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Talkin' Treo - v011207

Fri Jan 12, 2007 - 8:30 AM EST - By Annie Latham

Week ending 12 January 2007

In this corner, weighing in at 5.4 ounces (154 grams), from Palm (and Cingular), the Treo 750. And in the other corner, weighing in at a mere 4.8 ounces (135 grams), from Apple (and Cingular) the iPhone. Let�s get ready to rumble!

I guess it�s comforting to know that Palm owned headlines for one day (Monday) after their Treo 750 announcement on Sunday night. But then the Don King of the consumer electronic world, Steve Jobs stepped into the spotlight and unveiled the iPhone* (name pending settlement of dispute with Cisco), and all hell broke loose. I don�t mean that in a bad way. It�s just that anyone trying for mindshare after Jobs� Macworld keynote was running uphill, in altitude, with a H3 Hummer on his back.

And the pundits were rejoicing�

"This goes beyond smart phones and should be given its own category called 'brilliant' phones," said Tim Bajarin, principal analyst with Creative Strategies. "The iPhone is the most beautiful and functional phone I have ever seen," said Jupiter analyst Michael Gartenberg.

I think its time to coax Jeff Hawkins back into the ring. If Rocky (er� Sylvester Stallone) can do it, he can too. I�ve said it before and I�ll say it again�the key to staying relevant is to do what Apple is doing � come up with innovative, must have at all costs, design. Can you hear me now, Jeff?

Needless to say, this has been an incredibly busy week. So without further ado, Let�s Talk Treo!

Palm News

The big story for Palm, was the official announcement of the 750

On Sunday, Palm and Cingular announced the first Windows Mobile powered Treo on a 3G GSM network to the United States. As the press release stated, the Treo 750 provides �mobile professionals with an exceptional phone experience and blazing-fast download speeds in U.S. markets and in dozens of countries around the world.�

TreoCentral and others have already reviewed it (see below). Besides its easy, one-handed access to key features, the 750 includes:

  • A unique suite of software enhancements to Windows Mobile, including threaded chat view for text and MMS messages;
  • Today Screen enhancements, which feature the ability to "dial by name" with a few keystrokes on the keyboard, perform a web search directly from the Today Screen and perform one-touch dialing with personalized photo speed dials;
  • Ability to manage a call directly from the Today Screen and stay on top of voicemail with on-screen, VCR-like icons, such as rewind, delete and fast-forward controls for easy navigation;
  • The capability to ignore a call and quickly send a text message such as "In a meeting" or "Can't talk right now" by selecting the "Ignore with text" option from the incoming call screen.

    Plus, because it uses Windows Mobile 5.0 Pocket PC Phone Edition, there are a slew of benefits, including access to mobile versions of Windows Media Player 10, Internet Explorer, and Outlook applications in addition to the ability to view and edit Microsoft Word and Excel files and view PowerPoint and PDF files.

    Other Palm News

    Another long awaited (and anticipated) announcement took place early this week. Sling Media, Inc. and Palm announced SlingPlayer Mobile for Palm OS, making it possible to watch television on the 3G-enabled Palm Treo 700p. The new software is expected to be available Q1 '07.

    Per the announcement:

    �SlingPlayer Mobile is a software client that gives Slingbox customers the ability to watch and control their home TV from a wirelessly enabled smartphone. With today's announcement, SlingPlayer Mobile now supports Treo smartphones running both Palm OS and Windows Mobile, including the Treo 700p, the Treo 700w, the Treo 700wx and the recently announced Treo 750.�

    �Unlike other services currently available for mobile phones and handheld computers, SlingPlayer Mobile gives consumers their entire home TV experience. Anything that they can watch on their sofas back home, they can now watch via a Treo 700p smartphone.�

    Palm�s CFO Presenting a Financial Conference

    On Thursday, Palm�s CFO, Andrew J. Brown presented at the Ninth Annual Needham Growth Conference in New York at The New York Palace Hotel. It will be at available.

    [The deadline for this column prevented me from taking a look at this � but I imagine Mr. Brown was inundated with questions regarding the iPhone� if the floor was open for questions. Hopefully I�ll have more to share next week.]

    Talkin� Treo 750

    A lot of folks were �Talkin� 750� this week. Here are some highlights.


    In this review (that was posted before the iPhone (BiP) announcement, TreoCentral�s Dieter Bohn provides �the full rundown� of the Treo 750. In his conclusion, he writes:

    �Yes, the 750 isn't the thinnest device out there, but when you factor in all the added power that you get from the full Pocket PC edition of Windows Mobile, touchscreen and all, it's best-of-breed. So it's pretty clear I'm sweet on the 750. It's a great smartphone in a great form-factor. For simplicity's sake, TreoCentral's rating system is just 1-5 with no half-steps. That system has never really bothered me before today - I'd dearly love to give the 750 a 4.5, knocking it down that half-point for the critical lack of WiFi.�

    Gizmodo�s Hands-on

    Mobility Today

    David Ciccone has done an extensive review. He concludes:

    �Overall I think if you are in the market for a converged device with a fantastic form factor and a powerhouse of a device the Treo 750 is your winner. But consumers who are looking for the complete 3G experience, Cingular offers two better solutions the 8525 and Blackjack.�


    MSNBC Columnist, Gary Krakow writes:

    "In a week of testing, the 750 has been flawless. I really appreciate Cingular�s UMTS broadband data network � which allows the Treo to do its thing with speed, style and grace. Palm has also improved battery life. Earlier Palm/Windows Mobile devices had problems lasting through a full 24-hour day of email synching and phone calls. The 750 came provided me with at around 36 hours of battery life before needing a recharge."

    Smart Device Central

    Sascha Segan writes (BiP):

    "Palm's new Treo 750 for Cingular is a damned good phone. It's one of the clearest-sounding smartphones I've ever used, and Palm's unique features make it easier to find contacts, make calls, and search the Web than on most other Windows Mobile cells. Yet in an intensely competitive marketplace, I have trouble summoning up unabashed enthusiasm for this chubby, somewhat overpriced device."

    ZDNet�s Photos

    Talkin� iPhone & the Treo 750

    Later in the week, stories started appearing comparing the iPhone with the Treo and other smartphones.

    The Wall Street Journal�s Walt Mossberg said in his column:

    "�the iPhone made my relatively new Treo 700p seem primitive in many respects when I compared them side by side. And the Apple product isn't Palm's only problem.

    Palm's position as the design leader in smart phones has been under assault for months. Major phone makers like Motorola and Nokia have introduced models that have most of the Treo's capabilities but are thinner, sleeker and lighter -- and much less expensive."

    "�if you're in the market for a smart phone and can afford $499, you might want to wait until June for the Apple iPhone. The Apple entry is so full of promise that anyone buying a smart phone in 2007 should at least wait for the full reviews and a chance to try it out."

    And TreoCentral�s Michael Ducker, Dieter Bohn debated the iPhone�s merits by comparing it with the Treo 680:

    "The UI is simply unbelievable. It really makes the PalmOS look like, er, the relatively ancient OS that it is" � Dieter

    "The built in storage is a great feature - 4 GB/8 GB are far more then the paltry 128 or so MB that the Treo offers. But I believe it does come at the trade off of removable media, such as SD cards." � Michael

    Also, Michael states:

    "So I guess the bottom line is that the Treo's not dead, not by a long shot. Apple will more likely squeeze the sides and certainly affect the smart-phone market, but by no means is this the end of the Treo. The real companies to be concerned are the Motorola's and SonyEricsson's of the world, who have been trying to sell more expensive, more powerful media devices to the consumer."

    And Dieter responds:

    "I think you're right. And as corny as this sounds, I have to say it: more competition is good, more innovation is good. It may help the carriers be less restrictive. It may give other device makes license to try wackier things. It drives cost down."

    PalmInfoCenter - How Can Palm Compete?

    Tim Carroll has written an interesting piece that provides a list of things Palm can be doing to compete against this newcomer. He states, "It's really not as Herculean a task as you might think. As we've already noted, the iPhone has essentially cloned the best bits of the Treo and wrapped them up in a prettier package." Here�s what he says Palm needs:

    • 1) A media syncing solution that supports ALL formats of video and audio, which will make iPhone's walled-garden format support (I'm assuming it'll be like the iPod) look as artificially limiting as it is.
    • 2) A keyboard-less Treo with a landscape screen.
    • 3) PalmOS needs a visual upgrade. Like, yesterday. iPhone's UI looks gorgeous and puts both Palm OS and Windows Mobile to shame.
    • 4) WiFi, WiFi, WiFi.

    Treonauts Discusses Impact of the iPhone

    Andrew writes:

    "In some areas the iPhone has clearly raised the bar that the Treo ecosystem must now thrive to meet or surpass and I will naturally continue to provide both praise and criticism when required to reward innovation and punish lethargy. In the same vein I have absolutely no intention of letting the Apple hype machine distract me from seeing the true iPhone picture with all its merits and faults.

    "As I have stated before, I believe that the arrival of the iPhone is the best thing to have happened in the smartphone space not because of the device alone but because with its announcement Apple has now completely validated the smartphone as the phone of the future and brought it to the attention of hundreds of millions worldwide who will now be more curious to learn about the iPhone and also other smartphones such as our Treo."

    Talkin� Treo 680

    Ready to switch gears?

    Brighthand Looks at the Treo 680

    AWright states:

    "One of the first things that struck me about the Treo 680 was the design. It looks the same as the 650 and at the same time it is refined. I know that the goal was to make something that was recognizable as a Treo, but I believe that Palm could have taken things a bit further with more daring departure aspects such as the shape of the application buttons or a thinner and wider profile.

    Having said that, I love holding the 680 in my hand, compared to the 650 that totally got pocket and case duty. It really does feel great in the hand for short and long stints. I even like putting it in my shirt pocket (and I really never did that before because I was afraid that the 650 would fall out because it was heavier)."

    There was another noteworthy comment about Cingular:

    "My only real sores come with Cingular's side of things. Despite the really nice initial price of $175 with a two-year contract, you will be looking at a bill that starts at $80 per month before taxes. That is way too high for the market that Palm is going after, and I think that will be the one thing that keeps the 680 from being a runaway success. Cingular's definition of what is a smartphone and what is a PDA phone is what comes into play here, but I think that Palm should have pushed a bit harder to get Cingular to classify the 680 as a smartphone (by Cingular's standards) and thereby get in the $20 per month all you can eat Internet."

    Things that make you go�humm: Wonder which category the iPhone will be in?


    Stuart Miles, in this UK publication, writes:

    "VERDICT: Like the 750v Palm is hoping to stem the huge success of RIM�s BlackBerry, especially the company's consumer friendly BlackBerry Pearl with the 680 however compared to both the handset is a let down. Why? Because the form factor is over large, the QWERTY keyboard awkward to use and the camera lacking the now defacto megapixel count. If you can muster up the extra cash and must have a Treo then the 750v the one for you. However the smartphone world moves so fast that there is now such a choice, that Treo, especially with this model is fast falling behind the times."

    Sorry, I need to slip in one more story about the iPhone.

    Side by Side: Treonauts Compares Treo 680 with the iPhone

    Andrew has done an excellent job comparing the Treo 680 with the iPhone (should help alleviate buyer�s remorse).

    He concludes:

    "It�s funny that the iPhone should so clearly have helped me to better recognize the terrific accomplishments that Palm has delivered with our Treo. It may not be immediately perceived to be quite as �cool� as an iPhone but the fact is that the Treo clearly deserves the praise and success that it has already achieved. I have no doubt that the iPhone will be an extremely successful device in its own right � one which will continue to help grow the smartphone space with an even younger generation � but for now at least I certainly don�t believe that it will be a Treo-killer."

    Coming from Andrew, that says a lot.

    Recent TreoCentral Guides, Reviews & More

    ThinkOutside Stowaway Sierra Bluetooth Keyboard - By Jay Gross

    Jay takes a look at the eye-catching, ThinkOutside Stowaway Sierra Bluetooth Keyboard, "It�s a beautifully crafted piece, and that�s just the beginning." The Sierra is a �full-sized, nothing-left-out keyboard that folds up into a very small, as in postcard-sized, package for easy toting."

    He concludes:

    "For major memos, verbose emails, or other text-happy documents on the go, nothing beats a real keyboard, and ThinkOutside�s Stowaway Sierra Bluetooth Folding Keyboard is just that � a real keyboard, full sized with five rows of keys and some extras on the side. It�s beautiful and functional, offers great integration with Palm OS and WM5 Treos, and has enough customization options to keep you busy for a long time."

    Nokia Bluetooth Headset BH-601 - By Douglas Morse

    The Nokia Bluetooth Headset BH-601 is another option for those wanting to listen to their favorite songs in comfort and style, and switch effortlessly from music to talk when there's a call.

    Doug writes:

    �The quality of calls is fair and surprisingly the call is routed only to one ear. For some this may be a reassuring nod to old style headsets. It also allows ambient noise to come into the other ear should you need to catch something else going on.�
    �There are a lot of reasons to recommend the Nokia BH-601s. They look cool, are comfortable, and have well thought out, simple controls. The included Bluetooth adapter for computer use adds another layer of usefulness to the headsets. The sound is not quite up to par, both in headset mode and headphone mode, though some of that can be written off to the wireless connections and the lack of a boom microphone (always a trade off between quality and style I think).�

    Slingbox: an absolute must-have - By Tim Hillebrand

    Tim gushes about the Slingbox, a "little black and red box that connects to your TV and broadcasts a signal over the Internet" so you can "watch live TV on your desktop, laptop, Tablet, UMPC, Pocket PC, or Smartphone, anywhere in your house � anywhere in the world � wirelessly." Tim writes:

    "Yes, I am delighted with the incredible, new functionality Slingbox affords on my various mobile devices, and I cannot recommend it to you with more enthusiasm. It is definitely at the top of my must-have list."

    Elsewhere in the World of Treo

    Review: RhinoSkin Case for Palm Treo 700

    John Andrews looks at the RhinoSkin leather flip-style case for the Treo 700. He states:

    "While the RhinoSkin case isn't the perfect case, I consider it a nice addition to the other cases I use with my Treo. The high-quality leather feels elegant and the extra storage for credit cards and SD cards can be very useful."

    Review: VoiceDialIt for Treo

    Christopher Meinck at Everything Treo provides his thoughts about VoiceDialIt, a voice dialing application that is compatible with the entire family of Palm OS based Treos. He sums up his thoughts:

    "Once familiar with the application, I found VoiceDialIt to have a moderate success rate at handling my requests. The process of adding contacts can become cumbersome, but luckily it is a one time process. For those who are looking for voice dialing on your Treo, VoiceIt Technologies application is one to consider."

    Review: Motorola H550

    Andrew at Treonauts checks out the new Motorola H550 Bluetooth headset which utilizes technology that will be a staple in Motorola�s 2007 Bluetooth headsets. He writes:

    "The first thing that sets the H550 apart is Motorola�s new "Power Slider" (above at the center of the headset) that helps you to increase your overall talk time because it actually powers the headset off when not in use instead of just leaving it on standby (draining battery) as nearly all other wireless headsets do. The H550 delivers extremely good inbound and outbound call quality � partially aided by an ergonomically designed speaker (image below) which rests in your ear for improved audio."

    Note: There were quite a few Bluetooth headset announcements that took place this week. Since this column is already running way long, they will be included in the next column.

    Endnotes & Ponderables:

    It�s been talked about and talked about� and finally, it looks like it�s going to happen.

    According to this recent story from The Globe and Mail, the world's largest credit card network is ready to replace plastic with silicon. Visa International has just rolled out technology that will make purchases by cellphones commonplace in the next few years. This �concept� has been kicking around for a while. It appears that Nokia phones will be the first to use the specialized chip that makes this possible. Other of Visa�s technology partners include: IBM, VeriSign and NXP Semiconductors. Here�s the interesting part� Visa is expecting that by 2010, $140-billion (U.S.) worth of the transactions will be done with cellphones. That may seem like a lot, but Visa does $4-trillion worth of transactions each year. That�s a lot of miles (or points)!

    I don�t know about you, but I�m exhausted by all the activity this week. Time to unplug with a good book or perhaps a funny clip from YouTube. Check this one out!

    That�s a wrap!

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