Cybiko Xtreme
By Joachim Bamrud, Mon Jan 07 00:00:00 GMT 2002

Part PDA, part game console, part messenger center. The Cybiko Xtreme is a winner.

This is a highly user-friendly device, made simple and fun. First of all, the QWERTY keyboard consists of elevated buttons, which makes it much easier to type. Second, the joystick navigation button is relatively large, making it easy to use. And finally, the front also comes with relatively large "Enter" and "Select" buttons. The big "Enter" button is especially handy when you play the device's games.

In addition to a desktop menu with 16 icons (of which nine can be displayed on the screen at any time), the device comes with seven buttons located above the screen. These buttons give you immediate access to applications like chat, address book and date book.

The key feature of the device - messaging through its chat function - works extremely well. You can quickly find and highlight the person you want to chat with and then type in your message, which you'll see appear on the screen similar to the instant messaging services of the fixed Internet. The messages appear real-time, sent to the other device through radio signals.

The downside of the Cybiko Xtreme compared with an SMS phone is that you can only communicate with other Cybikos and only within a certain radius (150 feet indoors and up to 500 feet outdoors, depending on terrain and battery power). That rules out a large segment of the teenage SMS market in Europe, for example.

Like a mobile phone or pager, you can change the alert settings. If you don't want a clear tone alerting you each time you've got a message, you can turn that off and use vibrating alert. This clearly is of great appeal to any teenagers wanting to use the device discreetly in a classroom setting, for example.

If someone sends you a message, but you've turned off the device, you will be alerted the instant you turn it back on. The first thing you'll see then is a box with the message itself, saving you the hassle of retrieving it. You can then choose to reply or not.

While the handheld also allows for voice communication though a walkie-talkie system, the results weren't that successful when we tried it.

Design/style: 5/6 stars

The design is sleek and cool, just the kind of device you'd be happy to show off. It looks more like a game console than a handheld computer, which fits nicely with the target audience of teenagers and kids. Although it's relatively long, you can still manage to fit it in a typical shirt pocket.

Thanks to the relatively large screen, combined with sound effects, the games are made so much more appealing and fun than the ones you find on typical mobile phones.

Cases in point: CyRace2, a car race game (with plenty of steep curves and competition) and Blazing Boards, a skateboard game, with adrenalin-pumping excitement. Both are similar to typical games played on other devices, yet the fact is that those other devices are much larger. Here you can get almost the same experience (no color, unfortunately), but through a compact, portable device.

Vital statistics: 5/6 stars

Dimensions: 81 x 141 x 19 mm (3.2" x 5.6" x 0.8")
Screen size: 54 x 35 mm
Weight: 150 grams (0.33 lbs)
Communications: 902-928 MHz
Memory: 1.5 MB (RAM), disk (500 kb) and parallel read-only flash (512 kb).

WAP browsing: 2/6 stars

While the device allows for WAP browsing, this requires a cumbersome process, which includes having at least one Cybiko within the radius connected to a PC with Internet access and running the Cybiko software.

WAP-related features: 3/6 stars

Once you do have access to WAP, the large screen obviously is a major advantage. The device also lets you bookmark up to 10 WAP sites.

Overall: 4/6 stars

In addition to the technical issues, the device comes with an attractive price, retailing for $139 in the United States.

Despite the lower grades in terms of WAP browsing, we give this a 4 star overall rating due to the fact that its main attractions - chat and games - work extremely well. We expect this will be the Coolest-Thing-You-Gotta-Have at schools throughout the United States.

All in all, we recommend the Cybiko Xtreme - even to those who aren't teenagers any longer.