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A Review of the Peek Email Mobile Device

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m stuck here in central Ohio without power for at least 4 days, thanks to the remnants of Ike. No power, no internet access.

No internet access. So how am I communicating with you?

Today also happens to be the release day for Peek, a new mobile e-mail device working independently of any cell phone contract. I’ve been considering a purchase of some new gadget or another that would allow me to write on the go. There are a lot of PDAs out there like the Palm Centro or the Sidekick or iPhone that allow surfing on and posting to the web, but these devices either cost a lot of money (iPhone) or require a new cell phone contract (Centro, Sidekick) or both. They also typically require a hefty monthly fee for usage on top of that. For someone like me who isn’t rich and is in the middle of a current contract, that option is unaffordable.

I’ve been casting my eyes in the direction of the Nokia N810, which costs a few hundred clams but requires no contract, working exclusively over WiFi. The N810 has a camera and a mike and a QWERTY keyboard, which is great. Unfortunately, the WiFi-only communication would limit my communication range to homes and coffee shops, which is not great.

What I’ve really been looking for is a mobile blogging device that I can slip in my pocket and slip out and write with anywhere. I think my new Peek may fit the bill.

At a cost of $100 plus $20 a month, the Peek isn’t outrageously expensive. The $20/month fee requires no contract and can be canceled at any time with no penalty.

Measuring just 2.5×4 inches, it fits easily in my pocket. The device has a full QWERTY keyboard, and it can send e-mails from almost anywhere using the T-Mobile network. Now, sending e-mails is all it can do, but for someone like me stuck without power or for someone like me who takes his kids out a lot or for someone like me who wants to occasionally blog from the scene, “only” e-mail is a lot. Right now I am emailing these messages to J. Clifford, who’s posting them for me. When I get power and a web connection back, I’ll configure posting to Irregular Times by e-mail, a feature on wordpress, blogger, movable type and other blogs.

The Peek isn’t perfect. I’d like the keyboard to be a bit larger to fit my big thumbs, and the teensy black spacebar sitting against a black background is irritatingly hard to find. I wish it had a SD slot so I could upload attachments from, say, a digital camera or sound recorder. I could wish for a lot of things, but then I’d be back to insanely expensive or unportable, wouldn’t I? For what I really, centrally want in a mobile blogging device, the Peek will do just fine.

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