Nigel Ballard reviews the Zipit: a tiny, expensive instant messaging appliance that can attach to a Wi-Fi network. Although it's weird and pricey, Nigel likes it.
My Zipit arrived, blister packed and complete with an integral Lithium Ion battery pack and the smallest AC charger known to man.
Setting it up was a breeze, simple on-screen instructions tell you what to do. And before you can say boo to a goose [ed. note: Nigel is British--gf], the Zipit is off connecting to the first open (visible) network it can see. It doesn't even wait and ask "Is it ok to connect to this one?" it just does.
I ended up manually putting in the non-broadcast SSID and WEP key for my office network, I added an existing IM account details and literally within ten seconds I was tapping out messages to my good friend Beth in Denver. She responded and was unaware I was using an overgrown pager to communicate.
The lack of a backlit LCD and the relatively small screen and spidery font gave me eye strain after twenty minutes of furious typing. But this is really designed for kids who should be eating their carrots in preparation for long bouts of frenzied IM'ing. The build quality is very good and the keyboard is really very usable and the clamshell lid complete with clip is very akin to a laptop that's been shrunk in the laundry.
It will work with existing AOL, Yahoo and MSN IM accounts. It should be noted that it doesn't do anything more than IM over Wi-Fi, but that might be enough as it is small and relatively cheap at $99.
The Zipit has to be the best thing ever invented for cheating on school exams because you just need an able accomplice with a copy of Webster's either in the school library or at another hot spot thousands of miles away! I wonder how long before we read a story of them being banned at a US schools? Danger Will Robinson!
Target and Amazon are now stocking the Zipit in all manner of tasty colors.