Don’t get too excited about the camera. Yes it has a flash, and a self portrait mirror, but it only captures images at resolutions up to 640 x 480 pixels. Think of it as a picture messaging tool rather than a digital camera for everyday use.
What you’ll notice in the software that’s built in is a range of PIM tools which could lead you to believe that you can use the Sidekick II PDA style. Well, you can, after a fashion, and this brings me to the feature that I really can’t decide whether I like or not.
The Sidekick II comes with a chunk of Web space that you can access anywhere – provided that you remember your login details. You can use this to manage your diary, store contacts, tasks and notes, keep email that comes into the address you get as part of the Sidekick II contract, and look at photos taken with the Sidekick II built in camera. Enter information at the Web site and it gets replicated on your Sidekick II. Enter it on the Sidekick II, or snap a photo, and it gets sent to the Web space.
Effectively what you have here is an access anywhere email and PIM suite that doubles as an online backup system. It’s a clever idea, and the Web interface is clean and well thought out. But - and for me this is a huge ‘but’ – you can’t get any information to or from your PC without a considerable amount of jiggery-pokery.
There are no facilities to make a direct link to your PC provided in the product box. If you want to share contacts or calendar information with a desktop application you need to export it, then use the import feature at the Web site. The info is copied across to your Web space, and in due course will end up on your Sidekick II. This is fine if you want to make a once-only transfer, but hopeless if you want to synchronise on an ongoing basis.
If your mobile is your main means of organising your life then the Web based backup may be a compelling idea, and I can see how it could be very useful. But you are tying yourself to the Sidekick II, as neither the Web space nor the Sidekick II itself offer any way for you to export information from it. And if you are the kind of user that wants PIM type info on your own PC as well as on a phone, then this isn’t going to work for you.
Finally, a word on price. The Sidekick II will cost from nothing up to £49.99 depending on the tariff you choose. As I write T-Mobile is offering three Web ’n’ walk options at £15, £19 and £27.50 a month (or £13, £16 and £23.50 if you choose their ‘Self Serve’ payment scheme). Whichever you choose, you’ll need to factor in an additional £5 a month for what the company is calling its Sidekick II Service Pack. You will want this, as without it you don’t have access to AOL Instant Messaging, the Web site storage and backup service, email delivery to the device or automatic software upgrades. Bear that in mind when comparing the headline tariffs.