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T-Mobile Sidekick II Review

T-Mobile Sidekick II Review
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T-Mobile Sidekick II- Our Review

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Like Mini Me, most sidekicks are lovable, even a little comical. They tag along with the hero and lend a hand when they can. Not this baby. It’s a hardcore messaging monster that doesn’t let up. Hot out of the Danger labs, the Sidekick PV-100 (aka Sidekick II) redefines what a cell phone can be.

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We all got a taste of what Danger can dish out with the original T-Mobile Sidekick, but we hadn’t seen anything yet. The Sidekick II wants you to pull out your clunky old PDA, throw it in the trash, and toss your notebook in on top of it. This is the phone of the future, buddy. So you might as well get used to it. The Sidekick II sports much of the styling we’re looking for in the supersmart handset of tomorrow. Sure, it’s a little thicker than we’d like. But 2010 is a long way off, and this thing is here today.

The Sidekick II is more than just a phone. It’s a communications powerhouse. Flip up its massive 240 x 160-pixel, 2.7-inch landscape screen and you’re going to get served with a spacious QWERTY thumb pad that knocks the wind out of any we’ve seen before and keeps on running. Hammering out serious e-mail (text messaging is for sissies — yeah, we said it) on this keyboard is a flat-out cinch. And as with the BlackBerry, T-Mobile’s Sidekick II e-mail service pushes mail straight to the phone automatically, so you get your mail when it’s sent instead of waiting for the next time you remember to connect. But that’s only the beginning.

Unlike most phones, the Sidekick II syncs straight to Microsoft Outlook through Intellisync over T-Mobile’s GPRS network. No third-string, half-hearted conduits. No crazy, convoluted docking stations. Just install the included Intellisync app on your internet-connected computer and go. The integrated calendar and address book sync seamlessly with your Outlook entries for no-bull business use. And if you’re nowhere near a computer (or have already decided you don’t need one anymore), the address book supports vCards so that you can receive entries from anybody and plop them right into your contacts. It even opens Microsoft Word documents straight out of your inbox.

Instant-messaging junkies can get their fix with AOL Instant Messenger, which works better on the Sidekick II than anywhere we’ve seen it outside a full-fledged PC. The software automatically grabs your existing buddy list from AOL and populates the device immediately, so you’re up and chatting with no more than your username and password.

Oh, and the phone can make calls, too. The QWERTY keyboard doubles as a numeric keypad, much like that of the Treo 600. And the external controls let you dial, hang up, adjust the volume, and change other settings. The five-way pad to the left of the screen houses the phone’s speaker, so you can hold it to your ear like a chump. But if you know what’s good for you, you’ll pass on that quaint stuff and go straight for the speakerphone, holding the device in front of you as you talk so that you can admire its stupendous form.

Camera phone lovers won’t be too left out with this feature-packed handset. Its 0.3-megapixel camera works beautifully in this form factor, since the big screen makes it seem almost like a regular camera anyway. Of course, the resolution is lower than we’d like, but we’re not taking any stars off for that, since it’s way more equipped in other areas than anything money can buy.

The Sidekick II runs Danger’s Hip-Top operating system and works with a growing number of apps and games that you can download straight to the device. We know what you’re thinking about cell phone apps, but trust us. This is altogether different. The device’s landscape screen, full keypad, and intuitive controls make it just about the best platform we’ve seen for serious phone applications. And if gaming’s your thing, it even has shoulder buttons for rapid firing. Don’t get us wrong. We wouldn’t want to type lengthy text documents on it. But we could if we had to. –Robert Strohmeyer

Best Feature: Everything you could hope for in a 6.6-ounce package
Worst Feature: It’s got a low-res camera, but so what?

SPECS: 
T-Mobile Sidekick II
$299 with two-year contract
Weight: 6.6 oz.
Size: 5.1 x 2.6 x 0.9 in.
Specs: 48MHz ARM7 processor; 32MB of RAM; 16MB of flash memory; 900/1800/1900MHz GSM/GPRS; 240 x 160-pixel, 2.7-inch display; 0.3-megapixel camera with flash; QWERTY keyboard; speakerphone; lithium-polymer battery
www.danger.com; www.t-mobile.com

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