My Treo 650 Experiences

**Updated 12th May
**Updated 20th April
Very quick thoughts on the new PalmOne Treo 650. I've had mine 2-months and it’s been used on every continent in the world except Africa and 9-countries with no problem for phone and generally no problems for e-mail and web access although occasionally requiring manual selection of an alternative roaming network. My SIM and contract are with O2(UK), although I've used a Cingular pre-pay SIM while in the US(expensive).

Given I paid $699 US Dollars for this, its a bit cheap of Plam not to include a docking cradle. Not just for docking but so the Treo 650 can sit upright on the desk!

**The Treo 650 was bought direct from PalmOne as an unlocked GSM SmartPhone. It currently has firmware level 01.14

AS A PHONE - The volume could be louder but you can solve this by switching the speaker on and holding the back of the phone to your ear... (maybe I'm just getting old?). I like the user interface for the phone, the favourites pages and buttons etc. It’s really a shame and pretty poor that a device that contains a built in MP3 player can’t play MP3 files as ring tones. Interestingly it can play some types of WAV files and these can be stored internally. I tend not to use the supplied mono-headset but use a stereo headset with no mic and use the main unit mic. I'm a low frequency phone user.

I picked up an app called Treohelper which provides some useful additional controls for the phone. For example the ability to switch the phone off automatically if no signal is detected for a user selectable period of time.[12th May] I've also started using Treo Guard

SMS/TXT MESSAGES - works fine. No ability to get receipts for txts sent. The ability to stream txts and response as an IM-like conversation is neat!

AS A PALM PILOT - Pretty good and pretty good software compatibility going back to R3 of the OS. Pretty much had to start over and re-install though to migrate from a Tungsten W. Mostly because the jump from the Tungsten to the Treo 650 required a new level of the Palm desktop which meant installing conduits etc. again. I have a couple of minor problem apps which work but do not fully function these include Wassup(fixed promised) and Hot Date. Memory remians an issue on my device. There is simply too much stuff in ROM that I don't use and cannot delete such as the Realplayer, Versamail, Quicktour etc. My Palm doesn't have the memory fix promised by Palm but not yet delivered as an update and the offer of a 128GB card is a waste of Palms money although I ordered it anyway just to spite them. So, the inability to be able to delete these files is a further drag.

 
I bought a 1gb SD card which resides inside the machine at all times. After careful manipulation of installed apps I managed to get to a point where I have 6mb free. This includes fully loaded address, to-do, memos, date book and 2x e-mail programs one for corporate e-mail one for private e-mail(long story). There also seems to be duplication and wasted memroy between the various apps which provide alarm support - many don't share the same alarms, some provide a function not supported by others - This is something that Palm should tidy up along with MP3 support is an OS update. The Note Pad function is missing - I've exchanged e-mail with PalmOne support and they say its not supposed to be there. This despite the fact that it is extensively mentioned in the official Treo 650 Tips and Tricks document on the PalmOne web site.

Support said they'll get the document changed. Wrong answer. Why can't we have note pad? It is really useful for scribbling telephone numbers on while during a call and other such quick short notes.

The ability to integrate 3rd party apps via Palm OS functions is great. Sending/Beaming apps, pictures, videos, MP3 files is excellent and can easily chose alternative to the Palm supplied apps.

Finally as a Palm, there really isn't enough function built-in to help manage the contents of SD cards and what is there is difficult to use. To move an app you have to copy and then delete which requires a lot of effort. Also

CALC APP - has a wealth of calculators and conversion tools built-in, make sure you read the instructions but you can get to them by using the right arrow on the navigator while the calc app is started.

MEDIA APP - Disappointing. Isn't really a Media app, just shows the files that the camera can produce i.e. video and pictures. It does nothing to allow you to preview, play and manage MP3, WAV and other sound files. Personally while I may have missed the instructions I find it a royal pain to use to delete pictures from the camera, way too many clicks etc.

QUICK INSTALL - The desktop software allows you to chose where you install certain file types either internally or on the SD card. However, if you have a full set of apps Hotsync still takes a long time just to install a new program or to copy a few MP3 files. For solution see Bluetooth

BLUETOOTH - Seems to work fine although I have not tried a bluetooth headset yet. I've been able to hotsync over BT to my IBM Thinkpad, use the 650 as a modem to connect up over BT from the Thinkpad and easily beam pictures and contacts between the Palm and other BT capable phones. The big one for me though is being able to use BT for file transfer. Very slick. Once you've paired the Treo 650 to your PC you can just discover nearby devices and then drag and drop files onto the Treo.

INFRARED - works, been able to IR contacts to other devices - However, can no longer be used as the transport for dial-up networking from a PC. Which means you have to have Bluetooth capable laptop if you want to use the Treo as your connection to the world.

AS A WEB BROSWER - Works pretty much fine. Problems logging on to the full ebay userid but can be bypassed using wap.ebay.com and much quicker - ability to turn off graphics makes response time, network load and performance much faster. I like the favourites pages, especially the ability to drag and drop between pages. I cannot login to my UK Internet banking system using the browser; in fact it reliably crashes the Palm. That said otherwise it does an excellent job and the optimised screen mode with graphics turned off makes for speedy web browsing. Providing you have the file support, the browser will handle mail attachments well, if you don't have the app support them you can download and install onto an SD card and later beam, send, email etc.

AS A CAMERA - Hmm, not sure where to start. I like the camera in principle. The 640x480 mode has been great for producing quick pics for posting here, and also for e-mailing and Media messages. However, I would generally observe that my camera under exposes everything leading to dark images that have to be lightened on a PC. As far as I can see there are absolutely no controls for the camera. Yes, you can take pictures of yourself but only at arms length. However, given the level of sophistication of this device it can't have been that difficult to program a small app that would allow you to preview the image and then set a timer to take the picture.

**I've had a chance to directly compare the camera on my Treo 650 with a colleagues. His has firmware level 01.04 and it definately takes brighter pictures that don't need image enhancement. Its not clear if this is a function of the hardware or the firmware.

AS AN MP3 Player - The problem with the Treo as an MP3 player is that they don't provide headphones and don't provide any specs for the range or impedance of the 650. Thus it is easy to get a mismatch and end up with terrible sound that lacks and clarity and is way too loud. Thats my first experience using Sony Fontopia earbuds. I bought a pair of KOSS earbuds on the way back from Australia and got the same result. At least on my 650 I needed to run with the sound one click away from off. Then there is Realplayer, it has no graphic equalizer function and so you cannot affect the sound quality at all. It doesn't support the use of folders at all for MP3 files, they all have to be in the same folder, which is terrible when managing a big collection in a small amount of space, and trust me, once you get a 1gb SD card loaded up with MP3's, 1gb is a small amount of space. Realplayer also doesn't seem to support imported playlists or m3U files. Given the problems listed here I'd pretty much given up planning on using the Treo 650 as my main MP3 player.

Out of interest and following an e-mail newsletter from PalmOne I decided to give PocketTunes a go. Whoa.... in 1 program I found the solution to all the problems listed above. First pTunes pumps the sound out at a more manageable level, I can play songs quitely when cycling to allow me to still hear traffic, and loud while doing a long run to stop me hearing my own frantic breathing. Next, its supports folders to store files in and allows you to build playlists from the files. So when you are bored with the latest album you can quickly and easily remove it using pTunes or another file manager or even via your PC if you have a SD Card reader availble. Actually this is bar the far best route for loading up songs. Connect the SD card to a USB attached reader and drag the folders over containing albums and tracks. pTunes also addresses the problem with the range by allowing you to customise the sound using its built-in graphic equalizer. So, it would be much more useful if PalmOne could actually publish the range and impedance characteristics of the Treo 650 MP3 player, but even without them, pTunes works wonders.

Also on the MP3 front, as discussed earlier, it would be useful if PlamOne could tidy-up the OS function so that a single database and set of interfaces were available to use MP3 files from all apps that need an alarm. The OS could provide a function that would allow files and bookmarks to files, to be added/deleted to the supplied db.

Which only leaves the sore subject of not being able to delete the RAM resident realplayer that is no longer needed. Why oh why are components like this not supplied on CD, or better still included 128mb SD card and their installation optional? Surely if they were supplied with every Treo 650 on an SD card there would be no point of software piracy, so there is no reason not to make them portable. Instead they are hard installed in RAM and take up space even when not in use.

SUMMARY - Yes I've had plenty of resets with this device. It for some reason seems to lose time from time to time, but I've not hard to hard reset, have not lost any data and overall this is one "muvver" of a smart phone. I'll add and update this review as I think of things but this was a quick brain dump to get started.

If you are interested in more details and extensive pictures of the device and how it works see this blog on treonauts website.
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