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Untrusty Sidekick

January 16th, 2008 · 1 Comment · Sidekick

Sidekick LX?I’ll confess I’ve had my eye on the Sidekick LX for some time now. As a long time Sidekick user (currently using the Sidekick III), I have to say that the user interface and overall hardware design from a usability perspective is better than anything else out there with a keyboard. The LX seems like yet another solid incremental improvement in the device, with a major upgrade to the screen.

So why don’t I have one yet? Because I’m getting very frustrated with the performance of my Sidekick. I don’t feel like committing to a new contract when I’m increasingly unhappy with the quality of experience. What saddens me the most is that the device itself, and the software on it, has so much potential. But that potential is being squandered with dodgy network support.

Here are some examples of the headaches the Sidekick is giving me.

  1. Poor reception
    In fairness, my office is in a bad spot for T-Mobile, but that’s been the case for years and it’s still not better. We have Blackberry service by Cingular here, and those nitwits manage to deliver a solid signal, so you’d think T-Mobile would be able to pull it off too. I can sit at my desk, and in the span of an hour, I get to watch my Sidekick lose data connectivity several times an hour. Which leads me to my next issue.
  2. Inability to reestablish a data connection promptly
    When my Sidekick loses its data connection, it tends to get “stuck” trying to reconnect, sometimes for thirty minutes or more. During that time, I can’t get email or instant messages. It happens so much, that I’ve long since learned to manually reset the network connection by toggling “Airplane Mode” on and off. Once I reset the network via software, it usually fixes things in less than a minute. This feels like an OS defect in the device, frankly.
  3. Sluggish and unreliable web browser service
    This has not always been the case with the Sidekick. Obviously cellular data networks are not fast, but the Sidekick used to be fairly nimble. Not any more. Now pages can take ages to load, and I get endless error dialogs about the “web service has timed out”. I can understand that loading a web page can be iffy over cellular, but the browser should never just give up with an error dialog. It should simply queue the request and keep trying. This is what the Sidekick does when it has no signal at all, but once it has a signal, if it runs into any kind of problem, it just throws up its hands and quits. It drives me nuts when I am out and about trying to get some information, and I put the Sidekick in my pocket while waiting for the page to load, only to pull it out a minute later expecting my results, and I see a stupid error dialog. It’s a bad design decision, made worse by how frequently it happens these days.

If the Sidekick LX offered WiFi support I’d buy it in a second, because at least then I’d know I wouldn’t always be stuck dealing with T-Mobile’s overloaded and unreliable network. Since T-Mobile wants to keep the device completely locked down, WiFi support will never happen, sadly. As such, with my Sidekick III as functional as it can be, it’s hard to muster the enthusiasm and the cash for the LX.

If Apple would make an iPhone with a keyboard and native IM support I would have another choice. Alas, they don’t, so the iPhone isn’t an option for me. Until then, I’ll bide my time.

One Comment so far ↓

  • weezoh

    I’m just waiting for my contract to expire which will be about 4 months after the SDK should hit for the iPhone. We’ll see where we are after that point.

    iPhones to get Lotus Notes — woo!