Hands-on: T-Mobile Sidekick LX (2009)

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Now that I’ve had a few hours to get acquainted with the new Sidekick LX, I figured some preliminary comments were in order. My overall impression of the Sidekick LX is still positive, but I’ve found a few things to nitpick about. So, without further ado, here we gooooo!

Screen: It’s absolutely brilliant and hands down the best screen available on a mobile handset today. The closest thing to it right now is the BlackBerry 8900 and to some extent the BlackBerry Bold.

Keyboard: The Sidekick has always had the best QWERTY keyboard on the market and the 3G LX doesn’t falter one bit. Keys are bit harder than previous models, but I’m knocking out e-mails, IMs and text messages faster than I ever could on my BlackBerry. OMG, I’ve missed that dedicated row of numbers across the top.

Trackball: It’s not as recessed and the well that it resides in is like a Cadillac. It feels good, but that virgin white trackball won’t stay clean for long.

Camera: Finally! The 3.2-megapixel AF camera takes sharp pictures, but you have to be under optimal lighting for it to really shine. Video is hardly anything to rave about, but what mobile phone can take decent video anyway? Uploading video to YouTube requires you to e-mail the file to your YT account and as long as you’re in a strong 3G area then it shouldn’t take more than a couple minutes. The same goes for uploading to MySpace, but that’s done within the MySpace app itself.

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Video: I’m still messing around with video codecs and such so this part will have to wait until the review, but I haven’t been able to play avi or mp4 files.

IM: Once again the Sidekick reigns supreme when it comes to mobile IM clients. No other mobile device or platform rivals the Sidekick in this arena.

Social Networks: MySpace’s app on the Sidekick is still the best, but does anyone still use it? I haven’t spent enough time with Facebook to give an honest opinion, but it seems to work just as well as the MySpace app.

Twitter is a little weird, though. For example, it only shows 100 of my 640+ followers and the way in which it displays those 100 followers has changed twice since this morning. It was originally laid out into a grid of 18 icons per page and now it’s reverted to a list. Twits aren’t instantaneous like I thought, but you can set the refresh rate from 5, 15, 30 or 60 minutes.

GPS: I was wondering where MS would rear its ugly head on the Sidekick after buying out Danger last year and it’s with GPS. The integrated Live Search app offers a plethora of viewing options, like, Road, Aerial, or Road+Aerial modes with the option of traffic. It has the ability to pinpoint your location so that you can send exact coordinates, but it’s a little iffy when indoors and you have to constantly refresh it. I’d imagine the “Track-Me” function is Danger’s answer to this conundrum, which allows you to turn on and off active locating. It works great when you’re outside, though. The default search perimeters include Location, Business, Directions, Movies, and Gas Prices.

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E-mail: MS Exchange support is coming until after the retail launch, but the 6MB storage max is going to piss some people off. Now I remember why I ditched the Sidekick for a BlackBerry years ago.

Apps: The Download Catalog is still joke after all these years and you’re screwed when it comes to worthwhile third party apps. Danger, MS and T-Mobile really need to open this platform up or they’ll be left in the dust.

Browser: Nothing new on this front. It’s better than most, but it could be a lot better.

Network: Lucky for me, I’m in NYC so T-Mobile’s 3G network is fairly decent. The Sidekick is much faster than my 8900 and that’s all that matters to me.

Odds and Ends: The new LX is a vast improvement over previous models, but this model should have been released as the original LX or even as the Sidekick 3 with a couple features stripped out. The parties responsible for this product need to pull their collective heads out of their ass because the Sidekick is a wonderful platform that’s slowly being left in the dust. This was an innovative device when it first launched, but hit a major wall with the Sidekick 3. But on the bright side, the Danger team is capable of pushing out OTAs on a regular basis that are worth a damn. *keeping my fingers crossed*

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