Treo 650

The last time I owned a Palm device was in 2000. Since then I have used a variety of Pocket PC devices, and for the last few years I’ve tried one Pocket PC Phone and owned two Smartphones. My friends laugh at me cause the most important function of my phone is not to make calls, but to do email and sms. That sort of works out well because my experience with all Windows Mobile devices is that they suffer from enough problems and idiosyncrasies that at least a few times a week I get the dreaded “Unable to answer call” or I can’t dial numbers. I assume that these are just core architectural problems with the platform, or buggy hardware firmwares that I can’t do anything about. Geting bug fixes for these devices requires you to buy a new device running the new OS, and well, that happens infrequently and you are still at the mercy of the wireless carrier.

My wife has used the Treo 270 and now owns a Treo 600. I’ve always loved the form factors of the device but loathe the Palm OS as a PDA and Email platform. For one thing, the Contacts application was limited to the same schema that existed on the Palm Pilot 1000 (which I was a proud owner of). Most of my contacts have more than one address, and more than 5 email addresses/phone numbers. Additionally, the Palm was incapable of connecting to my work email server over the air. This is the killer app of the Windows Mobile Platform, but alas, it now exists in the Treo 650. Palm also updated the new OS to support the same contact schema as Outlook. Finally! Plus having a hardware keyboard and square screen is a new requirement of any device I plan on getting. T9 just sucks.

I was browsing around in the AT&T Wireless store today and found myself quickly getting the device itch. The Treo 650 is much sexier than the Treo 600. The screen is beautiful, the keyboard is even better, the camera takes great pics, and best of all, the email and calendar can sync to Exchange over the air. Sadly, it will not synchronize contacts, but that’s ok as my Inbox and Calendar change with greater frequency then my Contacts.

So here is the thing. I could get this device now or I could wait an indefinite amount of time for the iPaq Mobile Messenger. The Treo has a better screen with more resolution (I can see more of the email), is smaller, and likely does not have the issues making and receiving phone calls that the Windows devices do. My wife’s Treo has never said “Unable to answer call”. I can’t believe that there is even an error string in the Windows Mobile OS for that. For a while now I was thinking the Motorola MPX was going to solve all my needs, but that device is vaporware. If it does ever ship it won’t matter cause it’s a joke. Motorola never should have announced it.

Am I crazy for thinking of getting a Palm device? I won’t be able to write .NET Compact Framework apps, but that’s fine, cause the only one I ever wrote silly. Unlike Scoble, I have no intention of ever carrying around a PDA that cannot make and receive phone calls or check email wirelessly. If I am going to carry around a device it sure as heck better do it all. The last thing I need is a PDA, that was soooo 2002.

Comments (11)

  1. Sean Chase says:

    Funny you should post this. My wife just bought me the Treo 650 on Friday for our anniversary and so far I really like it. I used to have a Toshiba 2032SP PocketPC/Phone and the battery sucked and there was only an earpiece or the intercom-style speakerphone interface. Other than that, I guess Windows CE is OK.

    So I’ve only had the new Treo for a few days but so far the UI looks much nicer, the battery is huge, it’s less clunky to carry around, it has a camera/video, and the keyboard on the phone JUST ROCKS!!! Also, I can use the earpiece, speakerphone mode, or talk on it like a regular cell phone. I’m pretty happy with it so far. I’ll post back here at the end of the week about how the battery life is going. I’m still nervous about that. They say it should give you 5 hours, but we’ll see. Either way, it’s GOTTA be better than that damn Toshiba. 🙂

  2. John Walker says:

    I agree typing via T9 is a joke. I use my SMT5600 for everything but typing. One correction, though, is that my SMT5600 connects to my SMTP server every 10 minutes. Also, although I do not have a work Exchange server to connect to, I believe the SMTP can do it.

    Anyway, if I were a heavy email user where I needed to compose emails while away from the office, I think I’d look to a Blackberry device, and not a Palm device. Anyway, my 2 cents.

  3. Leon says:

    It does look tempting. I’m in the middle of looking for a decent smart phone (going to rid myself of my PDA/mobile combo set up) and the Treo 650 is looking mighty tempting…

  4. Marc Bizer says:

    Go for it, Omar. I have the unlocked GSM model, and it’s terrific.

  5. If you are going to go with the Treo 650, I recommend that you look at Agendus For Palm ( It is the best PIM app for the PalmOS and actually beats most fo the PPC PIM apps. Until I switched over to the IPAQ rx3115, I used a Sony Palm device with Agendus and loved it. I switched for 3 reasons: wireless, better Outlook syncing and Compact Framework development.But I still love Agendus.

  6. I am not a heavy user. My main use for the pda are contacts, Splashid (store passwords) and playing games and I was using dell axim. But I cant carry pda with me all the times. I waited long enough for a good smartphone or pocket pc phone that is unlocked, decent size and good price. Finally I couldn’t wait any longer and purchased treo 650 unlocked version. I am very happy with it and I can do everything that I used to do on ppc and I could learn it fast (I was palm user till 1999).

  7. PJ Arts says:

    I’ve had a Treo 650 since last October, and before that a Treo 600 & 300. The T650 is a Great phone…period. Add to that the incredible integration between phone/browser/email/PDA functions. Battery life is very good (and swappable!), and there are a few 3rd-party apps that make it a killer:

    -SnapperMail: POP or IMAP, simply the best

    -Initiate launcher: allows you quick access to all contact information (searchable any way you want), apps, and music files

    -PocketTunes Deluxe: fantastic player for MP3/WAV/OggVorbis/Streaming content

    -Lights Off!: neat hack that let’s you turn off the keyboard lights

    OS v5.x is fast, robust & stable. No true multitasking, but you can play music while doing anything else on the Treo, and access any PDA functions while on the phone. A damn fine business/personal tool

  8. OS 5 crashes once or twice a day and sometimes calls don’t come in during a GPRS data transfer. The Treo 650 has way too little internal memory, and SD cards are inadequate. But even with all its flaws, the Treo 650 is by far the most useful mobile device I have ever owned and really makes me feel mobile.

    My killer app right now is Chatter, which is much cheaper than Snapper and has better IMAP support.

  9. Lucky says:

    I finally picked up a new Treo 650 and here are my general thoughts:

    1) reception is not as good as the latest motorolas and nokias. It’s not bad, just not great.

    2) The speakerphone is not as good as others as it is not as loud and much harder to hear.

    3) Syncing has been a breeze and works great, even with my Mac/Entourage.

    4) I have had a terrible time with Handango and Iambic, the makers of Agendus. Support is terrible. It has been a week since I ordered it from the site and still no app. They don’t answer their phones, no email response, nothing. It is the worst.

    Anyway, the phone’s pretty good and I am relatively happy with it, even with the shortcomings listed above.


  10. Josh says:

    The Treo 650 is probably the best PDA you can buy on the market. I have used one for several months now, and for the most part it works exactly as it should. Occasionally, it will lock up, but for me it happens about once a month. The only bad thing with the phone is the slow response time it typically has if you try to dial a contact or a favorite by selecting the contact/favorite. The phone appears to lock up, because it won’t respond to any screen touches or buttons you press. But after 3 – 5 seconds you see the familiar dial screen as it places the call. Other than that, it really is great. There are so many applications you can download to it, not to mention it comes with a nice portfolio of apps standard. There aren’t any perfect PDA’s out there. They all have their problems, but I feel this PDA has the fewest problems and is the best I have ever used. I have used the Treo 600 and 650 and I have also used the BlackBerry 7230.