Peek email reader teardown

[morcheeba], who you should remember from CVS camera hacking, picked up a Peek and took some pictures while tearing it down. The Peek is a $100 QWERTY device with a simple OS designed only to check email. The device is being sold by T-Mobile with a $19.95/mo data plan. There’s nothing too spectacular to see other than 16MB of flash memory and a TI OMAP processor.

[via Make]


  1. Aaron says:

    I wanna know whos paying 20 dollars a month just to check their email.

  2. modrak says:

    inb4 tethering comment

  3. bob says:

    nothing too spectacular?

    what’s this:

    some sort of debug connector which appears to be usb.

    this is totally hackable and interesting why wouldn’t you mention that?

  4. amol says:

    hey guys, hack away.

    if you want help please contact us at amol at getpeek dot com

    we thought about the super-famous and cool CVS-camera-hacking when we made the Peek

  5. jimxugle says:

    any word on if the sim card would work with a cellular modem?

  6. tomas316 says:

    What happens if you put the sim in an unlocked cell phone? do you get any service?

  7. amol says:

    sorry guys the sim won’t work in anything outside the Peek enviornment

  8. flaunt_dzx says:

    the real question is: can it run linux?

  9. nubie says:

    TI OMAP not too spectacular? Been to Handheld running Ti OMAP that is much faster than a PSP, clocks to 800+ Mhz!!

    Maybe you should mention the type of OMAP :P

    If it can’t be purchased for $100, don’t say that it is $100. If that includes $20 service for a year it is a $340 device.

    (This is the same premise as a $200 iPhone, that charges you $2,560 over 2 years, IE $300 more than the old iPhone. When purchased seperately it is closer to $600)

  10. nubie says:

    I see, it is a “embedded 104Mhz ARM7 that is part of the Texas Instrument Locosto chipset”

    That doesn’t seem very nice (well for $100 it is OK).

    Well, if this could be useful, but I doubt it, QVGA display is low.

    Does it have push email? That would be neat. Nothing stopping it from browsing the web in the same poor fashion as other mobile phones.

    How long until somebody sets up a “browsing” server that renders the web to emails? you will see the unlimited emails a month offer be rescinded post haste.

  11. nubie says:

    It is $100 solid, $20 monthly for service according to the website.

    That isn’t terrible, but they do say right on the page it is not for hardcore techies, so why is it here? It hasn’t been hacked yet.

  12. morcheeba says:

    @Amol – RE: “we thought about the super-famous and cool cvs-camera-hacking when we made the peek” … I’m so totally honored, thank you!

    @nubie – I like your browsing server idea!

    This device is here because it’s an attractive hack candidate – acceptable cost in a great little form factor. Hacks have to start somewhere :-) Plus, the pictures are useful info – a TSOP flash would have been much easier to probe, so hopefully knowing that it’s a tiny BGA might help someone decide if they should buy it for hacking.

  13. amol says:

    it can run linux – but someone has to figure out how

    and we’d be glad to help


  14. Maggard says:

    Correction – the Peek wasn’t developed by T-Mobile, isn’t sold by T-Mobile, or supported by T-Mobile, it just uses T-Mobile’s data service. It is sold by Peek company in big-box consumer stores (well, Target so far) and is intended for folks who want easy online email anywhere without any complexity.

    So why not get a, say, Blackberry?

    Because at $99 the Peek is about $250 cheaper then a Blackberry, sans 2 year contract. Also the Peek only does email, so users can ignore every other bit of functionality of a smartphone. Yeah – there a folks who really do want less then more.


    Well I’ve a buddy whose parents retired to a life on the road. His Mother used a Peek-alike (her device required being held up to a pay phone to send/receive it’s emails) for years. She loved her device – quick easy communication for very little cost or effort from anywhere.

    I imagine there are some good number of folks who are similar – they want a little box that does one thing, email, somewhat cheaply and reasonably well. Think WebTV. No, not a mindset geeks get into but a possibly a viable market nonetheless.

  15. klangdon says:

    what this needs is wifi, squeeze wifi in there and you truly have an $100 device with no service charges…

  16. Ian Littman says:

    I’m really curious as to whether this thing could get a bit of a speed boost by cleaning up code or whatever. Maybe get someone who worked for Palm a few years ago to work on the project…my old pre-OS 5 Palms ran great on even a 16 MHz processor. They even had a few models with color screens on 33 MHz procs…

    A few other suggestions:
    1. IM/text-via-IM support. Granted, it’ll take more battery power but it would take very little data to pull off and would net you guys tons more users. You could make a deal with Google, who already has the infrastructure in place, and AOL…so if you added a GMail or AIM/AOL Mail account you’d automatically have IM capability.
    2. Push e-mail. Once IM functionality is in place, all you’d have to do is send an IM to the device when an email comes in, and the device downloads the email. Should use less power than polling for people who do’t get a lot of e-mail, too.
    3. IMAP. I know, this creates issues with large mailboxes, but all you’d have to do is have a search function that will check to find certain messages, then pull them down as needed…
    4. Archive option for GMail. With IMAP this is easy to do.
    5. Quick-jump for emails. Search-as-you-type would be awesome and logical for something like this, but just typing in a letter to jump to an email would be much appreciated. I’m supposing there’s a “sort by” menu option anyhow so again logical progression.
    6. PIM maybe?

    With the above modifications to the device, the Peek could truly be a poor man’s BlackBerry. Sorta reminds me of the old days of, except this device has a faster data connection than the pager-powered Palm VII, VIIx and i705 did. Lots of potential here, and honestly this is oe of the device types where a lot can be learned from Palm.

    Looking forward to advancements as time goes on…

  17. rick says:

    It is a shame that this device doesn’t have wifi or an SDK. Being able to program a device will enable it to offer services and things that are not even known to us right now.

    Can you buy the peek for under $100?

  18. John says:

    If anyone is interested I just picked up a couple Peek from my local Target store for $12 in the bargain bin. So naturally I wanted to see what else I could make them do, which is how I came across this page.

  19. binaryloc says:

    this is essentiall an unlimited data plan for 16 bucks a month — slap linux on that and you have a bargain.

  20. josh says:

    Hey i just got one for 12 bucks as well! so lets hack it, and make it do something cool like a pda, and or possibily make it play games, and have a linex type of user interface!!! yeh? i mean for 12 bucks! haha

  21. tom says:

    Im with josh and binaryloc. I just got one at target today for $12. I was hoping to get access to tether it to a carputer. Then i could get web access wherever i go. From what i see the chip isnt that fast so getting some form of linux on there might be a bit much for it no? Maybe I’m wrong and i would love to get something more out of this but who knows.

  22. andres says:

    i just got one for 12 bucks also.

  23. deerfreak says:

    I just picked up three at Target for $6.98 each…Let the hacking begin!

  24. Tom says:

    If you purchased from target you should know that the aim in your device will not activate without contacting peek. I’ve been trying to get mine running for over a week now with no success an little help from peek customer service. I may have to send it in and get it reflashed with the new is

  25. Tom says:

    “If you purchased from target you should know that the aim in your device will not activate without contacting peek. I’ve been trying to get mine running for over a week now with no success an little help from peek customer service. I may have to send it in and get it reflashed with the new OS” sorry i meant the SIM not aim. Stupid ipod spell check.

  26. chianne says:

    i just bought the pronto, works great but i agree that linex would be a great addition. . but i kinda think this was meant to be a simple device, like the “anti-blackberry” for those who just want the emails and texting and not the complicated stuff, or those who arent very tech savvy.. i LOVE advanced technology and this pronto is still fun for the price n all. . plus i agree, there could be some fun researching involved in this, thus. . let the hacking begin.

  27. Jay says:

    I wonder if putting other carriers SIM cards into the PEEK would let you use their service? I could “borrow” my mom’s SIM card and…

  28. AMediumPace says:

    @jay: I tried two different At&t SIM cards that are both active. The indicator lights up but you get a message to contact customer service because it can’t contact the company’s server.

    I bought 5 of these with version 1.04 today at Target for $7.47 apiece. I ordered a serial cable for it as well. I do wonder about the red X over the antenna while the Tmobile SIM is inserted. Has anyone tried another activated Tmobile SIM?

  29. kuyote says:

    just picked one up for $10 at target. Looking for a hack for it.

  30. John says:

    I picked one up a few months back, and just recently put the SIM into a G1 I bought off someone.
    It does text! (but not email)
    Works for me, since I have a phone threw work. $20 texting + wifi is better then $80 G3!

    Anyone have some idea on how to get the peek email on another phone?

  31. sp3a12uk says:

    Just picked up a Peek Classic at Targer for $10. also has a promotion due to their one year anniversary, get the Peek PRONTO for $1, the promo code is BIRTHDAY. Soon I will have two so lets start hacking. :)

  32. charliex2 says:

    I just picked one up for $4.99 at target.

  33. Brennan says:

    there not 100 anymore i got one at target yesterday for only $3.73 so there like dirt cheap now me and my brother got one just for the hell of it.

  34. bikehikeclimb says:

    Anyone know if you can part this out? I paid 3.73 and that is a pretty cheap screen and keyboard. I have quite a few arduinos…could I connect the screen from the peek to a arduino?

  35. msarge says:

    Thinking abouting picking one up for 5 bucks in hopes of hacks.

  36. monkey dork says:

    anyone knows if they made a linux os for the peek?

  37. dom says:

    @Brennan or @bikehikeclimb which target was that I’m looking to purchase a couple?

  38. Sri says:

    I was able to put the T-mobile SIM from peek in my Nokia E63 and use the data plan (Text and Email/Browse the net). Does not permit me to make/receive calls though.

    Only works on Edge network, not sure if it is a T-mobile limitation or Peek limitation.

  39. hamm says:

    i wonna know if anyone figured if the peek classic, has been hack to run on a wifi instead of that sim card.. i happen to find one in target for aot $4, and bought it.. it be cool to get the peek to use wifi instead of the sim card

  40. Jade says:

    Any updates about hacking this thing? Anyone got a test linux up and running I wanna try it out.

  41. GraphiK says:

    Has anyone tried this in an unlocked iphone? Unlimited texting for life with the iphone keyboard would be heaven.

  42. RGB_Gamer says:

    Has anyone else tried and successfully gotten a smart phone to work with web, email, instant messaging, etc with the Peek SIM card?

  43. chris says:

    the zipit z2 has been hacked with linux…cant we do the same for this?

  44. Jef Price says:

    I have two of these that Peek gave me years ago when I was running a small blog company, we’re rebooting that brand now and I was going through some of our boxes and found both the Pronto and the Twitter devices, any luck on hacks? I loved these things and used them all the time, would love to get some use out of them again….

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