Sync Like a Pirate

Sony Ericsson T608If, at any time since the first of January, Verizon Wireless had released just one Bluetooth mobile phone, I would have almost instantly switched from my current carrier, Sprint PCS. As it turns out, the notoriously slow-moving telecom giant has shown almost no hint that it will do anything of the sort, even joking that consumers hoping for a Verizon-branded Bluetooth phone had better “switch to somebody else.”

As luck would have it, I happened across a mention of a semi-secret Bluetooth phone from Sprint PCS last week. Apparently, the company has been offering the previously announced and nearly aborted Sony Ericsson T608 on the sly, as it were, not making it available to Web or in store customers, oddly, but selling it exclusively through their toll-free number. I ordered one straight away, and it arrived today.

Bluetooth: The Promise

The whole point of my two-year fixation on Bluetooth has been to make use of Apple’s handy iSync technology, which, among other features, allows one to keep the names and phone numbers on a Macintosh synchronized with the names and telephone numbers on a Bluetooth-enabled wireless phone. Simple, right?

(In fact, this is becoming an obsession with me: more than almost any other technology, I would pay a small fortune to have a single contacts database propagated across all my information devices and kept in perfect synchronization at all times. I can’t believe the amount of brain power available on the globe in 2004 hasn’t yet made this possible — and we never even expended any of it trying to build a single space colony, either.)

Bluetooth: In Practice

I can report that Bluetooth plus iSync works and pretty well, even if it’s not quite the ideal that I had envisioned, unfortunately. First, I had a little bit of a hiccup on the maiden sync, trying to figure out how to get the phone and my PowerBook to make a connection. In Bluetooth terminology, these devices must be “paired,” (i.e., they must recognize one another as peers, authorized to talk to one another, so to speak) and though the process isn’t complicated, it didn’t take the first time I tried it.

Whatever, I had it running exactly as described on the second try. In about fifteen minutes, I had all 388 of the contact in my Mac OS X Address Book copied to the phone, which, to me, is awesome. I vow never to manually enter another telephone number again using the crappy number pad on a mobile phone!

That was the nirvana I had been looking forward too, but unfortunately, I came across some nontrivial drawbacks that I hadn’t anticipated. Half of them can be laid at the feet of Apple’s still-immature iSync technology, and I’m looking forward to much more robust synchronization features in the forthcoming Mac OS X Tiger. The other half are limitations found in the Sony Ericsson T608 itself, which is a kind of a bummer, because I’m almost certain that, now that I’ve invested US$200 in a new phone that will essentially wed me to Sprint PCS for a while, Verizon Wireless will release a real kick-ass Bluetooth phone like, next week.



  1. What drawbacks have you encountered? I’ve been using a Sony Ericsson T616 with iSync for about a year now with no problem. Perhaps you’re looking for more advanced functionality?

    Anyway, I also use Sailing Clicker with my phone and computer, allowing iChat, iTunes, Address Book, and other applications to interact with my phone. For instance, iChat detects my presence and sets my availability accordingly. When my phone rings, Clicker changes my iChat status to “I’m on the phone” and pauses iTunes. When I hang up, everything reverts back. When I step away from my desk, my status changes to “I’m unavailable”.

    It’s pretty cool, if not nerdy.

  2. One thing I’m not clear on with Salling Clicker; If you’re using it with a Sony Ericsson phone, does it need to be running the Symbian OS? The T608 does not run Symbian, which is one reason I quickly gave up on trying to install Salling Clicker last night.

    As for drawbacks of synching my T608 via iSync: I’ve been keeping notes on this and I’ll try and post them soon.

  3. My Sony Ericsson phone is not a “smart phone” using the Symbian OS, but rather a traditional phone. I’ve have no problem using Sailing Clicker. The Symbian compatibility is a fairly recent revision to the software.

    I highly recommend it.

  4. Is the phone very responsive? I’ve read more than a few times that Sony phones are slow, taking 3 seconds to open the address book for instance.

  5. t608 is NOT compatable with Salling Clicker, I just found out. If anyone has gotten it working or have a work-around I’d certainly be interested….very dissapointing

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