Originally published April 10th 2005
AT&T Wireless OgoWireless Ogo
If Research in Motion made a handset for the Britney Spears set, it would probably look a lot like the Ogo, sporting a big, friendly QWERTY keypad, a massive display, and a wacky plastic case that could just as easily hold gum drops as cellular circuitry. Don’t get us wrong: The Ogo has some utility, but it’s certainly more toy than tool.
For $99, this little messenger practically qualifies as an impulse buy for absentee parents who’d like to keep in touch with their teens. With support for AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo Instant Messenger, and MSN Windows Messenger, it’s at least as equipped for IM as any phone you could hope for. For more demanding kids, the Ogo supports POP3 e-mail, but that’s about it. The Ogo is not a phone and has no voice features.
While the Ogo does e-mail, instant messaging is its forte. For example, it automatically loads your AIM buddy list, showing which buddies are available, so you can be up and chatting in less than a minute after turning on the device. Customizable tones and vibrations alert you when a buddy logs on or off or is sending you a message. Typing on the thumbpad is surprisingly comfortable, but there’s a slightly annoying delay between each keystroke.
With the Ogo’s persistent GPRS connection, receiving and sending messages is as instant as you’d hope, and there’s almost no perceptible lag between messages. But unlike the BlackBerry’s constant background polling of e-mail, the Ogo forces you through a multistep process to retrieve and send messages.
We actually like the Ogo’s simplicity, so we were ticked off by its overly elaborate process required to get e-mail from multiple accounts. From the main screen of eight icons, you first have to select the My Status menu and then select the e-mail tab, scroll to the e-mail account, scroll to the Send/Receive button, select it, wait for the e-mail to load, then scroll to the next account and repeat the process. When all the e-mail is loaded, you return to the main screen and scroll to Mailbox to read each message. Whew!
Teens may enjoy a constant connection to the IM world, but the lack of voice features puts a severe limitation on this device. Business people certainly will have little use for it, and even kids will quickly tire of using it for IM only, no matter how cheap it is. After all, who’s ever met a teen who didn’t like talking on the phone? Hipsters who really want to IM on the road would do far better with a T-Mobile Sidekick II, which is a better messenger all the way around and still works great as a phone. In the end, the Ogo is a no-go. –Michael S. Lasky
Best Feature: Instant messaging on the fly
Worst Feature: Can’t do voice
AT&T Wireless Ogo
$99 with one-year contract
Weight: 5.7 ounces
Size: 4.5 x 3 x 1 inches
Specs: 850/1900MHz GPRS; 240 x 160-pixel, 3.2-inch TFT; Bluetooth; QWERTY keypad; lithium-ion battery