Jewish World Review Jan. 7, 2005 / 26 Teves 5765

Sidekick II a star, other items for new year

By Mark Kellner | It was either at the intersection - or waiting for my Hyundai Santa Fe to be fixed - that I decided that Danger's Sidekick II, available from wireless carrier T-Mobile (, is a real star.

The $300 (list) device, available for less when you sign up for a service contract, is a color-screen marvel. It's a capable mobile phone, yes, and a rudimentary PDA; you can keep appointments and addresses in order on the Sidekick II.

The best is yet to come, however: for $60 per month, you get 600 voice minutes (10 hours of calling) and unlimited e-mail and Web browsing. That's where the "star power" of this device comes in.

On Christmas Day, I was at an intersection in Lancaster, Pa., realizing I had plotted directions to a relative's house from the wrong starting point. What to do? I fired up the Sidekick, used its Web browser, and got the right bearings to get on my way. Yes, I could have done this with the Motorola cell phone in my other pocket, or even - gasp - asked directions, but the Sidekick got me to Yahoo! Maps quickly and let me use the information already stored there. The browsing "experience" (i.e., the screen layout) was close enough to a regular PC that everything was familiar.

Then, last week, I had about two hours to kill when waiting for my car. Sitting in a nearby Starbucks, I was able to send AOL-based instant messages to my wife, coordinating our schedules, and to write most of last week's column, using an e-mail message as a rough-and-ready word processor. No, the thumb-friendly keyboard of the Sidekick II isn't the equal of a desktop, and there's no spell-check on the device, but I did a lot better than I would have with the e-mail and IM features of my other cell phone.

Donate to JWR

In these two cases, the Sidekick II was more than a convenience, it was a lifesaver. Although it is positioned as something for young adults, it's adaptable to many situations and offers enough power for a business user, as I've noted in earlier discussions of previous Sidekick models.

Two caveats, however: The device lost its charge rather quickly; this may be a case of an overworked "review unit" that's going back to the manufacturer this week, or it may indicate another flaw. My advice: get power cables for both the car and home and keep them handy. Also investigate repair options for the device.

The built-in camera (not a clip-on like earlier models) is still roughly 640-by-480 resolution. It's nice, and a flash is built-in, too, but it's not that great indoors; my Motorola v505 (stet) does better indoors and out in taking pictures.

As much as I like the Sidekick II, I might just wait until the Sidekick III arrives before jumping in. Others may be very happy with this device now, and it's certainly worth investigating. Device maker Danger is to be commended for this product, as is T-Mobile, which once again brings a surprising, serviceable device to market with attractive service plans.

RAPIDWEAVER A MAC GEM - The $34.95 a user invests in RapidWeaver software (, won't turn a Mac user into a Web-slinging powerhouse, but it should be more than enough for many home and small business users to create dynamic, attractive Web sites that can share all sorts of information, including, as the maker says, your "thoughts, photos, movies, files" and so forth. The program is VERY easy to use, is supported by a bunch of folks offering templates and other add-ins, and should fit the bill quite nicely for many folks. It's well worth examining, in my opinion.

Find this column useful? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.

Virtual service calls available
Small biz gets tech hookup to fed deals
Jingle Bells, or ring tones, etc.
Smithsonian's Hand-Held Tour Guide an iPAQ
iMAC G5, Emachines is runner-up
Three 'cult' items: two good, one bad
Charity finds a United 'E-Way'
NetObjects Fusion A Useful Web Site Builder
eMachines Model Offers Performance
Second thoughts
Adobe updates its easy photo fix
Recording radio
Myths die hard, even for ‘insiders’

Apple's iMac, better still

Free software worth something
A TV Board For Your PC
Raising the 'dead' and the dusty
Promise of VoIP not yet total
When ideas and policy collide at work
Why not take the easy way out?
One to buy, one to skip
In Israel, high tech goes on the road
Right out of the box, little Sony camera impresses
Useful little things
Epson printer does far more than just print
Does Gmail hit the spot?
Independence Day Thoughts on computing
Still more about online e-mail
Your vacation e-mail options
Mr. Reagan's Computing Legacy
Following your heart
Power Mac G5: A powerful tool
Opera: This browser sings
Motion's new tablet a step up
Fuji's S20PRO is for you — maybe
Last week's small revolution
More small wonders bring delight, challenge
Livin' large, livin' cordless
Small wonders: Gadgets good and bad
The right tool for the right job
Office 2004 for Mac is coming
Good Computer Info? It's In Print
'Office' suite good for price
The Delightful Deja Vu of the iPod Mini
Another check creation option
Blocking pop-up ads
Apple's super-cool iBOOK G4
MSN, the AOL alternative?
It's Konfabu-lous (and other Mac joys)
The world on my wrist, courtesy MSN
Treo 600 is great business tool
How to make good computer choices this year
The year behind, the one ahead
Last minute gifts, and other thoughts
Something special in the air, again
Veterans Admin plans computer revolution
More holiday gifts
Holiday Shopping Ideas (One of a Series)
Now, Mr. Gates Joins War on Spam
Stopping "Phishers" From Scamming You
Staying safe online
Franklin Covey Brings Order to Outlook
Upgrades: Should you do it?
Time to dump Ma Bell?
Palm T3 widens users' options
Electronic reading
Lessons from a hurricane
Can the PC and phone really merge?
The case of the curious keyboard
The season ahead
New keyboard adds flair to motion tablet
Upgrade path smoothes a bit
Dreamweaver, make me a web
Experiments in upgrading
A tale of two headsets
A declaration of Mac-dependence
Fuji's Fine FinePix S602Zoom
In search of good Mac apps
Little gadgets make computing easier
Adobe Acrobat 6.0 scores
Toshiba's Twisting Tablet PC
HP printer a steady worker
iTunes store, Mailblocks are cool online services
Palm's objects of D-Zire
Gateway's Tablet a winner
Outlook 2003 beta: A promising program
Tungsten's handy "Dubya"
Lexmark's winning all-in-one
Wireless ways
Long distance tech support does trick
Tablet Planner software a hit
Up and down the road with Joyride
Clarion's "AutoPC" is no "Joyride"
Apple's Keynote is PowerPoint for less
Moving adventures
Traveling companions
HP's Compaq Tablet PC a winner
The war on spam continues
Browser for Mac users has good start
New Adobe software organizes photos
The year the PC grew up
PC meets philately: one hit, one miss
Digital Nikon camera a winner, at a price
Honey, they shrunk the COMDEX
Last-minute ideas
Microsoft's Tablet PC has promise, problems
Upgrade with a plan
Palm's New Tungsten PDA Shows Its Mettle
Nobody asked me, but ...
Love, in Quicktime
T-Mobile's sidekick a good partner
Put on a (happy, unwrinkled, tanned, whatever) face
Apple software upgrade very useful
I came, I saw, iPod
How's that? A tech critic reflects, briefly
Satellite radio gets favorable reception
HP's desktop printing marve
Mac satisfaction --- and some really good software
Off to college ... with eMachines
Have PC, must travel
After Shot manages your digital camera images
X200: Mobile worker's fantasy
Beware: Consumers face a fee for printing own checks

© 2004 News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of The Washington Times. Visit the paper at