Limitations of the Peek as a Mobile Blogging Device
Nearly two months ago, I wrote a positive review of the Peek e-mail gizmo as a mobile blogging device. After purchasing the device for $100 in order to blog through a windstorm blackout of many days, I used it in conjunction with WordPress’ blog-by-email feature to write dozens of blog posts until the power came back on. Since then, I’ve taken the Peek with me to a number of political events and written on-the-spot articles about events as they occur without having to run back home first. On a recent trip to Asheville, I had trouble getting internet access to work at my lodgings. No problem: I just pulled out my Peek.
I’m still happy with my Peek as a mobile blogging device (and if I eventually do sour on it, I can sell it to someone else and move on without worries, since the $20/month service contract can be canceled at any time with no penalty). But I’m not unambiguously happy; there are some limitations to the gadget that limit its usefulness. For one thing, I’ve noticed that the “full QWERTY keyboard” isn’t actually full. Conspicuously missing are the lesser-than and greater-than symbols. What’s the big deal with that? Well, it means that when I’m writing up a blog article, I can’t include any tags. I can’t write in italics. I can’t write in bold. More importantly, I can’t include hyperlinks to other web pages. A fair number of the advantages to web page writing are therefore lost when using the Peek. Because this is a problem with the physical keyboard itself, it simply can’t be fixed with a software patch; it’s here to stay. Darn.
The other frustration I’ve found with the Peek is that it slows down rather noticeably as emails accumulate on the device. The Peek’s method of synchronizing with an e-mail account (in my case, a Gmail account) is a bit odd; even if you use the Web to delete e-mails from your Gmail account as they come in, you’ll still get those e-mails (and have to delete those e-mails) on your Peek too. Fortunately, there are a few hidden tricks to help you keep your Peek’s memory clear. The first trick is to regularly delete all e-mail. This isn’t as straightforward as it sounds, because there isn’t a “Delete All” option in the simple Peek menu system. By noodling around on the device, I discovered after a while that holding down the shift button and scrolling through the messages in the Peek Main Menu will let you select multiple (or even all) messages for deletion. The second trick here is to recognize that when e-mails are “deleted,” they aren’t really deleted. They head to the “trash,” where they still take up memory. You have to go to the Trash folder and empty it to see any performance benefit.
The bottom line is that I still am using my Peek, and it carries out most of the tasks I require of it when I write on the go. I still appreciate that I only have to pay $20 a month for this mobile blogging service, rather than some huge monthly fee on a locked-in contract for an all-inclusive phone/browser/text messager/nose hair trimmer/detonator/video game console device. But because the Peek doesn’t fit all my needs, I am especially glad that I’m not locked in. If I find a device that fits my writing needs more completely, I’ll simply sell my Peek, cancel my service and move on.