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Sidekick 3

July 13th, 2006 · No Comments · Gadgets, Reviews, Sidekick

I’ve been a pretty content Sidekick user for several years now. I started with the first Sidekick, migrated to the Color Sidekick, and now, I have moved to the recently released Sidekick 3.

If you want a detailed review, CNET seems to hit the high points. The changes in a nutshell:

  • Bluetooth support for phone headsets.
  • An all new and well done MP3 player.
  • Support for up to 2 GB SD memory cards for music and photos.
  • An improved camera, that still is pretty weak, but less so than before.
  • Removable and replaceable battery.
  • The scroll wheel is replaced with a little trackball, which is mostly a good thing.
  • USB support for access to data on the MiniSD memory card.
  • Support for Yahoo and MSN IM networks in addition to AIM.
  • Marginally improved keyboard design, which makes a great keyboard a little better.
  • Some user interface tweaks to take advantage of the new trackball, like an improved jump menu.

A very common complaint about the Color Sidekick was the lack of Bluetooth support, and the Sidekick 3 address this shortcoming to some extent, but in the most limited of ways. It is now possible to use pretty much any Bluetooth phone headset with the Sidekick 3. You can also send a vCard via Bluetooth to another Bluetooth device if you like doing that kind of thing. But, currently, that’s all you can do. Bluetooth headphones for listening to music aren’t supported. You can’t access data on the MiniSD card, or sync via Bluetooth. Perhaps some of these features may occur down the road with future updates (which come automatically over the air). But one Bluetooth feature that many people want which will never be supported on the Sidekick 3 is Internet sharing. It can’t be used as a cellular “modem”.

I personally don’t really care about Bluetooth on my Sidekick, so these issues don’t matter to me. But they matter to a lot of people, so there you go.

The MP3 player software is done surprisingly well, and for the additional expense of a 2GB miniSD card (the phone comes with a laughable 64MB miniSD card) you have a decent portable music player. The combination of a trackball and a keyboard makes dealing with a music library and playlists quite nice. But I’ll confess I’ve only tinkered with the MP3 player because I already have an iPod with a lot more than 2GB of music on it. I also suspect that the battery life may not be so great if used for playing MP3s. In addition, you will have to use the included headphones (which have a small inline mic for the phone) because there’s only a 2.5mm jack. Either that, or get an adapter so you can use your own headphones.

The truly dirty secret of the Sidekick 3, which will only be an issue for shlubs like me who upgrade from an older unit, is that any programs or ring-tones that were purchased on early Sidekick models won’t transfer to the new phone. And to add insult to injury, the Sidekick 3 catalog (where you can purchase and download items) is a tiny subset of what you can get for the Color Sidekick. I don’t buy, or even use ring-tones, but I did have a few little games and some other handy utilities and none of them are available for repurchase.

This includes any kind of SSH client, which is a serious loss. Early Sidekick users were given an SHH client for free, later it became a $10 item. I’d cough up the $10 for it now, if I only could. It isn’t being offered, and typical for T-Mobile, there’s no comment on it.

I know that over time the catalog will grow as older software is updated to support the Sidekick 3, but it is irksome that we have to repurchase everything at full price, and in the meantime, my Sidekick 3 has less functionality that I use than my Color Sidekick did. Yes, it has many new features, but I don’t give a crap about those, so for me, the upgrade is currently a wash.

And given T-Mobile’s track record, it could be a long time before there’s any improvement.

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