Review: A day with Peek Pronto

Improvements abound in Peek's latest email-only handheld, the Pronto. It has push email, can check up to 5 accounts, and is now compatible with Microsoft Exchange. It can now view PDF files and Word documents, has an improved search function, and can send and receive unlimited text messages through Peek's SMS gateway. Best of all, its cheaper: the no-contract handset is only $80, and the $20 monthly subscription falls to $16.67 if you buy four months of service. The original Peek is now an impulse-buy $50. Otherwise like the original -- a slim machine that does not make or receive phone calls -- it has a straightforward user interface, a superb QWERTY keyboard, and accessible controls. Given the basic hardware, only so much is possible performance-wise. Speed improvements are touted, but deleting emails is still frustratingly slow, and it only downloads then in small batches. It's best not to leave it off for any length of time if you get lots of email. The monthly subscription is the cheapest way to get decent unlimited email in your pocket. Peek sold lifetime subscriptions with the original, at Costco, and savvy shoppers will be waiting for a similar deal. Though the focus on simple email is what makes it special, the client could do with more features. Without folders or IMAP, you can't organize email well enough to use it for information management or planning. Though some might rankle at being stuck with just one application, it's fun to discover what's possible with email and text messages alone: Twitter and WordPress both let you post with it, while Ent will serve maps, local searches and movie times on demand. Fans maintain a list of useful text-based services at the Peek forums. The Pronto refines what was already a good device and makes it cheaper, but still lacks the oomph and feature set that would make it a complete (rather than merely budget-friendly) alternative to a smartphone's email services. For people who want on-the-go email but don't want contracts with expensive data plans, though, it's a complete no-brainer. Peek Pronto Mobile Messaging Device (Grey) [Amazon]

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Rob Beschizza is the Managing Editor of Boing Boing. He's @beschizza on Twitter and can be found on Facebook too. Try your luck at  
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13 Responses to Review: A day with Peek Pronto

  1. J France says:

    I just retired my mobile phone – sick of the constant interruptions and the notion that you should always, absolutely be contactable. It got on my nerves after a while.

    I’m hoping to get a device like the Peek. Hopefully it’s successful enough for them to look a bringing it to other markets, or signing up with carriers.

  2. Rob Beschizza says:

    No, and it makes me sad too.

  3. ashtarus says:

    I’m very interested in picking up one of these, but with one sticking point: Does it do East Asian languages? Specifically, Japanese? I’ve read through their webpage, but they don’t specify one way or the other. Sadly, this means it probably doesn’t. ;_;

  4. Bloo says:

    Try this (note: contains instructions to get the most up-to-date version, which is recommended).

  5. Mr_Voodoo says:

    Any chance I can get Zork on this thing?

  6. kukkurovaca says:

    I was a pretty early adopter, and while I vastly prefer any version of Peek to having a phone in my pocket, Pronto is a big step up from the first versions of the Peek OS. It’s still very stripped-down and simplified, though — which is great for some, and a turn-off for others.

    I don’t really miss IMAP support, because I don’t want to use the Peek to manage my message, just to read them. However, I might feel very differently about that if I went on long trips without my laptop. : )

  7. Anonymous says:

    I spoke with Peek today re the “free” upgrade to Pronto. It’s only free if the device currently uses Peek’s software version 1.04-1.08, but if it uses the 1.09 version aka “Classic”, there is a 30 fee to upgrade. I stopped by Radio Shack and they have both versions, the Classic for $50 and the Pronto for $80, but at those prices it pays to get the Pronto. I called Target to see what version the (on sale) $29.99 device carries, and the box does not say, which leads me to believe it is the Classic just like the one in Radio Shack.

  8. Nick says:

    Does the Peek Pronto store email addresses for later recall, or do you always have to remember them and type them in?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Just wanted to leave a note with a slight correction. The $16.66/month service is available when you buy 3 months of service (as opposed to 4). The 3 month plan is $49.95.

    Other than that, great article!


  10. Anonymous says:

    I was at the local Target store the other week and saw the original Peek marked down to a whole 13 bucks. I thought it had to be a mistake so I scanned it at one of those self-service-scanner-mo-bobs and found the low price to be true. Almost jumped on it until I gave it a second thought.

  11. Anonymous says:

    anyone else besides myself, want a wifi version?

  12. Anonymous says:

    At $13 bucks I’d snatch ‘em up. The original peek’s that are available in target stores are eligible for the free software upgrade to Peek Pronto. You can buy a cable and do the upgrade yourself or send them in to Peek HQ.

  13. Brian Copeland says:

    Just got my Peek Pronto in the mail Saturday from Amazon. The review is about right, though I’d emphasize just how hard it is reading a long email. About every 30 or so lines, you’ve got to wait five to ten seconds while the Peek loads the next part. It almost eliminates the possibility of reading an RSS feed that is sent via email (through, etc), not to mention how annoying it is to have an entire section of email filled with urls. Bottom line, don’t buy this to read anything but email.

    Also, the text messaging sucks. Any text messages from a T-Mobile network phone will be blank. Peek says they’re working on it, but that’s not the only problem. Good luck finding what address to send text messages to. You’re best bet is to accept text messages through your email address, as the only way to have someone text you is for you to send them a text message first. Then they can reply. Ew. I have yet to figure out whether I can get Twitter to text message my Peek. All signs point to no.

    I spent the weekend playing with what I could use my Peek for. Thus far, the knock down, fabulous application is writing. Unlike even a Netbook, I can simply get the peek out of my pocket and start writing anything. Emails, blog posts, to do lists, tweets… The list goes on. The keyboard is the best I’ve seen for its size. It’s got a very tactile click, better than any phone I’ve tried. I’ve never enjoyed riding the Subway so much. I can write about five tweets while getting no signal, and the Peek will quietly send them out when signal is found.

    My only regret is not buying a Peek classic and getting the software update for free. As there is no hardware difference between a Peek and a Peek Pronto, I paid $30 extra for the convenience of not having to get my Peek updated.

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