Peek, the company, first made its claim to fame with the Peek, the e-mail-only handheld. The simplicity of the device was meant to appeal to consumers who didn’t want the complexity and monthly costs of owning a smartphone but still wanted to send and receive e-mail. We certainly understand the idea, and we also liked the design of the Peek, but we could not get behind the monthly cost of such a simple gadget. Peek later came out with the Peek Pronto, which added more features like five e-mail accounts, support for Microsoft Exchange, and most importantly, the ability to send and receive text messages. This sat much better with us, especially when they lowered the monthly cost to around $17 a month.
Now it seems that Peek has returned to its single-purpose philosophy with what might be the only gadget of its kind, the Twitter Peek. That’s right, the Twitter Peek only does Twitter, and nothing else. Twitter is, as many might know, a microblogging site that is currently the darling of the social Web. Right now you can use Twitter on the site itself, via text message, plus a variety of desktop and mobile applications. You can use Twitter with any Internet-enabled computer, or just about any mobile handset with a messaging or data plan.
So we’ll admit it: we think the idea of a single-purpose device for Twitter is a little silly. But we were open to the idea that maybe there’s someone somewhere who honestly just wants a Twitter-only handheld. Maybe he or she doesn’t like the idea of a monthly data and messaging plan, but still wants constant mobile access to Twitter.
Unfortunately, the Twitter Peek is not the right solution for that, either. We found it terribly inefficient and inadequate, with an interface that is ill equipped to handle the volume and complexity of Twitter. To add insult to injury, the Twitter Peek is $99 with six months of free service and $7.95 a month thereafter. If you don’t want monthly service charges, you can pay a whopping $199 for it up front. Sure, you might pay more for a cell phone or a smartphone over time, but that’s because they do so much more than just one thing.
The Twitter Peek’s design is exactly like that of the Peek and the Peek Pronto, so don’t be surprised if you get a bit of déjà vu here. Measuring 4.02 inches long by 2.7 inches wide by 0.42 inch thick, the Twitter Peek is wide and slim, with a soft-touch front and a silver metal backing. Its trim blocky aesthetic makes it look more like a fancy calculator than a BlackBerry.
On the front is a 2.5-inch diagonal QVGA display, which is large enough to show eight tweets in a list. Along the top of the display are the Twitter logo, and icons that show signal strength, battery life, the date and time information, a blue bird icon, and the name of the screen you’re on. You can adjust the font to normal or bold and set the backlight time. The text is clear and legible. At the top left of the display is a small envelope icon that flashes blue whenever you get incoming tweets.
Underneath the display is the same roomy QWERTY keyboard as found on the previous Peek handhelds. The keys are all raised above the surface and are easy to press. We like the dedicated number keys, as well as the dedicated @ key. There’s a jog dial on the right spine that you can use to scroll through lists. You can also press it to select individual tweets, or to navigate through a pop-up menu. The back button is next to the jog dial, while the power button is on top of the device. The charger jack is on the left side.
To set up your Twitter account, simply enter in your Twitter username, password, and e-mail address when you turn on the device. If you want to change the Twitter username, you have to reset the device completely before you can do so, as you can’t have more than one Twitter account active on the device. After you fill in your account details, it’ll take a minute or so before new tweets start to populate the home screen.