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Palm Tipsheet 30 - May 2002
iSilo Edition (18k):
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Handspring.com -- The NEW Visor Treo combines GSM voice and wireless internet connectivity with powerful Palm OS organizer features, in an incredibly small package! The Treo 180 is $399 with service activation or trade in of a VisorPhone module, or $599 without service activation.
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Gear Up for Outdoor Adventure at REI! Get the stuff you need for skiing, snowboarding and all of your favorite winter sports at REI.
It's springtime in Wisconsin! The weather is warm, our garden is growing, the grass is green and the birds are singing in the trees. It's times like these when I appreciate four seasons, because without a gray, cold winter, spring's arrival would just get lost in the shuffle.
Happy Birthday! The Palm Tipsheet as a monthly e-zine, is two years old. The past 24 issues have seen a wide variety of Palm-related topics covered, 22 international Palm users interviewed and over 10,000 new subscribers. Special thanks to everyone who's read, supported and shared the Tipsheet with fellow Palm users. I couldn't have done it without you! :-)
You may know that I publish interviews in each issue of the Tipsheet, but you may not know that I had the privilege of interviewing at ClieWorld:
I've received reports from a few email subscribers about bogus emails being sent out with palmtipsheet.com addresses. This is a result of the Klez virus, which fakes the sender's 'From:' address. Learn more here:
I've also heard reports of some folks getting excessive bounce warnings from our listserver. If you're experiencing this, please drop me a line.
Okay, enough rambling. Treos and Thai Palm users, coming right up! :-)
A First Review of the Clié NR70V -- Sony has released the NR70 and NR70V in Japan and the US. Palm Infocenter's Ed Hardy got his hands on an NR70V and has posted his review. Check it out:
Last month's article on AvantGo alternatives generated excellent feedback. I'd like to share four of the most helpful tidbits with you.
First, Elizabeth Beresford from New Zealand mentioned BluePaste, a Windows app which can transfer text from a browser (or any other text source) and send it to your handheld's Memo Pad or a Doc reader at HotSync. BluePaste can generate a new file or append an existing file:
Dieter Bohn has a solution for automating iSiloXC in Windows so his iSilo channels are automatically prepared for HotSync each day. He uses a .bat file and the stock scheduler tool. Here's his script:
iSilo.bat --- REM This is an easy way to set up a daily iSilo update! cd\progra~1\iSilo\isilox isiloxc -x dailyisilo.ixl exit ---
Tim Nicholson wrote in to mention MobileWeb, his website and PQA which lists a collection of handheld-friendly AvantGo and Earthlink/OmniSky content:
Finally, I was asked why I didn't offer an 'Editor's Pick' for the best offline reader. The answer is simple: the goal in last month's article was to share what tools are out there and let you choose, based on your needs. After all, the tool that's best for me may not be best for you.
Special thanks Elizabeth, Dieter and Tim for sharing their comments.
As many of you may know, I don't often write reviews for the Tipsheet. Partly it's the abundance of reviews already found on Palm websites, but mainly it's because I prefer writing practical, how-to articles. However, on occasion I'll come across something in the Palm world that intrigues me enough to stop and write a review -- something like the Handspring Treo.
I've had a bit more than a month to examine and use a Handspring Treo 180, so in this month's feature article, I'll share my impressions of this small, feature-packed device. I'll explain how it performs as a mobile phone, Palm handheld and wireless data tool detailing the Treo's strengths and its weaknesses along the way.
The Treo has 16MB RAM, a 33MHz processor, Palm OS 3.5.2H, a 160x160 pixel monochrome screen that displays 16 grays, Blazer web browser, One-Touch email client, a 120/220v switching charger, stubby stylus and HotSync cable. In the US, the Treo costs $400 if purchased with a 12 month service plan and $600 without any service plan. The Treo is designed to operate on dual GSM networks; the US version offers 900/1900 MHz compatibility, while the European and Asian version offers 900/1800 MHz compatibility.
* Speed Dial mode displays 10 speed-dial buttons on screen, with 5 screens; each button can be programmed with a name and number. The Rocker switch scrolls through all 50 speed dial buttons; an inward press of the Rocker, or tap of the buttons with a stylus or finger dials the number.
* Keypad mode displays a standard phone keypad which can be tapped with a finger or stylus to manually dial numbers.
* Contact mode displays contacts in an Address Book-like list, which can be scrolled through with the Rocker switch or filtered by keying letters using the thumboard. In fact, typing letters or number anywhere in the Phonebook app will quickly locate contacts in the list.
* Call History mode tracks incoming and outgoing calls (up to 1,000 total), their number, time and day, duration and any pertinent roaming info. You can also redial numbers from the Call History screen.
One problem with the Treo's buttons are that option + hard-button presses are not user-configurable. Because of this, you can't re-map them to other apps using the option key. Worse yet, the flip-lid and Rocker switch presses can only launch the Phonebook app. However, by installing the freeware Buttons-T add-on preference panel, you can change these functions quite easily. Handspring really must include this functionality in an OS update.
The Treo's sound quality for callee and caller is quite good, because the flip-lid positions the speaker near the ear and the microphone near the mouth. To answer a call, just lift the flip-lid; to hang up, close it again.
A clear plastic window is built into the flip-lid to display screen info while closed and to protect the screen and thumboard from scratches and bumps while in a pocket or purse. However, the flip-lid does double the Treo's length and immediately identifies it as a funky high-tech gizmo.
A hands-free headset is included with the Treo, but creates voice fade-outs, since the microphone is integrated into the cable and swings if you move around. Treo can also be used as a speakerphone, though it doesn't perform as well in noisy settings and drains the battery more quickly. The Treo can even do three-way calling using an on-screen icon during a call.
The Treo's easily accessible on/off mute switch is a nice touch, though I do wish the thumboard keys were back-lit for nigh time use and that there was a mute button.
Battery life seems okay. Talk time is listed as 3.5 hours, standby 100 hours. These are optimistic specs and will depend entirely on network signal strength. In my case, VoiceStream's signal is average to good, so I saw battery life of about 2 hours talk time, 60 hours standby. With wireless mode off, the Treo's battery life is measured in weeks. When the battery hits a critically low level, the Treo shuts down to preserve handheld data.
Because the Treo operates on GSM networks, activating it can be as easy as popping in a SIM card, if you already have one. GSM service is quite new in the US, so you may have a limited choice of carriers and reduced coverage areas. Fortunately GSM is being implemented by major US carriers, and Handspring is working on CDMA-compatible Treo for this summer.
A software patch for the next generation network GPRS is promised soon, an especially attractive option for wireless data users, as GPRS use is measured in megabytes rather than minutes used.
The thumboard offers many useful features like the menu key, which can activate menus in Palm apps and a the '...' key, which provides optional characters to replace common ones. For instance, typing a dollar symbol '$' and then the '...' key offers a pop-up menu with Euro, Pound, Yen and Cent symbols to choose from.
The Treo's thumboard also includes the blue option key and a secondary key layer, designated by small blue characters printed just above the normal white QWERTY key characters of most keys. The blue option keyset features common characters like the colon, apostrophe, parenthesis, numbers, and even functions such as contrast, tab, app launcher and find, to name just a few.
The thumboard has some drawbacks. One is the occasional need to use two key presses to do what single-tap functions can do on other Palm handhelds, such as getting to the app launcher. Another is a problem using the keys in apps which rely heavily on stylus taps or strokes. It may also be a problem to use if you have large fingers or long fingernails.
While the Treo is a capable Palm handheld, I wasn't enamored with the small, monochrome green screen nor it's inverse backlight. Had I moved directly from my Visor Deluxe's larger monochrome screen to the Treo's smaller version, maybe this would have been less of an issue. Alas, I've been utterly spoiled by my Clié's high-res color screen! :-)
Still, the Treo is an integrated device, with a screen that strikes a pretty good balance between being large enough for a PDA, yet small enough to keep the Treo pocketable. The Treo was designed for mobile professionals who need a phone, a Palm handheld and wireless data access in a single device -- not for users who use a handheld to write large documents, read novels or to play hi-res games. Maybe the Treo 270's color screen will improve this.
The Treo offers no removable media option, which could be a significant problem for users who must backup their handheld, yet may go days before seeing a desktop computer. You could back up the Treo with its wireless modem, but at 9600 baud, this could be a painful experience. I do hope Handspring adds an SD card slot to future communicators.
The Treo comes with a USB HotSync cable with integrated sync button, rather than cradle. I prefer the portability of the sync cable, though some may prefer a cradle. A $50 USB cradle is available:
Finally, using a Treo as a handheld may be a potential problem during air travel, since the Treo is a wireless phone *and* a Palm handheld. Even with wireless mode turned off, the Treo looks like a phone and therefore may catch the notice of flight attendants.
In order to use Treo's wireless features, you'll must have the data feature activated on your wireless account, which is included in VoiceStream's one-year, post-pay accounts but not on Pre-Pay accounts (I can't speak for Cingular as their GSM service is not available here yet). You'll also need an ISP with dial-up services, for the wireless modem to dial into.
To use data features you can just enter network prefs into the Network panel in the Prefs app, and use the Treo's wireless modem straightaway. If you decide to run the installer CD and sync the Treo with a Mac or PC (with an internet connection), the included One-Touch email app and the latest wireless data drivers will be installed onto the Treo and your ISP specs will be entered.
When you've established a data connection, a 4-pixel column blinks on and off in the upper right corner of the screen. This flashing column works as a data connection indicator, so you won't forget you're connected to the net if you happen to jump into the Datebook. Still, I'd also love to see the Treo's network status LED turn solid green when a connection is active.
* Email -- The Treo also offers email, and this is another great feature for mobile users. One-Touch Mail (now named SureWave Mail) is a decent email client with can be installed at setup time. It supports multiple POP3 email accounts. I prefer MultiMail Pro, since it can also Sync emails from Outlook Express on my Mac. Eudora also offers a email app, included in their free Eudora Internet Suite for Palm OS.
Another email option is Handspring's TreoMail, which provides email in a way that's a bit closer to the always-on form RIM Blackberry users enjoy. To use TreoMail you must open an account where you choose specifications for login and which email account you wish to have forwarded to the TreoMail app. Handspring offers an enterprise edition, though I only tested the Personal Internet edition. At the moment TreoMail is in beta, so it's free, but will become a subscription fee when launched.
Once your account is setup, you then install the TreoMail app and sync your Treo and specs are added to the app. At this point you simply dial into your ISP and TreoMail grabs waiting emails. TreoMail is limited to one account and always downloads all of your email (even already viewed emails). From what I've gathered, this is because it diverts a copy of all your emails to the TreoMail account. TreoMail can also alert you with an SMS message when new mail has arrived. I did like that TreoMail made scrolling through, opening and closing email possible using only the Rocker switch.
The Treo is an okay platform for reading moderate amounts of email and not too bad for writing limited emails, due to the thumboard. For extended email use, I would have a hard time working with such a small screen but others may have less of a problem.
* SMS -- Short Message Service or SMS provides a way to send and receive short messages to/from other mobile phones and even to/from regular email accounts. SMS is nice because it's always-on, as long as wireless mode is active. SMS messages are limited to 160 characters; if you go over this limit, the Treo's SMS app should break the remaining text into a second message but seems to cut off the message instead. Sent, received and pending messages are saved in the SMS application. SMS can also be used to chat with people on AOL, though I didn't experiment with this feature.
The Treo's phone number can be used as an SMS address for mobile phones, while internet email users must use your phone's number with the carrier's domain name. SMS can be a great way to send short emails to/from the Treo, since there is no requirement to dial into an ISP to send or receive.
* Other Internet Apps -- Almost any 3rd party internet application should work with the Treo, once a wireless modem link is established with your ISP. I was able to get ftp and telnet apps for the Palm working, as well as other email clients and browsers. I was even able to get Palm's Web Clippings to work, once I downloaded the necessary libraries from the Treo Yahoo Group:
This functionality may be especially handy for system administrators who need to access their networks while out of the office and away from a PC, since the Treo's thumboard would make a telnet session much less painful.
The Treo is a first generation device and does have its flaws (as any device does) but is a great first step for Handspring. After using a hi-res color screen, it would be tough for me to use the Treo's smaller monochrome screen. While most mobile phones and phone/PDA combos don't offer removable media slots, I think Handspring must add this feature to their communicators, so users can make backups on the road. The Treo's talk time was acceptable for a phone/PDA combo, but could be improved.
My suggestion? If you're a person who's constantly on the go and you dread hauling your phone, handheld and pager everywhere you go; or immediate wireless access to email an web is a necessity, I suggest you seriously investigate the Treo. Handspring's first communicator may have many of the features you've been waiting for, in a very compact, capable communicator.
On the other hand, if you're like me -- you don't frequently use a mobile phone, don't need immediate access to wireless web and email -- or if you rely heavily on your Palm handheld for writing, photo viewing, e-book reading, the Treo will probably not suit your needs.
While the Treo is quite capable as a phone, PDA or wireless data device, when these separate components are viewed as a unified whole, the Treo shines. Without a doubt, the Treo has set a new standard for all communicators to follow... and that's no small feat.
Aaron Koh, HardwareZone.com:
David Carnoy, c|net:
Shawn Barnett, PenComputing
Thank you for having me, I'm so honored! I'm a big fan of Palm Tipsheet!
Two or three years now, I believe. They are gaining popularity among middle management people. Whenever I attend a conference at least two out of every ten people are using a Palm. After making this observation I became highly intrigued by Palms and read as much about Palms as I could from magazines and web sites before finally deciding to buy one. My first Palm was an m100.
Yes, my Palm uses a Thai OS. It came free with the purchase of my m515. That is one of the main advantages of buying one's Palms locally rather than abroad, I guess, the shop's guarantee is also a major consideration. Although Palm prices are a little higher here than in the US (about 10% more), not such a bad deal though because we do get a free Thai OS and Thai-English Dictionary software. As a stand alone software the Thai OS costs about 1,000 Bahts (about $23 USD).
Yes, there is a Thai Graffiti and a little language switcher icon at the bottom of the screen (in writable applications like Memo Pad, Address Book and such). The software also comes with a Thai Graffiti guide sticker. Unfortunately no Thai version of the Giraffe graffiti practice game though.
There are three competing Thai Palm OSes here, I have only used the one that came free with my Palm but I have heard the other two are good also.
They run away screaming! ;-) No, just kidding! When I'm among friends, family and colleagues I usually get comments like "Wow! you got a Palm?? Lemme have a go!" or "What the heck is that??" Depends how gadget savvy they are! Certainly with my new m515 the color screen looks that much more impressive (unfortunately it doesn't drive the girls crazy as I'd hoped!)
When I am on a train, queuing at the bank or post office and such people generally leave me alone to use my Palm as I see fit. I don't know whether they stare at me or not as my eyes are on the Palm, but I guess not,because Thais are very polite people!
As for evangelizing the Palm, I try to do that every day among friends, it's good for the digital soul :-)
Gosh! I wonder how I managed to live 30+ years without it! I use it to remind myself (literally) of things to do, people to see, and places to go on a daily basis. I have become an avid collector of addresses of restaurants, friends and business associates, and I particularly love exchanging addresses and software by beaming.
When I'm stuck in a particularly boring and fruitless meeting (which is far too often) I sometimes read an e-book on the Palm. Usually nobody knows what I'm doing, but it would have to be a large meeting! I also like to play a quick game of Bejeweled or Solitaire while waiting for my PC to boot...
Well, I can't live without any of the basic programs that came pre-installed with my Palm m515. Beside those, I also can't live without the Solitaire (Klondike) game, Bejeweled and Palm Reader for e-books.
I regret I don't know of any obscure software, but Thai readers out there may be interested in the marvelous Thai Palm site MRPalm:
The message board is particularly lively and informative! The site is not much use if you do not read Thai though.
For lovers of e-books there is always the wonderful MemoWare.com but I like to make my own e-books so I can select the specific chapters or short stories I want to convert into PDB file (using a freeware called Doc Reader). If you fancy doing that go to Project Gutenberg to look for some great books (mainly classics like Dickens, H.G. Wells and such).
If, like me, you are a Sherlock Holmes fan and would like to make an e-book of individual Holmes stories then go to University of Adelaide:
Don't let the idea of reading "classics" put you off because they are called "classics"for a reason! They are generally superior to today's best selling novels,and they are all free!
As for paid books I like to buy from FictionWise.com because they have a lot of science fiction books which really is my bag, better still the books are available for download in multiple formats so I can download one format for my Palm, and another for my desktop PC.
I would like to buy from Peanut Press.com one day because they have a lot of bestsellers, but they only have one file format I can use (Palm Reader) so I always went back to FictionWise...
You can chop big books into small chunks (ideal for m100!) using a file splitting freeware program which you can download from Nonags.com (for Windows 9x and up, I don't know about Macs).
I just bought my m515 a few weeks ago, so I hope that will last me a couple of years at least! I have not bought any accessories for it yet. I basically want either a spare sync/charge cradle, or a travel kit, so that I can sync and charge at work as well as at home. Then I would get some SD cards for dictionary, backups and data storage. I am also interested to get a new mobile phone that can work as a modem for my Palm via infrared, for checking e-mails, and also sending SMS messages and such.
Alas, no. Only a sad story about how I bought a defective m515 and had to go back and forth to the shop dozens of times 'til I got a replacement. I'm now watching it like a hawk to see whether it misbehaves again. So far so good!
Thank you again for airing my humble opinions! If any Palm-less individual is reading this I would suggest you make a beeline to the nearest Palm vendor and get one for yourself. Which model will suit you best depends on your requirements. I would suggest you read Palm Tip Sheet, Cnet, ZDnet, Amazon.com and Palmblvd.com to get some ideas. You can thank me later! :-)
The list of upcoming interviews includes: Venezuela, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Italy, The Philippines, Belgium, South Africa, Bahrain, Barbados, Russia, Romania, Honduras, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Argentina, Guatemala, Portugal, Slovenia, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Kenya, Croatia, Denmark and South Korea.
The list of past interviews includes users from: Thailand, New Zealand, Mexico, Argentina, Canada, Switzerland, Spain, Israel, The Netherlands, India, Costa Rica, Ireland, Germany, Australia, Brazil, Britain, China, France, Japan, Norway, Poland, and Turkey. If you are from a country *not* represented on either list, feel free to apply with an an e-mail For consideration.
If you're interested in buying a Handspring Treo, I hope my review aids your decision making process. Special thanks to Apatt Seriniyom for sharing his Palm-using experiences from Thailand.
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