As millions ponder a life without the RIM Blackberry device, they wonder “is there an alternative to the Blackberry? Is there a replacement for the Blackberry?” The answer is a resounding “yes!”
The need for an alternative to and a replacement for the Blackberry is due to an anticipated injunction against the Blackberry’s vendor, Research in Motion (RIM), following a long court battle in which Canada-based RIM was found to have infringed on the patent of U.S.-based NTP.
And long-time Internet Patrol readers won’t be surprised to hear that this alternative to the Blackberry is the T-Mobile Sidekick.
At half the price for the service (only $29.95 per month for unlimited data – and even less if you add an integrated cell phone plan), and with the device itself available for free after rebate, the Sidekick is the clear winner over a Blackberry – Sidekick comparison on cost.
And the Sidekick is every bit as useful – as functional – as the Blackberry. In fact, I’d say even more so.
Both devices come with email, instant messenger capability, and the full complement of PDA applications (calendar, address book, etc.). But the Sidekick kicks it on just about every front.
First, with its full color screen, which has a far better resolution than the Blackberry, it’s a clear winner when it comes to visual usability.
And its applications, utilities, and interface are far more user-friendly and intuitive. Where the Blackberry is like carrying a PDA (and to be fair, that’s what it is), the Sidekick is like having a tiny, very-easy-to-use PC in your pocket.
Your email is always there – you don’t have to tell the device to “fetch” your email, and your instant messenger program (your choice of AOL or Yahoo, no extra charge) is always on if you want it to be. It’s like carrying your instant messenger in your pocket.
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And the keyboard is perfect. It’s a full keyboard, hidden away behind the screen until you swivel it open. Unlike the Blackberry’s. This means that you can stick it in your pocket and not have to worry about keys being pressed accidentally. And the scroll wheel and mouse button mean that you can whip it out of your pocket and check your email, news, an instant message, or look up a contact, without ever having to open the device or touch your keyboard.
In fact, the Sidekick takes first place for ease of use on all fronts.
So if it’s cheaper and better, why are there so many people carrying Blackberries?
In large part, due to marketing choices made by both the Blackberry and Sidekick marketers.
The Blackberry was marketed primarily to the corporate user, and especially to those whose offices use Microsoft Exchange. The Blackberry is compatible with the Exchange server, meaning that you can have your Blackberry go fetch your work email.
But you know what? That’s no big benefit. Having to have your device in your pocket go and play nice with your Microsoft Exchange server is not a feature, trust me.
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What the Sidekick does instead is maintain all of your data on a central server, in your own private account, which also pushes your email right to your Sidekick. Need your work email to come to you at your Sidekick? Just forward your work email to your Sidekick email account, and it will show up right in your pocket. (It’s trivial to forward email and keep a local copy, so that your work email shows up on your work computer and your Sidekick, too!)
And because the Sidekick keeps all of your data on that central server it means that you can keep all of your computers – home and work and Sidekick – synced, and it’s trivial. (Read about that here.)
The Sidekick, however, was never marketed for professional use, and that’s a shame. The Sidekick has been marketed to the young and the hiphop crowd (hence the name “HipTop”). And I think that Danger and T-Mobile have lost out on a big opportunity here. Because professionals don’t even think about the Sidekick
Now, I’m a former Blackberry user myself – in fact I went through three of them before I finally broke down and got a Sidekick. You see, I had fallen for the hype myself. And I (wrongly) had assumed that because it was half the price, and everyone, you know, carried Blackberries, that the Sidekick must be inferior. But after having three Blackberries in a row fail on me, well, I was ready to give it a chance.
And I’m not the only one. This is from someone who posted a reply to another of our articles:
“I love that I can connect with my Sidekick’s full data from any computer hooked to the net. If I ever get a personal assistant, they can get/update my calendar, get/update my contacts and such from their computer (at work or at home) and I can see it anytime on my Sidekick. No synching, it just updates in both places…I tried every PDA from a Newton, to several Windows CE devices, to Palm devices. All ended up in my desk drawer, forgotten, after a few weeks. But the Sidekick finally got me (somewhat) organized.”
The only regret I have is that I didn’t made the switch earlier.
And right now you can get a Sidekick 3, plus service, with a 30-day money back guarantee, from Amazon! Check it out here!
No Paywall Here!
The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free? Thank you!
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