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T-Mobile USA sidelines some Sidekicks

The wireless carrier says some Sidekick devices with color screens have a faulty hinge that potentially limits the life of the product, so it is replacing devices for affected customers.

T-Mobile USA has found that some Sidekick devices with color screens have a faulty hinge that potentially limits the life of the product, so the wireless carrier says it is replacing devices for affected customers.

The Sidekick is a wireless device that has phone, organizer and Web surfing capabilities. One of its noteworthy features is a swivel screen. Bellevue, Wash.-based T-Mobile USA said Tuesday that it has discovered that the hinge that connects the screen to the device is faulty on some Sidekicks. The faulty hinge doesn't create a safety concern, but it does potentially reduce the life of the device, creating excessive wear on a wire that connects the screen to the motherboard.

"It is likely (that the problem) would not even be noticed by many affected users during the warranty of the product," the company wrote in an e-mail to CNET News.com. But the company said it wants to ensure that all Sidekick customers have the same level of quality with their devices.

T-Mobile has already begun sending out e-mails and letters to affected Sidekick customers. While the replacement program is not mandatory, replacements will be free, and data from a customer's old device will be transferred to the replacement device. Replacement devices will arrive seven to 10 days after the customer contacts T-Mobile, according to the company.

Company representatives emphasized that customers not contacted by T-Mobile have unaffected devices.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Danger designed the Sidekick, which it markets as a hiptop.

The hinge problem is found only on some T-Mobile versions of the device, according to Danger representatives. T-Mobile started selling the Sidekick with a color screen in early June.

Danger carrier partner Triton PCS began selling a color version of the device this summer.