The Handspring Treo is a great tool. It is the best PDA I’ve used hands down, a list that includes 2 Newtons and 4 other Palm devices. On this page, I’ve listed some of the things that I’ve done to make the Treo a more useful tool for me.
- To find the person you want to call in your address book, type the person’s initials (you can do this on the speed dial page). For example, if I want to call John Smith, just type “js” on the keyboard and you’ll get a list of all people with the initials “js”. This usually narrows the list to 3 or 4 people for me.
- You can copy a phone number to the clipboard and paste it into the phone app, then hit dial.
- Put "&date" into the Name field of a speed dial button and it displays the current date.
- Put "&time" into the Name field of a speed dial button and it displays the current time.
- Many common conjunctions are automatically converted for you if you just type the letters – for example: im becomes I’m, dont becomes don’t, havent becomes haven’t, wont becomes won’t, id becomes I’d, ive becomes I’ve, i becomes I, etc.
I have 2 cases that I use with my Treo, the Treo Leather Belt Clip Holster (review) and the Treo Convertable Flip Case (review). I use the belt clip case to wear the Treo at work and the flip case to protect it when I through it in my bag on the weekend. The belt clip case is much nicer leather, but the notes people have posted on treocentral.com that they have gone away from a real snap to a magnetic closure concerns me, check this out before ordering. Mine has a real snap and I like it. I was very pleased with their customer service as well. The flip case feels a bit poorly made, but it does its job. I had trouble with the snaps and had to tighten them myself using needle nose pliers so that the top half of the snap didn’t come off when I tried to unsnap it.
The provided hands-free earpiece didn’t really work for me, I’m currently using the Jabra Ear Boom and I really like it. If I’d seen this version, I probably would have gotten it instead. I can actually hear people with this headset. The Treo uses the 2.5mm size jack, look for the Nokia compatible headset.
Rick Whitt’s Directory Assistant is a "must have". It allows you to do white/yellow page lookups and get maps and directions using addresses you already have in your palm address book. You’ll need to enable PQAs for this to work, a link to instructions is at the bottom of this page.
TreoHelper is another "must have". It will keep the Treo on if you close the lid while data is being transferred (loading a page in Blazer for example) and will turn on the phone (and data if you want) after a reset. It does more, but those are the things I really use.
- Install TreoButton and control what happens when you open the lid of your Treo.
- X-Master is a great hack manager. Hacks allow you to customize a great number of little things about your handheld by installing "Hacks".
- If you want to be able to quickly see time/date and your upcoming appointments, take a look at ClockPop Hack. The great thing about this hack is that it will return your Treo to the state it was in when you release the button, including turning the Treo off.
- GlowHack will turn on the keyboard backlight when you turn on your Treo between hours you designate.
One of my major frustrations was losing the silk screen buttons that are normally on the grafitti area of a Palm device. I am using a combination of several applications and hacks to allow me to quickly launch the applications I want to have access to. By using CoLauncher and SlowLaunch I have regained access to the things I want without too much hassle.
Blazer is a pretty good browser. For text browsing on large pages (especially with tables), I find that it renders too slowly and I use Eudora instead. I use AvantGo for on-line browsing as well, I have it set to display color images while I have Blazer set to display black and white images or no images. I then use AvantGo to hit my traffic maps so I can see the color coding on them, which is about the only time I care about having color.
Tip: Set Blazer to open to your bookmarks page. Otherwize Blazer will load the last page you viewed when it is launched and if the last page you visited was a large page, you get stuck for what seems like a long time.
Tip: Hunting for information on the web with a PDA generally sucks – if you can gather the links you think you’ll need in advance, you’re going to enjoy your browsing experience a lot more. There are several sites that have collections of PDA-friendly links, use those and create your own home page of things you want (direct access to stock quotes and movie times for example).
There are a number of e-mail clients out there for the Palm. The best I’ve used are Eudora, Mark/Space Mail and SnapperMail. I purchased SnapperMail after my emails to Mark/Space went unanswered and I didn’t see any new releases for a time. Since then they apparently saw this page and sent me some updated information which is noted below.
Eudora is free and has support for filters and multiple accounts but no scheduled checking or jog dial support.
SnapperMail is currently in beta (version 1.5) and is generally considered to have the brightest future of any PalmOS e-mail client. It has active developers working on it, it uses some good new thinking about how people use smartphones and is already stable and has most major features in. Filters are still missing, but it has a rather nice scheduled checking implementation as of version 1.4. and they have one-button checking by pressing the SnapperMail hard button (assuming you map it to a hard button). SnapperMail also has good jog dial support.
Mark/Space Mail is $20, has the feel of a mature application and supports filters, multiple accounts and scheduled checking. There is no jog dial support and there is a bug which caused the filtering of the address lookup list to be done only by last name even when the list was sorted by first name (making it impossible to look up addresses for most people in your address book). According to email I received from a fellow at M/S, these are on their to-do list – they are also the reasons I do not use this app.
I’ve found that the Sprint SMTP server (outbound mail) is very unreliable. Hopefully this will not be the case forever, but I’ve given FastMail my $15 for a lifetime account that includes access to their SMTP server.
Enabling PQAs (Palm Query Apps, aka Web Clippings) – Follow the instructions here. (if that is down, you’ll need to install these files to enable PQAs on the Treo for it to work. After installing the files, you’ll need to reset your Treo, then go into Prefs, choose Wireless from the drop down menu and set the Proxy address to: 126.96.36.199.)