Here’s the Peek pitch: there are those of us who are dependent on e-mail, but don’t want to get a smartphone–maybe because of pricing, or because smartphones can be pretty complicated for first-time users. So forget the BlackBerry, the Treo, and the iPhone; the people behind Peek wanted to introduce a mobile e-mail device for “everyday people.” And they did. The Peek does e-mail, and only e-mail. It doesn’t make calls, it doesn’t browse the Web, and it doesn’t even send and receive text messages. It is a dead-simple handheld dedicated to one primary function. Because of this simplicity, we wanted to like this, we really did. But its $100 pricing with a $20 monthly service plan just makes this single-use device a bit too costly for our liking, even if there’s no contract or service agreement.
The most common comment we’ve heard about the Peek is that it looks a little like a business calculator. Indeed, it is wide, thin, and flat, with a black rubber front and a silver metal back. Measuring 4.02 inches long by 2.7 inches wide by 0.42 inch thick, the Peek has the dimensions of either a really big calculator or a really svelte BlackBerry. It’s also incredibly lightweight at only 3.84 ounces and can be easily slipped into a pocket or purse.
Right on the front is a 2.5-inch diagonal QVGA display, which provides excellent resolution (240×320 pixels) and displays text clearly and legibly. Since the Peek is an e-mail-only device and doesn’t even support HTML mail, there isn’t much to look at in terms of graphics anyway. By default, the display is capable of showing at least eight messages in a list, which is fairly generous. Along the top of the display is the signal strength, the battery life, the date and time, and a circle that lights up when it’s processing an action. You can also adjust the backlight time, and the color theme (there’s Spring, Tangerine, and Dusk),
Underneath the display is one of the best QWERTY keyboards we’ve ever tried. It resembles a desktop or laptop computer keyboard, with the numbers arranged along the top. The keys are all raised above the surface, and are made out of a cushy rubber material, which made it a real pleasure to type. On the right spine is a jog dial, which can be used to scroll through the in-box and through individual messages. When pressed, the jog dial can select messages, as well as bring up a function menu. We really love the jog dial, as it makes navigating the messages incredibly easy.