Treo Thoughts

Overall the Treo 650 is an impressive device. It is certainly not revolutionary, but evolutionary and considering the success and praise for the 600 it’s hard to fault palmOne for not pushing harder.

First the Issues….
Of course there is the memory issue which before I got the unit I thought would be an issue and as it turns out, it really is. I had to move some things to the SD card ( I use a 1GB) in order to conserve space, but of course the hitch with PalmOS is that you have to leave enough space vacant on the main system in order to copy the application back over as you need it. This can be a pain, but with some proper management can be worked around. Utilities like PowerRun and launchers like zLauncher and Initiate can handle the task for you and keep the applications easily within reach.

Aside from the memory, I’ve only run into one glitch. The radio has turned itself off for no apparent reason. In speaking with another 650 user I know this to be a glitch which will hopefully be fixed by palmOne with a firmware upgrade.

Usage

Using the Treo 650 is very similar to the 600. The 5-Way navigator is simple and you can move through many applications, though I’ve focused much of my Treo usage on apps that actually support the 5-Way since first getting the 600.

The screen on the 650 is gorgeous! It’s 320×320 and not landscape capable, but I don’t care. The difference from the 600 is pretty shocking actually. I own a T3 and a TC and it appears to be much brighter and sharper than both of them.

The keyboard and key configuration are a bit different than the 600. I like the larger key size and the additional space and shape of the new keys. They feel easier to work with in my somewhat larger hand. It’s going to take a bit of getting used to looking above the keyboard for the home and menu key but I think I’ll manage and adjust soon enough. The hard keys for phone functions are nice, though I inadvertently killed a call tonight while messing with the Treo, so be warned they work! I wish palmOne had enabled the rest of the hard keys to wake the device so I could have deeper 1-tap access to applications. I don’t mind having the Option+Hard key selections, but the fourth key is a throw-away since it kills calls and only activates or turns off the screen. I’d rather have at least one more option to launch an app from standby. Perhaps the next device…

Speed seems good. Not noticeably different from the 600 even though it has a faster CPU. It’s more than adequate, not fast. It’s hard to really tell for the moment, but I think both the vibration and volume are louder so hopefully more calls will be heard while walking about NYC.

Applications

I know people have reported reset loop issues upgrading to the 650 from other devices, but so far I’ve been fortunate either with my choices, or perhaps just lucky. Here’s what I have installed:

  • Vindigo – Great city guide software. I’ve used it for years now across quite a few Palm devices.
  • Butler – Nice utility for alarms, reminder tones, keyboard lock and many other tricks.
  • Initiate – a simple launcher which gives me easy keyboard access to applications, contacts, bookmarks, media files and memos. I actually only use it for applications, but have been debating configuring different views for the other functions.
  • 2Day and 4Cast – 2Day is a nice (small) datebook overlay that gives you some quick at a glance functions and makes it quite easy to schedule and review appointments. 4Cast is both a standalone application as well as plugin which provides a 5 day forecast within the calendar.
  • BackupMan – recently updated for the 650 and T5. Don’t be foolish, backup!
  • Bejeweled2 – Just had to…
  • ChatterEmail – Simply the best IMAP email for the Treo. Works in the background, with the screen off and can do quite a few tricks including pop-up over other apps if you want to notify you of new mail.
  • Metro – Fantastic Subway software for systems around the world.
  • Salling Clicker -Control your Mac over Bluetooth.
  • Documents to Go (the full suite) and DatavizTech (direct download) which moves the whole thing to the SD card for when you need it.
  • eReader Pro – now back to reading books in high resolution!
  • Keycaps 650 – lets me tap and hold or tap quickly to cycle through the letters per key.
  • Life Balance – a great way to GTD.
  • LightWav – want callerID ringtones or use MP3 or Wav files?
  • Missing Sync – the palm component to the hotsync manager replacement. This utility allows me to mount the Treo as a removable drive on my Mac.
  • mo:Blog as it says… mobile blogging software.
  • PocketTunes – Much more capable than Real handling streaming audio, background playback and quite a few other tricks. Not replacing my iPod, but good to have.
  • SplashBlog – photoblogging software
  • SplashID – password and serial tracking software – highly recommended!
  • SplashPhoto – photo management software for sharing or simply viewing pictures while on the go.
  • TimeCopy – updates my system clock on sync

Only the Documents to Go suite has been moved to my SD card at the moment and I am left with 3.3MB out of 22.4MB available. I’d love to kill RealPlayer and VersaMail to recoup their space, but they are built in the ROM. Bejeweled would be the first to go if I was to make any cuts.

Additional Observations
I am just getting started, but have already notices a few nice subtle changes in the UI. When you talk on the phone, the screen automatically dims and if you browse to an application (say your datebook for example) and continue talking the Treo switches back to the phone before dimming the screen again. Another nice phone feature I noticed is that if you use a wallpaper rather than the software keypad, the keypad automatically appears as you start dialing. Both of these things did not happen on the 600 and are appreciable changes.

All in all, I like the 650. I really do wish it had at least double the memory on board, if not much more. It’s a very capable device and more memory would easily cover the inefficient memory scheme palm has maintained since the introduction of expansion cards. I realize this would have impacted cost, but palm could have split the difference with the customer to attract a even wider group. I’d certainly have paid more – though I did get a sweet deal on this at $350.

I realize I complained pretty loudly for the past few months while waiting and don’t have any regrets there. palmOne needs to do a much better job understanding and communicating with the customer. We do after-all actually buy their products.

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