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5 years ago

Round Robin: Palm Treo Pro Review & Final Thoughts

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Our time with the Palm Treo Pro has come to an end and that means the Smartphone Round Robin is over and we’ll be back on the G1 in no time! Was it a learning experience? Did I have fun? Well, these are all questions I’ll get into next week because we still have to talk us some Treo!

The Palm Treo Pro, as mentioned before, is a confused device—it’s built by HTC, runs Windows Mobile, and branded a Treo by Palm. Is this a good thing? Or is this a case of too many chefs spoiling the broth? Is there an identity crisis with the device? Possibly a disconnect due to miscommunication?

Well, in short, no. The penultimate review of the Smartphone Round Robin isn’t going to be that dramatic—the Palm Treo Pro is a great and very solid device. The form factor was well designed, the hardware buttons were very useful and Windows Mobile felt more at home. But how does it work for an Android user?

Read on for the full review of the Palm Treo Pro!

Also, This is an Official Round Robin Contest Post, Comment To Win a T-Mobile G1! – Details Here

Hardware

To kick things off with the hardware, the Palm Treo Pro is a great looking device. It is very much a modern device that captures the taste of the current generation’s design—glossy, flush screen, attractive buttons—the Palm Treo Pro certainly looks better than any Palm before it and most current phones. Though it doesn’t reach the iPhone or Bold level of sexiness, it’s no more than a notch or two below.

During my time with the Palm Treo Pro, I became a huge fan of the form factor—it just seemed like the perfect size to make phone calls with. It was instantly pocketable, much more so than my G1, and I found it very easy to grip. But the size does come with limitations—the keyboard is a tight fit that teeters on the line of unusable. With the Palm Treo Pro I was using more of my fingernails to type than my thumbs and definitely encountered more mistakes with it than any other physical keyboard. Granted, I got used to the space limitations over time, I still could not be as effective as I was on the G1 or Bold.

There are also a lot of nice touches on the Treo Pro—the speaker grille lays to the side of the device so it isn’t covered when faced flat, a hardware wi-fi toggle switch for easy on/off, a 3.5 mm headphone jack thank you sir, and etc.

I had one minor, minor problem with the hardware and that dealt with the ports on the bottom, they just jut out a tad bit and it makes it a little bit odd to hold. It would've been a bit nicer if the ports were flush with the casing. Oh well, can't have it all. Other than that, solid and modern all around.

 

Usage

It looks like Palm is now focusing their efforts on a new Nova OS and even newer hardware making the Treo Pro effectively a stop gap device for Palm fans. But I didn’t notice this one bit. I thought the Palm Treo Pro was a fine device that was carefully designed and ran a powerful OS.

But I guess I should make my confession here: I’ve never used a Palm device before. I mean I played around with a 650 for a few weeks and fiddled with a Centro here and there, but for the most part, my smartphone experience has been relatively Palm free. Chances are you guys aren’t like me. Palm has an obvious soft spot in the hearts of many longtime smartphone users and to see the Treo brand become a part of another platform is definitely saddening. I suggest you go check out Dieter and Rene's thoughts to see how the Treo platform has come to this point.

I, on the other hand, will be looking at the Treo Pro through the relatively new Android-tinted glasses and guess what? I think the Palm Treo Pro is a fine, fine Windows Mobile device. For some odd reason, I felt instantly more comfortable with Windows Mobile on the Treo Pro than I ever did on the AT&T Fuze. It was like two completely different experiences. With the Palm Treo Pro there was no disconnect between TouchFLO 3D and Windows Mobile, it was just strictly Windows Mobile and I think that works a lot better.

I’m also going to admit that I found the stylus immensely useful for Windows Mobile. I’m not saying I particularly like using a stylus (I don’t) and I definitely don’t want it in Android but the way Windows Mobiles menus and UI are constructed, I think a stylus is necessary and after some time, definitely manageable. With that said, HTC should have included the magnetic stylus they put in the Fuze onto the Treo Pro.

And though I like the design of the 5-way on the Palm Treo Pro, I still think a trackball is a better implementation of non-touch direction. Wouldn’t it be cool if the chrome rim around the 5-way could also scroll? The flush hardware buttons are a great touch because you get instant access to your most popular applications but they’re not all created equal. The top two, Windows and OK button are much harder to press than the bottom two, Calendar and Mail.

As you can see, the Treo Pro hardware is impressive--there is very little to complain about. But in the end Windows Mobile is still Windows Mobile, I wrote about it at length and how it compares with Android in the Fuze Usage Review. No need to toot that horn again. Just know it’s not for me and probably never will be for me, I’m just not the type to be tinkering away at memory management and so on.

Skyfire was pretty cool. Really cool in fact. But when it comes down to it, I’m still not comfortable with proxy browsers so I’m not excited about Skyfire in the sense of the application itself but rather I’m excited to get that type of browsing experience on Android natively.

 

Palm is like..

 

Since it seems like some of us are trying something new in this last round of the Smartphone Round Robin, I’m going to try to make an analogy (a la Dieterstyles) about Palm and where it stands in the smartphone industry. Let me know if I am completely off base too.

I think Palm is in a similar position to Sega. Everybody remembers Sega right? Sega Genesis, Saturn, Dreamcast, Game Gear. Back in the day when the gaming industry was only a two company race between Sega and Nintendo, they were relative equals. Regardless of who was better, Sega pioneered some true innovation in the industry and helped shape what video games and its consoles are today.

So what happened to Sega consoles? Well, sadly, they pulled out of the hardware market after the Dreamcast. Sega decided that in order to survive in an uber-competitive market they would focus on software only. Even though they were responsible for creating the industry, they couldn’t pour in the manpower or money to create as innovative and compelling hardware again. They simply didn’t have as staunch a fanbase as Nintendo or as large and powerful a company as Sony or Microsoft to entrench themselves in money-bleeding competition. They made the tough decision to abandon hardware and focus on software, and after some trying times, they succeeded in making the switch.

Doesn’t that situation sound eerily similar to what’s happening now in the smartphone industry? For starter’s sake: Palm = Sega, Blackberry = Nintendo, Apple iPhone = Sony Playstation, and Google Android = Microsoft Xbox. (I guess that makes Windows Mobile, PC Gaming?)

Palm was a pioneer in the smartphone industry and holds a soft spot among its many fans. They also pushed a lot of great innovation in smartphone hardware and software and are largely responsible for creating what smartphones are today.

A few years back you couldn’t honestly tell me which was a better smartphone—Palm or Blackberry—much like Sega and Nintendo were relative equals at first. Not until Apple (Sony) jumped in the smartphone market did we realize how far behind and how out of their league Palm (Sega) really is/was. With Google following suit (Microsoft Xbox) and dedicating themselves to the mobile industry, the sheer power of these companies who want a part of the smartphone market will simply overwhelm a company like Palm. Blackberry is fine, much like Nintendo, because of their cult-like fan following. But Palm is at risk. Should they focus strictly on software? What about only making hardware and then using Android or Windows Mobile for software? Should they re-evaluate how they are going to effectively compete against the likes of Apple and Google?

But I hope they don’t give up too soon like Sega did. Many Sega fans think that the Dreamcast could have been successful and I’m sure many more Palm fans will think the same of Nova. We’ll soon see if Nova can capture that same amount of innovation and re-capture a segment of the market soon enough. It’s never fun when a pioneer is forced to bow out of the race. As flawed as my analogy may be, let’s hope Palm proves me completely wrong.

 

Round Robin Must Do’s

1. Use their assigned smartphone as their “main brain” and may not use any other smartphone OR music device (such as an iPod) for one full week. 

As I stated before, Windows Mobile was much easier to use on the Palm Treo Pro. This might be because I'm now a bit more familiar with Windows Mobile so I knew what to expect, but I'm also sure that the lack of TouchFLO 3D is a good thing.

2. Get their PIM data onto their phone. Ideally they will ‘Sync with the Cloud,” but a computer sync is ok too.

I used NuevaSync to get over my Google Contacts and Calendar over because I didn’t need to download anything onto the device and could just use ActiveSync to get everything done.

3. Get up their email on the smartphone

I got my Gmail onto the Palm Treo Pro fairly easily. I'm a big fan of the dedicated E-mail button, I found myself launching applications from this quite often.

4. Use their smartphone to get directions at least once.

I'm smitten with turn-by-turn directions. Android needs this soon.

5. Use their smartphone with a bluetooth headset.

It’s easy enough to pair. I should have invested in some wireless Bluetooth headsets to see what the quality is like.

6. Install at least 2 3rd-party apps (if possible) on their smartphone.

I went with two browsers: Skyfire and Opera Mobile. Skyfire is really cool to use, it gives you a true desktop-esque browsing experience and it's relatively speedy.

7. Play a game

I played Bubble Breaker and having a stylus for that makes it easier and definitely a lot more accurate.

8. Browse the internet

Unlike the Fuze, the Palm Treo Pro didn't come with as many third party applications. I had to go and download a new browser because that excuse of a browser called Internet Explorer was truly abysmal. Luckily, Opera Mobile and Skyfire can both get it done.

9. Add music to their smartphone and use it as their music device.

I didn’t buy MissingSync to link the Fuze with my Mac but if I was to use Windows Mobile full time, I’ve heard nothing but good things from it. For the time being, I was completely music less.

10. Watch a video on their device.

Skyfire made a lot of the videos on the web viewable. Videos even automatically started playing when I went to ESPN.com.

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5 years ago

T-Mobile Sending Battery Replacements To G1 Owners?

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Huh. Google And Blog is reporting that T-Mobile has been planning to deliver a Christmas Present to all T-Mobile G1 users in the form of a new longer-lasting battery. The current battery is an anemic 1150mAh and any G1 user will tell you that it drains FAST. Anything over 1150 mAh would be lovely. If T-Mobile were giving out exchanges to improve battery life, they would definitely solve the complaints of many users.

As great as this sounds there is still no official word from T-Mobile, so we'll take a wait and see approach on the rumor. We're unsure of how T-Mobile can manage to pull this off, so we're going to do some more investigation and report back. Keep your eyes peeled!

[Google And Blog]

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5 years ago

Smarpthone Experts Round Robin Round Table 2

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It happened live last Tuesday, but you can listen in to the (slightly foreshortened) version in our podcast feed: the 2nd (and last) Smartphone Round Robin Rount Table. Join Casey, Kevin, Rene, and Dieter as we discuss the final two devices in our Smartphone Round Robin: the T-Mobile G1 and the the HTC Fuze. Plus, we answer your questions live -- well, it was live then, so forgive the slightly worse-than-usual sound quality.

Naturally, this is an official Round Robin post, every day you make an entry here qualifies you for a chance to win a G1 and more. Full details here

Music: Our Slanted Voices by DoKashiteru

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5 years ago

Lenovo OPhone compared to iPhone, iPhone 3G

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We've showed you the OPhone before--that sexy device coming from Lenovo, made only for China--but now you get to see it compared to the original iPhone and current iPhone 3G (via Gizmodo). Obviously, the OPhone takes MANY design cues from the iPhone--I mean those giant screen, one slab devices can only look so different--but it still manages to hold its own.

The OPhone is 1mm bigger than the original iPhone, has a dedicated camera button, 5MP camera, flash, microSD slot and 3.5mm headphone jack. Yeah. Sounds pretty flippin' sweet to us too.

Click the jump to see the rest of the pictures!

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5 years ago

SMS Popup Gives Android Pop Up Text Messages

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Mark this up as another reason why I love Android. I love the notifications on Android, I think it's the best system notification feature throughout all of smartphones, but that's not to say that it can't get better. One thing I would prefer on Android is that SMS messages come directly onto the screen instead of scrolling on the top bar of the notifications menu.

This is solved with SMS Popup, an app that just popped up (ha!) in the Android Market. Basically, when you receive a SMS a pop up bubble appears on the screen and allows you to either close or reply. iPhone users will recognize this option because it's pretty much exactly like the iPhone experience. If you have a photo icon for your buddy, it'll show up along with the SMS. I'm a huge fan of this method because now I can instantly read the SMS and decide whether or not to reply or close without sliding down the notification window. Sweet apps.

Go download SMS Popup in Android Market and see if you like it!

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5 years ago

aTrackDog, a Not So Good Idea?

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When I saw the app aTrackDog in Android Market and read about how it updates users on which of their applications are up to date I thought it was perfect. It fits a hole in the whole Android Market + Android relationship and should do a great, behind the scenes, type job at notifying users when their applications are out of date.

Not so much. According to the good guys over at Big in Japan (developers of ShopSavvy) though the premise of aTrackDog is sound, its method is severely flawed. To quote:

 

aTrackDog has a MAJOR design flaw: if a beta user who is also an aTrackDog user has a beta version of your application on their phone - ALL aTrackDog users get an alert indicating they are running an out of date version of the software despite the fact that they have the most recent public release.  Starting on Friday we began getting emails from aTrackDog users who complained that they could not download the latest release of our software.  Our current version is 3.0.0, but aTrackDog showed that our most recent version was 3.0.5 (an internal alpha version).  We DO have a public beta running at 3.0.4, but the most recent public/stable release (i.e. the one in the Market) is 3.0.0.  aTrackDog is listing 3.0.5 as our latest release so each aTrackDog user receives an alert that they need to update their version of ShopSavvy.  Our users are becoming more and more frustrated as their emails reveal.

 

To sum it up, basically if any user is using a beta version AND aTrackDog, aTrackDog will send out notifications for an update to users who aren't beta users and even though the update isn't officially ready. Big in Japan thinks aTrackDog is an application created purely for data collection (which would be immensely valuable), we just hope aTrackDog could fix a bit of this design flaw as soon as possible.

What do you think?

[Big in Japan via Android Community]

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5 years ago

Samsung Bringing Android Device to Sprint & T-Mobile ?

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Everybody is waiting in anticipation to see what the next Android devices will be, what they'll look like, who they'll come from, and so on. This time the word says that Samsung will be releasing Android Devices to both Sprint and T-Mobile in Q2. Supposedly, the devices are supposed to resemble the Omnia and Instinct, both of which are basically large screens with little buttons. Build quality on both are pretty great, if they're running Android..oh boy! We'll be on the look out for more news on the Samsung front!

Thanks BeeJay!

[Engadget Mobile]

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5 years ago

Google Search Optimized on Android

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Google Search has been optimized for Android (and iPhone)! If you haven't noticed, anytime you use Google to search on your G1, the results are now optimized to fit the width of the T-Mobile G1 screen. This is a great touch because you save a few seconds trying to zoom in and get to your results much, much quicker. Furthermore, you get more appropriate touchscreen icons to navigate to your search results. A win all around!

[Google Mobile Blog]

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5 years ago

HTC Predictions for 2008: Over 1 Million G1 'Droids!

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CEO Peter Chou of HTC reports that sales of the Android-runnin' G1 should exceed 1 million for 2008 and that 2009 may bring another two Android handsets, one of them slated for as early as Q1 2009. With over $500 million in revenue for November alone, HTC seems to be rocking. Other handset makers? Not so much. It seems that HTC has found a nice "sweet spot" with that lovable lil' green 'droid as more handsets are on the way. Will the faltering economy take a toll on sales, or will demand for Android handsets remain healthy for 2009?

[engadget]

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5 years ago

Google Gift to Employees: Let Them Eat Dogfood!

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Just when I was feeling the Christmas blues about my company bonus (or lack thereof), along comes this little tidbit that makes me all warm and fuzzy and full of Christmas cheer. Instead of a big fat Christmas bonus (historically upward of $20,000), Google employees can look forward to scarfing down some "dogfood" this year. Ok, not REAL dog food. "Dogfood" is corporate jargon for making employees use the company product, one of the benefits being continuing improvement of that product. So, Google employees can look forward to receiving their very own Dream phone (Android G1) in their stockings this year. From the mouth of Google:

This is a chance for us to once again dogfood a product and make it even better! Second, as we discussed in our email this week, the current economic crisis requires us to be more conservative about how we spend our money. We felt that giving the Dream phone would be a great holiday present - something we could all celebrate.  

The Dream phone (G1) has a special 'droid emblazoned on the back, will be unlocked, and carries a $180 value to Google employees. When Google isn't handing out $20,000 Christmas bonuses, we know that times are tough. To get even more details, check out Gizmodo here. Also, HUGE props to Gizmodo for a most excellent picture!

[Gizmodo via Valleywag.gawker.com]

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5 years ago

Motorola Ditching Symbian for Android?

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The news for Android users keeps getting better and better. Michael Oryl of MobileBurn posts that Sanjay Jha, the CEO of the Mobile Devices group at Motorola, confirmed rumors that Mot will discontinue making phones for Symbian OS and UIQ user interface and instead commit to two platforms: Windows Mobile and Android! This is great news for those of us in love with the green 'droid - more devices to choose from makes for happy consumers. Personally, I think that Motorola devices are a good fit for the Android OS. What do YOU think?

[engadget imobile via MobileBurn]

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5 years ago

Garmin to go Android

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garmingbot.png

Garmin has been toying with the idea of releasing smartphones for quite awhile now, but it looks like they've now found the right OS to make it happen: Android. CrunchGear is reporting that Garmin intends on creating and releasing Android-powered smartphones (presumably with a hefty focus on GPS functionality) by the end of 2009. They'll use their Nuviphone branding, naturally.

Welcome to the party, Garmin. Now, before you get too far in developing this phone, we wouldn't mind if you released a generic Garmin application with turn-by-turn directions for the rest of us.

Update: Belay that bit about "Nuviphone" and quite possibly the release timeline as well -- Engadget Mobile has updates stating that Nuviphone will still rock some custom version of Linux, not Android. Android's still on the way, though, just not exactly as predicted.

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5 years ago

Android On-Screen Keyboard Coming

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For those of you who are like me and aren't crazy about a slide-out keyboard, there is relief on the way. The "cupcake" branch of Android development has spilled the beans that Google has been working on a soft, or on-screen, keyboard for the Android G1. It will be available as early as January 2009. What does this mean to you and me? It means that the G1 can be more one-handed-friendly! Take a look at the YouTube video which reveals how the on-screen keyboard works on the G1. Just select a text-entry box and the keyboard appears, ready for action!

[boygeniusreport]

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5 years ago

Round Robin: Questions on the Palm Treo Pro?

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You got questions? We'll give you answers. So our time with the Treo Pro is nearing its end but before we finish up our full review of the Treo Pro, we're here to ask you if you G1 users out there if you have any questions on the Treo Pro? Any concerns about the hardware? Think Windows Mobile isn't for you?  How about the keyboard? Ask away in the comments!

And if you didn’t know, here at Android Central (and every other SPE site), anytime you comment on an official Round Robin post, you’re qualified to win a T-Mobile G1 (or a Bold, or a iPhone, or a Fuze, or a Treo Pro)! Flippin’ sweet right? Well, ask away my friends!

This is an Official Round Robin Contest Post, Comment To Win a T-Mobile G1! – Details Here

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5 years ago

T-Mobile Releasing a G2 Soon?

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An anonymous tipster from CellPhone Signal is divulging to Boy Genius Report that T-Mobile has a new Android-powered handset up their sleeve and it will be revealed as soon as January 26. The plastic factory screen protector is still on my G1 and a G2 is already on the way? These are exciting times indeed.

The G2 is expected to be a heavy-hitter in the features department. In addition to the G1 feature set, it will have a 5 megapixel camera with auto-focus and flash, a front-facing VGA camera to take advantage of the new video calling service expected to come to T-Mobile soon, video capture and playback, and much more.

If it's real, then we're talking about a rather significant step up from the G1. Until more information is dragged out into the light of day, it's best to file this one under "rumored, but wouldn't it be nice?". For those of you with a G1 now, will you dump your G1 for a G2? If you don't have an Android handset yet and are still waiting, does the G2 look attractive?

[boygeniusreport]

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