Life with the PalmOne Treo 650

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I have had a chance to use my new Treo 650 from Palm One for about a week and a half and am ready to make some observations and comments on it. First, a little background. As before, I am using T-Mobile in Los Angeles. I purchased the Unlocked Treo 650 directly from Palm One before their unfortunate decision to raise the price a hundred bucks.

As I have already ranted about that, I will spare you it again. My transition from my previous smartphone, the Sony Ericsson P910i, was simplicity itself. I took my SIM card out of the Sony and put it in the Treo, turned on the phone application in the Treo and was able to make calls immediately. Also, my internet and wap settings were preserved and i was able to browse the web from the Treo, using the included Blazer web browser, and send text and picture messages. All without having to enter any new settings.

All in all, a good start for the Treo 650. Then, I began the process of setting up my Macintosh desktop, a Dual 2Ghz G5, to sync with the Treo via iSync. As this is a Palm-based device, this too proved to be very simple. I installed the Palm Desktop software and the Palm conduits (you need them even if you intend to use iSync later). Then, i installed the iSync Palm conduit, went to the conduit settings and enabled iSync for my Treo (which is cleverly named chu, after me).

Then, in the iSync application, the Treo icon appeared and I set it to sync my address book and ical calendars. I then connected the sync cable, navigated to the hotsync icon on the Treo and went for it. Unlike my previous experiences with the P910i, I am happy to say that they first sync went off without a hitch. As it was the first time, it took several minutes to load all of my contacts and ical data. Subsequent syncs have gone much, much faster and have resulted in no errors so far.

The Treo 650 comes bundled with some applications such as Documents to Go for viewing word, excel and powerpoint docs, Versamail, for sending and receiving email and a web browser called Blazer. All of these apps are installed the first time you sync as well, which also contributes to the long duration of the first sync. And, as this Treo 650 has bluetooth, it has also synced via that interface with no problems. However, sync takes even longer that way so if you plan on installing any software or moving large documents, its better (and faster) to use the usb cable.

Now, a few bad things. First, the included email software, Versamail, is not very good, at least for me. It has the bad habit of downloading every email each time it syncs, even ones that I have deleted and told it to delte from the server. That gets annoying. Plus, I have had it set to retrieve my email from my main two accounts at one hour intervals throughout the day. Unfortunately, it is only successful about half the time and twice it has frozen to the point that I have had to perform a soft reset of the Treo to get it to work again. Not so great.

So, I dumped it in favor of another email program called SnapperMail. So far, SnapperMail has performed perfectly and has done exactly what I want an email program to do. Get my email. SnapperMail, sadly, is not free but for me, its worth the price. Your mileage may vary and you may find that VersaMail is enough for your needs. It just wasn’t for me. My intention is for the Treo to mitigate the necessity for me to carry around my Powerbook all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I love my 12“ Powerbook. It rocks. However, the Treo 650 is much smaller, lighter and has a good battery that can be recharged in the car, if necessary.

While we are on the subject of batteries, the Treo seems to have a pretty good one. I use the Treo 650 every day to make calls, check email, browse the web, take photos and for many other things. I have yet to run out of battery power during the day. I do charge it every night but even after a ful day of use, the battery is usually only about half gone, if that much. So, that’s pretty good battery life in my opinion. Plus, with the new file system, if I did run out of power, I would not lose the items stored in the memory of the Treo 650.

This is a great improvement over the Treo 600. Although, this feature has angered some treo 650 users because although the new file system has this one big advantage, it also makes programs and files take up more space so consequently, the Treo 650 actually has less usable memory than the Treo 600. While I applaud Palm One for making improvements, would it have killed them to up the internal memory to 64 mb or even more? Even the P910i had more internal memory. Maybe that will come in the next version of the Treo.

In the next installment, more usability stuff along with web browser comparisons and IM clients.

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