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Talkin' Treo - v022208

Fri Feb 22, 2008 - 10:47 AM EST - By Annie Latham

Week ending 22 February 2008

Editor's Note: Special Offer, today only!

CallRec, the premier voice recording application for Palm OS Treo and Centro smartphones, lets you record phone conversations and voice memos with ease by simply pressing the Treo side key! No need to type notes, just press record!

This top-selling Palm application normally sells for $19.99, but for one day only - today February 22nd - you will get for free with any software or accessories order over $5.00 in the TreoCentral Store.

Note: CallRec does not work with Windows Mobile Treo devices, and a memory card is required to store the voice file. The software will automatically be added to your cart when the $5.00 order requirement is met.

It may have been a short week, thanks to the President’s Day holiday, but that did not shorten the abundance of good news from/about our friends in Sunnyvale. The white with green number keys, AT&T (GSM) version of the Palm Centro was announced on Tuesday. Since this is the most exciting news so far this year from Palm, coverage was thick!! Even this very site carried three stories including a roundup of reviews.

The press release detailed features that are sure make you Snoopy-dance, such as:

  • XM Radio: Centro from AT&T is the first Palm smart device to offer XM Radio Mobile.
  • Push to Talk: This walkie-talkie feature enables Centro users to talk to an individual or a group of up to 29 users.
  • TeleNav GPS Navigator: With an optional stand-alone GPS receiver accessory, TeleNav GPS Navigator gives Centro users access to maps and more than 10 million points of interest, as well as turn-by-turn voice and on-screen driving directions.
  • MobiTV: Let’s Centro users watch live television, premium and prime-time programming, video-on-demand clips and satellite and digital music services and more.

Here’s the catch. Each of the above “unique services” will run you another close to $10 a month in add-on fees. So if you choose all four, you’re looking at an additional $40 plus tax on top of your regular calling plan and a data plan.

It’s clear that the Centro is the razor to the “services” blade. AT&T has adopted a revenue model made popular by H-P with their printer division. You get the hardware for cheap, but the residual fees are the sources of revenue. Keep an eye on this development.

Speaking of sources of revenue, all the carriers were busy this week with announcements about flat rate pricing (see details below). In the same week where the news hit that Sony's Blu-ray high definition format prevailed over Toshiba-backed HD-DVD (Toshiba just conceded), one can only wonder when the wireless carrier shakeout will happen. Will all four companies be standing at the end of the year?

Now, without further ado, Let’s Talk Treo!

Palm News

Talkin’ Centro

In case you hadn’t seen it, here’s Palm’s official announcement of the Centro for AT&T. The press release quote is always fun to read:

"The demand for crossover devices is skyrocketing, and the Centro hits a sweet spot for many customers looking for a QWERTY device with a solid suite of messaging and multimedia features," said Michael Woodward, vice president, Business Mobility Products for AT&T's wireless unit. "At a great price that can be coupled with a variety of AT&T's messaging and data options, we are thrilled to offer Centro to our 70.1 million customers."

The Palm Centro from AT&T will run on AT&T's EDGE network, part of the GSM family of technologies. The press release makes sure to let everyone know that GSM is the world's most popular wireless phone technology. AT&T customers with quad-band devices such as Centro can place calls in more than 195 countries and access data in more than 140.

TreoCentral wrote-up the February 19th announcement here and posted a review here. In addition to those mentioned in Jennifer’s round-up story, here are some more thoughts on the AT&T Centro:

The Street

The Street’s senior technology correspondent, Gary Krakow did a video where he discussed what he liked about the newest Centro.


Andrew wrote:

“Overall there is no doubt that if you’ve never previously owned a smartphone you’ll quickly start to wonder how you managed to do without one for so long and praise the day that you finally got your hands on a Centro.”


AWright remarked:

“In my initial use of the AT&T Centro, I have been impressed with its overall stability, speed of getting from one application to another, and ease of use.”

Crunchgear’s Unboxing

Matt Hickey wrote:

“It’s here, and it’s cute, and it works, and it’s rad. I’ve always been a fan of the Treo line from Palm, so I was stoked to open this guy up today.”

Other Palm News…

Coldwell Banker Real Estate Agents Get Connected With the Sprint Palm Centro

In a story making the rounds in the financial Web pages, at the Coldwell Banker International Business Conference taking place in Orlando this week, real estate agents armed with Sprint Palm Centros will be learning how to stay connected to the resources, information, and people they need at every stage of the deal. Craig Tellalian, strategic account manager at Palm, is demonstrating how real estate professionals can:

  • Use the Palm Centro to gain a competitive edge, attract clients, gain listings and speed valuable closings;
  • Stay mobile with wireless access to email (corporate and personal), the Web, contacts, calendar and phone functionality;
  • Utilize Centro’s latest productivity enhancing real estate applications like GE Supra eKey™, which allows agents to open and program their own iBoxes™ and Mortgage Calc, which allows agents to calculate complex mortgage payments, including mortgage insurance, estimated property tax and home insurance.

It’s not clear how many people are attending this conference, but it appears to be excellent exposure for the Centro.

Hawkins is Back… Doing that Brain Project Thing

Earlier this month, at the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco, Jeff Hawkins, the founder of Palm and Handspring and an expert on the human brain, addressed the question of "Why can't a computer be more like a brain?" Per this story by Dean Takahashi of the Mercury News, Hawkins has been preoccupied with that question for decades and recently has been working on the answers for his new start-up, Numenta.

“The goal is to create a computer that is efficient at learning to recognize things, improves itself over time, can be generally used across a lot of different industries and has an ability to make predictions…”
"The goal is not to build humans, but to solve problems that are much harder than what humans can solve…”

The software Numenta is developing can make use of the multiple processing cores engineers are putting on each chip. The challenge is for the engineers to create chips with hierarchical memory systems that have their own processing capabilities.

Is your head spinning yet? Moving right along…

Recent TreoCentral Guides, Reviews & More

Review/Clue: Photos HQ for Palm OS Treo 680 - By Jay Gross

Jay checked out Photos HQ ($3.95), a little application that helps you get better pictures from your Treo’s camera.

“Photos HQ software helps the Treo 680’s images a great deal, and costs so little it’s an easy purchase decision to make. While tweaking the 680’s camera software is a neat trick and does improve the results, the pictures are still relatively poor. I’ve taken the hardware route, and carry my little 12-megapixel Kodak in my shirt pocket. It has problems of its own, but fixed focus and low resolution aren’t among them.”

Review: PalmRevolt - By Andre Kibbe

Andre spent some time with PalmRevolt by 3GX Software. It is a program designed to improve the appearance of the Palm OS user interface.

“…PalmRevolt only changes the look of the Palm UI, not its operation. Power users are likely to want something a little more “revolutionary” like ZLauncher or UltimatePhone. If you’re happy with the operational design of the standard interface, but would like to see some updating on the visual side, PalmRevolt is a better solution.”

Review: Kingston 1GB Dual Adapter Pack - By Douglas Morse

Last week, Jay did a piece about “supplemental storage” with his review of the 6GB microSDHC card and card reader by SanDisk. This week, Douglas weighs in with a lower capacity offering from Kingston – their 1GB Dual Adapter Pack.

“The Kingston Dual Adapter pack is a great little combo and I can highly recommend it to someone who is using a standard SD slot and who plans on upgrading in the near future. The only problem I have is that this is a mere 1GB. This is fine for basic use, but consumers are used to 2GB standard these days, and 4GB cards are within the realm of possibility if your device supports the micro SDHC specification (which the 700P does with the appropriate update).”

Elsewhere in the World of Treo…

Review: Proporta Mobile Device Charger

Just call it the little charger that can… Alli at MyTreo.net checked out Proporta’s Mobile Device Charger – Micro that was described as smaller than a Centro. Though it wasn’t designed expressly for the Centro and other models of Treo, it apparently worked quite well.

“Because of the way the USB sync/charge cable fits, this is a great solution to all Treo models. It is especially nice to use with the Centro with its super small 1150 mAh battery. It's mathematically almost twice as good as simply carrying a spare battery. You can either run your Treo while plugged into the Micro Charger, or charge your Treo and go. You can also pick up USB adaptors to charge your Treo and the Micro Charger when you have access to AC power via those USBb cables.

Review: Jawbone Aliph

Kerry Woo at Gear Diary test drove the Aliph Jawbone Bluetooth headset (the one mentioned in my Ponderables two columns ago).

“I’ve been using the Jawbone for about a month and simply put, the Jawbone sets the standard for Bluetooth headsets – period. Bluetooth Jawbone = A Perfect Match.”
“…One thing that I’ve noticed in my use of the Jawbone is not having to shout or strain to hear a conversation. Being able to carry a conversation in a soft spoken voice was highly appealing to me, as I’m not comfortable carrying a private conversation in a loud voice…”

Review: Southwing SH505 Bluetooth headset

Dave at The Gadgeteer, tried out the Southwing SH505 Bluetooth headset which easily paired with his Treo 680.

“Overall, I like the fit, function, and call clarity of the SH505. Although, even before it self-destructed, I had decided that after I was done testing I was going back to the iPhone Bluetooth headset I have been using for a while now. Primarily due to the fact I still love the simplicity, look, and fit of the Apple earpiece. The bottom line is the Southwing SH505 does work well and has a very good feature set for the cost (especially considering its current sale price), making it a very great bang for the buck..... But obviously, since the device failed almost immediately and I have not received a response or replacement earpiece, at this time I cannot recommend this product.”

News: Zumobi Now Available for Public Downloading

Evan Koblentz of Wireless Week reported that Zumobi, the startup with a widget platform for mobile devices (note: mentioned in this column in November), is now available for public downloading. The company, which is a spin-off from Microsoft (and formerly called ZenZui), is planning on giving away the widget platform, counting on banner advertisements for revenue (which they will with developers).

Cool Smartphone, a UK-based website, has posted a video so you can see how it works. You’ll pick up straightaway that the reviewer feels this application is annoyingly American.

News: Carriers Announce Flat Rate Wireless Plans

The shot heard round the wireless sector this week was that three of the nation's largest wireless carriers (Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile) are rolling out plans that charge a flat rate for unlimited calling. The new plans cost more than most traditional options and are aimed at the heavy user, a customer that wireless carriers compete fiercely to land. For example, Verizon said it will charge $99.99 a month, plus taxes and fees, for its unlimited voice. The others matched this offer.

The fourth carrier, Sprint is not sitting still in all this. According to a Reuters’ story, Sprint Nextel is expected to undercut its rivals, with an unlimited calling plan for as low as $60 a month in a bid to stem customer defections. Per Jeff Kagan, a telecom analyst based in Atlanta, “Sprint could be the wild card.”

“Dan Hesse, Sprint’s CEO, told USA Today before Verizon’s move that he was considering an unlimited, flat rate plan. If Sprint undercuts the $100 deals, the company would hit a home run, at least temporarily, until competitors matched or beat the price, he said.

One thing’s for sure… even though this is getting a lot of press, the consensus is that it really doesn’t impact a lot of users.

News: AT&T Back on the American Idol Bandwagon

This week, AT&T Inc. announced “it's time for Idol fans across this great nation to let their voices be heard and exercise their right to vote - for the next "American Idol." Once again, AT&T is doing a promotion tied to American Idol. Details about the company’s "American Idol"-related content and features for this season can be found online or at your friendly neighborhood AT&T store.

Side Note: By the way, in that very press release, AT&T stated:

“AT&T recommends selecting a MEdia Max bundle, which provides unlimited access to streaming video, basic content and mobile Web-browsing with MEdia Net. The MEdia Max bundle is $19.99 a month and includes 200 text messages.”

See a theme here? – AL

News: Just When You Thought it was Safe… GSM is Vulnerable

John E. Dunn at ComputerWorld reported that during the Black Hat security conference in Washington this week, two enterprising researchers, David Hulton and Steve Muller, claimed to have figured out a way to eavesdrop on calls made using GSM mobile phones, cracking open its much-vaunted encryption. GSM calls can now be recorded over long distances and cracked open in half an hour using only $1,000 worth of field-programmable gate array-aided computer equipment and a frequency scanner.

“The ‘attack’ depends on exploiting a vulnerability in the way GSM sets up calls. Assuming attackers were able to find out a phone's mobile subscription identification number and built-in hardware ID -- garnered by sending a text message to that phone, say -- they would have enough information to isolate calls from that phone.”

Scared yet?

News: T-Mobile Looks to Replace the Home Phone

It looks like T-Mobile has come up with a creative way to keep subscribers. They have just rolled out an Internet calling plan designed to replace home phone service in two test markets, Seattle and Dallas. This service will be available only to T-Mobile’s cell phone customers. To sign up, they must buy a $50 Internet router from T-Mobile and pay $10 a month for unlimited local and long-distance domestic calling. Consumers can connect any home phone into the router via a traditional phone cord.

In his write-up at Engadget Mobile, Chris Ziegler said:

“There's no word just yet on when we might see the hardware outside the test markets, but with landline popularity waning the way it is, we'd suggest they get a move on.”

Coming soon – a gPhone?

Again this comes up and can’t be ignored… Both PDA Street and Brighthand have reported on remarks made by PBS commentator, Robert X. Cringely regarding Google-branded “gPhone.”

“According to Cringely, an anonymous tipster told him Google is actually planning on releasing a 'gPhone' under its own brand after all. Not only that, he asserts it won't just be one Android handset, but two—a higher-end smartphone model and a cheaper, more traditional feature phone-like handset.”

Other notables:

  • Samsung is building it.
  • Google is supposedly speaking with Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile about carrying it.
  • It will become available during the fourth quarter of this year.

News: Google Big in Japan

Per a story appearing at MocoNews.net, it looks like Google won Japan's mobile web battle, by signing deals with Japan's two largest operators—NTT DoCoMo and KDDI. That means some 82 million mobile subscribers will see it as their default search engine. In comparison, Yahoo Japan, owned by Softbank, Japan's smallest operator, is the defacto engine to fewer than 18 million users.

News: $40 Billion Expected from Handset Accessories Sales in 2008

According to ABI Research, sales of mobile phone accessories are expected to generate over $40 billion in revenue in 2008. ABI Research industry analyst, Shailendra Pandey remarked:

"Current market trends including the growing adoption of smartphones in the prosumer and consumer segments, as well as the increasing popularity of iPhone-like feature-rich devices with touchscreens are contributing to the growing demand for mobile phone accessories. Further, more people buying expensive smartphones and feature-rich devices mean greater demand for accessories that protect handsets, and also for accessories that enable the use of different features and applications on the handsets."

ABI Research expects the market for mobile phone accessories to grow steadily in the next five years, generating over $80 billion in revenue in 2012.

News: Help Desk Software Goes Mobile

Aeroprise, the world's most-deployed software for mobilizing IT service management, is about to release new software that will extend the features of BMC's Service Desk Express application to an array of mobile devices (Palm Treo, Windows Mobile and BlackBerry).

“By giving mobile workers direct, tailored access to the application's functions, Aeroprise can minimize or eliminate having to constantly be on the phone to human dispatchers. The vendor says response times are shorter, fixes are often faster, technicians can do more in the same time, and IT groups can offer tighter service level agreements to their customers.”

News: Second Life Goes Mobile

San Francisco-based Second Life has opened up its virtual world to the mobile phone, and is looking for interested beta testers to put the application through its paces. In brief, Vollee's service will enable mobile access to the full world of Second Life letting people explore, interact and communicate with other Residents on-line. The experience is uniquely enhanced for mobile, reformatting the 3D online world to map to the screen size and the keys on a handset. More information is available at: www.vollee.com/secondlife.

Endnotes & Ponderables:

As if texting, surfing, and talking aren’t enough activities to keep you busy in your mobile life, the folks at Tapatap have introduced another form of social entertainment – a “contest community” accessible from your cell phone.

In brief, Tapatap is ‘Your Contest Community’ offering infinite contests for fun and prizes. You can create your own contests to share and enter your photos to win. Apparently the “tap” part is connected to a points system that qualifies you for prizes.

The folks at Mobile Phone Blog have done a write up about it:

“Tapatap is a new (and cool) twist combining gaming, photo sharing and social networking. At its heart Tapatap is an online "community" where you play contests to win prizes. The twist is that the contests are created by the community rather than by the company.

Could be fun… Just make sure you’ve signed up for the right plan from your carrier.

That’s a wrap!

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