The TwitterPeek Is So Dumb It Makes My Brain Hurt

I still can't believe the TwitterPeek exists. It's a portable device that only does Twitter. Seriously, who the hell would spend $200 on this? Am I crazy here?

The original Peek, which just runs email, is something I would never buy in a million years. But I could understand why some people might like it. It's simple, its inexpensive, and it lets you run email without paying for a fancy smartphone plan. That's fine. Email is important and universally useful.

But this? Twitter only? Twitter is something that you can do easily on a smartphone, yes, but it's also something you can use easily on any phone. It's a service based on text messaging, for god's sake! In practice, you could use Twitter on your phone no matter what phone you have. Hell, even StarTacs supported SMS and could use Twitter, if you happen to still be using one.

Maybe they expect this to be used by people without cellphones at all? Why would anyone carry a device that does only Twitter instead of getting a basic free cellphone that can call friends and restaurants and companies with phones (all of them)?

And really, if you're so hooked on Twitter than you want to have it on you at all times, the chances are good that you're also hooked on email, IM, texts and probably the services that a few other apps would provide. This is a device built around an app, basically. The iPhone, BlackBerry, Pre, Windows Mobile, Symbian and Android all have great Twitter apps. But do they deserve their own devices? What's next, a dedicated Fieldrunners or Yelp device? How about a batman utility belt full of like 20 devices each doing the equivalent of one app, for seven bucks a month, each?

Sure, one could argue that it chooses to do one thing and to do it well, with simplicity and affordability. You could compare it to the Flip, for example, which makes shooting video easy and cheap. But the Flip does far more, for the money, and decent video isn't something you find on most smartphones. The Flip beats camcorders by doing 90% of what they do for 20% of the cost. This does 1% of what smartphones can do for 25% of the cost. It's just not a good value, despite it being cheap.

The real kicker? This thing has one single function, and it can't even do that very well. PC Mag just gave it 1.5 stars! This is totally damning:

But as soon as I started handling the TwitterPeek, I knew something was wrong. This handheld is painfully slow. Scrolling through button selections or on-screen lists, the cursor is always a bit behind your trackwheel.

TwitterPeek also fails at the most basic function: reading tweets. The main list of tweets only shows the first three and a half words of each message; to read more, you have to dig down by hitting the 'return' key. Then you can step through tweets, slowly, one by one, with the 'n' (for next) and 'p' (for previous) keys, or jump back up to the unreadable full list of truncated messages. The whole process is slow and annoying.

Not everybody wants or needs a smartphone, such as the iPhone or Droid. They're relatively expensive and cost more per month than a dumbphone. But the fact of the matter is, if you're looking to have a lot of mobile functionality, it makes way more sense to consolidate your needs on one well-designed product than to clutter up your pockets with a dumbphone, a TwitterPeek, a digital camera and a GPS unit. This is a device that is built on flawed logic and executed poorly. I can't think of a single person in a single situation where this would make sense.

I just can't believe this thing exists.