Ernie the Attorney : searching for truth & justice (in an unjust world)


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Treo 300 Phone PDA E-mail Web-browser

An Amazing Device

I've been a long time Palm owner, and of course I have had a cellphone too.  I carried these two devices around for years, and I longed for the day that the capabilities of these two devices would somehow magically merge.  Handspring came to the rescue and created the Treo, a device that accomplishes the desired magical convergence.  With a color display.  Recently, I bought a Treo 300 from Sprint and signed up for their new PCS Vision service.  Sprint's service has left a bit to be desired, but the Treo is so fantastic that I don't care.  Even Sprint's amateur-hour antics can't deflate my total enthusiasm for the Treo.  What's so cool about the Treo?

Well it's cell-phone, but it is also a PDA that uses the Palm operating system.  And you can use it to retrieve and send E-mail from most corporate E-mail accounts.  Last, and least, it is a wireless web-browser.

Cellphone + Palm = Dynamic Duo

The most amazing thing about the Treo is what happens when you merge an extensive contact list from your Palm Pilot with a cell phone.  If you are a dedicated Palm user then you seriously need to investigate the Treo.  I knew that it would be cool to be able to use my contact list to initiate phone calls, but I didn't realize how useful and expedient this was until I started using it.  For example, shortly after I got the Treo I was driving in my car when I remembered that I hadn't activated the PIN for my new bank card.  I made a mental note to call my banker when I got to the office.  I didn't want to have to call information and go through all of the loops to get a general # for the bank when I knew that I had his direct dial number in my Palm contact list.

Then, it hit me.  I did have the contact information with me.  All I had to do was to flip open the phone and type the first three letters of my banker's last name.  His name came up with the contact information, which has two telephone numbers.  I scrolled down one line to his direct dial and pushed the scroll wheel and the phone started dialing.  A few more episodes like this (i.e. being able to place calls quickly while driving or filling my car with gas) and I achieved a total epiphany.  I wish I could dial numbers like this at work.  The other Palm applications don't require synchronicity with a phone, but its great to have them "in my phone."  I have my date book with me at all times (and it's synchronized with my Groupwise calender at work), along with my to-do list, and the Memo pad, plus all the games and crap that I carted around on my Palm device.

I haven't discussed the phone features yet.  The only two bad things are (1) it's bigger than the latest cool phones (it's smaller, but slightly 'fatter', than a regular palm), and (2) it lacks the physical number-dialing buttons (however the "virtual" buttons are very large and easily used once you get used to them).

Other than those two minor issues, which really aren't issues as I see it, the Treo is a very well designed "phone."  First, it has a switch on the top that lets you physically silence the ringer (so that at your child's play, when they tell you to turn off all noise-making devices, you don't need to drag it out of your pocket or your purse to perform an ostentatious ritual; you simply reach in and move the switch over).  All cellphones should have this feature.

Also, the phone has speakerphone capability.  When I heard about this I thought "great, but so what? I'm not going to use the phone in a meeting."  Well, I was wrong.  Not about the meetings, but about the utility of the speakerphone in a cellphone.  For example, the speakerphone is great in situations when you have your hands full.  Like, say, you come home and are unpacking groceries when a call arrives.  You can activate the speaker, put the phone on the counter and continue putting away groceries.  Cool.

So, even if this device just tied your PDA and your cellphone together it would be a mind-blowingly useful thing.  But, wait there's more.

How about E-mail access?

Like I said, the convergence of the cell-phone and Palm is reason enough to buy the Treo.  But it does E-mail too, and that is also an amazing productivity boon.  Now when I'm stuck in the doctor's office, or at SpeeDee Oil, or running a quick errand during a work day, I can access my E-mail.  That is a very good thing, and I don't have to carry a separate device to do it.

I started out using the free Eudora E-mail client for PDA's (I've since switched to SnapperMail), which allows you to check several E-mail accounts at once.  Which is better than the system at the office.  I don't really use my other E-mail accounts that often, but that's mostly because I don't like to have to check more than one account during the day.  But the Treo with Eudora lets me check all of my E-mail accounts easily so I suspect I'll make use of this feature and appreciate having it.

I should also mention that because the Treo has a mini-keyboard it is very easy to tap out E-mails, and to enter information into the Palm applications.  Recently, I had grown to despise the Palm's quirky grafitti mode of text entry.  The Treo makes it very easy to enter text.  Also, it has a very easy to read color display, which is relatively large and bright.

I recently figured out how to trigger an alert when an E-mail arrives, which was an issue with my provider (i.e. Sprint) and not the Treo.  So now I can give certain people my Sprint E-mail address and have it act as a text pager.  I'm going to have to play with this some more, but if it works reliably it will be another great thing.

Browse the Internet anyone?

This is the feature that I cared the least about.  I haven't played with it too much so I can't say that I won't grow to love this ability too.  Still, it is nice to be able to run a quick Google search, or to access a web page that has information that I want.  Pages are rendered fairly quickly, with crisp colors (for a PDA).   And hyperlinks are "clickable" by using the scroll wheel on the side of the device, and you can bookmark pages that you visit often.  And did I mention that the screen is in color?  The browsing feature is not a reason to buy this device, but it is a nice addition that doesn't cost much to use periodically because, let's face it, you aren't going to do a lot of web browsing on a phone/pda no matter how intrepid you are.

More Information about Treo

Treo Central is a great site for product info & accessories.   Sprint has a site for the Treo as well.   And, of course, the manufacturer, Handspring, has a site that's worth bookmarking too. 

The telephone number for Sprint's PCS Vision support is 888-211-4727 (obviously only applicable to Sprint customers who subscribe to PCS Vision service).


Sprint is offering a $50 rebate off of the $500 price, but Amazon is also offering a deal (which I think only applies to people who switch to Sprint & buy the phone by a certain date) that brings the cost of the phone down to $199 (as of  2003-06-30).

Tips for using the Treo 300

I'm going to keep track of tips that I find useful for my Treo 300 and make them available on this page.

A new and improved Treo, already?

The new Treo 600 looks pretty exciting, and you can take a sneak peak at it here.  It is smaller, with longer battery life (which is good) and other nifty features.  It is supposed to ship in the Fall of 2003.

© Copyright 2003 Ernest Svenson.
Last update: 8/12/2003; 11:55:54 AM.

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