Review: Danger HipTop

The Danger HipTop, also rebranded by T-Mobile as the “Sidekick”, is a 5 by 2.6 by 1.1 inch GSM Cell Phone/PDA combo unit with 16 MB RAM / 4MB ROM and weighing in at just over 6 ounces. It has a very unique “flip out” monochrome screen (it rotates clockwise 180 degrees) which covers the large backlit thumb board when closed and automatically changes the image orientation when opened.

The hardware JUMP, MENU and BACK buttons work brilliantly well with the jog dial to give you very comfortable control in both the open and closed positions.

What’s it really like? When I got the box, I was somewhat disappointed to see that the camera accessory was not included. It’s intended simply for low res fun pics but I would have liked to give it a whirl. I turn it on and it immediately looks for T-Mobile. Failing that, it logs into Fido in Canada. Although the address, datebook, e-mail and notes were initially empty, I was surprised to see them fill up after the first few minutes. The device stores all your stuff on-line. You can update your data on the fly and off the web site so backup is a breeze. Mine was already preprogrammed with an account so I got everything they had tested with. The unit comes preloaded with it’s own: Web Browser, AOL Instant Messenger, Email, Phone, Address Book, Calendar, To Do, Notes, Camera, and 5 games. Using the scroll wheel to roll between applications is very reminicint of Apple OS X. I found all of them easy to use and navigate however the lack of clip and paste is almost unforgiveable. Being a GPRS device, it’s always on line and is checking mail every 15 minutes. The big standouts however are the web browser and the games. The browser does an excellent job of rendering graphics and formatting and the games are even enhanced by the addition of force feedback, though the phone’s vibe function. More on the web part: All the cell plans for this unit include UNLIMITED data ($39US and up) so you can surf anywhere you have coverage with reckless abandon.

What about the phone?

It seems that all combo devices tend to lean a little more heavily on one side or the other and the Danger Hiptop is no exception. You have to flip out the screen and open the device to get access to the number keys so you can forget one handed dialing. On the upside, the phone’s voice clarity and speaker strength were great. As expected, the address book software integrates well so you can just pick the number from your contacts. As noted, the phone is not supported in Canada. It runs on the same frequency as Rogers and Fido/Microcell but will only allow you to run on the latter. Slipping in a Rogers SIM card won’t work either. This brings up the coverage issue. I really hope and pray that Danger links a deal with Rogers in Canada over Fido/Microcell. The fact is that I do regularly leave the city center and would like to be able to make a call. Is that sooooo much to ask?

Conclusion
I‘ve now had this baby for about 2 weeks and I love it. It’s an amazing and eye catching little device. I have had the privilege of playing with a lot of combination devices in this category and this is quite frankly one of the best designed PDA/Cell phones currently available. Although I would love to see the color version (also in the works), I found the monochrome screen to be super crisp. I averaged about 3 hours of web/talk time and 2 days stand by per charge which was plenty for me. I highly recommend this device and will be keeping my eye out for it’s Canadian debut. In the interim, you can always check out some of the Hiptop fan sites: http://www.hiptop411.com and http://www.hiptop.com/

Specifications
Radio: GSM / GPRS
Screen Resolution: 240 x 160
Viewable Image Area: 2.6″ (6.7cm) diagonal
Memory: 16MB RAM, 4MB Flash
Dimensions: 4.5″ x 2.6″ x 1.1″ (11.6cm x 6.5cm x 2.8cm)
Weight: 5 ounces (150 grams)
Battery: Rechargeable Lithium Ion
Ports: IrDA, USB, Headset / Accessory
Notification Options: Vibration, 24-bit color illuminated LED Push Wheel, MIDI ringtones
Sound: 8 – Voice MIDI synthesizer
Backlighting: Keyboard and screen
Camera Accessory: Attaches to device via Accessory Port
Keyboard: 5-row optimized with Directional Pad


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