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Is This the New BlackBerry?

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Give Peek credit. Shortly after I wrote that the company would find it tough to create a market for its dedicated Twitter device, a representative wrote to ask if I'd try it and review it. I accepted.

Here's what I've learned in my week or so of testing:

  • The TwitterPeek is a well-designed device that has everything you'd expect.
  • Using TweetDeck on my iPhone is faster, richer, and more intuitive.

In other words, as much as I like this device, I can't see anyone who has used a smartphone opting for the TwitterPeek. Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) , Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) , Palm (Nasdaq: PALM  ) , Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) , and the many models now using Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Android mobile operating system all tweet. They're also built to run thousands of other software applications.

The TwitterPeek isn't just limited in scope; compared to my iPhone, it's also slow, typically lagging three to four minutes behind in delivering tweets. To be fair, this could be due to the sometimes-mediocre network reception at my home office. On the other hand, TwitterPeek was far more reliable than my typical AT&T (NYSE: T  ) service. I count the device's radio as one of its many strengths.

Shortcuts are another strength. Using a variety of keyboard combos, the TwitterPeek can organize tweets, retweet, reply to followers, or fast-forward through to the most recent posts. A side-mounted scroll wheel also aids navigation. In all, I'd say the TwitterPeek boasts a pretty smart design.

What I fear is the niche. ARM Holdings (Nasdaq: ARMH  ) says there will be 500 million smartphones on the market in five years, up from 200 million in 2009. The TwitterPeek is trying to catch the curl of that tidal wave. I'm not seeing it.

But that could also be because I've never used a BlackBerry, the most famous and most effective one-off device in telecom history. TwitterPeek's look and feel is eerily similar to that of RIM's boxy, keyboard-laden breakthrough.

Which, ironically, brings us full circle. Formerly a one-off device, the BlackBerry is now a smartphone. The TwitterPeek seems to me unlikely to cross the same bridge. That's why, even after trying and liking it, I still question the device's future.

But that's also just my take. Now it's your turn to weigh in. Is a smartphone in your future, or are one-off devices such as the TwitterPeek more your style? Let us know by voting in the poll below. You can also sound off using the comments box at the bottom.

Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Nokia is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers had stock and options positions in Apple and a stock position in Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy, after 15 years, still hasn't peaked.

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