Second look: A 40-year old's usage experiences with the Sidekick LX 2009

Second look: A 40-year old's usage experiences with the Sidekick LX 2009

Summary: Just over a week ago I posted a few thoughts on what my oldest daughter's first impressions were of the T-Mobile Sidekick LX 2009. I let her use it for a couple more days and then I tried it out for the last 4 days or so. As I stated before, my first converged device was the original Sidekick, but things have changed significantly in the mobile phone market and I personally could never go back to such a large Sidekick device. The Sidekick LX 2009 is definitely the BEST Sidekick ever and I think it does a good job of serving as the transition device to move Sidekick teens from this device onto full smartphone devices like the T-Mobile G1, Palm Pre, or Apple iPhone.

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Just over a week ago I posted a few thoughts on what my oldest daughter's first impressions were of the T-Mobile Sidekick LX 2009. I let her use it for a couple more days and then I tried it out for the last 4 days or so. As I stated before, my first converged device was the original Sidekick, but things have changed significantly in the mobile phone market and I personally could never go back to such a large Sidekick device. The Sidekick LX 2009 is definitely the BEST Sidekick ever and I think it does a good job of serving as the transition device to move Sidekick teens from this device onto full smartphone devices like the T-Mobile G1, Palm Pre, or Apple iPhone.

There are several excellent mobile tech writers out there that I enjoy reading and rather than go through all of the details of the hardware I am posting a link to Eric Zeman's in-depth review of the Sidekick LX 2009 over on Phone Scoop. Eric covers the hardware and configuration of the device in detail so I won't cover it here and will instead focus on telling you a bit about some of my experiences with the device.

Social networking: One of the main reasons someone my age may enjoy this latest Sidekick LX is the social networking aspects of the device. The LX comes loaded with Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace clients. I have a MySpace account, but never use it so I did not try this client out. That was actually one of the main functions my 15-year old daughter used on the device and found it pretty functional.

The Facebook client was pretty good and showed you your news feed, friends, and inbox on the three main tabs. You could upload a photo and refresh your status via the menu button. You could use the Go To menu item to view your profile, photos, friends, inbox, or search as well. This is one of the better mobile clients with the iPhone looking to be the best overall.

The Twitter client is also very functional, but it did take me a bit of hunting (thanks Sascha) to find that you have to go to the menu then select view to really get to all the different parts of Twitter (friends timeline, replies, direct messages, favorites, and public timeline). Even on 3G though I found the Twitter client to take some time to update the page and this was a bit frustrating. One word of caution, I had Twitter set to update every 5 minutes the battery on the LX was dead everytime I took it out of my bag (something like 5 hours or so of battery life). I highly recommend you do not have it set for such a short update interval.

Messaging: Messaging is really the focus of the Sidekick LX and I was able work with text messages, email, and instant messages with ease on the LX. You get AIM, Windows Live, and Yahoo! IM clients preinstalled on the LX and I used the Windows Live Messenger one to stay connected. I setup my Gmail account and it worked well enough on the LX.

I actually find the T-Mobile G1 keyboard to be better than the one on the LX as the LX is just a bit too wide and requires lots of reaching with my thumbs to press the buttons. It is a good keyboard, but not the best.

PIM: There are Calendar, Notes, To Dos and an Address Book on the LX, with support for Exchange ActiveSync coming shortly. I would probably get a lot more out of the device with EAS since I did nothing to sync up any data with this test device. The Calendar is pretty basic and gives you just a few standard views. Notes are also very simple, like Windows Mobile, but do get the job done for recording some thoughts. The Task checklist is helpful and again pretty basic.

I just used these apps for a few minutes and never setup my data to sync to the device, but for the crowd the LX is designed for I think these apps will be just fine.

Media: The display is absolutely fantastic and the 3.2 megapixel camera actually takes some pretty good photos. Video is ok, but not anything to write home about.

I thought I could just pop on some videos that I watch on my iPhone and S60 devices, but these did not work too well (spotty and video cut out) on the LX. I understand you need to have 3GP formatted video for the LX. The music player was pretty basic and the sound output was decent.

Web browser: The web browser looked fantastic and most all sites I visited appeared in all their glory with no reformatting to mobile sites. The downside to this is that navigating was painful as you scrolled the trackball cursor all over the place. Mobile formatted sites would be faster and easier to navigate, but then people would complain the browser didn't let them access everything they wanted to.

GPS: Windows Live Search (I LOVE this application on my Windows Mobile devices) is included along with the GPS receiver. Live Search works quite well for finding places and the display looks great. Navigation (zooming in and out) is a bit clunky on the LX, but I saw a fast GPS fix and it again gets the job done.

Apps: The T-Mobile Download Catalog is present on the LX and surprisingly just about every application on there costs money. I found a free calculation, but that was about it. There are games, backgrounds, ringtones, themes, wallpaper, and several other offerings to customize your LX. There are also several games available for purchasing.

Closing thoughts: The Sidekick LX 2009 is easily the finest Sidekick device with solid construction, smooth soft-touch feel, absolutely amazing display, decent keyboard, traditional button layout and familiar flipping screen. It is definitely the Sidekick to use as you transition to a full smartphone and is a social networking powerhouse.

Topics: Collaboration, Hardware, Mobility, Smartphones, Social Enterprise

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4 comments
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  • Use as you transition to a smart phone?

    First, what's so difficult about a smart phone that you need a transition? Second, what's so difficult about a smart phone that you need a transition that costs $20 more than the smart phone itself ($180 for a G1 vs. $200 for the Sidekick)?
    Michael Kelly
    • Not necessary, just haven't seen many G1 teen owners

      I see many teenagers with Sidekick devices, but
      very few with the G1 or other smartphone
      device. I was thinking that this Sidekick has
      several new features (GPS, Exchange ActiveSync,
      etc.) that are more "grown up" than the basic
      feature phone set on current Sidekick devices.
      As Sidekick fans get a chance to use some of
      these capabilities they may be looking for even
      more powerful devices in the future.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
  • Musings on the SK

    I was an SK2 user then and Sk3 which I enjoyed but my next endeavor, the Tmobile Dash was acutally one of my favorite phones just for the fact software was relatively plentiful and I wasn't subject to just what Danger/Tmobile offered me with the SK2/3.
    I am now using the G1 and for all its foibles, it is a good platform and I see it getting better in the future with better hardware and the Cupcake upgrade.
    It isn't perfect but the potential is just being tapped and to me, freedom means more than the form factor.
    hrpuffnstuff
  • RE: Second look: A 40-year old's usage experiences with the Sidekick LX 2009

    Thanks, Matthew! Great article!

    [b]I'm a 43 year old in 3 days...[/b]
    My favorite features of the SideKick are the [b]Chord-style shortcuts[/b] (multi-button-press = extra functions) you can do to jump directly to the info. you need! (WM6 requires [i]too many stylus clicks[/i])... and [b]multi-tasking with IM, music, and web[/b]... all for just $30/month! Verizon sure can't beat THAT!

    [b]>>> Exchange ActiveSync coming shortly[/b]
    Really? Nawww, they've been touting that feature since I got the SK-Color (aka SK1)... and my wife had the SK2.

    [b]WORLD RECORD? CAN I WIN A PRIZE?[/b]
    I made my SK1 last over 4 years (limping along w/o its scroll wheel) before getting an all-too-expensive Windows Mobile 6 SmartPhone... I prefer the WinMobile ability to install my own (free) apps as things change but the SideKick was the best, most usable unit I've ever seen!) Alas, when it was time to upgrade, my 4+ year history with T-Mobile didn't get me any benefit over a walk-in.

    [b]Free Calculator? -- I had that same app! (on the SK1)[/b]
    Wow, T-Mobile never added more free apps? We've been robbed... What better way to get people using the app Catalog? (Apple gets it)

    I love the Danger SideKick line, but they just [i]haven't really innovated[/i] like I thought they would, ever since they lost some of their original team. [b]PLEASE, Microsoft, do something great with this company & device![/b] Just THINK what you could do with Danger's UI & usability tech combined with WM versatility! (If they ever do, I'm buying!)
    jaygeek1