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Round Robin: Back Home With the Treo 680

Thu Dec 6, 2007 - 2:26 PM EST - By Jennifer Chappell


Well it's time for me to go back to the Palm Treo 680 after using the iPhone, BlackBerry Curve, and the AT&T Tilt each for a week in the Smartphone Round Robin. I sure did enjoy using those other smartphones, but I'm glad to be back home at last.

"OSX10!"..."8310!"..."8925!"..."680!"..."Hut!, Hut!" Yep, I'm back with the home team again and I'm back in my game. I butted heads with the rival smartphones and learned about some of their cool moves on the playing field. The Tilt was dressed to the T with a big screen, WiFi, GPS, 3G, and a slide out keyboard. But he was a little too heavy and slow at times to gain much yardage. The ole Round Robin referee had to bench him a couple of times when he stalled during midplay in one of my songs, causing a delay of game. But the Tilt's 3G kicked in during the second half and he went 97 yards in record time.

When the iPhone came out on the field with no user replaceable battery, the penalty flags started flying. But since the iPhone does have double the talk time of the other players, those penalties were offset. A hush came over the crowded stadium when that big, gorgeous screen turned on, and cheerleaders jumped for joy when the Safari web browser went into action.

The Curve looked mighty good all dressed up in that glossy red uniform, sporting that keyboard with trackball. He carried that email like a pro, sprinting lightning fast down the field, never fumbling one single message. Well, there was one point in the game when the Curve stumbled and an email started to slip out, but the Curve recovered his grip and the email was never lost. The Round Robin ref was correct in his call that there was never a fumble. Everyone saw the slow motion replay over and over and saw that the email actually did get sent.

The Treo's copper body glinted in the sunlight. The player was looking good with that curvy body and built-in keyboard. The 680 had the ball and zig zagged down the field, passing the other players. Then the other three players caught up with him. But the 680 got his second wind and pulled ahead and was about to pass the 5 yard line when the referee asked where his WiFi was. The 680 dropped the ball. But he did great the rest of the game using the tried and true simple plays and running smart patterns that always work the best.

Treo 680 heard what some other players said about him in the locker room. They were talking about how even though the team's uniforms kept changing, making their outward appearance look better and newer, the same old players were still wearing those uniforms. The older players had a few speed and strength improvements and had lost a little weight, but those old players in the new duds would be left behind if the coach didn't bring in some new blood. Well, luckily the coach is about to draft some Linux blood for next season, so the team might just have some fresh players and a whole new playbook in the works.

Well, enough with the football talk. Sorry about that. I just love football and since we're smack dab in the better part of the season, I thought I'd have some fun with the smartphone theme. I think all the Round Robin smartphones are winners. I love all of them. They all have their good and bad points and each has its weaknesses and strengths.

It was strange to use three other platforms in the Round Robin; OSX, BB OS, and WM6. I'm glad I got to experience those different operating systems. Maybe we can include Symbian in future Round Robins if it ever catches on over here in the states. I used Symbian when my brother-in-law let me play with his Sony Ericsson P900 a few years ago. I remember how he had such a hard time finding any good software for that device. I don't think Symbian even had a Bejeweled clone, and it seems like everyone has at least one of those. I've never used a Linux device but look forward to using one when Palm comes out with their new Linux smartphones next year.

What a joyful moment when I put my battery back into the 680 and watched her boot up. I had lots of text messages from weeks ago. I have a horrible memory, probably partly due to my insomnia. Anyway, the first day I began using my 680 again, I decided to call my Mom and ask her how she was feeling because she's had bronchitis and a head cold the past couple of weeks. Well, I dialed her number and then pressed the green phone button. I couldn't understand why I was taken back to the phone's home screen. I dialed her number again and pressed the green phone button again and was taken back to the phone's home screen. Duh!!! See how fast I forget? I was supposed to have pressed the send button. Boyhowdy, did I ever feel dumb! I hope I haven't forgotten anything else. I don't know why I didn't just use my speed dial button for my Mom in the first place.

Battery Life


  • Talk Time: Up to 4 hours
  • Standby Time: Up to 8 days (192 hours)

Since I'm not a power user, I found the battery life on all the devices to be similar. I guess the Tilt had the poorest battery life out of all the smartphones, and I'm sure a lot of that had to do with my using WiFi most of the time. It seemed like I had a much better connection via WiFi than using the phone's data connection so I kept WiFi on, and it took a toll on the battery. I haven't gotten around to sending the Tilt back to Dieter yet. It's been sitting on my desk and I haven't used it. I found it odd that the battery drained quite a bit with the Tilt just sitting there unused. The phone radio certainly isn't on because the SIM card is back in my 680 now. I don't have WiFi or Bluetooth or GPS on either. Anyway, I'm keeping the Tilt connected to my laptop so it can stay charged up until I get over to the post office and ship it back to Dieter.


  • Talk Time: Up to 4 hours
  • Standby Time: Up to 17 days (408 hours)

The BlackBerry Curve had pretty good battery life for my usage. I checked my email throughout the day and surfed the web occasionally and left Bluetooth on. It seems like I might have had to recharge the Curve every other day. I only played a couple of games. I'm sure if I had played the games for extended periods of time, the battery life wouldn't have been as good as it was.

The Curve has the longest Standby Time out of all the smartphones in the Round Robin; 17 days! I wish I could have kept the Curve for 17 days so I could've put it to the test.

Treo 680

  • Talk Time: Up to 4 hours
  • Standby Time: Up to 300 hours (12.5 days)

Someone in the Round Robin forums had asked me about the battery life comparison between the 680 and the iPhone. I had answered:

I guess I'd have to say that the Treo 680 is better regarding battery life, only because I'm able to quickly swap out batteries and put in a fresh one instead of having to plug it in and recharge.

That really wasn't a fair answer. The iPhone has double the Talk Time of the Treo 680, but 50 hours less Standy Time. It is true that I can easily swap out the battery on the 680 when the battery gets low. But to be fair, watching videos is actually what ate up the iPhone's battery.

My Treo 680 gets pretty good battery life, especially since I'm now using a bigger capacity battery; a Seidio 1600mAh. With the original Palm 1200mAh battery, I was charging the battery a lot. I miss the great battery life on my Treo 650 for sure. If I were a power user, I'd probably be swapping out the battery a couple of times a day.

Anyway, I'm happy to be back to the 680 so that I can swap out batteries anytime.


  • Talk Time: Up to 8 hours
  • Standby Time: Up to 250 hours (10.4 or so days)

The iPhone has a really good battery and has the highest hours of Talk Time out of all the Round Robin smartphones at 8 hours. It's just too bad that the battery isn't user replaceable. I don't know why, but that really annoys me. I've never had to send any of my devices off ever for anything and I don't want to start now. Not that I don't trust Apple with my device; I just don't see why they couldn't have made the battery user replaceable.

The battery did hold out for quite some time unless I watched more than one tv show or more than one movie. I was surprised that the battery didn't move much at all after watching an hour worth of video. I could listen to lots of tunes without draining the battery very much.

I don't like having to keep the iPhone plugged in to an AC adapter when watching a fair share of videos. I found the answer in the Macally JBoxMini External Battery. I love this little gadget! You simply charge the JBoxMini via your computer's USB and then connect your iPhone's sync cable to the JBoxMini and you have 3 to 4 extra hours. I can be in bed and watch lots of videos on my iPhone with the JBoxMini by my side.

Form Factor

One thing I looked forward to about coming back home to my 680 is the form factor. Even though I sometimes miss the antenna of the 650, only because it made a great handle to pull the device from a case, I appreciate the antennaless look of the 680 which now has an internal antenna. The 680 is just a smidge smaller and 0.8 ounces lighter than the 650. I think I'll always like the look of the Treo 650 but I like the new, curviness of the 680. I think that the SD card slot is in a better place on the 680 too since many people have accidentally sprung their SD cards out by mistake when releasing the 650 from a holster. The only problem with the card slot being on the side is that some cases don't have access to the slot, therefore forcing you to take the device out of the case in order to get to the slot.

And speaking of SD card slots, I'll take the 680's card slot over the Curve's since you have to take out the battery to get to Curve's MicroSD card slot. Of course I didn't have a need to take the card out of the Curve when I had it so it wasn't too bothersome. I'm really not one to pop cards in and out all the time but it's the principal, ya know; the ease of use and convenience. I found nothing wrong with the Tilt's MicroSD card slot placement, but the tiny rubber swing door/stopper just seemed like a breakage waiting to happen. And of course I could say the same for the Treo 680's SD card slot door. I was thinking about my Palm Tungsten T3 that has the spring-loaded SD card slot door. I always liked that kind of door, and I wish that the Treo had this type of door. The little door is closed and protects the slot from dust when there's no card inside.

I love the Treo 680's built-in keyboard. Typing text messages and emails are really easy with the keyboard. I also get great tactile feedback. Using the iPhone and the Tilt made me appreciate the 680's keyboard more. I can type faster since there are actual physical keys to tap and the keyboard is already at hand since it's right there below the screen. The Curve also has a great keyboard and even has a tad better tactile response than the 680. Well, it has more clickiness when pressing the keys anyway. Don't get me wrong; I do like the iPhone's onscreen keyboard, but I just couldn't type as fast on it and there's no way I could type on it without looking since the surface is flat. I also like the the Tilt's keyboard and think it looks super cool. It looks great and the backlighting is really pretty. It's just that it can be a pain to have to slide the keyboard out everytime you want to type something. Plus, since the keyboard is so spread out, it's a little harder to type as fast because your hands are further apart, causing you to have to keep stretching both thumbs inward towards the middle part of the keyboard. And forget typing with one hand, unless you have a deformed thumb that is as long as your hand. I can type one handed with my Treo, but I prefer to type using both thumbs. With the keyboard being small, it's very easy to type this way. It's also very easy to type on the Curve's keyboard. And navigating on the Curve is also very easy since the trackball is placed between the two buttons that you use the most. I found that very comfortable and can see why so many BlackBerry users appreciate the BlackBerry keyboard and buttons.

I like the shape of the Treo 680 and the way the sides curve inwards towards the back, making the 680 very comfortable to hold in your hand while talking on the phone. And the size is nice as it makes it easy to use the device one handed while navigating with the 5-way navigation buttons.

It's nice that all the smartphones have a camera. I have to give kudos to the Curve for having not only a 2.0 megapixel camera, but also having a built-in flash! Sweet! The Tilt features a 3.0 megapixel camera with 10x digital zoom and autofocus. The iPhone has a 2.0 megapixel camera. The Treo has the weakest camera of all the smartphones but it still takes decent photos on the go. One plus for the 680's camera and photos is that I can easily upload them to my PC via Palm Desktop or by dragging the files from the SD card. I had the iPhone for months before I ever got any of my photos on my PC because you have to download some software. Of course that was my own fault for taking so long to look into how to get the photos uploaded. The software is free so that was no biggie.

After coming back home to the Treo 680, I have to say that one area in which the Tilt and iPhone both beat the 680 and the Curve is the screen size. I love my 680 but the screen was a tad disappointing after viewing the Today screen on the Tilt and surfing the net on the iPhone. Well, heck, after doing anything on the iPhone's screen. ;-) My 680 screen looks a lot like my Treo 750's screen even though one is 320x320 and the other is 240x240. I bought Spb Mobile Shell yesterday for my Treo 750 after using the demo on the Tilt and liking it so much. Check out how much better the Tilt's screen looks next to the 750 with Mobile Shell on both.

And speaking of screens, I'm ready for Palm to put some bigger screens on their smartphones. I hope the next batch come with bigger screens. Remember the nice slide out screen on the Palm Tungsten T3, and then the big screen on the LifeDrive and TX? And then, what the crap? No more stand along handhelds. Period. Technology is whizzing along at a blistering pace and I believe that Palm can come up with a smartphone that has a bigger screen with the newest touch screen technology like the iPhone. And surely Palm can put a super fast processor inside while they're at it. And don't forget WiFi. Most of the other smartphones out there today have WiFi and phones in one device. Heck, look at the Tilt. It has WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and 3G. We all know that it's possible. After reading Mike's Final 680 thoughts article, I now better understand "why" the Treo doesn't have WiFi. But.... it could have been possible if Palm had done things differently from the start in that area.

One of the things that sparked my interest in the Treo 680 when it was announced was the fact that it came in more than one color. I always appreciate having a choice in color. I got a Graphite 680 when the 680 first came out because I just couldn't wait for the Copper to be available. Then of course I got a Copper when it became available and sold my Graphite 680 to a great friend. I love the Copper color. I've gotten lots of compliments on the color. It's a color you don't see everyday on a device. Well, lol, I see that color everyday but that's because I have one. You know what I mean. I've been seeing quite a few newer models of cars lately that same Copper color. I like that the Curve comes in two different colors too. I've never been interested in a device that has any reddish tone to it, but man alive, that Red Curve is one sexy gadget! It's gorgeous! Like I said in my Curve article, it looks more like a burgundy to me than red. I guess it wouldn't really matter too much what color the iPhone is since most of the front of the device is screen real estate. ;-) I got a snazzy metallic pink, metal cover for my iPhone recently and I love it. That's one cool thing about our smartphones; we can dress them up in all sorts of colors and textures.


After the Round Robin, I'm still happy with my Treo 680. Yes, I see where there is room for improvement, especially after using three other smartphones in the past month and comparing all four. The 680 isn't the smallest, slimmest, doesn't have the biggest screen, and doesn't have WiFi. But the 680 has what I need. It has a built-in keyboard, a clear and crisp screen, Bluetooth, a web browser (that I plan to upgrade to Opera Mini soon), a decent battery, and a decent processor. But what I appreciate the most from my Treo 680 is of course the simplicity of the Palm OS. If I want to look at a photo I've taken, I don't have to click on two or three different menus to get to it; I can simply click on Pics & Videos from my home screen. If I want to type something, my keyboard is always there at my fingertips. I can change my preferences from my home screen. Heck, I can launch any app from my home screen. I don't have to go searching through a bunch of different folders to find anything. I can play all kinds of games and read as many ebooks as my heart desires. I can jabber away on my phone and send text messages and IM's. And I don't have to send myself into a tizzy by searching for 2 hours for a program that will let me wake up my screen. I don't have to spend a fortune on programs that will tweak my device into a device that works for me. My Treo 680 already works for me.

You can't multitask on a Treo 680 as well as you can with a WM device, but I'm not one to try and do very many things at the same time. I'm happy to be able to listen to music and play games at the same time. I can also talk on the phone and look at my Calendar or check my Tasks at the same time.

Yep, it's good to be back home where things are simpler and I'm in my comfort zone. Palm OS is what I've used the most so I'm really used to the platform. I'm going to cross my fingers that Palm can keep the Palm OS alive. It has so much promise if Palm can redo some stuff and build on what they've got. I look forward to seeing the Linux devices when they come out. I'm hoping that they will be as intuitive and easy to use as what I have in my Treo 680.

I've learned a lot through the Round Robin. I found that I need to use my iPhone more and not treat it as just a toy. I tried out a BlackBerry device and had no idea what I would think of it. The Curve proved to be a really nice surprise. I never expected to love it as much as I did. I'll probably end up buying one in the future as an extra device. I can't really justify adding another phone to my AT&T contract at the moment though. With the Tilt, I discovered that there is still so much more that I need to learn about a WM device. I still don't quite have the hang of it but I'm getting better. For now, I think I'm going to stick with my trusty Treo 680. Until I see what Palm comes up with next anyway. ;-)

Note: The Round Robin contest has been extended until Sunday, December 9th at Midnight, PST.

And speaking of the contest, head on over to the Round Robin forums and post your thoughts and get your entries in. Good Luck!

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