A Peek Ahead – A Technology That Should Get More Visibility

PEEK - An inexpensive communication optionSome bloggers get in trouble for accepting free products to try out and then write about. Rest assured, no one gives me anything.
Written by Brian Sommer, Contributor

PEEK - An inexpensive communication option

Some bloggers get in trouble for accepting free products to try out and then write about. Rest assured, no one gives me anything. I don’t do bribes and I’m not going to start now.

I paid out of my pocket the grand sum of $14.95 at Target the other day for a device called PEEK. The product has been out about a year now and it’s not a top of mind item for many tech buyers. But I bought one to try out and, I must admit, it’s pretty good.

Now, if you own a BlackBerry, you can quit reading here and move along to some other blog but if you want email access on the go, and want it really cheap, keep reading.

What is a PEEK? Think of it as a cell phone that pushes emails to you on a nice color screen. You can open graphic and other attachments. You can reply to messages with the device’s full QWERTY keyboard. You can’t, though, make phone calls with it. However, to try this device, you do not need a data plan, an internet access plan or a 2-year contract. PEEK let’s you buy the device and sign up for month to month service ($19/month) or get a price break if you choose a quarterly or annual plan.

So, I’ve taken this with me on several trips lately to decide: 1) if I like it, and; 2) would I recommend or give this to a family member. The family member question is there as I have a couple of relatives who have simple needs and tastes. I’m pretty sure, they’d find this real easy to use (and setup). I’m also certain that they’d use it, too. The email focus of the device takes away a considerable amount of the learning curve that’s present with ‘smarter’ phones. This is a KISS device. If this is all you need, you’re done.

I also like the fact that if I break or lose this device, I’m not held hostage by some 2-year replacement plan from a cell carrier. I’d just pay another $14.95 and get another PEEK.

The major cellular carriers have had it wrong for a long time. They think all buyers are the same. They don’t offer phones for older people who need bigger letters and screens. They really don’t offer phones for people who really need to knock out a lot of emails unless you count netbook phones or those $500-1000 multi-purpose phones that require multi-year plans. Telcos think everyone needs a new phone and the obligatory price recovery subsidy built into every monthly bill whether we are paying off a new phone or not. I know several people who’d rather buy their own phone when and if they need one while seeing a $30+/month/phone reduction in their monthly bill. I sure would. Personally, I don’t like paying the subsidy and being locked into a 2-year commitment. If my commitment is over, shouldn’t my subsidy end, too?

Is PEEK for everyone? No. But, I sure like it in client meetings, public transport, etc. I refer to it all the time when I can’t get a wi-fi signal for my laptop or a client’s network will not let me check my email.

The device vibrates every time a new email pops in. It is a bit smaller than my 20GB iPOD classic and very lightweight.

Who should get one? Here are my recommendations:

- grandparents - travelers - commuters - cheap people - people who cannot afford pricey cell & data plans or smart phones - people who need their technology to have a negligible learning curve - tweens who want to move up from a very basic cell phone but mom & dad aren’t ready to let them have a full-blown smart phone

Oh, I’ve decided I’ll keep this one.

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