Just sent you a PM, as the info is too long to spread out here (comparing Tmo's Color SideKick to various BlackBerry models). Check your DavidCo PM box. Private email address included for any follow-up Qs you may have.
(Apology for length, but requested details provided re HipTop/CSK vs Blackberry/BB)
Over the course of a few years: BB 950 >> 957 >> Color SideKick.
I'd have never believed it, but the CSK ultimately pulled me away from my beloved Blackberry.
First, I tend to do a great deal of research. The BB was great for email, but the browser implementation was such a PITA that I scrapped it. The CSK allows both immediate email send/receipt, and stellar browsing. It's thru Danger's proxy server, which reformats the screen in such a way as to eliminate left-right scrolling.
Second, the CSK does a better job-- out of the box-- in handling attachments. You can get a better idea of the specifics by clicking the "HipTop 101" link at http://hiptop.com .
Third, the on-going monthly pricing is better with the CSK than with the BB. The latter (via Earthlink) was $39/email + $10/browser. The CSK = $29 data, covering both. Both = all you can eat.
Fourth, while it was possible to arrange a web-based version of all incoming and outgoing BB mail (thru your own preferred email box, or the one provided by Earthlink), it was static. The CSK/Tmobile combo presents a live sychronized (secure) desktop version of your email. In other words, if you delete a mail off of the CSK, it's simultaneously deleted off of the Tmo server assigned to you. NOTE: there is No desktop sync available presently for the CSK. It's been promised for well over a year, but I don't see it happening anytime soon.
Keyboard on both = fine. CSK has the overall feels-comfortable advantage, plus intelligently backlit keys ( you can see alphabet and symbols).
Finally, and this proved to be the killer feature for me, the BB allowed me to use only one return address. To change it, I had to call Earthlink. On the other hand, the CSK allows you to set one address as your default "From", but also add 2 additional ones. You choose whichever you want on the fly, per email being composed.
The one thing the two have in common is lousy PIM functions. The BB would sync with Outlook, but I ultimately pulled Outlook off of my machine for security reasons. I forced myself to learn procmail ("The Procmail Companion" > Amazon-- plain English!!), empowering me to conjure a scheme whereby my mail is auto-organized, upon receipt at the server (my webhosted email account), into assorted plain text files, typically by coorespondent. A copy was then sent to the BB. When I switched devices, it took less than 5 minutes to change a couple of lines, to send the mail to my preferred email address/CSK, while maintaining a copy in the plain text files (plus Tmo/Danger's email area.) Frankly, that whole procmail deal was among the best gifts I've ever given myself-- spam-free mail, completely under my control, with a fail-safe backup mechanism, plus automatic hands-off organization/maintenance on the continuum.
(1) If you opt for the CSK, arrange the 14-day trial period for a time when you can be in the areas where you will most frequently use the device. Regrettably, the HipTop/CSK is notorious for having a comparatively poor radio. Tmo's coverage is fine in major areas, but somewhat dicey is other areas. A definite try-before-you-commit deal.
(2) The CSK has gone thru some serious growing pains, but things have been running quite smoothly for several months now. There is also word out now that the third generation of HipTop devices will be forthcoming this Spring or Summer. Looks to be a slimmer version, as well as other features. Desktop syncs remains a "promise". Personally, I'd get the current 2nd generation/CSK-- the bugs have been minimized, and they are likely to materialize again with a vengenace with the new guy on the block.
(3) CSK gets upgraded by Danger via OTA-- over the air transmissions which miraculously arrive on your machine with no work on your end. Some folks had fried machines as a direct result. Mine was OK. Bleeding edge technology, after all. Both Tmo & Danger were great at replacements/customer service though.
(4) CSK has a phone component. I don't use it. Too much like holding a bar of soap to my head. But great for email/web stuff.
(5) Do not buy used off of ebay. You want a warranty with the CSK-- trust me.
PamG - thanks again for your informative post. I have a friend who swears by his Sidekick. I've been put off by the lack of desktop synchronization, especially with Outlook which I spend a good part of my day in. But your review has encouraged me to take another look (maybe even this weekend).
I picked up a CSK unit yesterday on the 14-day trial. So far, I'm quite impressed. It remains to be seen how well this device will support a GTD workflow and I'll be banging on it pretty hard this week to test that out. I've published an initial review on my blog if you're interested in this device.
Coming up on one week with the Sidekick and I'm really liking it. I've been able to craft a workflow to keep my calendar in sync but the lack of sync for my Tasks remains problematic. Right now I'm doing double entry and learning to live without the advanced functionality KeySuite provides for applying context and project tags to each item.
As I spend most of my time on my laptop and am only occasionally away from it for any extended period of time, I don't think this is a deal breaker. I have not used my Clie at all during this trial and nothing has slipped so far (he says knocking on wood).
The phone functions are actually quite good (I use the supplied ear bud) and the keyboard is a joy - the best I've used on a handheld device. One benefit not covered in this thread so far is the D-pad (similar to a video game controller) for navigating through longer e-maols and reading RSS news feeds. It's a lot easier than the scroll wheel on long text.
I think I'm going to take a look at the newest Blackberry tomorrow to see if the Outlook sync offsets its slightly clumsier form factor before I make my final decision.
PamG stopped by my blog and left a note asking that I keep the forum up-to-date on my CSK experience. I have an appointment tomorrow to look at a live Blackberry unit. I've been doing some research and it appears the Outlook synchronization is pretty good and cradle-based, as opposed to the export file to web upload method I've been using with the Sidekick.
The thumboard looks really small though. I'm concerned about that. One of the things I've really appreciated with my last three units (Clie NR70 and UX50 and the Sidekick) is the difference a good-sized keyboard makes on a handheld.
I continue to be really happy with the Sidekick's interface and usability. The fact that it multi-tasks is something I'm learning to appreciate. I can launch the web browser, switch to the note pad or task list and the Sidekick alerts me when the page I've requested has loaded (with a nice gentle red pulsing light on the thumb wheel). Similarly, I get a small ticker-style window whenever I get an e-mail message or one of my buddies signs on to AIM.
I've never had a handheld unit with this capability before.
I'll post again later tomorrow to let you know what my hands-on impressions of the color Blackberry unit are.
On to the Blackberry. I had a great experience at the local T-Mobile store yesterday. The manager, who uses one of these new color Blackberry units was supposed to bring it in so I could play with it during lunch. He forgot it at home.
He offered to bring his unit to my office (pretty much clear across town) today so I wouldn't have to lose another lunch hour. I thought that was pretty generous. Then he offered to "reset" the 14-day trial period so I could give the Blackberry the same kind of workout I've been giving the Color Sidekick (CSK).
Gadget freak I am, I couldn't pass on an offer like that
So... first impressions:
Much smaller than the CSK. I was very aware of the CSK riding on my hip. The blackberry is so slim I barely know it's there.
Great battery life. The solid, full charge bar has not moved after hours of use. The CSK ran down visibly under the same use and needed to be charged nightly. Also the wireless reception is much stronger than the CSK.
Excellent screen. The new Blackberry uses a transflective screen which is very good at illuminating itself using available light. I only used the backlight after turning off the lights last night. The keyboard is fully illuminated along with the screen.
Automatic (and very fast) sync. The Blackberry Desktop Manager includes Intellisync. It took a few seconds to get all of my Outlook data sync'ed with the handheld. It auto-syncs whenever the USB cable is plugged in (which also charges the Blackberry - nice).
Good, basic PIM funtions. Like the CSK, the To Do list is pretty basic and does not use any categories. The only sorts are alphabeticc (by subject line), Due Date and Priority. The note pad is also basic - much like the Palm's built in but without the categories. The contact manager has excellent search (just start typing a name or initials) but again, no catgories. The calendar is the big winner - nice views and a great agenda view that lets you scroll through the week ahead.
Good ergonomics. It only took a few minutes to get comfortable witht he scroll wheel and my concerns about the keyboard were unfounded. I can type just fine on this unit. A couple of nice touches - you get numbers in numeric fields (like phone fields) without having to use the "ALT" key. You get "@" and "." in e-mail and web address fields by pressing the space bar - it just knows. You can start a new sentence when entering text by pressing space twice which inserts a period and a space and capitalizes the next letter you type.
The browser is almost as good as the CSK's. It does fine with WAP formatted sites and decently on regular HTML.
I too tried the CSK and then the Blackberry 7230. I have to say that the Blackberry is the much better of the two.
The desktop software the comes with the BB (both the Email redirector and IntelliSync) make it a much better choice for Outlook users. I have also found the BB to be much "sturdier" in day-to-day use. I always felt that the CSK was going to crash to the ground due to being akward to hold.
I would be happy to answer specific questions here or off-line.
While I understand DA's attitude about Crackberry-induced e-mail twitch, I'm still finding a lot to like about the device. I'm now five days into my trial and, for one thing, I still haven't had to charge the device up!
It's a pretty good phone (unlike the earlier units from what I understand) and the sync is flawless.
So far, it's like a simple version of the Palm and functioning quite nicely for me. I've overcome the lack of support for categories by pre-pending each task with a letter code:
c = @computer
h = @home
By using the alpha sort (you can only sort on date due, priority, or subject), I can do a context check.
I honestly haven't decided whether I'm keeping this unit yet but I think it can be a legitimate tool in my GTD workflow.
For those who are interested, I just read an interview of a Palm exec who made reference to a blackberry client for a palm device. I thought that was off, but now it may be back on. In other words, we may soon see a device with both palm and blackberry functionality.