The Sidekick 3 …

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Or Is It 2 1/2?My Sidekick 3 review just hit, and I have mixed feelings about this sleek new handheld. First of all, it is sleek – while it turns out that it’s basically just narrower than the previous model (and heavier!) it feels less clunky. It’s super-easy to use, just like all Sidekicks, and various features have been bumped up a bit. But after making Sidekickers wait for 18 months, Danger and T-Mobile missed an opportunity to redefine the mobile communication space again.When the Sidekick first came out in 2002, it was the only easy-to-use mobile e-mail gadget for non-techie consumers. Blackberries were still corporate, and smartphones at the time like the Treo 180 generally didn’t have QWERTY keyboards (though I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the Kyocera 6035.) The Sidekick II kept the platform up to date and cemented its popularity with the young and the hip.

The Sidekick 3 ...

There are a lot of ways the SK3 could have made just as big a splash. For instance, the SK3’s core audience is heavily into music and video, iPods and MySpace and YouTube – how about a video browser that lets you save and post viral videos easily? Or a music player that syncs with iTunes (no, you don’t need Apple’s permission.) The SK3 is huge in Hollywood, with people who like to make home movies on the spur of the moment – how about a terrific camcorder mode? Or – let’s stick to communication. T-Mobile has a lot of Wi-Fi hotspots out there. How about making voice calls over those hotspots, something T-Mobile has been mumbling about for at least six months? How about folding in Outlook Web Access (like Blackberry does) so hipsters with day jobs can get their work e-mail on the sly while they’re at da club, without their bosses knowing it’s been transferred to a Sidekick? How about voice dialing so you don’t have to flip the darn thing open? Or heck, how about receiving POP3 email without a 15-minute delay?And how about making those features as radically easy to use as the Sidekick?I’m being too harsh, I know; and a lot of Sidekick buyers would buy a doorstop if it was emblazoned with the logo of a hip tattoo artist.

The SK3 is still tremendously easy to use, cool, and a fun way to get various kinds of messages on the run. But the mobile world needs more visionaries to bring together ease-of-use brilliance and feature brilliance. Danger was (and still is) a good nominee for that task, but this device doesn’t break new ground.

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