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> Treo 700w - REVIEWS
The Undude
post Dec 29 2005, 02:06 AM
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Well, the January 5th Treo 700w launch from Verizon is right around the corner.

And I suspect the Treo 700w will be a very big success -- if (as always) the device works well and the pricing is done right. Faulty units and over-pricing will slow the growth of what should be a hot item Additionally, it is the type of device business executives will choose if RIM find their service upheld in the USA.

Here's a Treo 700 review from Treonauts, written from the perspective of a Treo 650 user. Please visit Treonaut page to see the many screen-capture pictures.

http://blog.treonauts.com/2005/12/treo_700w_revie.html

Treo 700w Review

I’ve now had the opportunity to play around with my Treo 700w for a little over a week and I’m slowly getting a sense of what it can do and how well and easy (or bad and complicated) it is to use on a daily basis.

First I must state that I have no previous experience whatsoever with Windows Mobile or Pocket PC devices and so I will be unable to compare the performance of the Treo 700w to competing devices powered by this OS. Instead I will be using my beloved Treo 650 running PalmOS as the benchmark for evaluating the forthcoming Treo 700w.

My intention is not to write about “the battle of the OS’” pitching PalmSource against Microsoft but to evaluate both pragmatically and neutrally. It is evident that some Treonauts will categorically prefer either PalmOS or Windows Mobile without much consideration for performance and usability while others will carefully weigh the pros and cons of each to decide which Treo to purchase. There is no doubt that both the Treo 650 and Treo 700w have unique pros and cons that will each be more or less appealing to different Treonauts and as you’ll discover in my review the ‘perfect’ solution combining the best of both worlds is still not in sight.

Below are the main areas of performance and usability of the Treo 700w that I will be taking a closer look at and review in the coming days:

Synchronization (Microsoft ActiveSync 4.1)
Today (Home screen)
Phone (Calls, Speed Dial)
Contacts
Calendar
Tasks
Notes
Email (part of Messaging)
Browser (Internet Explorer)
SMS and MMS (part of Messaging)
Pictures & Videos
Windows Media Mobile (Movies, Music, TV, Streaming Audio & Video)
Word, Excel and PowerPoint Mobile
Pocket MSN (Messenger, Hotmail)
Verizon Wireless Sync
Programs
Settings
Bluetooth
WiFi

In this first part of my review I will be taking you through my experiences with the Synchronization and Today functions. Additionally, in parentheses I have added my opinion of how each function compares to our Treo 650.


1. Synchronization with Microsoft ActiveSync 4.1 (Better)

Installing ActiveSync on my PC was done in a few minutes and after following the simple instructions and setting my preferences (I chose to sync my Outlook Contacts, Calendar, Tasks and Notes leaving out the email, IE Favorites, Files and Media options) I was ready to sync my Treo for the first time using either my existing Seidio Retractable Sync & Charge cable or the standard Treo 650 cradle.

There are a number of things that I particularly liked about ActiveSync such as the fact that it syncs in the background without the annoying, distracting and even stressful Hotsync progress windows that appear on screen under PalmOS – I could easily keep working without noticing that a sync was in progress.

Additionally, the Explore button in ActiveSync easily allows me to view, add or delete files on my Treo 700w. Similarly, you can also access the files on any SD card inserted in the Treo 700w so that it becomes a useful USB card reader – I really love this and wish that it was available out of the box in our Treo 650 instead of having to use a third party program such as Softick Card Export II.

Under Tools there is also an option to quickly Add/Remove Programs and perhaps more importantly was the very cool finding that once your Treo 700w is connected to your PC it can automatically share its Internet connection saving you from having to use data minutes if you don’t happen to have an unlimited wireless data plan (it’s kind of the same setup that I use with reverse BT DUN on my Treo 650 but much, much easier).


2. Today (Better)

There is much to like about the Treo 700w’s Today screen even if it could be considered to be somewhat cluttered with too much information if you decide to add all of the options that you can have which include: Lookup Field (Type name or number), Date, Speed Dial (Text + Picture), Owner Info, Messaging, Tasks, Web Search, Pocket MSN, Calendar and Picture. I personally chose to add everything except Owner Info and Picture (which was making my Today screen run extremely slow…).

As on the Treo 650, typing any character will automatically start a Contacts search. However, the Treo 700w has a few minor but neat additions such as the fact that the contacts begin to appear in a pop up (see below) within the Lookup Field and that it also has a smart feature which allows it to determine whether you are trying to dial a number (below right) or search a contact. Unfortunately, as with the Treo 650 you can only perform a First or Last Name search and not a Company which I find annoying on both devices.

Next is the Speed Dial section which offers you the option of dialing via either Picture or Text as well as a Quick Key for any existing or new contact that you want.

Below this I have added the Email and Tasks which I can access via either the 5Way button or simply with my thumb on the screen to open each respective application.

One function of the Today screen which I particularly like and which immediately makes the most of its high speed data connection is the Web Search box in which you type anything then hit the return key to see a couple of seconds later your query results from Google… very neat.

I haven’t yet properly setup my MSN account and so I will have to slightly skim this part but I can quickly tell you that the icons for the MSN butterfly, house, messenger and mail respectively open 1) an MSN jump page; 2) the MSN Mobile web page in IE Mobile; 3) MSN Messenger and 4) your Hotmail account. Any existing MSN user will undoubtedly be absolutely delighted to see such a tight integration on the Treo 700w.

I can also tell you as a bit of a preview that I was able to follow a link here from WindowsMedia.com which allowed me to perfectly stream both TV and video on the Treo 700w…

Lastly I have my Calendar function at the very bottom of the Today screen which like the Email and Task will take me to the application with either the 5Way or my thumb on the screen.

I hope that this will have given you a good overview of how ActiveSync and Today work with the Treo 700w and how it compares to the Treo 650. Also, even though I write that I consider both these functions to be ‘Better’ overall than the similar ones under PalmOS in our Treo 650 there are nonetheless other ones which I will review in the coming days that are definitely not so.

As promised, following on my review of the Windows Mobile Treo 700w’s ActiveSync (1) and Today (2) functionalities below is the second installment in which I will cover the areas of Contacts and Calendar with their respective functionalities. Also, in parentheses again I add my personal opinion judging whether I consider each function to be better or worse overall than on our existing PalmOS based Treo 650.


3. Contacts (Worse)

On the Treo 700w the Contacts can be accessed either by typing the first few letters of a First or Last Name in the Today screen which brings up a pop-up in the Lookup Field (below left) of all the relevant matches with their telephone numbers. However, Palm/Microsoft have annoyingly omitted to include the email in this list which one could for example use to look up the name “John Brown” and then email him with one click instead of the four or five that it takes via the Messaging application.

Additionally, whereas on the Treo 650 you can type “jbro” (first letter of First Name + xx letters of Last Name) to quickly look for “John Brown”, the Treo 700w is limited to searching for either “John” or “Brown” but not the full name.

Using the 5Way Up/Down within the Lookup Field you can scroll through each of the contacts and individual telephone numbers. Clicking on the name will open the contact Summary (below left) while clicking on a number will automatically dial. Within the Summary you can also scroll to the Name then select Edit which will take you to the contact Details (below right) which has 39 data fields compared to 22 standard and up to 40 total data fields in our Treo 650.

Instead of using the Lookup Field, you can also access the Contacts by pressing the Windows button then either scroll down or press the letter “o” on the keyboard.

As with other Windows Mobile applications I found the ‘options’ to be extremely limited and in the case of Contacts the only two are “Show Alphabetical Index” and “Show Contact Names Only” (above right) and you can’t simultaneous search by Name and Company. You do have the option to select “View By…” either Name (above) or Company (below) but again no simultaneous search in both fields.

Using the 5Way Left/Right will scroll through the various contact details such as Work, Home, Mobile, Email and IM and pressing any name will again open the Summary (below left).

In the Contact example above you can select and press on either “Send Text Message” or “Send e-mail” to open the relevant Messaging application (above right with Outlook E-mail). As I pointed out earlier I really feel that both Messaging options should have been made available from within the Lookup Field instead of so many more clicks away. Our Treo 650 may also lack the “Email from Contacts” functionality but at least it is much better when it comes to “SMS from Contacts” which I use regularly.


4. Calendar (Worse)

The Calendar application includes five views: Agenda, Day, Week, Month and Year. My favourite view is undoubtedly Agenda which provides a simple uncluttered list view of all you appointments for the day. Although it lacks a dedicated on-screen “New” button like on the Treo 650 I found that holding the Center 5Way for a couple of seconds brings up a menu (below right) to create a new appointement but again annoying not the option to actually edit an existing one…

The remaining four Calendar views are next to useless – particularly the Day view which I found extremely difficult and annoying to use because it lists 24 hour slots instead of just 8 or 10 business hours (no Option to change this) and maddeningly scrolls across the screen in 8 hour increments. The only advantage that the Day view has over the Agenda is that you can use your thumb on-screen for your appointment start time and to automatically launch the New Appointment screen.

If some aspects of the Calendar views are somewhat frustrating then the actual New Appointment (below) creation process is no different. The main reason that I was disappointed here is because the Start and End times can only be set in half hour increments and you can’t use the keyboard to write say “3.15p” to set a time of “3:15 PM” (in fact you can’t use the keyboard at all). A little trick that I discovered is that once the cursor is on the time you need to click on the Center 5Way twice to scroll.

Overall I found both the Contacts and Calendar applications to be disappointing and was particularly annoyed at the lack of customization options available throughout. Having said this I have no doubt that corporate Treonauts will be pleased with particular aspects of the out-of-the-box integration with Outlook such as the option to set Attendees for a Calendar appointment.

As I’ve mentioned before neither the Treo 650 running PalmOS nor Treo 700w running Windows Mobile are perfect but each have unique functionalities that Treonauts may like more or less to suit their particular needs…


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The Undude
post Jan 26 2006, 09:22 PM
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Here's a link to another review of the Treo 700w

Full of comments that make you want to tear your hair out.


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smeg36
post Jan 26 2006, 09:44 PM
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I'm getting awfully tired of people comparing it to the 650 and recommending the 650 instead. What they don't realize is there are users, like me, who will NEVER use a Palm product. I don't care how it stacks up against the 650. It is a moot point. I just want a review that is about the 700w, not the 700w compared to the 650. I know they are out there, but by far in the minority.


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The Undude
post Jan 27 2006, 12:31 AM
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I agree with you. The potential good all this 650-nagging can do is to point out some good things Microsoft may want to add into the next version of WM 5.0...


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cortez
post Jan 30 2006, 04:50 AM
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i agree with you guys. i just ignore the comparisons to the Palm devices because i have no experience with the Palm OS. I use the 700w for work it works very well for me... i had a choice between the Verizon blackberry and the 700w and took the later because of my familiarity with PPC's and Windows. as long as i get my email, keep my calendar and tasks updated and, most importantly, can receive and make calls i'm good to go.


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c0w
post Jan 30 2006, 07:08 AM
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cortez i'm jealous... you got it for free from your company... i'm gonna have to wait til april when i get my income tax return to get it... =\


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smeg36
post Jan 30 2006, 03:49 PM
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Mine should be here this week. I snagged a preproduction model on ebay. The seller couldn't activate it, but I can think of several options to get it working. Hopefully it will be here soon, and I can get it activated. I've been dying to try one out and see if I want it to replace my Samsung i730.


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The Undude
post Jan 30 2006, 07:57 PM
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QUOTE (smeg36 @ Jan 30 2006, 11:49 AM)
Mine should be here this week.  I snagged a preproduction model on ebay.  The seller couldn't activate it, but I can think of several options to get it working.  Hopefully it will be here soon, and I can get it activated.  I've been dying to try one out and see if I want it to replace my Samsung i730.
*


I bet you $5 you'll prefer your Samsung. cool.gif


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smeg36
post Jan 30 2006, 08:01 PM
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No bet. I probably will prefer the i730 after extensive trial. But I still want to do that extensive trial. I've been wanting a more phone-like device since I got a notebook and take it to work and traveling. I just don't think I need the functionality of a full PPC anymore, so I'd like to gear more toward the phone. It'll be fun to see though, you are probably going to be right.


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cortez
post Jan 31 2006, 03:09 AM
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QUOTE (c0w @ Jan 30 2006, 02:08 AM)
cortez i'm jealous... you got it for free from your company... i'm gonna have to wait til april when i get my income tax return to get it... =\
*


yep, it was free but if i muck it up, i'll have to pay for it. blink.gif


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The Undude
post Feb 2 2006, 02:07 AM
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QUOTE (smeg36 @ Jan 30 2006, 04:01 PM)
No bet.  I probably will prefer the i730 after extensive trial.  But I still want to do that extensive trial.  I've been wanting a more phone-like device since I got a notebook and take it to work and traveling.  I just don't think I need the functionality of a full PPC anymore, so I'd like to gear more toward the phone.  It'll be fun to see though, you are probably going to be right.
*


My guess is the things you will like about your present Samsung will relate to how well Samsung have created a smoothly integrated device / experience. And I'm guessing your niggling gripes with the Treo will have to do with how it doesn't seem so well thought though...


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smeg36
post Feb 2 2006, 02:49 AM
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I actually really like the look and feel of the Treo. I'm considering trying to find someone who wants to trade one for my i730. I'm looking for a device that is more of a phone now that I have a notebook, and the 700w fits that. It seems like it is an overall good device, but the preproduction one I got is already on ebay. It isn't worth the hassle of selling my i730 and getting a 700w, but if I can find one to trade I may go through with it.


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The Undude
post Feb 28 2006, 08:14 PM
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MobileTrax Review of Treo 700w

I was very impressed sitting there at the press conference last September 26 hosted by Denny Stargil (CEO, Verizon Wireless), Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Ed Colligan (Palm). They were all together to announce the new Palm Treo 700w that has just begun shipping. It’s the first Palm SmartPhone to incorporate Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 5.0 and Verizon Wireless’ EV-DO broadband data network.

Overall, it’s a very well developed product. Sure, there’s lots of controversy over Palm selling a product with Microsoft Windows Mobile software. But, the product is designed for the enterprise market, and there are a lot of features that enterprises will like. There are also some very strange (and different) things compared to the Treo 650 that will drive many Treo users “batty.” Here’s my take on the Treo 700w after trying it out recently.

Here’s what I like about it:

- Google for search – with their number one position in search, this is a coup for Google but a good decision by Palm.

- Standard file and folder system – the one PC feature that makes referencing files and folders better than what’s on the PalmSource based devices. [We hope to see files and folders return to Palm when they convert to Linux.]

- Office compatibility and UI – seeing Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Office on the Windows Mobile desktop is pleasing and supportive. [Microsoft should license this to PalmSource.]

- Palm software enhancements – improved today view, Google Web search, photo dialing, improved voice mail and others. We commend Palm for making improvements over and above Windows Mobile.

- Verizon EV-DO – this makes Web page access at least 2x-3x faster than older generation wireless data communications.

- Outlook Mobile – While it isn’t the same UI as the desktop Outlook, it does work in a similar way as well as allowing you to access up to five POP3 or IMAP email accounts. Exchange ActiveSync provides direct access to Exchange Server 2003.

- 1.3MP mega-pixel camera – Finally, Palm has upgraded the camera for the Treo. [However, since it’s already 2006, this should have been a jump to a 2MP or 3MP digital camera with flash and auto focus.]

- Look ahead completion of typing – pop up gives you 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].


Here’s what I don’t like:

- Computer UI – the Treo 700w looks and feels more like a PDA (computer) than a cell phone. For example (there are more) –

+ Palm is more natural & intuitive vs. having to think what you should do more in Windows Mobile.

+ Turn on – there’s no numeric keypad. [They should have added that as an alternate start up to the Today screen.]

+ Contact look up not obvious – Although all you have to do is start spelling the first name, last name or the initials of the contact you want to look up the Today Screen, it’s simply not intuitive. Since you can’t see it or have a button for it like on the Treo 650, the more natural inclination is to go to the Contacts program through the Menu.

+ Although the Calendar can be accessed directly from the Today Screen, it’s again not intuitively obvious. I found myself going to the Menu and then Calendar. This might be a case of “Palm UI preference” as some who haven’t used the Treo before might find it natural to go to Contacts and Calendar offer the Today Screen.

+ No threaded SMS like the Palm.

+ Set up mail not obvious.

- Can’t use phone as a data modem for your notebook PC – this was a surprise as you’d think this would be an added benefit. We’ve heard that it will work even though they tell you it won’t. Verizon says they are going to review the policy around this issue. We expect to see them promote the use of the phone’s EV-DO modem with your notebook rather than deter it.

- No built-in Wi-Fi –Wi-Fi is available via a Wi-Fi card for the SD slot, but then the SD slot is taken up for communications and you can’t add storage to the system. Eventually, all phone are going to be dual mode.

- No native built-in support for Lotus Notes or Novell GroupWise nor for third parties like Good Technology. Yes, there are third party solutions, and some enterprises will load Good Technology which has a very good user experience. It’s just that you have to wipe out what’s built-in to get the alternate solution.

- 240x240 display – this is just plain inexcusable. The Treo 650 has a 320x320 display. Why didn’t they change the form factor just slightly to provide a one half VGA display of 320x480? We understand that Palm had to go with a 240x240 display due to the constraints of the Windows Mobile operating system. Instead of Palm having to accommodate, we would have preferred that Windows Mobile supported higher resolution displays and they did a breakthrough high resolution display, even if it changed the form factor a small amount.

- OK is not OK – the purpose of OK is not to confirm anything but, rather to act like Esc does on the PC – mostly to jump back to the previous menu. Why did they “hard wire” the Windows Mobile menu key and the OK key on the keypad? Palm has it right on the 650: Phone, Calendar and Contacts are the three most often used applications with “Fn+” overlay with the user’s ability to redefine any command key.


We commend Microsoft, Verizon Wireless and Palm for working so hard to create a solid product. It does work as designed. It didn’t crash once during my testing.

Here are a few things that Microsoft should do in order to make Windows Mobile be more natural and easier to use:

- Show a 10-key numeric dial pad when you turn it on.

- Allow users to easily designate the function of the main keys. Do not put the Windows logo on a key. Make the keys pre-defined for Phone, Contacts and Calendar.

- Overall, make it operate more like a phone than a computer.


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. The Treo 700w simply feels more like a computer than a phone. Perhaps that’s not all bad for some enterprises, but Windows Mobile – even incorporated into a Treo package – simply isn’t as easy to use as a Palm-based product. But, for some enterprises, that may not make any difference. Can Microsoft ever make a phone product that’s better than what others have done? Perhaps, but we suspect that most users will elect to take the Palm-based Treo over the Windows Mobile version out of sheer simplicity.

We look forward to seeing how PalmSource will respond with their next rev of the software for the Treo.


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