly connected to the web).  That is probably my biggest gripe about the Sidekick, but it is aimed at teenagers and younger for being a hip phone.  That is expected.

 

Conclusion:

The Sidekick 3 is a texting, e-mailing, and IMing machine with a phone attached.  The kick is a trendy and easy to use device with everything right at your fingertips.  If you need a phone and nothing more then the Sidekick is not for you.  If on the other hand you need to be constantly connected and depend on everything else besides the phone, then step right up.  The phone isn’t bad, but definitely not the primary function and a Bluetooth will be a necessity for the longer conversations.

 

The other features (camera, browser, MP3, and games) are just along for the ride with the MP3 player being the highlight.  The games are expensive (though the hidden Snowbored game is a surprisingly good time waster) as well as the ringtones and themes.  Your phone bill will be heavy really quick if you want to “pimp” your phone.

 

Overall though, I really like the Sidekick 3.  I am 26 and work in an office where Blackberry’s and smart phones make up the majority of the population.  I like having a different phone that is just more fun and more usable.  The customizations are limited, but the OS is so close to perfect that I’m ok with that.  Definitely worth it, and with the $20 Sidekick plan through T-Mobile (with unlimited internet and texts) this is a definite bargain when compared to other higher end phones.

 

RECOMMENDED

 

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