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Review: Sidekick 3

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The Sidekick 3 uses almost the exact same operating system and menus as its predecessor. Although it's probably not as easy to use as a regular mobile phone, the Sidekick is certainly easier to use than most smartphones. Because there are hard buttons to jump to the main menu, as well as bring up the options menu for the current application, it is easy to discover how the device works and what options are available.

The main menu is a rotating arc of icons. Only a portion of the available icons are shown at a time, but they remain in the same order, so as you learn to use the phone, you'll remember which direction each application is from the center, the phone dialer. As you scroll to an icon, the right half of the screen displays a large icon for the program as well as some data about it, for instance a list of unread emails, or a quick readout of how many more pictures you can take. Pressing the button that looks like this menu will bring you back to it instantly.

Now that Danger has replaced the scroll wheel with a trackball, the main menu has changed slightly. In some cases applications have been aggregated together - the three instant messengers, for example. Now to reach an IM application, you scroll up to the main IM icon and then you hit select on the trackball or scroll right to see a list of applications and then select one. After some time we found ourselves scrolling right instead of hitting select because it was faster. This becomes frustrating though, since scrolling right only opens groups of applications, not everything.

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This same navigation system has been added to the options menu as well. In the main menu or once inside an application pressing the menu button brings up the options menu, which you can scroll up or down through. If there is a submenu, again you can open it by scrolling right or pressing select.

Menus are all very snappy and the navigation system is remarkably fast thanks to the trackball. It is even faster than the scroll wheel on previous Sidekicks. In fact, it is so fast we spent the first few days over-shooting selections in menus until we got the hang of the sensitivity.

One of the Sidekick's claims to fame is that all your data from every application is stored online. The Sidekick is constantly syncing with T-Mobile's servers. This means that if you lose or break your Sidekick, the moment you put your SIM card in a new device and enter your password, all of your data is instantly there - including all the ringtones and applications you've purchased.

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