A Peek into an email only device: the Peek Classic

peekblue In today’s market, can a device that pretty much does only one or two things survive? I believe that they can, provided they do those one or two things well AND they are targeted to the correct market.  Kindle, for example, is pretty much a one trick pony, but it does that one trick very well.  Oh, sure, it can browse the internet and play mp3 files, but those are secondary to the one trick: reading a book or magazine.

There are a few one trick devices that are on the market today. One, the ZipIt, I’ve written about already.  Another is the Peek.  Peek is an email device/service that does what it does very nicely.  The device is pretty small: about the size of the Palm Pre, maybe just a tad taller.  It resembles a Sanyo scp-2700 Smartphone or a run of the mill Blackberry from a couple of years ago.  It features a full rubber membrane keyboard that has a decent feel.  The keyboard on the Peek, like the ZipIt, is geared toward email and texting with the special symbols (the @ mostly) that do not require special keystrokes to use.

The device comes with 8gb of memory that is not user expandable.  That much memory in a device that is just for email should be more than enough.  Since the device will not play any media files, the memory will be used, almost exclusively, for email storage and a few attachments.

The Peek uses both the T-Mobile network and the AT&T GSM network.

Currently, there are two types of Peeks: the ‘classic’ or original device and the Pronto.  The Pronto can handle up to five email accounts, can do some texting and handle photos, Word documents and PDF files.  It also features on device search and true email push.  The classic can only handle up to two email accounts, some photos as attachments and email pull that occurs every two to five minutes.  The retail price for the Classic is $19.95 and the Pronto is $59.95.  However, an enterprising soul could find the Classic available at a Target for something between $4.95 and $14.95.  I have spotted it locally for $4.95 and for $9.95.  The Target web page had it listed for $14.95.  And if you get one that has a certain version of the software (1.04 to 1.08) you can send the device to Peek and they will upgrade it to a Pronto for free.  If you got one with the 1.09.15, it will cost you $40.  Check this forum entry for more info.

After activating the device, setup only took a minute.  You enter your name, email address and off you go.  It took about five minutes for the device to get initialized and start receiving email.  Because the Classic is a pull type service, there is a delay between when your desktop computer gets the email and when the Peek gets the email.  However, most people will be using the device while away from a computer, so the delay will not matter.

Because the Peek Classic ONLY does email, you might wonder what the point would be, especially given the quality and features of today’s Smartphone’s and feature phones.  That is a fair question and one that I don’t a really good answer for IF you already have a Smartphone.  However, if you don’t have a Smartphone or you don’t like the email feature of your phone, this little device is for you.  And don’t think this one trick pony can’t deliver information the way a Smartphone can.

Many modern web sites feature RSS feeds and many offer email alerts.  You can use those features to send updates to your peek via email. And since the classic can handle two email accounts, you can create a Gmail or Yahoo! mail account and then use that address for these web site email alerts.  That way, you don’t gum up your main email with these alerts.  Plus, Peek has gathered a few Peek ‘applications’ that are really just web sites that can pipe information to your Peek.  Peek Apps consists of Peek Social, which allows you to connect your Facebook account to your Peek and receive feed updates as well as post updates from your device.  Peek Maps lets your Peek post your location.  Peek Feed allows you to send those RSS feed to your device. It also will send your Twitter feed to your device.  And, finally, askPeek is a service where you send it an email with certain keywords in the subject to retrieve local and national news, weather and other information.

All of this utility, though, comes at a monthly cost.  That cost is $19.95 a month if you go monthly. You can pay quarterly or yearly as well.  The yearly plan averages out to $14.95 a month and they are currently offering a lifetime plan for about two hundred dollars.

There is a small but growing hacking community too.  I have not gone down that path yet, but it looks interesting.  The device appears to run a flavor of Linux.  There is a wiki page here as well.

This little device is pretty cool and takes full advantage of the web and turns email into a platform.  If you are lucky enough to spot one of these at a Target and its on sale, grab it.

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