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Interesting how much difference a year makes! It was about a year ago when I originally got hold of the Windows Mobile Treo 700wx on loan to do my review. At the time, it was my first exposure to the much different Window Mobile platform. Recently, I was given another wonderful opportunity to revisit the Windows Mobile platform with the latest Treo 750 which offers more RAM and Windows Mobile 6 Professional edition, well, the Rogers Wireless branded Treo 750 did, anyway. The Treo 750 may be offered in Windows Mobile 5 so you may need to wait for an official update (from your cellular carrier) to Windows Mobile 6 or take a chance by risking with an unofficial hack to update it to Windows Mobile 6.
For those who want to skip over all the detailed writing and just want a summary, you can jump to the review summary
Here’s a look into the wireless aspect of the Treo 750 with regards to accessing the internet.
Video of Treo 750′s wireless internet and final thoughts
Unfortunately, due to privacy measures, I did not continue with the Microsoft Live program as originally planned since it required the display of my hotmail address and other information, so I decided to not continue with it and instead simply provided my final thoughts of the Treo 750 smartphone device
Also, you can jump to:
Let’s be frank. Being a fan of the Palm OS for several years, it was very unlikely that I was ready to embrace a totally new way of doing things and diving into a completely different world. At the time, the Treo lineup was just starting to expand, or stagnate, depending on how you view it. It was Palm Inc’s first foray into the “other” OS and there was no indication whether this was a one time deal or that there would be more Treos with Windows Mobile coming down the pipeline. I remembered how I thought that the Windows Mobile platform was a bit backwards in certain ways. I really disliked how it took me twice as many taps or presses of the keys to get to an application or wherever I wanted to go compared to usually, a single press or tap on the Palm OS. Unfortunately for me then, I focused a lot on that and it hindered my ability to accept the Windows Mobile platform.
Now, fast forward about a year later and with all the things that has happened or not happened with regards to Palm Inc., I have decided to give Windows Mobile a much closer look with the latest Windows Mobile Treo 750 smartphone. I guess my acceptance to finally view the Windows Mobile and the Treo 750 with a more open attitude that I was actually able to see things in a much different light. Surprisingly, I found myself falling in love with the Treo 750 and seriously considering it to be my next upgrade device!
Okay, I admit that I already was convinced that the Treo 750 was going to be my next upgrade long before I got the Treo 750 in my hands but testing it for the couple weeks only solidified my conviction. Now, being a Palm OS fan still, I want to confirm that I am not abandoning the Palm OS. Far from it. I will actually be using both the Treo 650 and 750 device, taking advantage of the strengths of both devices. There are strengths and weaknesses in both operating systems, or any other mobile operating system for that matter. What you have to consider is whether the operating system is something that you personally will be comfortable with and whether the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. For me, since I have used the Treo 650, I am viewing the 750 as an enhancement of all the features, programs, etc that I can’t access on the 650. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that the 750 is an excellent upgrade, especially if I am going to keep using both. Let’s just think of it as having the best of both worlds.
I will now start to provide some of my thoughts of the Windows Mobile Treo 750 that I have observed over a two week period. Again, please keep in mind that these are my personal observations and obviously you may not necessarily agree with my opinion.
One of the interesting things I’ve noticed about this Windows Mobile 6 Treo 750 is that it offers enough enhancements in it that you can somewhat forgive and overlook some of the other things that the OS brings, such as the slower loading of applications. With the Windows Mobile, it’s quite normal to view the quarter pie icon (similar to the hourglass icon in Windows) when running or loading an application or setting. Obviously, for a Palm OS fan, waiting for something to load is not something I look forward to, but as I’ve already mentioned, but if it means that I can run something that I can’t on the Palm OS, I guess I can overlook that.
So, here’s some of the run down on what I like about the Treo 750 and the Windows Mobile platform. As many of you already know, I was praising the soft touch and spring back feel of the Treo 755p keyboard. Since the 755p and the 750 are essentially the same with respect to the casing and hardware, it’s not surprising that I love the keys and feel of the keys on the Treo 750. So no need to elaborate on something I’ve already discussed previously.
A BIG feature I totally LOVE about the Windows Mobile platform is the text predictive feature. It is very intuitive, interactive and accurately remembers your phrases and choice of words that it can easily help you complete your sentences so quickly. This is one amazing technology that the Palm OS can not compete on. I have found that I truly relied on this when writing my thoughts about the Treo 750 in the Notes application. Most of my observations and notes you read here were originally typed in the Treo 750 and obviously edited (after copy and paste) for posting here.
One of the strengths of the Windows Mobile platform is its ability to multitask. Coming from the Palm OS, where there is no true multitasking capability, I was amazed that I can be in the middle of listening to a music file while receiving a file via bluetooth, something that simply CAN’T be done on Palm OS. There is something to be said about multitasking that until you experience it first hand and understand how you can do two or more things at once, you won’t understand its appeal.
The main appeal of the Windows Mobile platform for me is the growing support for the platform, whether it be in the form of software development or hardware or accessories support. Unfortunately, this WAS one of the main strengths of the Palm OS platform at one time and the it’s unfortunate that the table has turned with Palm now on the other end. There’s a growing number of third party programs and applications and even many Palm OS developers have decided to at least support the Windows Mobile platform if not abandon or cease development for the Palm OS. As I have mentioned time and time again, the success of any mobile platform is hugely dependent upon the support of the third party application development community. And the Windows Mobile third party applications and community are growing by the day!
A surprising thing that I’ve noticed during my trial with the 750 is the “re-discovery” (pun intended) of my enthusiasm, something that has been lost for quite a while. Being able to now enjoy a magazine devoted to the Pocket PC and smartphone is something I can be excited about! I can now start enjoying the community of support for the Windows Mobile whether it be through blogs, forums, and even through the magazines. And for once, it’s actually totally relevant, as opposed to before when I’m looking for Palm OS related information, which may come up from time to time.
A very welcomed feature that I really love is that everything I type into the Notes application is saved automatically. No need to manually save the note. Wow! Why don’t more applications offer that capability? I found that it was so refreshing to be able to type down my observations and notes about the Treo 750 without having to worry about forgetting to save when I exit out of the Notes application. Unfortunately, this only applies to the Notes application and not to the Mobile Word program. Darn! Another interesting feature is the ability to record an audio note or memo in the Notes application which definitely helps when taking notes.
Another feature I enjoy is the tap and hold menu pop up. Unfortunately, this tap and hold menu pop up doesn’t always come up. Many screens will bring the pop up but some screens won’t. Having the tap and hold pop up can be quite useful to bring up some possible menu options. For many Palm OS users, this can be somewhat confusing since there are strict rules where you can bring up a menu (ie. top left hand corner) and with the Windows Mobile, there are many ways to bring up menus and options (eg. tap and hold anywhere on the screen, left and right action buttons, etc).
The reset hole/button is BACK! It’s now located beneath the side miniSD slot cover. Yay! I am one of those who love having the reset hole/button on the Treo device as it’s so much easier to poke that hole/button instead of removing the back cover, remove the battery for a second and put them all back. Thank goodness that Palm has put it back in! Woohoo!
With respect to the Treo 750 device itself, I really like the silicon coated casing. I really love how it allows me to get a better grip on the device, unlike previous Treo casings that although looked very nice, but were slippery. I have noticed how I am comfortable not having the Treo in a case, whether it be a hard or soft case since the rubbery feeling silicon coated casing does an extremely great job of not only protecting the Treo but also help me keep a good grip on it. I have been quite comfortable with the Treo caseless (or naked as some users would term it) and for the first time, it was strange somewhat to not feel compelled to put it inside a case.
But, on the other hand, without a case also means that it is much easier to accidentally scratch it whether it be the screen or the case. So, you should invest in a good screen protector at least since leaving it caseless can potentially allow it to be easily scratched. Also, I have found that I needed to enable the keyguard, something that I didn’t need to do on my Treo 650 since it’s normally protected inside a case. So, there’s good and bad with a caseless Treo 750.
Now, I will discuss some of the features of Windows Mobile and the Treo 750 that I wasn’t impressed about.
First and foremost, the main gripe about Windows Mobile overall is that most times launching any application will take a second or two to load. You will likely become quite used to seeing the Windows Mobile loading icon. Remember the hourglass icon? Get used to seeing it a lot. Consider all those extra few seconds each time you launch an application and they can add up. Coming from a Palm OS user, it can truly persuade him or her to immediately dismiss the Windows Mobile operating system and refuse to accept it as a replacement. I admit that I was in that camp when I originally tried the Windows Mobile Treo 700wx about a year ago. Obviously, I have since changed my perspective.
The main problem I think with regards to the Windows Mobile devices is that the underlying hardware is SO underpowered to handle the powerful software. A good analogy (okay, maybe it’s not so good) is a Porsche car with a subcompact engine. You can rev it up as much as you want, but the underlying engine can only handle so much power so most times, you’re going at the slower speed. We all know that the software is powerful, but why put it with such low specs? Most likely it’s the money factor. Most of us won’t want to pay $1000 for a Pocket PC smartphone, which could be racing the way we want it to, but instead, we opt to pay maybe $400. Well, to make some profit, obviously something has got to give, so thus, we’re stuck with what we have. Imagine a smartphone clone where we can load what we want with the hardware we want, a la Dell direct sales method. Wow, wouldn’t that be interesting to load whatever OS we want or, better yet, multi-OS smartphone. Okay, I’m dreaming. Back to topic.
The other annoyance that I think many Palm users may find is that, unlike the Palm OS where there is a strict code of how things are done (where menus are located, etc), there are various ways to access menus and options in Windows Mobile, which can be very confusing, especially for new users and Palm OS users. I was originally also confused with this aspect but obviously have gotten used to it. Like many people have mentioned, the Palm is very user friendly, while Windows is more focused on features and power and not as user friendly. I tend to agree. Again, once you take a good look at the operating system, you may somewhat understand why things are the way they are the operating systems whether it be Palm OS, Windows Mobile, Symbian, etc.
One annoyance of Windows Mobile is Activesync, or more specifically the Windows portion of Activesync. It will automatically run when Windows starts and if you leave it running, this is where the annoyance comes in. As long as I have my Treo connected via the hotsync cable, it will initiate a sync every few minutes. Each sync takes a few minutes and it’s very annoying. Unlike Palm OS’ hotsync which will only initiate a synchronization when you press the hotsync button or initiate it yourself, ActiveSync will start every few minutes. Okay. You can stop it from doing so by closing it via the Task Manager or in the options of the program so I shouldn’t really complain. But it did annoy me.
One other thing that I found quite annoying is with the camera application. On the Palm OS Treo 650 smartphone and even my old Zire 71, after I snap a picture, there may be a few seconds delay and then I’m taken back into the camera so that I can take another picture. With the Treo 750 camera, it doesn’t seem to do so. It will snap the picture but you are left with the image on the screen and in order to get back to the camera, you have to press the Left Action button or tap on the Camera option at the bottom left to get back to the camera application. If you like taking pictures, this will become a very annoying task. If anyone can provide me with a hack or trick or workaround to get rid of this, please leave a comment or contact me.
Audio recording is something that needs to be somewhat addressed with the Treo 750. First of all, there is no “direct” Recorder app in the programs menu or any other folder. It is hidden (and I can’t understand why) in the Notes application. So, if you don’t have any third party audio recording program installed, if you wish to make an audio recording, you have to go into the Notes application. I’m sure there’s a hack to access it but I haven’t really looked too much into it. It would have been much better if the audio recording was easily accessible from the Today screen via a shortcut or whatever.
Next, also in regards to audio recording is its lack of true phone call recording capability. Apparently, a lot of Windows Mobile devices do not fully support two way phone call recording. This, apparently was due to operating system or hardware restrictions. This quote from MSMobiles explains it:
“The reason why this program is not working for phone call recording with all phones are not limited programming skills of VITO but rather a lack of consistent API for phone call recording inside of Windows Mobile! In case of other programs, like for example Skype, there is specific API defined for phone call recording and thus all programs are guaranteed to work fine.”
You may hear the other side but it can be very soft or low. One workaround is to put the Treo 750 on speakerphone but then, your entire conversation is heard by everyone around you, which may not necessarily be what you desire. So, I guess with regards to phone call recording, you’re stuck. I guess that’s when the 650 will come in handy, well, at least for me.
One slight hitch I’ve encountered with the 750 is bluetooth. It wasn’t easy to “figure out” how to send and receive files via bluetooth. Checking the help section of the 750 only discussed sending contacts, calendar and similar info but nothing about sending files like audio files or cab files, etc. I thought that capability would be in the explorer but it wasn’t. Thankfully I found out via searches on the internet.
First, to be able to receive bluetooth files, I first have to enable it in Start, Settings, Connection. Then go into Beam. Check the “receive all incoming beams”. Huh? Bluetooth isn’t infrared! Normally you (or at least I) don’t associate beaming with bluetooth. Very strange.
Next, to send files via bluetooth, it’s again hidden under beaming. Go into File Explorer. Select the file you wish to send. Then, select to beam the file (disregard your inclination to “send” the file or you will be sending via email or SMS). Originally, you will see that the screen will only show infrared. If you wait a few seconds, you should be able to see that bluetooth connections will also be available underneath. Of course, you’ll first have to set your bluetooth device to be “discoverable” in order to “see” it.
So, there you have, it my list of positives and not so positives of the Windows Mobile Treo 750 that I have observed. Again, these are my observations and opinions and I’m sure a lot of you will disagree.
The Palm Treo 750 Windows Mobile platform smartphone is a great upgrade for current Treo 700w/wx users as it offers the latest Windows Mobile Professional edition version 6 (on some cellular carriers. Others may still offer WM 5) combined with a very nice silicon coated casing plus very nice and soft spring back keys to make typing on it a lot of fun. Also, the lack of antenna is a welcomed addition for those who complained about the antenna on the older 700w/wx model. And with the 750 now offered on GSM networks, this will fill in the final void and provide a Windows Mobile Treo for GSM users.
The Windows Mobile platform, although it can be complicated and somewhat slower when compared to that of a more simplistic and snappier Palm OS, can offer a lot more in terms of support from its community of third party developers, hardware manufacturers, forums, blogs, magazines, media. If you combine the cummulative support for the Windows Mobile platform and compare it with that for the Palm OS, there is no longer any contest. It’s unfortunate but the Palm OS has languished in many aspects, mostly due to their own destructive actions or inactions. No longer do you hear about the comparisons between Palm and Pocket PC/Windows Mobile. Nowadays, it’s likely iPhone vs RIM vs Windows Mobile. Palm is not even in the picture and that’s quite sad, being a Palm fan, who has also decided to try something else. You are only as good as your last product/movie/etc. Regardless, I still remain hopeful that Palm will come with a great device that can bring them back on top but I’m certainly not holding my breath.
If you are willing to dispense of your preconceived notions and be willing to truly open up to a different operating system and a new way of using a mobile device rather than stay focused on how differently it works on your current device of choice, you may be pleasantly surprised that the Treo 750 on the Windows Mobile platform can do a lot more than you had expected and open you up to a whole new world of mobility. Again, I must stress that this review is based on my observations and opinions and I’m sure that A LOT of Palm users will disagree with me. Sure, the Windows Mobile platform can be clunky and may take quite a number of taps or key presses to get somewhere, but there are ways or workarounds available to make it less cumbersome. After trying the Windows Mobile Treo 750 for about two weeks, I am convinced that this will likely be my next smartphone upgrade.
But don’t fret. Palm Discovery will remain and still be around. I am still out to “discover a world of possibilities in the palm of (my) hand”, except now, it also reads “Embark on a personal journey of mobile discovery and learning and unleash the powers of mobility at PalmDiscovery.net” as the site will also cover Windows Mobile and other platforms and devices and gadgets that fit in the palm of the hand. The focus will somewhat change but I will continue to discuss both Palm OS and Windows Mobile. Let’s just think of it as more of a “balanced” approach. I will still discuss software, hardware that are available for both Palm OS and Windows Mobile and also am open to other platforms if anyone is willing to provide me with them for reviews (on loan of course). I think this has been a great experience as it has changed me to open up to new platforms and devices. It’s been a lot of fun and as long as it stays fun and I’m helping others, I will continue to plug away at what I’m doing, regardless of the platform or devices.
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