A car with feelings

The new Hiptop!

I’ve been using a Danger Hiptop for almost two years now, and it’s a superb, superb piece of engineering. Why? It’s the first device I’ve ever seen that uses a scroll wheel intelligently, and the brilliant conceit of hiding the keyboard behind the flip-up screen means that the QWERTY layout is easily 40% bigger than a Treo or Blackberry. That means you can type about 30 words a minute on a Hiptop. And I have: Several times when I’ve been out on assignment, I’ve received an email from an editor needing a quite rewrite on a few paragraphs of a magazine article. (It once even happened on a mountaintop; I did some quick research on the Hiptop’s superb web browser — which moves almost an order-of-magnitude faster than any Treo browser I’ve ever seen — then rewrote the article and sent it back, without the editor having any idea that I wasn’t just sitting at my desk.) Even cooler, the scroll wheel has ambient-information capabilities: You can program it to glow different colors depending on what type of message is arriving (email, Instant Message, etc.)

Sure, the Hiptop is riddled with problems, not least of which Tmobile’s insane lockdown: You can’t instal your own apps on the device, nor can you back up information using the USB dongle. But for my data-intensive needs, it’s still the best piece of mobile engineering, ever, and no other mobile phone or device comes close. Not even vaguely close.

This is why I immediately freaked out to read news that the next generation of Hiptop is shipping in a few months. Check out Danger’s government filings with the FFC, online here, including pix and a user’s manual. Hot damn.

(Thanks to Gizmodo for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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