Danger, Inc. brought the first hiptop out in 2002. This was followed by a model with a color screen just over a year ago. Now the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved an updated version of this wireless handheld for release in the U.S.
Like the current model, the hiptop II’s color screen will pivot aside to reveal a small keyboard. Around the keyboard, though, Danger has added some new buttons and moved the Directional Pad out from under the screen.
The current sidekick has a 240-by-160-pixel screen, and it doesn’t appear that Danger has increased the screen resolution on the upcoming version.
It will have roughly the same length and width as the current model, but be about one-quarter thinner.
The hiptop II will offer Web surfing, email, instant messaging, and a mobile phone. Unlike its predecessors, the new version will have a speakerphone.
It will use GSM/GPRS networks, allowing it to access the Internet at up to 144 kbps, under ideal conditions. In addition, it has a calendar, address book, and to do list. Users can wirelessly install additional applications.
The hiptop is available from several wireless carriers, but the biggest of these is T-Mobile, which calls it the Sidekick. This company is clearly intending to offer the updated version, which it will call, logically enough, the Sidekick II. The user manual filed with the FCC actually refers to the Sidekick II, and doesn’t call it the hiptop II.
T-Mobile has a Data-Only plan for this device for $30 a month plus an additional 20 cents per minute for voice. Or people can sign up for any T-Mobile voice plan and get unlimited data for an additional $20 a month.
Danger has just submitted a request to the FCC that all information on this device be kept confidential until late August, when the Sidekick II will go on sale. Obviously, it is a bit late for this.
At this time, it is not known what this wireless handheld will cost.
All the documents on this device filed with the FCC can be found on this government agency’s web site.
There are several factors that, at least until now, have kept the hiptop line from catching on with hard-core handheld users. These devices lack a memory card slot, for one thing, and they run a proprietary operating system.
However, there are signs that the hiptop has found a market among the general public. Reportedly, 10 percent of T-Mobile’s Wireless Data traffic comes from the hiptop.
Still, these handhelds have yet to win the hearts of business users, many of who use a RIM BlackBerry for wireless email. But there are a few signs this might be changing soon. According to a recent eWeek article, Oracle is examining the possibility of porting its database solutions to the hiptop.
Thanks to Engadget for the tip.