While I don’t do late night television, I too have been playing with the TwitterPeek. We still see contrarians and youngsters haven’t embraced the platform, but there’s no denying Twitter has become quite the phenomenon. Perhaps it’ll even defy our collective Web 2.0 ADD and stay strong, long term.
What makes TwitterPeek notable is that it marks the first dedicated Twitter-only device. Yet we don’t know if the market is ready or interested in such a solution. In talking to Peek CEO Amol Sarva, I get the sense he too is quite curious (and optimistic) in how consumers will respond. As they’re reusing the Peek Pronto hardware platform, this doesn’t seem like much of a company gamble. (Peek’s 30 person company expects to be profitable within 12 months.) TwitterPeek runs $99 with 6 months of (T-Mobile) wireless service or the better deal of $200 for lifetime access. As a convergence proponent and full-time smartphone user, I am somewhat skeptical. But we’re mainly here to talk gadgets…
The compact TwitterPeek hardware and interface will be appreciated by any pre-pearl Blackberry owners. Clickable scroll wheel on the side, situated above a back button. Considering the price, including cellular service, the hardware exhibits good build quality and has pleasing, if innocuous, looks. However, the keyboard is just OK. The keys are raised well and have good travel, but they are stiff (could loosen up with more use) and small.
TwitterPeek does a decent job of channeling the Twitter experience. You get all the stuff you expect including your feed, direct messaging, retweeting. And you get some stuff you wouldn’t expect such as searching your feed, Twitpic integration (viewing), and server-side reformatting of short link web page content.
Given Peek’s origins as an email-centric device, the repurposed TwitterPeek UI does suffer a bit. The main Twitter feed shows only excerpts of each 140 character tweet, in what would be an email subject field, requiring you click into a message to see it in its entirety. Unlike most mobile Twitter clients. However, once reading individual tweets, keyboard shortcuts allow you to quickly jump to the previous (p) or next (n) entry. But folks with as many followees as I, may have a difficult time being efficient. Another limitation for power users is TwitterPeek’s ability to solely handle one Twitter account. Amol hopes to find a market amongst corporate tweeters, yet most I know manage multiple accounts including their own.
All in all, the TwitterPeek is an OK device and the pricing isn’t unreasonable with a lifetime of wireless coverage. However, given the massive market penetration and expansion of smartphone devices (beyond “geeks”), which run Twitter clients and house cameras, it remains to be seen if the TP will gain traction with consumers. But I do credit Peek in giving it a shot. Go big, or go home.