Wow, I can't believe that I've been away from my Copper Treo 680 for what, is it four weeks now? I really do miss it! I've enjoyed trying out these other smartphones but I'm looking forward to using my main device again.
The Smartphone Round Robin has been a great learning experience. I got to know my iPhone better, got to play with a BlackBerry Curve, and have been using the AT&T Tilt for the past week and a half.
Note: The Round Robin contest to win a smartphone of your choice by commenting in any offical contest thread has been extended - now any post made by December 7th qualifies!
I'd like to shout a big Thank You to all the great folks over at the forums who helped me out and gave me some tips on the Tilt! I've really enjoyed reading all the Round Robin forum threads. You can really learn a lot from reading the questions and answers on all the devices. We've got some real experts in the forums who really know their stuff. And that goes for all the forums. I've had to look up questions many times and have always come away with a great answer. Most of the time, someone else has already asked the question that I had in mind so I didn't have to look very far. That "Search" option really comes in handy!
Dieter's How To: Customize Your Tilt article was a great help too, as was Surur's tips and tricks in the comments section of that article!
Well, as you can see, the Tilt and iPhone both have much larger screens than the Treo 680. And I appreciate those large screens too. But my 680 has a clear and crisp screen that is very eye pleasing to me. Of course I'd love to have a bigger screen on a Treo. You can't help but be spoiled by the iPhone's gorgeous screen. The 680 and the Tilt are pretty close in size. Let's compare:
- Dimensions: 4.2 x 2.3 x 0.8 (113 x 59 x 21mm)
- Weight: 5.5 ounces
- Dimensions: 4.4 x 2.3 x 0.73 (112 x 59 x 19mm)
- Weight: 6.7 ounces (with battery)
I can really feel the weight difference between the Tilt and the 680. The Tilt seems more brick-like to me in that it's heavier and has a more squarish shape. Holding the Treo 680 to my ear feels more natural. Between the 680, Tilt, and iPhone, the iPhone comes in last for comfort when talking on the phone. I think I've mentioned before how slick the sides of the iPhone are. Kevin brought this up in his Apple iPhone First Impressions article. He even dropped the iPhone a few times.
While I give the iPhone hardware two thumbs up for looking good, my praise ends when it comes to actually holding and using the device. Its not entirely bad I just think theres still room for improvement. First problem - its just too damn slippery. Ive now dropped the iPhone twice (in less than one week).
Be sure to hop over to CrackBerry.com and read Kevin's article. It's a great read!
Windows Mobile 6
As I said in my initial Tilt article, WM is a powerful platform. Probably too powerful for what I actually need. Many Windows Mobile devices come with a suite of Windows Mobile productivity apps and multi-media apps. I actually haven't used WM 5 enough to even be able to compare it with WM6. I've been using the Tilt for the past week and a half and I've already used it more than I have my Treo 750. That should be an idication of how little I've used it since I got it. I can already say with certainty that I won't be switching to the 750, but will continue to use my Treo 680 as my main device. I don't hate WM, really I don't. The 750 has a better out of the box experience than the Tilt, but I still don't like all that tapping. I like my Treo 680 the way it came out of the box. I didn't put a 3rd party launcher on it. I had done so before with a previous Palm handheld but didn't really like it all that well. My 680 just works for me the way it is. I changed the color theme and put a pic of my choice for my Calendar app, and put some games on the device, and that's about it. I can see right on my Home screen what I want to click on. I like it simple like that. I stay busy and I don't have time to have to tweak a device to get it perfect for me.
I don't want to rehash what everyone else in the Round Robin has said about tweaking the Tilt, but here is one example of how I attempted to tweak something on it. I could not stand that power button on the side and how I had to keep pressing it to get the screen back on. Grrrrrrrrrrr!!!! That's probably my biggest gripe with the Tilt. I adore HTC as they make some wonderful gadgets, but could they have recessed that stupid power button any deeper into the side of the Tilt?! Sheesh! What the crap? I know, I know, I'm probably exaggerating, but it was very annoying to me. I'm also craving lots of chocolate at this specific time so I know that all you gadget gals out there know where I'm coming from. Nuff said on that. Anyway, I knew that I had to find a way to turn the screen back on without having to press that power button. A nice person in the forums suggested Slide2Unlock (S2U2), which is a simple lock/unlock application which has the iPhone style slide unlocking. It can be used as a screensaver while you don't use your device. Well, that sounded pretty cool so I clicked on the link. I couldn't get it to download OTA from that site for some reason so I did a search on Google. I found a freeware site but it didn't work from that site either. Then I found it on another site that I had to register for. I went through all that rigamaroo and then spent about an hour and a half attempting to download it from that site. Then when I finally got it downloaded, of course the files were a type that I needed WinRar, which I didn't have, so I downloaded that app on my desktop computer. Then I thought to myself, "You have GOT to be kidding! What am I doing spending all this time trying to find a program that will keep me from mashing that button on the side?" Of course I still wanted to find a way though.heehee! Then I recalled reading something about the power button in the comments section of Kevin's initial Tilt article. Why oh why didn't I remember that much sooner?? So I headed over there and found it and it was so very simple that I could have just kicked myself!!! Of course at the time I was wanting to kick the Tilt all the way to outer space.
To power on the device besides using the power button, just goto Start\Settings\System and in there, you will find a "Key Lock" icon. Click on that and it will give you the option to power on the device with any key. Just pick "Do Not Lock Buttons".
Thank you sooooooooo much Raiman76! I bow down to you! I can't believe I wasted so much time looking for a solution and it was right there in the Tilt's settings all along. So I set the IE button to bring the screen back to life and it works great. As for my Treo 680, all I have to do to wake it up is press the power/end button or any of the four app buttons on the front of the device.
The Tilt requires a MicroSD card which is a tiny thing; about the size of your fingernail. I've never seen one in person until I rode over to Radio Shack and bought one for the Tilt. Well, I guess I should say that I'd never held one in my hand. The BlackBerry Curve shipped with a Kingston MicroSD card in it but I never did take it out. It took me a long time to even find where it was located; beneath the battery. I just left it there and didn't mess with it. I bought a 1GB SanDisk card at Radio Shack and it came with an adapter. It took me a few minutes to locate the card slot on the Tilt. It's located on the bottom of the device and has a tiny rubber cover that pops up and swings upwards so you can pop the card in or out. I cringed each time I opened the rubber cover because it just seems like a part that would break off in very little time. It's amazing how small the SD cards have gotten now. I think that's quite small enough now though. If the cards get any smaller, we'll be inserting them with tweezers and a magnifying glass!The SD card slot on the Treo is easy to find, but I have my same doubts about that little door that swings out as I do with the little rubber stopper on the Tilt's MicroSD card slot.
And the iPhone? Well, it doesn't have any SD card slots as it has 4GB built-in. I could have had an 8GB model and probably should have gone that route since it wasn't that much more expensive. AND since Steve Jobs decided to cut the price soon after all the early adopters got one! But imagine all the storage the iPhone could have if it did have an SD card slot. Heck, Toshiba announced a 16GB and a 32GB SD card back in August. Now that's a crap load of memory! ;-)
Finding the SIM card slot was a neat little surprise. I figured it would be located near the battery since I didn't see a slot on the outside of the device. But it's located underneath the slide out keyboard.
I found it very irritating to get to the battery. You have to push upwards to slide the back cover off, and I was having to push it hard to get it off. I was afraid I was going to break the Tilt by pushing on that door at times. (Update on that) I found a better way to get the door off by pushing just beneath the camera, thank goodness! Once you get the back cover off though, the battery is easy to pop out and put back in. The battery door on my Treo is so easy to slide off. I just barely mash in the release button and the battery covers freely slides right off with no problem.
Although I really enjoyed my short time with the Curve, I actually prefer a touchscreen device. The Tilt has a very nice 320x240 touchscreen that is bigger than the 240x240 screen on my Treo 750. The Tilt's screen is very nice and easy on the eyes. Plus it works in both portrait and landscape modes. The screen looked crisp and clear, even in the bright sunshine. The tilted screen helped with that I'm sure.
And then there's the screen on my iPhone that is just yummy eye candy. It's interesting how devices have the different screen sizes. It's especially nice that the screens are getting bigger on some devices. Some people have a hard time seeing the font on smaller screens. I can't see all that well up close anymore whenever I have my contacts lenses in. I have no problem when I'm wearing my glasses though. Videos sure look a lot better on the bigger screens. And you really get used to seeing those bigger screens. For example, I bought some tv shows and a movie via iTunes to watch on my iPod last week. I put them on my iPod with video instead of my iPhone because my iPod holds so much more. When I started watching the movie I'd downloaded, I saw that it was in widescreen, and it was sooooo tiny! I knew I wouldn't be able to watch it like that and enjoy it, so I put my iPhone in its cradle and synced the movie to it. What a big difference! That movie looked smoking on my iPhone's gorgeous screen, and I didn't have to squint to see it. ;-)
The one-handed topic naturally came up in the Tilt thread from my initial impressions article. Some said that it wasn't a one-handed device and some said that it was. I wasn't able to do all that much one-handed especially to enter text. Using a device one-handed seems to be pretty important to a lot of PDA phone owners. It never has been to me though. I started out using a stylus and always liked it. I guess you just get used to things after awhile. It's nice to be able to do things one-handed but it's not all that big of a deal for me. On the Curve, using it one-handed almost seemed natural because of the convenient location of the buttons and the scroll wheel. I did find myself using the Tilt one-handed when reading long sections on a web page and when reading an ebook. I could simply use the scroll wheel with my left thumb. That was nice! I've seen some people driving down the road while texting. Not a good idea of course. Believe me, you all should be glad that I don't do that while driving because it's hard enough for me to talk to other people in my car while driving. I tend to lose my concentration and forget to turn off where I was supposed to and other dumb things. My peabrain just can't handle many things at one time. So if you ever see me attempting to dial a number on my Treo or text someone when I'm at the wheel, you'd better pull off the road fast! ;-)
I forgot to mention one of the included apps on the Tilt that I thought was pretty neat. The Tilt comes with Cyberon's Voice Speed Dial. Voice Speed Dial enables users to operate voice dialing and application launch simply by voice. Users can record voice tags in any preferred languages. I enjoyed using this program. It's nice to be able to dial someone's number by simply saying their name.
Another cool app that I liked was Live Search, which I downloaded OTA. You can use your voice with Live Search also. You can say the name of a store in your area, see what movies are playing, check for the lowest gas prices, or look up different types of restaurants. For example you can ask for Mexican or Italian, etc. I think the program had a hard time understanding my thick Southern accent because I had to repeat myself several times. I especially like the Gas Price search since gas is soooo sky high nowadays. The cheapest gas price I saw in my search was $2.46 in Houston, Texas, and the highest was $3.36 in Seattle, Washington. The cheapest gas in my area was $2.74 in Morganton, NC.
Third Party Apps
The Tilt is sort of lacking when it comes to the "out of the box" experience. As I said in my first Tilt article, the slide out keyboard is nice and has a certain "coolness factor". It just has a kind of James Bond flair the way the keyboard is hidden away. But it's also sort of annoying to have to slide the keyboard out each time I want to type something. The Tilt does have an onscreen keyboard but it's really small, so you might as well get your stylus out unless you have tiny fingers. I have small hands but even my fingers were too large to type out words on the keyboard. I had mentioned my annoyance with the sliding out the keyboard when needing to type over at the Round Robin thread and forum member starrwulfe kindly recommended PocketCM Keyboard. I downloaded it and was happy with how well it looked and worked. It's bigger than the onscreen keyboard that comes on the Tilt. I could actually use my fingers to type.
Then I happened to remember a cool keyboard I had used back when I had the old iPAQ 1940; Spb Full Screen Keyboard. So I downloaded that and oh yes, I was in business for sure! I love this keyboard! You can customize it with skins and keypress sounds, plus other neat features.
The Treo 680, BB Curve and the Tilt all have so-so web browsers. Luckily Opera Mobile came to my rescue and made web browsing much better. What's funny, well to me anyway, is that I'd never even thought to try and put Opera Mini on my 680. I will now though after experiencing the difference in the Round Robin. One the best things to me about Opera Mobile is that it has tabbed browsing. Sweet!
Spb Mobile Shell
I think most of us mentioned this software in our Tilt articles but it bears repeating. Spb Mobile Shell is a must have for the Tilt and other WM smartphones. It's a more intuitive interface for your device. You get a cool Today screen with all the info you need. Mobile Shell has 4 neat plug-in tabs near the top of the screen; Battery, Clock, Weather, and Contacts. Mobile Shell makes your Today Screen look like eye candy with it's beautiful graphics. I could go on and on about it, but you can check it out for yourselves.
Once again, here are the rules that each editor had to go by to insure that we all attempted the following with each smartphone:
- Editors must use their assigned smartphone as their "main brain" and may not use any other smartphone OR music device (such as an iPod) for one full week: I did it and after now being on the 3rd different device, I'm really missing my Treo.
- Editors must attempt to sync their phone to their computer, syncing all PIM data: That was very easy via Outlook on my desktop PC.
- Editors must attempt to set up their email on the smartphone: I used Express Mail to get my gmail and liked it at first, but then I realized that it wasn't really updating my emails after the first few times.
- Editors must attempt to use their smartphone to get directions at least once: I used Telenav again like I did when I had the Curve and it worked great. I also used googlemaps and Live Search. Lots of cool ways to get directions on the Tilt.
- Editors must attempt to use their smartphone with a bluetooth headset: I paired the Tilt with my trusty BlueAnt Z9 and once again enjoyed the hands-free experience.
- Editors must attempt to install at least two 3rd-party apps (if possible) on their smartphone: As mentioned above, I installed Opera Mobile which was great, and also installed Spb Mobile Shell.
- Editors must attempt to play a game: I played Bubble Breaker, Jewel Quest, Ms. PAC-Man, and Solitaire. Lots of fun!
- Editors must attempt to browse the internet: I browsed via Internet Explorer and Opera Mobile. It wasn't the fastest browsing since I don't have 3G in my area, but it was okay.
- Editors must attempt to add music to their smartphone and use it as their music device: I easily uploaded music from my desktop PC to the Tilt by using Media Player and then syncing the files to the MicroSD card in the Tilt.
- Editors must attempt to watch a video on their device: I watched several videos via Cellular Video that is an included app on the Tilt.
I hope I wasn't too harsh on WM. It has it's good and bad like every OS. And goodness knows there's no perfect device. Of course if any of you have found one, please slap it into my hand right now!LOL! As much as I whined about the Tilt's keyboard, I must say that it's the sweetest slide out keyboard I've seen so far. It's fun to type on it when I'm typing a long document. The backlighting is so cool and so is the tilting screen. The Tilt is really packed with lots of bells and whistles. Built-in WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS! And there's the 3G, 3-megapixel camera, A2DP for stereo Bluetooth headsets, push email, and more. You'd think that a gadget freak such as myself would prefer such a feature rich device over my Treo 680, but I don't. In a way, I think to myself that I must be crazy. I guess I just prefer the simplicty and "Zen of Palm". Go figure. Of course I'll still drool when seeing pics of the Tilt, and when I think back on the Round Robin and remember that awesome slide out keyboard.
The Tilt is a very sweet device! I was sort of surprised that it lagged at times. And I wasn't happy that it locked up on me a few times. Luckily, I could reboot it by poking the reset hole with the stylus, unlike the way I have to take my battery out of the Treo 680. I noticed that the Tilt seemed to boot up a tad slower than the 680, so I got my iPhone and used the Stop Watch function and timed the reboot times of both devices. The Palm logo with the "Powered by Access" appeared at 27 seconds. The 680 took a total of 1.03 seconds to reboot to the screen with the time set. At 38.3seconds, the 3G animation appeared. The Tilt took a total of 114.7 seconds to reboot to the Today screen. I then repeated the test. This time the Tilt took a total of 106.3 seconds to get to the Today screen. The 3G animation came up at 34.3 seconds. Then I did it again and the 3G animation came up at 35.2 seconds and the Today screen came up at 105.3 seconds.
I also redid the 680. The Powered by Access screen appeared at 35.4 seconds, and the time set screen came up at 104.6 seconds. So the times seem to vary but the 680 was still a little faster. Of course I'm in no way claiming those to be accurate results; just the results that I got with my iPhone's Stop Watch. And I know that I wrote down the wrong time for the Tilt's Today screen to appear when I put "114.7 seconds" the first time because that was too big of a difference than the second time of 106.3. Duh!
If you're a power user and really like WM, you'll love the Tilt as it's one heck of a powerhouse. Business users will appreciate the push email out of the box. If you like customizing your smartphone, you'll have fun tweaking the Tilt and filling it up with all kinds of goodies. I might have even enjoyed doing so if I'd had the Tilt for a few months and had time to really fiddle with a bunch of cool apps and settings.
Next up will be our "Coming Home" articles so stay tuned.
Don't forget to head over to the Round Robin forum and post on this article for a chance to win the smartphone of your choice, and remember, post made by December 7th qualifies!