27 April 2009

Gadget Review: Peek Pronto Email Device

Late last week I received the Peek Pronto, Peeks newest and latest. This model boasts improvements over the first iteration of the device which includes an all around faster machine (50% faster), support for up to 5 email account (3 more), support for Push Email and Microsoft Exchange, unlimited text messaging and the ability to search your inbox as well as view images, PDFs and Doc files.

Right out of the box I noticed how simple and elegant the Peek Pronto was. Finished in all black with a silver metal back it could be easily mistaken for a Blackberry. Front and center is a rubberized chicklet QWERTY keyboard, while the right edge of the device sports a clickable scroll wheel and back button just below it. The power button is located at the top of the device and is recessed to prevent unwarranted powering ups or downs. Lastly, the lower left side contains a charging port concealed by a rubber flap that is attached to the device.

Setting up an AOL, GMAIL or Yahoo account couldn’t have been easier. All I had to do was enter my email address and password and the Peek Pronto figured out the rest. After your email box has been added you can start emailing right away or if you so opt download your stored contacts; the Pronto doesn’t have Bluetooth so you won’t be able to sync your computer’s address book. Unfortunately, and probably like many people, I don’t keep my contact list updated on my gmail account so I’m not sure how useful this feature is, but of note the Pronto ’sucked down’ the few hundred contacts I had stored in a matter of seconds and even sent me an email notifying that the process had begun. Adding another email account was simple enough, but once added I wasn’t able to view the account individually or tell which email was to which account from the inbox screen. A frustration some will surely feel, especially those who like to keep business and private separate. Fortunately, when sending out an email, selecting the alternate account(s) is just a quick click away.

I’m an iPhone user (in case you haven’t heard) and as a result typing on the chicklet rubber keyboard left my right hand a bit cramped. But as with any miniature QWERTY keyboard, iPhone included, it takes time to adjust, so be patient. The overall responsiveness of the keyboard is reasonable given its style, but I couldn’t help but notice how the space bar felt as though I was depressing two keys at once. Again, something that probably takes some acclamation. Additionally, the space bar, as with the secondary functions of the numeric keyboard are not backlit, which limits the overall usefullness of the device in dark or dimly lit situations.

Composing an actual email was simple enough, but a few drawbacks had me scratching my head. For instance, Peek failed to add the double space bar tap period function and in order to navigate to, say the middle of the paragraph after an email is written you’ll need to use the scroll wheel while holding the shift button. With that said, the Peek Pronto seemed to be void of a spell check, which to me seems like a must especially if this particular device is intended for the business user.

Email composing issues aside, the Peek Pronto’s screen is bright and easy to read in any lighting condition. It’s backlight length can be adjusted as can the the theme of the overall menus, which are limited to 3 relatively simple colorful patterns. Although the screen is bright and crisp, the device itself can’t display HTML emails and will result in a blank page with no description as to why; you might be left wondering if there is an error in the email or if its encoded with HTML.

I’m not sure what protocol Peek has used for automatically setting up email accounts such as Yahoo or Gmail, but expect to read emails twice or keep tracks of what you’ve viewed on your computer as the two don’t sync up. The Peek Pronto is compatible with Microsoft Exchange, so for those using this on the corporate level won’t have this concern.

Battery life for the device is very solid. Depending on use, I’d expect to get at least, and I stress at least 3 days out of the device. This is probably one of the significant advantages of having a stand alone email device over an all in one, which tend to be battery hogs.

Like all good handheld devices the Peek Pronto features a keypad lock button, but I would have preferred if the dedicated back button also performed this feature when held down. Also, the Pronto lacks a dedicated switch for muting the device, which is something any respectful person could take advantage of.

This particular Peek Pronto contained an early build of the software and as a result I wasn’t able to text message and the scroll wheel was God awful slow, things that should be fixed in the final build. But unlike the multiple email accounts, text messages are denoted by a ‘T’ next to the message. The company does promise unlimited text messaging, which for some might make the $20/month service plan with email well worth it.

At just $30 more ($79.95) than the original Peek, the Pronto brings sexy back to the email only device and is worth every penny.


* Sleek and sexy
* Solid battery life
* Bright and crisp screen
* Ultra easy to use and setup (i.e. Mom friendly)


* Chicklet style keyboard will take some getting use to
* No dedicated mute/vibrate button
* Only one ‘inbox’ for all emails

You can grab one here for $80

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