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Preview: Sidekick LX 2009

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Apr 16, 2009, 11:00 PM   by Rich Brome

A quick hands-on with the revamped Sidekick LX for 2009.

T-Mobile today announced the Sidekick LX 2009. We recently had some hands-on time with it. Read on for details and our first impressions.

The name for this new model follows a relatively new T-Mobile naming scheme. Instead of past names like "Sidekick 3" and "Sidekick iD", there is now simply a standard "Sidekick" and a higher-end "Sidekick LX". That's exactly how they'll be marketed by T-Mobile, but we'll be calling this new model "Sidekick LX 2009" so you don't confuse it with the quite different "Sidekick LX" from 2007. If it sounds confusing, just think of it like a car, with model years, etc. Like the Sidekick LX 2007, the Sidekick LX 2009 is also made by Sharp.

 

Sidekick LX 2009

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The 2009 LX is the first Sidekick with 3G, and also the thinnest Sidekick to date.

The huge screen looks great. The physical size of the screen has been bumped up a tad to 3.2 inches, and the resolution has been bumped way up, to 854 x 480 pixels. Sharp calls this FWVGA, or Full-Wide VGA. It's similar to the WVGA displays on the new HTC Touch Pro2 and LG Arena, but adds a few extra pixels of width to give it a true 16:9 aspect ratio. It's the highest resolution display available in any phone to date, that we know of. Sharp tells us that most third-party Java apps should scale well to the new display resolution, except for ones that draw bitmaps (games, mostly).

Moving down the feature list, one key addition is GPS, which integrates well with the included Microsoft Live Search app. There is also a microSD memory card slot, which can accept large-capacity microSDHC cards.

This is also the first Sidekick with a serious camera: 3.2-megapixel, with auto-focus, LED flash, and video capture. The camera software is much improved, with one of the most intuitive and advanced camera interfaces we've seen on a non-touch-screen phone.

 

New Sidekick software

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

Taking a cue from the competing Virgin/Helio Ocean, the new Sidekick LX has better service integration on both the social and business sides. First, it includes apps for Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. These are mostly separate apps. You can migrate contact info, but it's a manual contact-by-contact thing, not true sync.

On the business side, you'll find a Microsoft Exchange app you can download for a small fee. It provides full email, calendar, and contacts functionality, but each is kept separate from the main Sidekick email, calendar, and contacts, which are intended to be for personal info. If you like to keep you business and personal lives as separate as possible, this is great. If however, you'd rather not juggle two calendars, two email inboxes, and two lists of contacts, you're out of luck.

The full web browser works quite well. The boosted screen resolution is a major boon in the browser. When zoomed all the way out, I still had no problem reading all of the text on phonescoop.com.

The Sidekick series has developed a large following among the hearing-impaired community, and the Sidekick engineers have wisely kept them in mind with the design of the new model by placing lights at the edges of the face for visual notification of incoming messages and calls.

The new Sidekick LX looks and feel great. The body feels noticeably slimmer, and the build quality feels excellent. T-Mobile told us that Sharp has engineered this new Sidekick LX to be much more durable than past models, and T-Mobile is holding them to it with much more rigorous durability tests.

The keyboard feels as good as most previous Sidekicks. The only control that didn't feel up to par was the d-pad, on the left. Granted, the trackball is the primary navigation control, and the d-pad does seem functional and reliable enough. However, its relatively cheap and uncomfortable feel doesn't match the rest of the phone. That's definitely a small gripe, though. In general, it's a well-designed phone that feels great.

The 2009 Sidekick LX is available now for pre-order, but for existing customers only. It will then go on sale to the general public on May 13, with the very first units out of the factory going to those who pre-ordered.

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Subject Author Date
Touch Screen yerger May 2, 2009, 1:39 PM
upgrade in december Ye0oitzzj0e Apr 22, 2009, 6:29 PM
Pricing???? Soladylike Apr 17, 2009, 1:48 PM
looks great, but... custom Apr 17, 2009, 2:28 AM
When will it be a smart phone? spinn360 Apr 22, 2009, 8:27 PM
will it b able to play mpegs? djamnyc Apr 22, 2009, 2:01 AM
Sync Google Through Exchange? michaelflorio82 Apr 19, 2009, 1:00 PM
 
 
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