While browsing my local Target store over the weekend searching out computer clearance deals, I happened across a large display of Peek wireless email devices. These are single purpose email only devices which retail for $99. The Peek has only one function – which is to send and receive email. There’s no web browsing, text messaging or camera. So how well does it work?
I was pleasantly surprised at how thin the Peek is. It’s thinner and smaller than my old Blackberry 88xx.
Overall I’d say the width is about 2/3 that of my old Blackberry (The Peeks is on the left in the photo below – my Blackberry 8800 is on the right).
One of the things that I was impressed by is that for $99 the kit includes a replaceable and rechargeable battery.
Here’s what’s in the box:
What’s really nice about the Peek device is that the setup is simple. Type in your email address and password. That’s it. The device automatically configures and registers your email. You’ll be able to instantly send and receive emails.
Peek supports up to 5 separate email addresses from which it retrieves email. It will place all email into one inbox. There is no ability to create any additional folders for storing email beyond the defaults (Sent, Drafts, Saved, Trash, Inbox).
According to the company your emails are retrieved every 5 to 15 minutes. In my testing that timeframe seemed accurate. You don’t need to do anything separate to retrieve email (no manual checking). The email is automatically retrieved at pre-set intervals.
All emails arrive in plain text format (a problem that even the more expensive Blackberry service presently has).
The keyboard is ok to type on but not great. It is fully backlit (as is the screen) making typing in a dim room easy. What I missed on the device was the ability to use any shortcuts. I am use to pushing the “R” key to reply to Blackberry emails as a shortcut. None of that is available. You use the side scroll wheel to call up a shortcut menu to select all of your commands.
There are a fair number of configurable options on the device.
You can change the color scheme (Dusk, Tangerine and Spring themes are included). You can set the alerts to vibrate, tone, both vibrate and tone or silent.
My main purpose in evaluating the Peek was not to see if I could use it for business – but rather if it would make a suitable gift for a parent or busy mom who didn’t want to bother with purchasing a Blackberry and potentially paying the more expensive data and service fees.
Peek’s monthly fee is $19.95 which includes all the email you can send or receive. Period. There is no web browsing. No SMS or MMS text messaging. Signal coverage is GPRS which is a slower data speed than even the pokey EDGE. The data appears to be carried by T-Mobile.
Overall I was extremely impressed by Peek. I’ve used Blackberry devices for years so I have a pretty good frame of reference to make a comparision between the two. There was very little that would make me not want to carry this Peek device. If I were a light user of email for my business – I might even consider carrying it for my business (though the lack of ability to file emails and maintain a calendar would be a big hurdle to overcome).
What ultimately makes the Peek a questionable purchase is not the device itself but the monthly data fee.
The company charges $19.95 for unlimited email with no web browsing.
What many users don’t know is that T-Mobile has a competing plan which is only $9.99 that provides for push email on your Blackberry Pearl (which would also give access to a phone and calendar).
For $10 less per month, you can have EDGE speed always on email — and one less device to carry (and re-charge). Over the course of the T-Mobile 2 year contract the pricing different could more than make up for the extra $200 you’d pay for the Blackberry Pearl.
So who is this Peek device good for?
I would recommend it to anyone who doesn’t want a cell phone contract (Peek’s services are month to month). It’s also good as a starter email device for your kids since the $99 cost, while expensive, won’t give you the same sized angst that you might get if a $300 Blackberry Pearl suddenly goes missing.
This is one device that works exactly as advertised.
Cost: $ 99.94 at Target – $19.94/mo for Email delivery
What I Liked:
- Easy setup
- Quick email delivery (5 to 15 minutes)
- Thin and compact
- Nice brilliant screen display
- Included rechargeable battery
- Copies of sent emails are saved online
What Could Be Better:
- Data charge of $19.95/mo is too high when compared against $9.95 Blackberry email only plan from T-Mobile
- Email cannot be synchronized with your main account – meaning you’ll have to delete emails twice
- No keyboard shortcuts
- Unsure on durability of keyboard (one store model had the rubber peeling back)
- Lacks calendar and to do list functionality