The Sidekick Experience: Close but No Cigar
By Eric Lin, Fri Aug 22 18:45:00 GMT 2003

Jakob Nielsen, a user interface expert, has been using a T-Mobile Sidekick for six months now. He believes the combination of hardware and software on the devices is much improved over previous communicator type phones, but he still sees room for improvement.


From the title and summary of Neilsen's latest Alert Box, Mobile Devices: One Generation From Useful, you might think this is an expose on mobile operating systems and how their interface and messaging clients have improved. Personally I was about to point out the regression of usability on Sony Ericsson's new T616 (hilariously explained by Dan Hon) to Jakob, when i realized this piece is primarily about the Danger Hiptop.

Jakob Nielsen is a notoriously tough critic of usability and design. He reminds me of a famous photographer who taught at my University's art department. The highest compliment this professor could pay any student was "well, it's not awful." Jakob genuinely praises many of the Hiptop's features, such as it's screen size, QWERTY keyboard, and even the software included. But he is disappointed with the Sidekick's connectivity. Part of the problem is T-Mobile's poor network coverage (it is strange but true here in California), and the other part is Danger's lack of a synchronization client for desktops.

As long as he's on the T-Mobile network, little can be done about his coverage, but it sounds like Mr. Nielsen would benefit from a keyboard-integrated phone running some Windows Mobile or Symbian variant. We would suggest something more immediately available like the Treo 600, but at 160x160 pixels that doesn't meet Mr. Nielsen's deck of cards screen size.