As I mentioned before, the Peek is not targeted at mobile fanatics like you and me. We live and breathe smartphones, so why bother with an email-only device? It’s all about convergence, right? Right.
Yet somehow, there’s something incredibly appealing about the Peek. It’s simple, minimalist. There’s a refreshing sharpness and focus to the Peek. It’s the anti-smartphone!
First there’s the hardware. The Peek is thin, light and attractive. It looks and feels like a more expensive device. The 2.5″ QVGA screen is bright and the QWERTY keyboard surprisingly usable. Battery life is great, easily providing several days of operation. I have not looked into hacking the Peek much, but there’s a lot of potential.
Then there’s the software. The user interface is clean and easy to use. For control, the Peek features a clickable scrollwheel and a separate “back” button, just like the BlackBerry used to. Unfortunately, the user interface is laggy a times, and the font size is a bit too small for my liking. Hopefully, this can be addressed in future firmware updates.
Finally there’s the service. Like the BlackBerry, the Peek communicates with dedicated servers which handle everything from activations to refills, and pull email from up to three POP3 accounts (no IMAP support) and push it to the device. Setting up an account is as easy as entering your email address and password – well for most people anyway :)
See, I wanted to setup my Gmail account, which uses special characters in the password. However, there’s no way to enter special characters in the password field on the Peek. I didn’t want to change my Gmail password and update a million email clients, so I decided to setup my personal email account instead.
The service assumes that the part of your email address before the “@” is your login name, and that the part after the “@” is your server name (prefixed by the obligatory “pop3” or “mail”). This didn’t work for my personal email account, which uses a different login name than the part of my email address before the “@”.
Although Peek’s friendly customer service was unable to help me, I was able to reach Amol Sarva, Peek’s CEO. After exchanging a few emails (ironically), his engineers got my personal email working. Of course this could have been handled with a few more prompts when setting up the account, but this would go against the very core of what the Peek is about.
For most people, an email address and password will do the trick. Us mobile fanatics can always use our smartphones…
The device is affordable ($79.95), but I think the contract-free service is too expensive ($19.95), even with the recent addition of SMS. An unlimited data plan costs the same, and can be added to the voice plan you will already have for the phone you will inevitably carry along with the Peek. Not to mention, you can get an email-capable phone that costs the same as the Peek.
Ultimately, I enjoyed my time with the Peek, and apparently I’m not the only one!