Back to Palm

Treo 650Notwithstanding the fact that I’ve been publicly dismissive of both PDAs and data services over wireless phones, I somehow successfully convinced myself that I need a Treo 650 and ordered one last week from Verizon Wireless. I’ve had it only a handful of days and haven’t yet tapped its full potential, but already I’m pretty happy with it. At the very least, it’s an improvement in speed and responsiveness over my Sony Ericsson T608 which was pretty much a piece of crap. Also, the change in carriers has finally, after some five years or so, brought me back to Verizon — I have no particular affection for the company as a whole, but their customer service is leagues above that of Sprint PCS, and they also really do have the cleanest voice signal of all the wireless carriers operating in the New York area.

It’s also nice to be back on the Palm OS — well, kind of. I bought my last Palm OS device in 2000, I believe, so it’s distressing to see how little it’s really changed in that time — where once it was black and white, now I have it in full color. Big deal. It’s still intuitive and responsive, but it’s no longer a model of elegance, by any means.

What makes it worse is a confusion of interface styles, at least in the Treo models. The phone application, which looks vaguely three-dimensional (in a CD-ROM ca. 1993 kind of way) bears little resemblance to the address book with which it’s integrated. The changes I’ve noticed since 2000 largely look like hacks and accretion. Somewhere along the way, between mergers and countless name changes riffing on the original Palm brand, the master plan for the operating system’s user interface has been lost. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for the OS’s long-promised major upgrade to Cobalt to reclaim some of that original coherence.

  1. Hmm, interesting. I haven’t upgraded from my 600 yet, but I find the interface to be the best I’ve ever used, both phone and address book. Sure it’s no OS X, but thankfully it’s no Windows Mobile either.

    Does Verizon let you use the Bluetooth on it now? I think at some point they were crippling Bluetooth so you couldn’t use it as a wireless modem for your laptop. I could be wrong on the company, but for some reason I thought that was Verizon.

    Anyway, welcome to the Treo family. We joyously applaud your arrival. It’s not the end-all-be-all phone, but it’s the best thing going right now and that means a lot.

  2. Mike: If you haven’t seen the 650 interface you should look it up online or swing by a cell store — it’s butt ugly compared to the 600. I’m actually quite happy with my 600 due, in small part, to how much nicer my phone buttons look 😉

    Khoi: If you need something to maybe, oh I don’t know, make browsing on your new Treo easier, I’ve heard of this really cool new service called IYHY, you should check it out. *cough*shameless*cough*

  3. B. Adam: IYHY is fantastic, thanks for the tip. And good work!

    Mike D.: We’re all grateful to Verizon for graciously allowing us to use Bluetooth on their precious network — at least just this once. Saracasm aside, I was really reluctant to go with them, reluctant to reward them for their past Bluetooth crippling. But my little self-delusional vindictiveness aside, wireless syncing works pretty seamlessly with my PowerBook. It’s actually one of the more painless syncing processes I’ve ever used.

    I should get a closer look at a 600, but I kind of agree with you anyway that, feature-wise, the Treo has the best phone/contact interface out there. It’s just that they’re all so bad, I guess, that it still leaves me unimpressed.

    But still, a few weeks ago I was too damn good for a smartphone, and today I’m a proud new owner, so take my editorializing with a grain of salt.

  4. I’m strongly considering the Treo 650 to replace my Sony Ericsson K700i and add PDA functionality. I guess my only reservation at this point is: the price (for in-contract users), and the up-and-coming Treo 700.

    Also, the frequent resetting issue makes me a bit nervous about such a purchase.

  5. Treo tip #1: set up a messaging favorite for “Google SMS”. You can then hold down a key of your choice and have quick access to everything google local and froogle provide.

    I’ll email you a contact I created which contains GoogleSMS instructions, just for reference.

    Also, I gave up on Versamail. It’s simple and elegant but had connection problems and corrupted its database a few times. I bought SnapperMail and haven’t looked back. YMMV–I use both with secure IMAP. Versamail may be better with POP accounts; I wouldn’t know.

  6. I recently started using Snappermail for my 600 and love it. I did have to RMA my first treo, however, because the phone part went terribly wonky a few weeks ago… but VZW’s customer service did marvelously and I had a new unit the day after I called tech support.

  7. I am busted.

    I’ve been using Palm devices ever since 1999. Almost religiously. I was an addict and strongly believed in their superiority over PocketPCs, Psions, iPaqs, Nokia Communicators and all the other crap.

    Palm didn’t care… They built the Palm V which was a remarkably sexy device then and left the marketplace shortly afterwards. Handheld innovations came from Sony and Handspring, even from Microsoft.

    Years pass by. Palm boasts a new company name every now and then, merges and divorces its software division. They do nothing else. There’s even rumours about an WindowsCE powered Treo. Holy crap…

    Nowadays Palm is in a state reminding me of Apple prior to Steve Jobs’ re-recruitment. With one significant difference: No Steve Jobs at sight. I am sorry for them.

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