ZDNet readers chime in with own Treo horror stories

Summary:Judging by the emails I've been receiving and the discussion thread on yesterday's blog (see Treo 700w, Windows Mobile 5.0 marred by flaws), I guess I'm not alone in feeling as though the device isn't ready for primetime.

Judging by the emails I've been receiving and the discussion thread on yesterday's blog (see Treo 700w, Windows Mobile 5.0 marred by flaws), I guess I'm not alone in feeling as though the device isn't ready for primetime.  Via email, MobileTrax's Gerry Purdy forwarded me a copy of his own review in which he draws the same conclusions that I did about the questionable usage of "OK" (both in hardware and software) while also writing:

If Palm had introduced the Treo 700w first and then introduced the Treo 650 later, most people would conclude that the Treo 650 was a significant improvement over the 700w.

But looking at the Talkbacks to my blog, I'm not so sure that the PalmOS-based Treo 650 users would agree.  Apparently, Treo 650 users are having similar problems; particularly when it comes to the device locking up.  There are stories of multiple daily reboots and data loss.  ZDNet RickW wrote:

I actually started reading this article thinking that I was about to read the Palm-biased perspective with a touch of Windows bashing. This might be what I actually read, but I found that I agreed with most of the points, especially the Windows Mobile 5 bluetooth functionality.

To be honest, I was really hoping for more from Windows Mobile 5.0 and the last thing I want to do is bash it. I've been playing with RIM's BlackBerry 8700c as well and despite all that's really great about the BlackBerries (between their GUIs, thumbwheels, and hierarchical menuing systems, I think RIM has the user interface nailed), I still love the multimedia capabilities of the Windows Mobile 5.0 OS.  Being able to take pictures with this device, load images taken with others, and its ability to store and playback music or videos, Windows Mobile is hands down the OS that I'd most want to bring with me as long as it was rock solid in all the other areas that I wrote about yesterday. Back to Gerry Purdy's review, Purdy points out some of the problems with Windows Mobile's autocomplete feature when entering text strings:

Look ahead completion of typing – pop up gives you (the) most likely word which is (typically) a positive experience.  [When typing an email address and you want to add “xxx@yyy.com” the system presents “Complete” as the suggested word to substitute when you type “com”.  If you make a mistake as I did and think that the word is a command, you get xxx@yyy.complete].

When entering an email address into a Blackberry, you don't have to go hunting for the "@" button or the period button.  Special characters are often hard to find on these little keyboards with shared keys.  Instead, with the Blackberry, you just press the space bar when it's time to insert an "@" sign or the DOT for the domain name and the OS intuits that its time to insert the @ sign or the period at the current cursor location (the first depression of the space bar converts to an @ sign.  The second converts to a DOT).  It's the niceties such as these that can make all the difference in the world when using a handheld. 

Marc Wagner, whose blog entries have appeared here on Between the Lines, wrote in asking for some clarification on my comment about dialing into the Internet.  Wagner was unaware that Verizon Wireless phones -- even ones based  on it's high speed EVDO network -- actually had to dial into the Internet.  But they do.  Asked Marc via email:

If  someone calls while you are browsing they will get routed to your voice-mail?  Or, will it suspend the "data call" which seems to always be on so the call will go through?  What if I need to check something 'on the web' during a phone call?  Is this not an option? 

Answers: On the Treo 700w, if you are surfing the Web when a call comes in, the surfing activity gets interrupted by the phone call.  If you are on a phone call and try to surf the Web at the same time, you get an error message that says "Cannot connect.  End the current phone call and try again."  This has always been the tradeoff between the heritages of CDMA (Sprint and Verizon Wireless) and GSM (T-Mobile and Cingular).  Whereas the CDMA family of networks (including EVDO) are faster, they can only do one connection type (voice or data) at a time.  Conversely, the GSM flavors (including the more recently introduced 3G-rated EDGE) have always been slower than their CDMA counterparts, but the advantage has been the ability to do voice and data at the same time.

Several Talkbackers commented on the Treo 700w's inability to serve be an EVDO modem for a PC via it's Bluetooth radio.  In this scenario, the PC would connect to the Treo via Bluetooth and then the Treo would route that connection onto the Internet through its EVDO radio.  Like other Treos the Treo 700w doesn't support Bluetooth's Dial-Up Networking (DUN) profile; a necessity if you're to use the Treo in the aforedescribed fashion.  However, if you're willing to wire the Treo up to your PC with the Treo's USB-based ActiveSync cable (included in the box), there is a solution from JuneFabrics called PDANet.   I've used it before and loved it.  PDANet is available for the 700w and according to JuneFabrics' Web site, Bluetooth support is coming soon.  Meanwhile, that doesn't mean we should excuse the 700w from not support Bluetooth's DUN profile.  Verizon Wireless supports Bluetooth's DUN profile on the Windows Mobile 2003-based AudioVox XV6600 (I wrote a How-To on how to get it working since there's nothing in the user manual about it).  Why not with the Treo 700w?

Speaking of Bluetooth profiles, in yesterday's entry, I mentioned that I wasn't sure if the Treo 700w supported Bluetooth's Stereo Headset profile (which is different from the Hands-Free profile that's used with  non-stereo headsets for cell phones).  Today, I tested that with HP's very cool Bluetooth stereo headset to see if it worked and it did not.  When I set the Treo 700w to scan for nearby Bluetooth devices, it was unable to discover the HP headset which, at the time, was set to be discovered.

Finally, a note to all you phone makers out there: More than ten years ago, I had a cell phone (I can't remember the brand) that gave you about 15 seconds to replace the battery during a phone call, without dropping the call.  I'm not sure how the manufacturer managed to do this.  But I was always shocked at how well this worked.  Although I'm sure it exists in some devices, I have yet to see this feature reappear in any smartphone or cell phones that I've touched since.  If you could bring back this feature, I know a few million people who would greatly appreciate it.

Topics: Mobility

About

David Berlind was fomerly the executive editor of ZDNet. David holds a BBA in Computer Information Systems. Prior to becoming a tech journalist in 1991, David was an IT manager.

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