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.