- Everything you need to stay connected
- Excellent e-mail and chat management
- Large, bright screen
- Relatively large
- Limited selection of add-on software
- Video playback quality is disappointing
T-Mobile’s Sidekick LX 2009 is an all-in-one device designed to keep you in touch with your friends and family, whether that’s through voice calls, online chats with AIM or Yahoo Messenger, email, or social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
There are a few tradeoffs, but all in all the Sidekick can really help you stay connected for $175 with a new two-year contract.
DESIGN & BUILD
The Sidekick LX is big, and it’s anything but subtle. When you first turn it on you’re treated to an actual light show, with the bottom of the screen and the trackball navigator lighting up with multicolor effects, along with the T-Mobile tune playing a couple of times.
It measures 5.2 inches wide, 2.4 inches tall, and 0.64 inches thick. The Sidekick LX is pocketable, but just barely. If it were my everyday device, I would be much more likely to want to stick it in my purse or gearbag instead of creating an unsightly bulge in my pocket. Considering its size, I was surprised by how light the device feels even though it weighs in at 5.8 ounces, which is a major plus.
There are controls on both sides (you will always hold it in landscape orientation, unless you’re talking on the phone) with the menu and jump key on the left, and the end, disconnect, call, and back buttons on the right. The top edge of the device has two shoulder keys (used mainly for the camera and picture messaging) while the bottom has the headphone jack (standard size, yay!), volume controls, power button, and sync/charge port.
The microSD card slot is underneath the back cover of the device. I would prefer an externally accessible slot, of course, but it could be worse — at least you don’t have to remove the battery to change out memory cards. The back cover is also fairly easy to remove, so it won’t be much trouble to slip in some more memory if you need it.
The display is large, bright, and beautiful. It measures 3.2 inches and runs at a 854×480 resolution. Everything (with the exception of video, discussed below) is crisp and clear, and I certainly couldn’t ask for anything much better on a mobile device. Pictures look absolutely stunning, and the large screen makes the Sidekick a great option for sharing photos with friends on something big enough that several folks can see at once.
By default the display is extremely bright, and I found it somewhat blinding at times, especially in a darkened room. It was much more comfortable to view when I turned the brightness down to about 35% of normal. There’s an ambient light sensor which can automatically adjust the display due to the surrounding light. You can also control whether the lights for pending messages or low battery warnings blink when the device is in sleep mode.
One fun extra is extensive theme support, so that you can customize the way your Sidekick LX looks. Four different themes were included on the demo unit I received, and there are a lot more available for download directly from the device, both for free and for costs ranging up to $2.99. Animated screensavers are also available, and look great on the device’s large screen.
The keyboard is exposed by pushing the bottom left edge of the display up just enough that it disengages from the magnetic catch and swings up to the open position. The display image automatically rotates as necessary.
Since the Sidekick LX is a large device, the keyboard is also quite large and spread out, with wide spacing between the keys in each row and column.
There’s a dedicated number key row, which is great, along with a double-wide space bar. Punctuation is accessed with the alt key on the bottom left of the keyboard, Symbols and accented characters are available when you press the Symbol button on the far left side of the keyboard.
Each key is round and only slightly raised, so it was hard for me to figure out exactly where my fingers were without looking down. The keys are well labeled and well illuminated for nighttime use. With practice I got a bit better, but the odd placement of the shift key in particular really slowed me down — the symbol and shift keys on the left hand side really need to be switched.