April 5, 2002
6:49 AM   Subscribe

Is the hiptop (flash w/ sound) by Danger Inc. the technogeek holy grail? It might just be. If it indeed costs $200, has unlimited internet for $25 a month, the separate GSM based cell phone plan has coverage in my area, and it ships in two months, color me sold. (more inside)
posted by machaus (25 comments total)
The best endorsement of the Hiptop however comes from Cory over at boingboing.net:

Just saw a demo of the Danger HipTop and I am SPAZZING OUT. Jesus Christ, this is the coolest goddamned phone/PDA/cam/email/SMS/thing in the entire universe. I have a technology boner that could cut glass. The site doesn't do it justice. You need to see it.
posted by machaus at 6:52 AM on April 5, 2002

I'd buy one immediately, then of course I felt that way about the Handspring Treo until it actually shipped. Products are so much better when they are still vapor.
posted by shagoth at 6:58 AM on April 5, 2002

Grayscale me not sold yet.
posted by rodii at 7:14 AM on April 5, 2002

Agreed. Just got a Treo myself and am still adjusting to it's quirks. It's cool, in theory, but it's implementation just ain't what I'd dreamed it would be.

The deal-breaker for the Danger Hiptop, to me, is that it has no desktop PC software for your names and addresses synchronize to... it's all on the web. Some people may say that's a strength for universal accessibility. I say that's an annoying limitation that takes my data away from me where I need it the most.
posted by Fofer at 7:17 AM on April 5, 2002

yeahhhh, surely there could have been a colour screen, bit poo beah otherwise
posted by monkeyJuice at 7:25 AM on April 5, 2002


Throw in a bright color screen, up to a gig of storage space and a better camera (an add-on would be fine) and there you have it.

Until that happens, I'm stuck with my Nokia, my Toshiba and my Sony.

Can't wait until I can get the power of all three in one device...
posted by syzygy at 7:37 AM on April 5, 2002

The deal-breaker for the Danger Hiptop, to me, is that it has no desktop PC software for your names and addresses synchronize to... it's all on the web.

Doesn't that mean, though, that it's pretty much already sync'd, all the time? I imagine that your web browser is your desktop interface: what you put in the hiptop syncs to its web interface automagically (since, as stated in one of the linked articles, "The hiptop is always on and always on the network") and vice versa with what you put into the web interface when yer sitting at your pc. Sounds good to me. I'll be able to have update my pda with current information from any computer with web access, as opposed to the one pc at home that I've got palm desktop software running on right now. And no more serial cables is a plus, too.

As far as the greyscale screen goes, I'd gladly live with that if the device really sells at the promised $200. Hell, I paid $150 for my dinky-ass palm m100 when it came out. Color me sold, a thousand times over!
posted by andnbsp at 7:54 AM on April 5, 2002

I don't see it that way. Web-interface might mean "ease" and "universal access" but what about when you want to DO something with your contact list? Like back it up, print mailing labels, do a reverse search on a phone number, or sort by city? (Anything beyond simply displaying names and numbers.) What about when you don't have internet access? What about if you're stuck on dial-up? I'm sitting at my computer and I want to QuickSearch for a number, dammit! My current PIM is a speed demon and QuickContact is an F-key away.

All I'm saying is, you're hog-tied by the limitations of the web interface. There were quite a few online-only accounting/invoicing solutions many moons back (Red Gorilla comes to mind) and as far as I know none of them were able to compete with a "real" software package. Would you feel comfortable having your accounting files on someone else's subscription-based web site only? What about when they follow the trends of others
, and start charging an additional monthly fee (on top of your cellular charges?)

When it comes to MY calendar and MY contacts, I want the data on MY computer, thank you. I just don't feel like having to trust an upstart, and deal with their growing pains when I want to get some real work done.

"Danger," indeed.
posted by Fofer at 8:14 AM on April 5, 2002

I'm not worried about storage. It's always connected to the web, has a Beatnick client for downloading and streaming quality audio, a bigger screen than a palm, a better keyboard, and a three-in-one instant messaging client.

I'm all over it. I'm just a little worried that there has been zero press on the thing in the last three months, though they may be holding off because their testing is behind schedule.

Still, [this looks promising].
posted by kfury at 8:18 AM on April 5, 2002

ugghh, voicestream has zero coverage in Virginia.
posted by machaus at 8:22 AM on April 5, 2002

Fofer: you make some excellent points, and I can definately see why hiptop's solution might not be for you.

When it comes to my pda, though, I'm not a "power user" by any stretch of the imagination. I've got a small list of contacts (family, friends, professors, some vendors for work, easily less than 50 total), all in the DFW area. I mainly use it to keep track of project deadlines for school, bills, grocery lists, and getting news/movie listings thru AvantGo and Vindigo. For those of us who mainly use their pda's for personal stuff, this thing is going to be absolutely wonderful.

Does anybody know if the purported $25 a month internet access fee include its phone capabilities?
Doubt it...too good to be true.
posted by andnbsp at 8:37 AM on April 5, 2002

I don't think any company would be stupid enough to not have import/export functions, Fofer. How do they expect you to get all your current palm stuff onto the device in the first place?

Sure, they *could* make you type it all in by hand, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say they're not that stupid.
posted by jragon at 8:39 AM on April 5, 2002

The gee-whiz factor is no doubt partially fueled by the sheer number of ex-Be engineers who work for Danger. (I'm sure I'm missing quite a few, actually.) Oh, and, let me just say — you ain't seen nothing until you've seen the psychedelic disco-blinking message-alert jogdial. (It's translucent plastic, with RGB LEDs underneath ... and it goes nuts when you get a call or IM.)
posted by dsandl at 8:49 AM on April 5, 2002

Well I'm waiting for the arrival of a raft of Symbian related phone/PDA combos this year in Europe which should really set this sector alight.

The Sony Ericsson P800 and the Nokia 7650 to mention two. These are basically mobile phones with colour screens, email and office applications plus integrated digicams and worldwide GPRS/GSM connectivity. And they will fit in your pocket.
posted by Duug at 8:51 AM on April 5, 2002

This looks cool and all, but I already have a Palm, and this thing looks like it does about 75% of what I'd need it to do before I gave up my Palm.

And the browsing looks customized, which worries me. Having developed a few palm "clips" I have first hand experience in the "but everyone will adopt our standard" department.

If I see it at BestBuy and it looks as cool as the hype, I'll definately buy one, but I think this begs a larger question: I used to salivate and pre-order and call every possible retailering when the latest Cool Gadget came out. Now I'm "Yeah, I'll think about it" about all the new toys. Am I growing old and boring, or am I slowly learning that some gadgets can wait? (The $300 universal remote with computer interface and LCD screen is in a drawer somewhere.)
posted by fnirt at 8:57 AM on April 5, 2002

if this keeps all your stuff on the web then syncronizing with outlook/palm desktop/other program is only a perl script away. All of these programs can import vcards, and the vcard data structure is very well documented, so you could do a web-suck -> vcard -> program import as a temporary hack. Putting the stuff on the web is way cooler than putting it in some multi-megabyte undocumented data glob, like Outlook Express does -- those take smart people a long time to reverse engineer.

I live in NYC and have voicestream and I'm pretty psyched about this widget.
posted by n9 at 9:22 AM on April 5, 2002

I just checked the voicestream coverage map and they don't show any coverage for California. How could they miss supporting the most populous US State?
posted by mathowie at 9:47 AM on April 5, 2002

It must just be me. I don't understand why you would want the same device to a) manage contact lists & calendars & phone, AND b) play MP3s, show photos, play games & surf the web.

I mean, it would be nice to only one data brick to carry around, but -- for my purposes -- functions a) and b) should DEFINITELY run on separate battery systems.
posted by coelecanth at 9:50 AM on April 5, 2002

> The deal-breaker for the Danger Hiptop, to me, is

None of these things has a built-in phaser. Who designs 'em? Some wad of tofu-eating pacifists?
posted by jfuller at 10:05 AM on April 5, 2002

from Danger.com:

Q. What wireless network will the hiptop support?

A. The hiptop platform is designed to work with all carrier networks, although we have chosen to launch on the GSM/GPRS voice/data network. We plan to support other wireless networks later in 2002.

so it looks like it will work everywhere, at least eventually.

I work a couple of blocks from Danger's offices and have seen some people at the train station using hiptops (I assume they are Danger employees), so there must be coverage in California.
posted by itchyrobot at 10:30 AM on April 5, 2002

I guess it might appear cool to the US market where all the phones seem to be horribly clunky and SMS is a novelty(!) but, like Duug, I'd much rather have something like a Nokia 7650 thanks.

I want something that'll fit in a normal pocket and has all the extra features (including colour) without the mobile phone aspect suffering.
posted by malevolent at 11:56 AM on April 5, 2002

If it's CDMA initially, that means (at least Southern) Californians could use the Danger Hiptop with Cingular.
posted by Fofer at 1:46 PM on April 5, 2002

But will it be able to use Vindigo? That's key for any device to replace my Palm...
posted by andrewraff at 1:55 PM on April 5, 2002

I want something that'll fit in a normal pocket and has all the extra features (including colour) without the mobile phone aspect suffering.

I don't see how you can claim the mobile phone aspect will suffer when you've only seen a picture. at the very least, it can't be any worse than the 7650 - you've gotta slide the screen out of the way to get at the keypad in either case. and i'm willing to bet the jog wheel/button set on the face of either device allows you to access your phone book without folding.

I'd be very surprised if Danger isn't working on a color screen already... and with a user-replaceable screen, it could potentially be an os upgrade and new screen purchase away for people who buy the greyscale version. And really, is color actually that important when sending email (or SMS), making a phone call, or looking up something like movie times online? Neither my phone nor my palm have a color display, and I haven't missed it on either one.

i'm confused as to why you're calling the hiptop clunky in comparison to the 7650, when they're of nearly identical size and form factor, and have almost the same feature set. I don't doubt that both devices have the potential to be great.

i'm inclined to believe that this is an "americans dont' understand mobile telephony and thus will make an inferior product" argument, but I don't want to put words in your mouth.
posted by chrisege at 4:52 PM on April 5, 2002

chrisege, I can't speak for malevolent, but the difference as far as I can tell is that a mobile phone is designed for mobile use, whereas the Hiptop merely has mobile phone capabilities added on.

For instance, the 7650 is actually a very well designed phone in itself. It is very comfortable to hold in your hand, is a truly pocket friendly size and in common with other Nokia products has a very intuitive interface. You can literally snap, click and send a photo in a matter of seconds for instance.

We have a European alternative to the Hiptop over here called the Pogo which looks great on paper, but doesn't really provide a great user experience. These square little boxes look great in the ads until you have to shove them into your trouser pocket on a casual trip out and you realise that they aren't as dinky as they seem.

And I suggest that no-one dismiss the importance of colour. Funny as it may sound, there is a quantum leap in user appeal in using a brightly lit colour screen as opposed to a black and white one, you really feel that composing an email is not a chore.

Finally, Symbian is one heck of an operating system, with a huge library of applications and developers weaned on the Psion product line. It will take a long time for additional apps to arrive on the Hiptop platform I suspect.
posted by Duug at 6:16 AM on April 6, 2002

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