First, the size. T-Mobile and Sharp (the manufacturer of the device) say it is smaller. From a distance, it doesn't look any smaller than previous Sidekicks, which are big, honking pieces of phone hardware. The new Sidekick is still large. There's no getting around that.
But the interchangeable shells make up for the size. The Sidekick comes with two exterior shell pieces that can be removed and switched with other pieces. Users can buy predesigned shells, or, what's really fun, use the T-Mobile Web site to design your own custom shell. I took the designing software for a spin. It couldn't have been easier. The design tools are simple enough for anyone to figure out, and you also can import pictures from accounts such as Flickr. I chose to use one of my favorite pictures for my shell design. After designing and checking out, the shell is made and sent to your house. Very cool.
In keeping with the customization theme, T-Mobile allowed the guests it hosted at the launch event to have skateboards custom decorated, T-shirts custom designed, and custom jewelry made.
The Sidekick's other improvements include a camera that was bumped from 1.3 megapixels up to 2 megapixels, with the ability to record video; a beautiful WQVGA display; stereo Bluetooth and a standard 3.5-mm headset jack; and access to T-Mobile's catalog of downloadable content.
The Sidekick is still limited to 2.5G EDGE data, however.
In all, the updates were much needed and T-Mobile gave the Sidekick a good kick in the pants.