TwitterPeek

If you are a regular reader of Pocket-lint this gadget probably isn’t for you. You've already mounted the convergence pony and are riding it hard into the future. Your phone is more than just a device that makes calls: it is the gateway to your digital world.

For us convergence has its place and we can see why you would want it. We want a dedicated camera but a phone should do everything. Your phone lets you check email, surf the web, check Twitter, control your home music system and TV, play games, check your business figures and get you home when lost.

However what if you aren't that way inclined? What if you just want a phone that is a phone? So the idea of a dedicated device that lets you just see and read Twitter is an interesting one, isn't it?

Created by Peek, the TwitterPeek is a follow-on device from the company's dedicated email-only handset that emulates the BlackBerry from almost a decade ago. At the time RIM, the makers of the BlackBerry, were criticised and lambasted for making a device that could "only" do email. Why would you want that many asked? Now the BlackBerry is common place around the world, and widely regarded for the email service it does provide.

The TwitterPeek is a slim-line gadget the size of a small notepad with a colour screen (you've got to get that Twitter blue in somehow) and a QWERTY keyboard.

There are two payment options. The first is $99 down with access to your tweets for the first 6 months before having to pay $7.95 a month thereafter. The second is $199.99 down and never having to worry about data costs for the lifetime of the device.

The design is simple, quaint and straightforward to use with a focus on shortcuts for getting you around the system quickly. For the old school BlackBerry fans there is a jog wheel on the right-hand side that can be used by your thumb and a further "back" button beneath this.

The keyboard itself is on the stiff side, but well spaced out and we found easy to use. The hardware is identical to the email Peek. There is also a flashing "envelope" for when you get new tweets and this can be custom set to either tweets from your friends or your DMs and @ mentions.

Connect the device to your Twitter account - as easy as typing your Twitter name and password - and minutes later your Twitter messages will start downloading to your device. Tweets are displayed on the screen just like email in your inbox and you get the author, the first 24 of characters and the time it was received.

The jog wheel allows you to scroll through the list and because the device is always on it makes for a more "all inclusive feed" rather than dipping in and out.

Annoyingly the software is slow in use. Overly slow in fact for what it is and without the shortcuts the process is painstakingly over-designed, but luckily the Peek does offer most of the commands you need as shortcuts. There are shortcuts for looking at tweets, seeing the next, previous, first, or last tweets as well as retweeting or DM'ing.

Frustrations though include the DM forcing you to re-type the persons twitter name again, and the system not just displaying the Tweet in full on the home screen in the first place.

Then there are links. With no browser you aren't going to be able to whizz off onto the Internet to read what's what. However, so you aren't completely in the dark, you can pull the text from the website. It's basic, but it will get you the information you want (just probably not the way Murdoch would want you to).

You can of course see your followers and your following, but can't add more. Search is also limited, to what is on the device rather than Twitter as a whole and features found in applications like Tweetie 2 on the iPhone like translate, location, add pictures, video, search, and trends aren't here either.

One of the best features though is being able to set up a buzzing alert for when you get tweets, @ mentions or DMs. Simple, but lets you know you've got a personal message.

This is for those who want to tweet and check their tweets in the rawest form.

Verdict

So who is the TwitterPeek aimed at? As we said at the beginning, it's not for anyone who has a smartphone. After all why would you spend up to $200 on a device that an app could do for free? No, the TwitterPeek is for those who've got a basic mobile phone, want in on the Twitter experience, and don't want a regular $30 a month data plan to go with it.

With more and more people using Twitter as a communications and information tool, the idea is certainly interesting. However while the concept (for non-smartphone users) is sound, the realisation of those ideas isn't fully achieved here.

While the TwitterPeek isn't for us (we currently have 12 devices on the desk capable of checking Twitter) I can see why people might want it.



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