Category: Treo

When I started to hear rumors about the iPhone5 earlier this year I was worried. I heard that Apple was definitely increasing the size of the screen. I always thought the iPhone had a great form factor for what people do with a smartphone. Here are my top 10 activities:

  1. Check Email
  2. Twitter
  3. Facebook
  4. iMessage
  5. Phone Calls
  6. Spotify
  7. Camera
  8. Foursquare
  9. Chrome
  10. Weather

Notice something missing from that list? Phone manufactures often tout the user experience of watching movies on some huge screen, but I never watch extended video clips on a phone. Sure, on occasion I will bring up a clip at restaurant, like showing my relatives a black bear eating from my father’s birdfeeder, but I don’t watch movies or TV from my phone. Laptops and tablets provide a superior video watching experience.

I see a lot of handset manufactures coming out with these huge bricklike phones that do nothing to help my top 10 use cases. Sure a bigger screen is nice, but its not nice when the phone can’t fit in your pocket and weighs ton.
With the iPhone5, my biggest fear did not come true. The footprint of the actual device is less than the iPhone4, even with the extended screen. Its noticeably thinner and lighter, which I really like. I also don’t have to bother with a bumper case since the antenna issue that plagued the iPhone4 is resolved.

While I’m not a fan of all the needless lawsuits going on in the smartphone industry, the prototype device pictures reminded me of the phone I used prior to the original iPhone.
Treo 650

I really loved my Treo 650, it was the first phone I owned that did e-mail well. You could even install “apps” and browse the web in a very limited fashion. It could definitely fit in your pocket, but it was a tight fit to say the least. It interesting to see the “bigger is better” smartphone trend. It reminds me of the SUV trend of the 90’s. At some point there will be a backlash.

Of all the phones I’ve owned over the years, probably the ultimate form factor for it’s time was the Nokia 8260.
Nokia 8260
The 8260 was an awesome phone considering it came out 12 years ago. It was absolutely tiny for the time, had great battery life, and an easy to use interface. Instead of looking to tablets for design inspiration, smartphone makers should spend some time with the Nokia 8260.

I can’t say I’m surprised, but I’m highly annoyed that Apple has delayed the next release of OSX because of the iPhone. The more I think about the iPhone, the more I dislike the position Apple has taken.

The lack of Third party applications is a real killer for me, and Steve Job’s lame excuse for not opening up the iPhone leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. The lack of a removable battery is just Steve Job’s way of screwing consumers over, plain and simple. There is no engineering justification for the lack of a removable battery.

The fingertip interface make be “revolutionary,” but its essentially useless for people who write e-mail, or send a lot of text messages. The highly touted keyboardless interface is like having a laptop with just a mouse, its pretty useless for text composition.

But wait, it has a music and movie player! Besides the rare occasion of showing someone a funny youtube clip, I have zero use for watching a movie on my phone. The only time I watch a movie on the road, is when I’m either in a hotel room or on a plane. Why would I watch a movie on my phone, when I can fire up my laptop?

Music would be semi-useful when I don’t have my ipod, but its not worth a $500+ price tag. Especially, when I have to plug a cable to sync my $500 phone, after bluetooth syncing for five years.

In other news, Palm announced plans to release a Linux powered Treo. This is an odd announcement considering Palm dumped Palmsource years ago, which was developing a Linux powered Treo.

Jabra gets a Wash

For about a week I was missing my bluetooth headset. I looked high and low, and I couldn’t find it. This situation was doubly annoying because when I was home, my phone would automatically go to headset mode when it was in range.

After about a week of searching, I went down to the laundry room to finish some wash I left over the previous weekend. Low and behold, my Jabra BT350 was in the dryer. It went through a full wash and dry cycle with heavy duty equipment.

I didn’t think it had a snowball’s chance at working again, but I decided to hook it up to the charger for kicks. Unbelievably, the headset works great!

Quite an impressive product, considering the build quality of most consumer electronics these days.

My hat’s off to the Jabra folks.

Treo 700w

treo 700w

It looks like all the screenshots of Treo prototypes running windows mobile were for real, Engadget has an array of shots of the Palm Treo 700w. Given how Treo sales have blown through the roof during the past year thanks to the PalmOS powered 650 and 600, you think they would want to reconsider introducing a windows powered product?

PalmOS is certainly not a huge selling point, it is certainly behind the times, but a lot of people like the simplicity of the interface. The whole windows mobile concept of essential using the standard winxp gui in a mobile phone makes me want to vomit.

I know PalmOS developers have be moving towards linux to power their new devices. The flashy lifedrive is a great example of a slick linux powered device. One can only hope, that there will also be a 700L offering in the near future.

This weekend I’m staying at my father’s house, who despite owning a tractor with air conditioning, is probably the LAST person I know without high speed internet of some form.. In his defense he still has free dialup for an ISP I worked for back in the day and he lives on a farm that is one of only 2 houses on a 3/4 mile dirt road..

Knowing that I would be bandwidthless for a few days, I finally got motived to get a bluetooth dialup networking setup between my Getnoo powered laptop and the Treo 650. I added some info to my little howto here.

I’m getting about 20-30K/S, which is pretty darn good in such a remote area. I’m looking forward to trying this out in an area that is EDGE enabled. I really have a sense of total connectivity, now I can connect my laptop from anywhere I get cell access.

I’ve been using the Treo 650 for two weeks now, and so far I’m really happy with my purchase. The Treo is a great design that perfectly combines the functions of a PDA and a cell phone. My last PDA was a palm IIIxe that I purchased about 6 years ago. While there are many incremental improvements on the PDA I used six years ago, all in all, Palm OS hasn’t changed that much.

While some people may consider this a negative, I for one consider it to be a positive. I want my PDA to look and feel like PDA. It should specialize in doing a few things really well and not attempt to act like a full fledged operating system. As far as software features are concerned, the Treo has a sold e-mail client and web browser. The organizer and calendar programs are still good but they haven’t changed much in the past 6 years.

There are three noticeable software features that inexplicably missing from this expensive product. Voice dialing seems like a no-brainer for a device that has a retail price of $650. A four year old nokia I bought new for $100 has voice dialing. The second noticeably absent feature is Graphitti, which even the first palm had back in the day. I realize Graphitti was a pain in the ass, but have they simply given up on handwriting recognition? When I had the IIIxe, I learned to write Graphitti and it worked pretty damn well. Finally, why doesn’t this device have a multi-protocol instant messaging client or at least AIM? All three of these missing features can be fixed by downloading third party shareware applications.

On the hardware end, the device is just the right size. Some may find it a little bulky, but I was actually expecting it to be bigger. I can carry this device in my pocket. Its not as comfortable as a regular phone but I can certainly walk around with this device in my pocket, but its certainly not something that I would take on a jog. The screen is simply stunning, really crisp and almost too bright. The button layout and keyboard are a joy to use.

There are some really nice features that I’ve been waiting to see in phones for quite some time. The first button feature I feel in love with is the hardware ringer switch. Frankly, there should be a law requiring a hardware ringer switch so people who seem to be obsessed with leaving their custom ringtones on max volume, can at least turn their damn phone off without fidgeting through a bunch of menus.

The camera has improved since the Treo 600, but the resolution for video and pictures remains the the same. While the camera is low res, I’ve been really impressed with the quality of the pictures, especially in low light conditions. The video function works pretty well, but I’ve had issues with playback in Linux. On OSX and windows, Apples quicktime player seems to work fine.

The battery is easily replaceable and one of the nicer niche features is the external SIM door which lets you swap sim cards between phones in a couple of seconds. Thats a nice feature, especially for people who have multiple phones. I was out the other night with a few people from work and one guy plopped 3 phones on the table. They were University accounts, so each device had a plan, but for multiple phone jockeys who can’t get their employer to pay for such things SIM swapping is easy.

A really nice feature of the Treo is the ability to run palm apps from your phone. There are applications to run just about anything. My two favorite apps so far have been ssh and vnc. The vnc client for the treo is definitely a cool demo app, but its only useful for doing small things, such has shutting down a machine. The ssh app is definitely the most useful for me.

Syncing with Linux and Evolution has been relatively painless with a USB cable. I picked up a bluetooth dongle and was able to get Bluetooth file transfer working in gnome without a problem. I have yet to try Bluetooth DUN but it looks like it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Probably the best way to transfer large files between the phone and a laptop is the SD card. I picked up 1 GB SD card from for $70 shipped. Unfortunately, the built in SD card reader for the Thinkpad X40 is unsupported in Linux. So now I have to buy a USB reader in order to make the card really useful.

Overall, I’m really impressed with the Treo 650. There are few apps I think should be included by default (Graphitti, IM, Voice Dialing). The one aspect of the Palm community that is disturbing to me is the culture of shareware. Basically any little app, no matter how insignificant, costs $20+. The Palm development community reminds me a lot of my foray in to OSX last year.