Once they do, you'll see the Twitter names on the left, the first 20 characters of the tweets in the middle, and the timestamps on the right. This is perhaps one of our biggest complaints about the Twitter Peek: you can't read the full tweets at a glance like you can on the Web site. You have to click through to each individual tweet in order to read the full 140-character message. This might be acceptable if you only follow a few people, but if you follow hundreds of people, this can get incredibly tiresome. You can page through individual tweets by pressing "N" for next and "P" for previous, but even this can be tedious.
The same goes for scrolling through a really long list of tweets. It can take quite a long time to scroll through them, even when using the page-up and page-down shortcuts (Shift+space bar and space bar, respectively). We really wished there was a "Top" shortcut to quickly get to the most recent tweet, or at least a way to advance through multiple pages at once.
We also found that it can take almost an hour or so for new tweets to show up. For example, we're writing this at around 10:50 p.m., and the latest tweet on our Twitter Peek is time stamped 8:53 p.m. even though we have four full bars in signal strength. We should also note that like with the other Peek handhelds, the Twitter Peek receives its signal from regular cell towers, so you do need good signal strength to get your messages through. The Twitter Peek does not have Wi-Fi, so you can't use that instead.
You can do almost everything on the Twitter Peek that you can on the Twitter Web site. You can post tweets, send and view direct messages, send and view @ replies, and there's even a handy search function. You can view a list of your own tweets, as well as a list of another person's tweets (or as the Twitter Peek calls it, their "user feed"). The Twitter Peek also has a list of keyboard shortcuts you can use to quickly access these features.
At the bottom row of each full 140-character message is a Reply button and a Retweet button. If the tweet has a URL, you'll also see a View Link button. When you select that, you will see a text-only version of the linked Web page. This can take several seconds to load, and when it does, it's often unreadable because of bad formatting.
You can view linked images from tweets as well, but only if they use the TwitPic service. Simply click the View Link button like before, and the image will show up on your screen. However, if the tweet uses another Twitter photo service like TweetPhoto or yFrog, you're out of luck.
If you're hoping that you can shut off the device, power it back on, and have it load all of the tweets you missed, you're out of luck there as well. Instead, it'll only load the 10 most recent tweets, plus an odd warning message:
"Wow! You received a bunch of tweets since your last check in with us. We've delivered the last batch--please view the rest online. Thanks!"
It seems to us that imploring us to "please view the rest online" seems to defeat the purpose of the device.
Even after we got over the question of who exactly would buy such a highly specialized device, we were flummoxed by the Twitter Peek's poor user experience. If using the actual Twitter Web site is easier and more intuitive than this Twitter-specialized handheld, we feel that it has failed in its mission.
One might argue that you can also use Twitter with SMS or text messages, and that the messaging interfaces on most basic cell phones aren't properly equipped to handle Twitter's complexity either. But the difference is, cell phones have more than one purpose: they can also make and receive calls. If you're going to market a single-purpose device like the Twitter Peek, you need to make sure it does that single purpose exceptionally well. And the bottom line is, this doesn't.
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