The Peek

The e-mail-only Peek could appeal to technophobes.

Nov. 28, 2008— -- I've been telling my husband for some time that I need to get a smart phone and, more specifically, the iPhone.

A smart phone will help me to stay on top of my personal e-mail, keep me organized and, well, make me smarter. But since I lost my second cell phone, that argument is holding less weight.

So when the opportunity to try out the Peek came along, I jumped at it. Here's a device that will allow me to use my Web-based AOL account.

I had visions of reading and responding and writing e-mails on my long train commute to and from work. That would be one less thing I'd have to do at the end of my busy day.

Well, the Peek and I did not get off to such an auspicious start.

After setting up my account, the first thing I noticed when I went to check my e-mail the old way – on my computer laptop – I had no new e-mails. In fact, for the next several days, all of my new e-mails seemed to be going only to the Peek and not my inbox.

After a quick call to Peek (or the "Peeksters," as they say on their Web site), I learned that this was one of the glitches the "Peek geeks" were trying to work out with AOL. When I happened to check my old mail folder on my AOL account, I surmised what went wrong.

The Peek was receiving my new mail and my AOL account was registering it as already read or "old mail."

Needless to say, this did not bode well for my introduction to my first smart phone, even if it was only an e-mail reader. Even after the glitch was fixed, I noticed that my new e-mail was no longer in bold on my AOL account, making it difficult to sort through what I had already read.

When I finally used my Peek to read and respond to my e-mail, I got a glimpse of some of the addictive qualities of using the iPhone, the BlackBerry and other smart phones. The connection was great on the train and I was able to scroll through several days worth of e-mails.

I could see why the Peek had generated some buzz. And, at $99.95 plus $19.95 per month, it's cheap, at least compared to other smart phones on the market. It also doesn't require a contract and is relatively lightweight.

But I also found that I had to really press the qwerty keyboard to get it to work. At the end of a 20-minute e-mailing session, my right thumb was hurting, and I could only imagine how my hands would feel after a couple weeks of using the Peek.

Bottom line: Maybe my husband's right -- I'm smart enough without a smart phone. I'll stick to the old-fashioned way and the big keyboard for now. Although, I have to wonder if the iPhone's touch screen would go easier on my hands. Maybe I'll find out.