Over the last few weeks I’ve been thinking about my mobile computing solutions, and thinking about making some changes.
First the PDA/cell phone side of things. I’ve used a Treo for the last 4 years, before that I had a separate cell phone and Palm. I’ve been increasingly restless with my Treo lately – I often want a bigger screen, and have been wondering if I should go back to separate devices1.
When my Treo 600 went down, I used the A900 as my primary phone for a little while. I really like the form factor of the A900, and I haven’t used a
Since I’m already paying to use the A900 as a modem, I was thinking hard about adding a mobile device with bluetooth that could also use leverage the A900 connection. After doing a little research, I decided to give the Palm TX a try.
There is a lot that I like about the TX:
- The screen is gorgeous.
- The new Blazer (built-in browser) is quite capable.
- I really like being able to rotate the screen – holding it in one hand and using the 5-way nav in horizontal mode is very comfortable.
- The Bluetooth and WiFi work exactly as you’d expect for connectivity – it’s really fast.
However, there are a few things I don’t like as well:
- The 5-way nav doesn’t work in SnapperMail the way it does on the Treo. This is something SnapperFish will address, but until they do it’s an annoyance.
- The power on/off button is somewhat inconveniently recessed, making it harder to push (this is likely intentional to avoid accidental on/off).
- Not having a keyboard turns out to be a big issue for me. Not just for replying to e-mails, but for looking up contacts, adding appointments, entering URLs into the browser… turns out I can’t really go back to grafitti after all.
- While the Bluetooth works great for connecting to the internet, I can’t dial out on my A900 from the Palm. Perhaps this will be fixed in a future software update for the A900.
Adding a keyboard is an option for replying to e-mails while out and at a table, etc. but it doesn’t solve the problem of quickly getting to a phone number while in the car or entering a shorthand appointment with one hand. Also, if I get a Bluetooth keyboard I believe that I can either be connected to the phone (for internet access) or the keyboard, but not both at once.
Om asks why Palm hasn’t come out with an internet tablet, but the Palm TX is really very close to being that. Built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, a nice screen, and a capable browser and e-mail client – it’s certainly going to meet the same needs as a Nokia 770 for a number of users. Of course, it doesn’t seem to be marketed that way.
I haven’t fully given up on the Palm TX – there is still a lot to like about it. If the “full screen grafitti” mode worked anywhere near as well as it did on the Newton, I might be willing to scrap the keyboard – it doesn’t.
There aren’t a lot of Palm OS devices that have keyboards built-in, but Sony made a few. The PEG-UX50 also has WiFi and Bluetooth, I thought that might be a decent option. I couldn’t find any on Craig’s List in Denver, but there were a few in the Bay Area and I decided to take advantage of my trip to the Bay Area last week and pick one up.
Unfortunately, I haven’t had much luck with the unit I got. The price was good, but the WiFi is busted and I haven’t been able to get it to sync to my Mac (I may need some Sony drivers) or connect to the A900 via Bluetooth (I believe I need to install additional Bluetooth libraries). The guy who sold it to me has not responded to my e-mails or phone calls since I discovered this problem – I guess sometimes you get what you pay for. Anyone want to buy a Clie in nice condition except the Wifi?
I got a chance to play with Adam‘s Treo 700W at MashupCamp. I’d heard some good things about the 700W, so I was surprised at how bad it was. You basically have 2 hard buttons: Start menu and the Ok/Apply/Back/Cancel/Close button. The UI feels a bit clumsy – it just really turned me off quickly. I did like the keyboard though – they’ve improved that quite a bit.
Trying two devices again has me appreciating the Treo again. Perhaps the mythical Treo 700P will be the right solution for me after all.
I got to see Nokia 770 in action at MashupCamp as well. This thing is pretty darn cool – add Bluetooth keybaord and you’ve basically got a mini-laptop. If you install Opera 9 or Firefox, you can even use FeedLounge on it! I’m curious to learn more about this, but my guess is I’d have the same complaints about it that I have with the Palm TX.
I’m actually quite intrigued by the form factor of the new HTC devices. The keyboards are very usable, and having the big screen for browsing and reading e-mail is definitely a good thing. If only it weren’t running Windows Mobile… Are there any Palm devices that use this form factor?
I’m curious about the next generation Hiptop as well. I’m pretty well hooked on Sprint for their data plans, but the Hiptop isn’t far from what I’m looking for.
An EV-DO Blackberry would be intriguing too – though I still don’t think I can stomach the additional $45/month for the “Blackberry service”.
So, back to my current dilemma…
I was able to get a loaner Treo 600 from a friend, however it’s proven to be incredibly flakey. I had to switch the number back to my old Treo 600 (the one with the broken buttons) just so I can actually answer calls. I then wanted to simply switch the phone numbers between the A900 and the Treo, but due to the data plans attached to the phone numbers that doesn’t seem to be possible2. I think I’m going to go with the A900/Palm TX as my primary devices for a little while. At least until the Treo 700P is available.
Tune in tomorrow, when I get schizophrenic about my mobility preferences and laptops. 🙂
Well the keyboard problem became a problem with Palms since their lost lawsuit with Xerox(?) and the introduction of Grafity2. For all older Palm models there was never the need to get a keyboard because Grafity1 is so simple to learn and write. I recently got a new Palm (the E2) and really tried to live with Grafity2 but it just doesn’t work. I say you can’t write fast with Grafity2 – it’s broken by design. I finally found the solution for me with TealScript which allows you to not only go back to Grafity1 but also to define your own strokes. I’m writing very fluently in Grafity1, maybe not faster as on a real keayboard but certainly faster than with a thumb keyboard.
I’ve struggled with this issue myself. At the moment I’m pretty content with the Treo650. I don’t however, like its overall bulk, and would prefer to go lighter on the phone/PDA. The Cingular 2125 is a good solution from a shear heft standpoint, but I too am on a SprintPCS plan and don’t want to go through the hassle of shifting to Cingular.
I’m already a Tablet PC user, and could easily switch to a smaller (Fujitsu or Motion PC) slate, and be happy with a Sprint version of the 2125., but as usual, the perfect combo continues to allude all of us. 🙂
There are rumors flying out there about a Palm “Hollywood” Treo, which will be sleaker than the 650-700….again, another option.
I’ve had a hiptop for a long time. My original CSK recently took a nosedive from the top of the entertainment center, and I decided to get an SK II rather than wait. What very little rumors I could get on an SKIII were sketchy, and there’s very little the II doesn’t do that I would want in a III. The OS improvements they made from the CSK to the SK II were a huge improvement for me.
As a palm user for a really long time, the only noticeable application I miss from it is any kind of software that lets me store encrypted passwords. That’s about the only bit of data I could comfortably store on my Palm that I can’t do on the sidekick.
The sidekick isn’t open, it’s most obvious drawback. But what it does do it does extremely well. It has some “aftermarket” apps you can buy through their catalog, including an SSH client that’s pretty handy.
The keyboard on it is fantastic. I played with a friends Treo for a while to see if it could lure me away. But I just couldn’t go back to that. A treo would be fine for firing off a line or two response to an email, but anything beyond that would be a chore, having used a sidekick.
The hiptop forums (http://www.hiptop.com/forums/) can have a high signal to noise ratio but it’s full of people with apparently disposable incomes who try damn near everything. 🙂 The reviews for the HTC as not very good.
I’ve gone through the same gyrations myself, and at the moment I’m fairly pleased with the Blackberry 7100. I was a long time Treo user myself and still have my old 600 sitting around, but I also did not like the bulk of the Treo. The 7100 is the size of a larger cell phone and fits well for one-handed use. I also have to say that the EV-DO is wonderful especially when hooked up to a laptop, but as you pointed out, the Blackberry plan is more costly. I was also a user of the Sony UX-50 which was absolutely one of the best PDA’s around. It’s a shame Sony discontinued their palm line. However, at this point I won’t ever go back to the hassle of two separate devices, especially with more and more applications offering mobile web interfaces. In any case, I do feel your pain, and hopefully the perfect combination device is not in the too distant future:)
Andi – thanks for the suggestion, I will give TealScript a try. While I was fast with grafitti 1, I was much faster with the thumb keyboard on the treo – plus I can look up phone numbers etc. one handed with the thumb keyboard.
Nitin – you’re right, the Hollywood is another good reason to hold off for now.
Brett – if Sprint would pick up the Hiptop, I’d probably give it a shot.
Greg – I didn’t care for the keyboard on the 7100. It’s a shame that my UX50 is a lemon.
Having recently moved to Taiwan, I bought a Treo 650 for one reason: the wonderful Pleco Chinese-Engish dictionary, which is a lifesaver. However, since getting local 3G access, I am increasingly dismayed at Palm’s lack of Unicode support. Hacks let me view and read Big5 encoded Traditional Chinese text, but many e-mails and web pages are now encoded in Unicode, which Palm can’t read. I was thinking about switching to the Treo 700w because of this, but you’ve warned me off. What’s the solution? I figure I’ll have to wait a year or two for something better. Till then the Treo does OK.
I highly recommend Xiino over Blazer. Actually, Opera’s mobile borwser is the fastest. But it doesn’t have as good “offline” browsing features as Xiino, so I switch depending on what I’m using it for.
Other great software I’ve found includes TAKEphONE, 2Day, ShadowPlan, PalmPDF, and Salling Clicker.
All great stuff, and once installed makes the Treo quite nice. I just wish there was unicode support… (WiFi and Skype would be nice too.)
Oh, I should mention that it is possible to reinstall Graffity1 on Palm OS 5 devices. Just Google it and you can find the files. You need to download them and install them to your SD card, then copy them over to the handheld using something like Filez. After a reset you will have Graffity.
On the Treo 650 you also need Graffiti Anywhere. Unfortunately, punctuation doesn’t work if you use Graffiti 1 and Graffiti Anywhere. I may look at TealScript…
Graffiti not Graffity/Grafity.
Mobile Computing, Part 2: Laptops
I’ve hardly looked back since I upgraded from a 15″ PowerBook to a 17″ PowerBook, but there are a few times (often when travelling) when smaller would be more convenient.
At Mashup Camp, I took an informal survey of the laptops I sa…
Do you know if they had to do anything funky to get FireFox running on the 770? I’m searching around and can’t find much about it.
I just got a Palm TX and sprint A900 and am trying to figure out how to browse the web via bluetooth. Haven’t been able to figure out how yet. It seems the TX only has built-in support for GSM phones. Could you post a link to where you got the info? I also have a Treo600 but browsing on that is too painful. I like the keyboard, though.
I just hooked them up… can’t recall doing anything special.
Anyone know of a thumb keyboard that attaches to the bottom of a Palm TX (like the imate thumb board for HP etc.)?
[…] If my Treo 600 hadn’t broken, I’d probably still be using it happily as a Sprint customer. When my tools are working, I rarely think about them. In fact, if my replacement Treo 600 had worked properly, I’d probably still be using that happily as a Sprint customer. However, once I was going to be forced to spend money on a new device, I started looking around at my options4. […]
[…] February – Tasks Pro™ 1.6 and Tasks 2.7 are released. My Treo 600 dies after several years of good service. I create a photo of the week voting system for WetPixel. FeedLounge suffers its first downtime. I attend Mashup Camp and start exploring alternative handheld solutions. […]