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Round Robin: Windows Mobile Guy On a Treo 680

When we decided to try this Smartphone Round Robin a couple of weeks ago, I immediately girded my loins (pictured above - just how uncomfortable “girded loins” actually are) in preparation for a full three weeks without a Windows Mobile device as my main brain. I knew it would be tough, but so far I've been managing alright.

The main reason, I suppose, is that my first week in the Smartphone Round Robin brings me the Treo 680 - in other words, I'm a Windows Mobile convert “old schooling it” with the PalmOS. The Treo 680 has been my sole device for about 5 days now - so how am I holding up with this blast from my past? Read on to find out.

(Don't forget - a comment on this post counts as an entry in the Round Robin Contest!)

Setup and Sync

The first thing I'd need to do, obviously, is set up syncing for the Treo. I basically had two options:

  1. “cheat” and just use the built-in Exchange Active Sync for PIM data and use an SD card for moving everything else manually
  2. Do it the way I suspect most users do, download Palm Desktop for Mac, install it, and see what happens.

I want to be fair, so I went with option 2. Now, I want to be very, very clear on this issue: Palm Desktop sucks. It makes the PalmOS - which is pretty tired looking itself - look like the latest and greatest UI. I should point out that I was doing this on a fresh Leopard install on a Mac, so there may well have been compatibility issues. But the longer I got into the sync process, the clearer it became that it was, in fact, Palm Desktop that was killing me.

In all, I spent about 3 hours installing, configuring iSync, reinstalling, rebooting, hotsyncing, re-hotsyncing, and generally wondering where the “Zen of Palm” fit into all this. I finally managed to get it all synced over and working, but it was painful.

Hardware Impressions

I don't have a ton to say here, as I've been a Treo user for years and years - my main brain lately has usually been the nearly-identically-shaped Treo 750. So, for those unfamiliar with the Treo's form factor, let me be brief:

Except for a little thickness, it's nearly the ideal shape for a smartphone. A full QWERTY keyboard on a “candybar” form factor with a touchscreen is perfect for a smartphone, in my opinion. Sure, the iPhone has a soft keyboard and many are happy with it, but it will never match a physical keyboard for one-handed, out-of-the-corner-of-your-eye usage. The touchscreen is also hugely important - more on that in a bit.

Otherwise build quality on this Treo 680 is pretty good. It's not “this is hot, and I don't mean it like Paris Hilton does” of iPhone or the “You'd best take me seriously, son” business-appeal of the AT&T Tilt, but it's pretty good. There's a decent heft to it and nothing really seems to be creaking and cracking out of place. I'll say it again, too: the keyboard is top-notch. I don't know yet, but I'm willing to bet that not even the BlackBerry keyboard will be this good.

Impressions of the OS

PalmOS is snappy snappy snappy. It's practically a revelation for me - the screen draws quickly, apps switch quickly, auto-filtering contacts happens quickly. There are tiny pauses here and there during app switching (especially in and out of the Blazer broswer), but I've yet to be presented with a full-fledged freeze up.

Maybe it's just that Palm never bothered to make a version of the “Spinny ball of death” we've all seen on Windows Mobile - more likely they've never felt the need. Bully to you, Palm, for making PalmOS right all those years ago and not mucking it up in the interim by trying to hack on multitasking functionality in such a way that would break the thing entirely. Better to have an OS that functions quickly even if it looks a little (ok, a lot) outdated.

It's also nice to be back on a screen with 320x30 resolution. It's a pity that the PalmOS doesn't make adequate use of all those pixels with some graphical niceties. I have never been a huge fan of the font in PalmOS, readable though it may be. It is nice that Palm only has a menubar at the top of the screen and not at the bottom (like Windows Mobile) - there are never enough pixels to display everything I want to display so the less that's taken up by OS elements, the better.

Still, though, the PalmOS doesn't look or feel modern at all and I really have to wonder how much work it would have taken just to clean it up a bit - the way Palm did with the improved dialer screen on this Treo 680 of mine and also on some of their media applications. See the section on 3rd party apps, below.

There are various little touches throughout that makes the PalmOS quick and easy to use, though. I'm talking about holding down the center button to see a list of all your active alarms, holding down the home button for a pop-up of your recent apps. Most importantly, being able to assign any speed dial, SMS message, or application to any button on the QWERTY keyboard within the main phone app. This beats the pants off anything else out there as far as “launching tasks” is concerned and it's an absolute mystery to me why nobody else has copied it yet. I have 5 “main buttons” mapped to apps (and opt-mapped to 4 more), sure, that sort of thing is pretty common. But I also have 26 buttons to launch nearly any action I want. Windows Mobile can keep its silly “voice command” feature until they integrate something like Nuance's software. I'll hold down “k” to text message “Kelly” long before I'll spend the time to correctly pronounce “SMS Kelly” and then check to see if the phone registered it correctly.

I want to cycle back to the touchscreen issue now, a hardware and OS issue. Although I often use Smartphone-edition Windows Mobile phones, I'm never as happy as I am with a touchscreen. I am actually one of those people who abhor the stylus and try not to pull it out whenever possible. I am also aware that most long-term and/or hardcore PalmOS users have learned all the tips and tricks of the PalmOS that allow you to skip the stylus and use the 5-way to navigate around. Here's the thing, though, I have forgotten most of those tricks.

So coming to a Treo 680 “again for the first time,” as it were, I've found the touchscreen to be a godsend. If I'm not sure how to get to the thing I want to hit with the 5-way quickly, no problem, just tap it with my fingertip. On Smartphone-edition feature phones, on what few BlackBerries I've tried (and will try again, later in the Round Robin), I've often found myself banging away at a 5-way or a scroll wheel trying to get the “highlight” to the thing I'm looking for -- sometimes missing it and going back. With a touchscreen, though, you can skip all that nonsense and interact directly with what you want to interact with.

What I'm saying is this: for a new user, a touchscreen makes it 10 times easier to interact with a smartphone. Learning curve: I smash you flat!

...Oh, yeah - the default email client, VersaMail, is alright, but it's no Pocket Outlook. I'm using Chatter, which I'll talk about more later this week.

3rd Party Apps

Over at Phone different, Mike put up an article about the iPhone SDK not long before it was announced - an article talking about the lack of an SDK. I mention it here because it contained this very interesting tidbit:

Two-thirds of Treo owners have purchased 3rd party apps [...]Ten percent of Treo owners have purchased 10 or more 3rd party apps

That number seems crazy-high to me - over 60% have purchased 3rd party apps. The number who are using them (i.e. including the free ones) must be higher. So the story of the PalmOS Treo 680 is incomplete--no, it's untold--unless you factor in the vast array of great 3rd party applications that are available for it.

Driving that point home, I started up a thread with some of my minor gripes about the Treo 680 - also asking about 3rd party apps - over at the TreoCentral forums (opens in new tab). The answers from the TreoCentral community have been coming in fast and furious and they all have basically the same theme - everything I want from the Treo that it's not doing can be solved with the appropriate 3rd party application.

To wit, I'll be installing the following and giving them a go:

  • Mundu and Gizmo for IM (will see which is better)
  • Profile for, eh, profiles
  • GX5 Ultimate Phone for Launching
  • I may also give 2Day a shot
  • and what the heck, mobileClock too.

I could go on with all the suggestions - they are legion. Fortunately installing and deleting apps on PalmOS is relatively painless, quick, and generally these apps leave very little “cruft” behind after they get deleted.

Rants

Thus far I've remarkably kind and gentle to a platform that I ultimately left behind. Time to stop that. Strap in, baby: what you're about to read is totally biased, unfair, mean-spirited, and generally grouchy.

Gripe 1: Multitasking: “Got Multitask?” was the original byline of WMExperts for a reason - multitasking matters. I want to start up a file downloading, switch to email and read it, then switch back when the download finishes. I want an OS that can have apps constantly running in the background so they load instantly -- not “near-instantly” or “very close to instantly” -- but right now instantly. Maybe Windows Mobile isn't that platonic ideal of “instantly,” but it's a sight closer than PalmOS.

Hang on, I'm not done here. I also want apps constantly running in the background even if I'm not going to be switching into them on a regular basis. RSS readers, maybe. Or, more importantly, an IM client and music and email and a weather-fetcher and... well, and so on. I hear you PalmOS people grumbling now and I will grant that you can make the PalmOS do many or most of these things on a PalmOS. But the PalmOS wasn't designed for it and it shows when you start piling on the hacks and tweaks that 3rd party apps must use in order to do it.

If you're an average user on either PalmOS or Windows Mobile - fret not - just pick the one that fits you best by whatever metric you want. The following three paragraphs aren't for you and there's no shame in that. I actually envy you a bit.

Power users, listen up: “A modern smartphone operating system manages memory and multitasks.” Say that 10 times fast, because it's fun to say and worth remembering. PalmOS manages memory, but it does so with 1990's tech and it does so arcanely. Arcane both in that it's difficult to understand and buried away in hidden corners. Buried and hidden memory management is a good thing... until it's not. That situation comes up for power users quite a bit.

Windows Mobile manages memory too, but like a modern OS should. I'll grant that it often doesn't do it all that well, but Windows Mobile also has much better tools for managing memory than PalmOS does and here's the really important thing for us power users - memory management on Windows Mobile is more transparent. For example: On PalmOS, you're thinking about arcane dbCache block sizes and defragmentation on PalmOS. On Windows Mobile, you're thinking about “Stop All Programs” in your Settings.

I may get lambasted for this by hardcore PalmOS guys and I see that the comparison above isn't quite fair, but I hope that even if my particular example doesn't stand up the main point here should: memory management and multitasking should be standard issue and it should be easy to have an idea what's going on with your memory if you want to. Most don't and more power to 'em.

Gripe 1.5, addendum to Gripe 1: WiFi on a PalmOS Treo? Rumor, innuendo, and scuttlebutt is that it's not even possible to mix a Cellular Radio with a WiFi radio on the PalmOS -- hence this is an addendum to the multitask gripe in a way. There are arguments that Palm keeps leaving it out for battery-life purposes, but I no longer believe those arguments. Every major carrier in the US offers at least one Windows Mobile smartphone with WiFi built-in.

Gripe 2: Look and feel: Do I really need to explain that the PalmOS looks old? I know I can skin it with 3rd party apps - but I'll admit that I'm loathe to do so, if only for stability reasons. Windows Mobile is famously ugly, but it still looks better than the PalmOS.

I could go on, but I won't, because I'm going to go ahead and go with the 3rd-party app solution.

Gripe 3: Multimedia: Getting music and movies onto the PalmOS Treo without resorting to some (really great, btw) 3rd party apps is a nightmare. Coming from a Windows Mobile guy is a bit of “pot calling the kettle black,” obviously, but it has to be said.

Gripe 5: Desktop Syncing: Covered above. Worth saying again. Even Windows Vista's Device Center is better than Palm Desktop, and that's saying something. Fortunately, for us Mac folk anyway, Missing Sync can come to the rescue.

Gripe 6: Bluetooth Performance: It's always been bad with Treos. Can't understand why. Saving on parts costs, I guess.

Wrapping up

Now that I've praised and damned the PalmOS, what do I really think? Well - I'm going to have to make you wait until Thursday or Friday for the followup article - after I've had some more time and have installed some more 3rd-party apps. For now, though, the takeaway is this: I'm pleasantly surprised by the speed and stability but aggravated by the look and the fact that I will need an arsenal of 3rd party apps for the power I want. At least those apps exist!

WC Staff
WC Staff
54 Comments
  • This is an official Round Robin Thread
    Maybe I should have led with the gripes and finished with the good stuff? :D
  • I just recently switched from a Moto Q to a Mogul. I am having fun tweaking the Mogul, but I kinda miss the simplicity of WM standard (things just worked, for the most part). I've flashed my Phone with Several Custom ROMs and none of them really suit me.
    I'm anxious to play with all of the new WM Standard and WM Pro phones that are coming out soon. I'm still hopeful that the Treo 800w will be all that it promises to be, but I'm not holding my breath.
  • My #1 problem with POS is the multi-tasking thing also - I'd like to be able to change screens after sending a freakin txt msg ... or lock the damn device to put back in my pocket.
  • For almost a year now, I've been using a Treo 680 as my primary phone/pda. I originally wanted to use it for portable media as well, but eventually gave up and got an iPod nano, now an iTouch, and would never consider going back.
    For UI, I've got almost all G5X apps to help Palm OS at least look modern.
    Given that I'm in Canada and the data rates verge on obscene, missing Wi-Fi is still a *huge* deal and no one has ever explained fully explained how Palm OS can do Cell+BT but not Cell+Wi-Fi, or how older Treos could use Wi-Fi cards or Sleds, but not integrated Wi-Fi (and blaming the carriers no longer holds water, as almost every other smart phone OS has Wi-Fi).
    Overall, I prefer the iPod Touch keyboard (and I assume the iPhone -- we don't have it in Canada) and use it much faster than the hard, rounded, slippery Treo keyboard (which was also unusable when I had a sprained wrist due to the amount of pressure it required -- compared to none on the iPod Touch).
    Those gripes, and the daily crashes/freezes when making/receiving calls makes me -- someone who's had Palm/Handspring PDAs and now Treo's since pretty much the beginning) unlikely to stay with them going forward -- never mind 18 months for a new Linux OS that should have come out over a year ago.
  • Honestly, Palm multi-tasking isn't as horrible as people make it sound. Its not good, but its not horrible. Sure, the browser and downloads can't work in the background, but I can be listening to music, while connected to aim, yahoo, msn, irc, while my email is constantly connected waiting for mail to be pushed, while having a ton of user interface hacks running in the background (FieldPlus, Shortcut5, skinUI, FontSmoother), while at the same time running any one other program at the same time.
    Speaking of those user interface hacks, to try and make Palm look more modern, go with skinUI or Palm Revolt in addition to FontSmoother. FontSmoother lets you use custom fonts and adds anti-aliasing to them, skinUI and PalmRevolt change the look of the OS entirely.
  • I will say that I agree with pretty much everything you said. I started my long PDA history with the Palm OS - the Handspring Visor and from then I was hooked. I craved more - color screens, multimedia, so I switched to a Casio EM-500. Then to an iPaq 3800. Then I switched back to the Palm OS when Sony came around and really made some big changes - namely the high resolution screens and a focus on MP3s. I got tired of the underlying OS (although Sony's enhancements WERE awesome) and got a Dell Axim for about 2 weeks then switched up for an iPaq 2215. From there I switched to the iPaq 4355 - QWERTYBAR PPC! That was my last non-converged device, as I bought an SMT-5600 and wanted more. Treo 650 was my last fling with the Palm OS, and from there I've had most of AT&T's PPCphones. Phew. Now I know that the current Palm OS is NOT for me, but I have high hopes for the Linux version...which I can see myself playing with in 2 yrs when it's *finally* out. Until then, I'm keen to read your thoughts on blackberry devices.
  • Palm needs WIFI. That is WinMo's only advantage.
  • ...and 3G for GSM folks...
  • While the inclusion of a Treo 680 into the round robin is understandable, I'm not really sure as to how it can really shape up, the reason I mention this is due the fact the Palm OS, at this point anyways, is no longer used, they have swayed from their beloved OS and sucked it up for the inclusion of WinMobile, while the Palm OS is still being developed (so they say lol, delays aplenty mind you)...does anybody else feel kind of weird about including the Treo 680 into the mix, because really, we don't have the next incarnation of the Palm OS (no definitive expected date either) or am I really alone on this one?...the Blackberry has 4.2 out now...with the Pearl 2 being released on November with the new 4.3 OS, updated browser, video capture etc...and WinMobile 6 while not totally BRAND new, it's still fresh.
  • Agree 100% about the Wifi. I still don't understand how a fat little Treo doesn't have the room or the battery size to be able to handle Wifi. In areas without 3G support it's like pulling teeth trying to do anything productive on EDGE.
  • Bla1er, look at it this way...
    When you buy a TV, you expect to use it for the next ten years and not update the "OS". Same thing goes for most consumer electronic and cars. Updating software frequently is a concept MS spend YEARS beaten into your skull.
    In fact, I will go so far as to say that I don't need an update for my winxp. Take a look at bloggers like Dvorak, they have been saying there is no point to upgrade to Vista for months, and I agree with them. There is nothing you can do on the Vista that you can't do with XP plus the upcoming sp3, at significant less system resource.
    XP stop being supported doesn't mean its not the best option for many hardware for the next 5 years. You can make an argument for the (abandoned) PalmOS. It's one of the best option for some people for the next couple years. Until all the weird third party app get ported to other OS, some people still rather use it. Just like some print shops are still using MacOS9 for QuartExpress.
  • I'm watching all of these reviews with real interest here. I've been back and forth between Palm OS and Windows Mobile, having originally started with a Psion running EPOC (forerunner to Symbian). Right now my main device is a Samsung SGH-i600, but I still carry my Treo 680 to play games on (I'm CCO at Astraware).
    As Astraware always keep an eye on possible new platforms for development (plus I'm just a gadget addict), I've been looking at Blackberry and Symbian S60 & UIQ devices lately. My feeling is that essentially all of the platforms have positives and there's no such thing as the perfect smartphone (or smartphone OS) because we all want different things from them. As long as there are great quality third party apps out there, then we all have the opportunity to customise them to work how we want.
  • mogul here and I love it!
  • i feel the same way about the POS. Have switched back and forth and just prefer the other better.
  • You should have cheated and used Exchange. I do, only using HS for backup.
    I use a 680 all the time, and many of my pluses and gripes are similar. However, there is really nothing as versatile and easy to use. Its the user experience that the 680 brings that makes it for me. Symbian devices so far have been closest, but the touchscreen is a biggie for me. If done right, then it makes things better. The 680 is neart TS done right (IMO), hence why it stays in my stable despite the many missing pieces compared to other models.
    Nice series going on.
  • uggh guys - I'm still sick from last week's conference. I'll fight my way through my cold medicine here and post some replys to your *excellent* posts in this thread. In the meantime, keep 'em coming here and elsewhere in the round robin as much as ya can - every day you make a RR post is another entry.
  • Why was the 680 chossen for this artile? I was looking for something that explained the process, but didn;t find it. (I really hope it's not on the home page and i just missed it, 'cause the flames will be coming)
    I would have thought the Centro or the 755P would haqve been more appropiate. They are the most recently release and include things like IM & google maps. In the centro's case a much better form factor.
  • Why was the 680 chossen for this artile? I was looking for something that explained the process, but didn;t find it. (I really hope it's not on the home page and i just missed it, 'cause the flames will be coming)
    I would have thought the Centro or the 755P would haqve been more appropiate. They are the most recently release and include things like IM & google maps. In the centro's case a much better form factor.
    The use is a GSM user, therefore the GSM Treo was chosen. The Centro and 755p would have required the person reviewing to get a contract with Sprint (for a week). That doesn't make too much sense.
    As for IM and GMaps: GMaps is available for the 680, IM is a Sprint specific application.
  • The use is a GSM user, therefore the GSM Treo was chosen. The Centro and 755p would have required the person reviewing to get a contract with Sprint (for a week). That doesn't make too much sense.
    As for IM and GMaps: GMaps is available for the 680, IM is a Sprint specific application.
    Ahh .... very sensable - Thanks Antoine.
  • I have a new Tilt, and have a problem with it freezing up. Think it is a defect, and will take it back today.
    I am not a "techie". I have not gotten confortable with the Tilt as yet.
    Thoughts of a Tilt vs. iPhone for someone that is more interested in email, and web brousing than the music, and games applications.
  • ...and 3G for GSM folks...
    Seconded on the 3G.
    I wouldn't have my Tilt now if there was a 3G-capable Palm OS Treo.
    Not that I mind, much... it's an amazing device once it's sorted out.
    I'll probably end up going back to Palm OS if and when they get that sorted out.
    -Rusty
  • I've got a treo 680. treo 750v and a Blackberry Curve at the moment and I keep swapping between them. I can't decide myself which is the best o/s but one thing I have learned of late is that the device itself, and how useable it is, on a daily basis is just as important as the system. For example I sort of prefer win mob at the moment but the only device I can really tolerate it on is a the treo 750v. That and 3rd party apps too. I prefer some apps on win mob, RSS and Listpro and yet others on the palm o/s such as Snappermail. There's no point having a great and powerful o/s on a fully specced up device if that device is a pig to use. I'd like to take the best bits and apps from each o/s and stick them on the one device..most likely a treo incidentally.
  • I've got a treo 680. treo 750v and a Blackberry Curve at the moment and I keep swapping between them. I can't decide myself which is the best o/s but one thing I have learned of late is that the device itself, and how useable it is, on a daily basis is just as important as the system. For example I sort of prefer win mob at the moment but the only device I can really tolerate it on is a the treo 750v. That and 3rd party apps too. I prefer some apps on win mob, RSS and Listpro and yet others on the palm o/s such as Snappermail. There's no point having a great and powerful o/s on a fully specced up device if that device is a pig to use. I'd like to take the best bits and apps from each o/s and stick them on the one device..most likely a treo incidentally.
    If you use enough Palm OS apps to be worth it, you can get a compatibility layer for WinMob. I don't remember what it is called but it runs 50 bucks and gives you access to all of your Palm software.
  • Do you have multiple data plans? What I mean is how do you get data on the treos and on the bb? Separate Sims? I use a 680, but have toyed with using the wife's discarded pearl b/c of its size. Any way to switch between them and get data etc on both.
  • Do you have multiple data plans? What I mean is how do you get data on the treos and on the bb? Separate Sims? I use a 680, but have toyed with using the wife's discarded pearl b/c of its size. Any way to switch between them and get data etc on both.
    BB Connect requires the BB data service. Since he already has said service for use with his BB he didn't have to subscribe to any extra services.
  • Palm needs WIFI. That is WinMo's only advantage.
    Don't forget about native multitasking, the ability to use HSDPA/UMTS, multiple vendors supplying different devices (Palm, HTC, Inventec, Pantech, Samsung, etc. vs. Palm OS - Palm), support for higher resolution screens (not like the majority of mfrs use them anyways), continuously updated OS...
  • Don't forget about native multitasking, the ability to use HSDPA/UMTS, multiple vendors supplying different devices (Palm, HTC, Inventec, Pantech, Samsung, etc. vs. Palm OS - Palm), support for higher resolution screens (not like the majority of mfrs use them anyways), continuously updated OS...
    And to think I was biting my tongue... ;-)
  • If you use enough Palm OS apps to be worth it, you can get a compatibility layer for WinMob. I don't remember what it is called but it runs 50 bucks and gives you access to all of your Palm software.
    StyleTap
  • I can't believe you stated that activeSync is better than Palm's Hotsync. as a Treo 680 user and Treo 750v ex-user, I can say that even none of them are killer appz for syncing, Palm's Hotsync is a lot more better than Microsoft.
    have you tried to sync Notes with activeSync? can you place them in subfolders? can you have dedicated subfolder for Notes? can you sync Outlook categories? I can continue if you want. OK, Palm Desktop is ugly... so? Palm Desktop is involved only if you don't want to use Outlook. if you use Outlook, forget Palm Desktop. I want to repeat here: I think both sync applets SUCK. it's a shame there's no smart syncing app here.
    let's talk about multitasking: as a Palm OS programmer - well, I'm also a Windows programmer - I can say there's no true multitasking in Palm OS, and it's true, developers have to struggle a lot with receiving CPU attention and releasing it to the other processes, coupled with low level memory handling and the hassle of taking care of stack activity, cooperative multitasking is a dreadful pain. however, I'm here again asking when you really take advantage of true preemptive multitasking on Windows Mobile. I used it for months and I can't remember a real situation where multitasking saved me lots of time. I can only think about dreadful wait conditions here and there, waiting tons of seconds to open an excel spreadsheet, ecc. and having applications running behind gave me no goods apart of the hassle of killing them from the task manager to ensure to have more available RAM.
  • Thank you for this perspective. As a 680 user that started with a Visor Deluxe i have contemplated jumping ship for something a little more - modern. This is a really nice round robin - the kind of honesty that is hard to find in the world of fan-boy loyalties.
  • BB Connect requires the BB data service. Since he already has said service for use with his BB he didn't have to subscribe to any extra services.
    I want to make sure I am understanding this. I have asked cs reps numerous times and they all stare at me with dumbfounded gazes.
    If I change my data to a BB plan and download the Bb connect from palm to my 680, I can then have blackberry email on either the pearl or 680? Does this require IT support and the BES?
  • I've been with the 680 for almost a year now. I keep playing around with WM stuff - particularly the 8525 and now Tilt - but just can't find enough to make the switch for. They certainly can do a lot more, but the 680 does 90% of what I need it to do. It's hard to justify the cost for that last 10%. I'm just starting to play around with a Bluetooth GPS and if that works, it's one more reason to stick with the 680.
    I will say that there is NO WAY I would stick with Palm if it weren't for 3rd party stuff. Most folks don't even recognize my OS as Palm it's so altered. Looks modern and just as polished as WM 6 in my opinion. You can do a lot with ZLauncher and various backgrounds, icon sets, etc. I do resent having to do all the tweaks just to make it look (and function) like a modern OS, but at least I can. I imagine if I found out that the WM was just as customizable I'd be much more intrigued to jump. We'll see ......
  • I had a hard time trying to decide to switch over to WinMo... I've had a palm ever since the USRobotics days, and a Palm based smartphone ever since the Treo 300!
    For me the time came 2 years ago when Sprint started carrying the PPC 6700 (HTC Apache). I was traveling back and forth to Japan at the time, and I had some requirements---
    1. I didn't want to leave Sprint (I have a nice employee discount on service!)
    2. I needed something that would still work in other places, even if only data itself worked to check email.
    With the Apache and its built in WiFi, I was able to seek out hotspots (and there are TONS of free hotspots in Japan!) and get data, and discovered the joys of using Skype on a mobile. I did however miss to one-handedness of the Treo and eventually got a 700Wx--But I can stick a WiFi card in it and get the same thing--Unlike it's PalmOS sibling... Also the multitasking and media options now are just rediculous...
    I have Telenav, Yahoo GO, Vtap, pRSS, Opera mini that I use everyday... I even got Styletap so I could keep Kinoma and my Japanese Translation PRC I bought a long time ago...
    You know what though--even with all I can do with my Treo 700wx (and an unbranded TyTN 2 on another network!) I really am looking to see what Palm Linux will be like... Palm started it all for me, and I'd move back in a heartbeat if I could get the simplicity of Palm OS, Multitask ability of WinMo, and Multimedia prowess of Symbian in the new PalmOS (or even ALP)
  • In my opinion, Palm should convert all of their applications to OS independant apps and sell them to WM and iPhone users. The Palm OS kernel needs a major overhaul and that would take too long to make a difference in the current market...
  • I can't believe you stated that activeSync is better than Palm's Hotsync. as a Treo 680 user and Treo 750v ex-user, I can say that even none of them are killer appz for syncing, Palm's Hotsync is a lot more better than Microsoft.
    have you tried to sync Notes with activeSync? can you place them in subfolders? can you have dedicated subfolder for Notes? can you sync Outlook categories? I can continue if you want. OK, Palm Desktop is ugly... so? Palm Desktop is involved only if you don't want to use Outlook. if you use Outlook, forget Palm Desktop. I want to repeat here: I think both sync applets SUCK. it's a shame there's no smart syncing app here.
    let's talk about multitasking: as a Palm OS programmer - well, I'm also a Windows programmer - I can say there's no true multitasking in Palm OS, and it's true, developers have to struggle a lot with receiving CPU attention and releasing it to the other processes, coupled with low level memory handling and the hassle of taking care of stack activity, cooperative multitasking is a dreadful pain. however, I'm here again asking when you really take advantage of true preemptive multitasking on Windows Mobile. I used it for months and I can't remember a real situation where multitasking saved me lots of time. I can only think about dreadful wait conditions here and there, waiting tons of seconds to open an excel spreadsheet, ecc. and having applications running behind gave me no goods apart of the hassle of killing them from the task manager to ensure to have more available RAM.
    I don't even sync to my computer anymore, no need for 1990 technology (since it hasn't changed....at all since then it seems). MS Exchange Activesync is where it's at for me. The best part is I don't have to do anything to my devices when I swap sim cards, it just syncs everything up as soon as it boots up and there's no need for me to worry.
  • The review focuses a lot on the Palm-Windows Mobile schism. Yes, the Palm OS is beyond old; it was a great PDA system at one time but today's multi-featured smart phones--and their users--are much more demanding. But Windows Mobile ain't the answer; it may do a few things better but has its own limitations and history, and the interface is every bit as ugly as today's Palm OS.
    I love the Treo's utility and flexibility. I put up with its faults and find workarounds--not so hard considering all the 3rd-party apps. I was severely disappointed to hear the new OS is a long way off. The management that delayed OS development (for what?--the Fooleo?) messed up big time and will lose me as a customer as soon as I find a suitable replacement.
  • Honestly, Palm multi-tasking isn't as horrible as people make it sound. Its not good, but its not horrible. [...] FontSmoother lets you use custom fonts and adds anti-aliasing to them, skinUI and PalmRevolt change the look of the OS entirely.
    I remember being a huge fan of font-smoother. I may have been a little too harsh on PamOS multitasking - my main gripe comes from the comments I made about it being "arcane." I just wish all the multitasking stuff didn't feel so "hacky."While the inclusion of a Treo 680 into the round robin is understandable, I'm not really sure as to how it can really shape up, the reason I mention this is due the fact the Palm OS, at this point anyways, is no longer used, they have swayed from their beloved OS and sucked it up for the inclusion of WinMobile, while the Palm OS is still being developed (so they say lol, delays aplenty mind you)...does anybody else feel kind of weird about including the Treo 680 into the mix, because really, we don't have the next incarnation of the Palm OS (no definitive expected date either) or am I really alone on this one?...the Blackberry has 4.2 out now...with the Pearl 2 being released on November with the new 4.3 OS, updated browser, video capture etc...and WinMobile 6 while not totally BRAND new, it's still fresh.
    Well, two bits. As Antoine mentioned, we needed to pretty much stick with GSM otherwise it would have been MUCH more difficult for us to swap devices around (we're all on GSM anyway). Otherwise, well, the 680 and the Centro represent, on GSM and CDMA, the latest PalmOS has to offer. I felt we *needed* to have PalmOS in there...
    We're planning on making the round robin a yearly deal - wouldn't it me nice if Palm surprised us as got us the new PalmOS twice as quickly as they promised. *sigh*XP stop being supported doesn't mean its not the best option for many hardware for the next 5 years. You can make an argument for the (abandoned) PalmOS. It's one of the best option for some people for the next couple years. Until all the weird third party app get ported to other OS, some people still rather use it. Just like some print shops are still using MacOS9 for QuartExpress.
    That is an EXCELLENT point. One I am absolutely going to steal in my roundup article tomorrow (with credit, of course). :DI would have thought the Centro or the 755P would haqve been more appropiate. They are the most recently release and include things like IM & google maps. In the centro's case a much better form factor.
    If there had been a GSM Centro, we most definitely would have chosen it. There's no point having a great and powerful o/s on a fully specced up device if that device is a pig to use. I'd like to take the best bits and apps from each o/s and stick them on the one device..most likely a treo incidentally.
    Was mentioned above, but the thing you're looking for is StyleTap. I haven't used it extensively, so i can't vouch for it, but it might be worth a try!I can't believe you stated that activeSync is better than Palm's Hotsync. as a Treo 680 user and Treo 750v ex-user, I can say that even none of them are killer appz for syncing, Palm's Hotsync is a lot more better than Microsoft.
    have you tried to sync Notes with activeSync? can you place them in subfolders? can you have dedicated subfolder for Notes? can you sync Outlook categories? I can continue if you want. OK, Palm Desktop is ugly... so? Palm Desktop is involved only if you don't want to use Outlook. if you use Outlook, forget Palm Desktop. I want to repeat here: I think both sync applets SUCK. it's a shame there's no smart syncing app here.
    I'm glad we agree that syncing sucks pretty much across the board. I should have been clearer - I'm just talking about straight up bugs / repeated entries in the database / etc. A big part of it might be that I'm comparing apples to oranges - palm desktop on mac to activesync on windows. let's talk about multitasking: as a Palm OS programmer - well, I'm also a Windows programmer - I can say there's no true multitasking in Palm OS, and it's true, developers have to struggle a lot with receiving CPU attention and releasing it to the other processes, coupled with low level memory handling and the hassle of taking care of stack activity, cooperative multitasking is a dreadful pain. however, I'm here again asking when you really take advantage of true preemptive multitasking on Windows Mobile. I used it for months and I can't remember a real situation where multitasking saved me lots of time. I can only think about dreadful wait conditions here and there, waiting tons of seconds to open an excel spreadsheet, ecc. and having applications running behind gave me no goods apart of the hassle of killing them from the task manager to ensure to have more available RAM.
    Two points there - I download a lot of apps and media directly and having to sit and wait for them to download in the browser is a HUGE PAIN for me. But you're right that multitasking isn't as important on a handheld device as it is on a desktop.. the other point is the one I made above and the one you allude to - the struggles developers have to make and how those struggles -- despite incredible efforts and generally *really* good jobs -- often translate into bugginess / instability for the end user.In my opinion, Palm should convert all of their applications to OS independant apps and sell them to WM and iPhone users. The Palm OS kernel needs a major overhaul and that would take too long to make a difference in the current market...
    That is ALSO an interesting idea. I remember many people speculating that Palm would just give up on making a full platform and make PalmOS a "skin" on top of Windows Mobile. Instead they're going the Linux route - but winmo "native" versions of some palm PIM apps would be interesting. I'd definitely switch to Palm's ToDo and Calendar.The review focuses a lot on the Palm-Windows Mobile schism. Yes, the Palm OS is beyond old; it was a great PDA system at one time but today's multi-featured smart phones--and their users--are much more demanding. But Windows Mobile ain't the answer; it may do a few things better but has its own limitations and history, and the interface is every bit as ugly as today's Palm OS.
    yeah, I did focus on that schism, but then again, it *is* a windows mobile site. ;) I agree that both OS's have some legacy-looks in there that are ugly as sin. But at least WM has been making nominal efforts (especially in the past year) to update their look a bit.
  • I have often thought about checking out Windows mobile. The main thing that stops me is all the software for Palm OS that I have accumulated over the years. The thought of having to spend several hundreds of dollars to replace apps just does not seem worth it to me on top of the price of the phone.
  • While I agree wholeheartedly Palm needs to multi task more completely, this might be an area where Dieter would have benefited reviewing a newer Palm offering than the 680.
    The 755p and Centro both do well running Ptunes or Sprint Mobile Messaging (AIM, YM, WM) and continuing other processes- 2 of the 3 things mentioned in the article for multi-tasking.
    As for more productive, but mundane tasks... have to wonder here if a comparison between the current phone OS's really nets a significant time benefit...I've seen WM get very boggy trying to multi-task, and BB doesn't attempt it well on the 8700.
    It is essentially agreed from the article that the PalmOS is crisper and quicker... so sending an email and then one button switching to a download page, or punching up a web page for weather, might just be more efficient. And you can be listening to music and getting texts while doing it on the newest Palms.
    I agree with the point that it is nearly unforgivable for Palm to not have addressed multi tasking with more OS-centric solutions, particularly for the Round Robin GSM offering. But compared to something that doesn't work particularly well you might prefer what nets a consistently quick result with minimal problems.
  • Right, a newer GSM Palm OS offering. Like me, and everyone else is waiting for that. Unfortunately, I doubt that there will be one in the near future as it looks like Palm doesn't seem to want to push out new devices anymore.
    I think that what WM needs is some of that simplicity of the Palm OS. Sure, multitasking is great but why do they have to keep everything in the background unless we go in and exit or close them all? Give us the ability to tap on the "X" so that it's gone and not running minimized or whatever. That was my biggest gripe about WM.
    Regardless, I think the best thing would be to have a WM and Palm OS device so that you can still do all the things that each platform does best and get the best of both worlds, so to speak.
  • I'm hopeful for a great user experience on the Linux Palm OS. I want Windows Mobile to actually feel competition from the Palm OS and for Palm OS to actually be able to trade shots with Microsoft like they did back in the day when PPC 2002 was out alongside the current Palm OS. Right now, I can't stand to use the Palm OS, and I was a diehard palm fan back in the day (owned the visor, a couple of sony clies, and the Treo 650).
  • Wow - a TON of comments here. Awesome!
    I think I'm going to store up responses and post them in my Treo680 roundup article tomorrow.
  • Wow - a TON of comments here. Awesome!
    I think I'm going to store up responses and post them in my Treo680 roundup article tomorrow.
    do it!
    Many of us are old Palm OS users - It';s gonna be great to see what a person new to the OS feels about it. What we think is terrible may not be so bad, or may be really as bad as we thought - but the fresh view will be great.
  • I agree. I want to see some WM6 users head over this way for a change. I keep hearing about people leaving POS for WM6, but few the other way around.
    I have been so frustrated with Palm for so long. OTOH, they got it so right in the beginning, I wonder if WM6 and the latest devices are just catching up, or have they surpassed Palm? (Hardware wise, this is a no-brainer. WM devices with BT2.0 and Wifi have way past Palm).
  • I'll admit, I'm a long time Palm user and am watching this RoundRobin closer than others because I'm considering WM. I feel like Palm is Windows XP and WM is Vista. All I really want is XP 64bit.
  • I agree. I want to see some WM6 users head over this way for a change. I keep hearing about people leaving POS for WM6, but few the other way around.
    I have been so frustrated with Palm for so long. OTOH, they got it so right in the beginning, I wonder if WM6 and the latest devices are just catching up, or have they surpassed Palm? (Hardware wise, this is a no-brainer. WM devices with BT2.0 and Wifi have way past Palm).
    right - harware no argument. But really - is no multitasking that much of an issue? And Palm has bugs ... but how many does WM have?
    It's get a little blury when you start adding 3rd party software, but still, this is gonna be good
  • I agree. I want to see some WM6 users head over this way for a change. I keep hearing about people leaving POS for WM6, but few the other way around.
    I have been so frustrated with Palm for so long. OTOH, they got it so right in the beginning, I wonder if WM6 and the latest devices are just catching up, or have they surpassed Palm? (Hardware wise, this is a no-brainer. WM devices with BT2.0 and Wifi have way past Palm).
    They got it right in the late 90s/early 2000, but POS 5.xxx has been out for what, 5 years? That's just PATHETIC.
  • They got it right in the late 90s/early 2000, but POS 5.xxx has been out for what, 5 years? That's just PATHETIC.
    Exactly. That's my point.
    If Palm was to have focused on updating their platform, they would be far ahead right now. WM has come a long way and, if they keep up this momentum, they will go even further.
    While we don't have a Round Robin yet on going from POS to WM6, we have heard plenty of people talking about it in the recent past. This is the first time I have participated in a conversation going "backwards."
  • I agree. I want to see some WM6 users head over this way for a change. I keep hearing about people leaving POS for WM6, but few the other way around.
    I have been so frustrated with Palm for so long.
    I agree. In 2005 I went from WM2003 to a Treo 650, just to see if the PalmOS had improved since my Visor and M505 days, but I couldn't get rid of the Treo quick enough.
    For me, it was the lack of multitasking that ultimately drove me away... I felt confined by the way apps would close rather than run in the background. I also found the OS cumbersome; most think it's the other way around, but I found simple tasks such as adding a file to an email on the Treo burdensome.
  • Mundu Instant messaging does multi-task, as does the push eMail client Chatter eMail.
    Booth applications pop-up message notifications regardless of what other application or game you're in.
    Perhaps there are other areas of multitasking that Palm is incapable of but the review should get his facts straight. In this case, multi-tasking (or the perception there-of) seems to be less about the 0/S and more about the software.
    Dieter Bohn has written an article without properly researching all the facts. How can one be sure that any other aspect of the article is accurate?
    If I have misunderstood your point, please clarify your gripe.One more thing - where did you get the statistic "most Palm users use Palm desktop?" As a Palm user, I've avoided using the desktop at all costs and have synchronised all of my Palm Treos with Outlook. Not only is it more convenient BUT it allows me to keep one programe to manage all of my contacts, notes, schedules etc.
    Regards,
    Ben
  • Dieter, for the record, I agree with most of your gripes but would like to add:
    [LIST=1]
    [*]After having used a WM device, I find the Palm os refreshingly simple to navigate.
    [*]The media apps may be third party but from what I've seen, they _are_ better.
    [*]After having used a Nokia Communicator 9000, 3 Treos and 2 WM Device, I'm yet to see a navigator as good with Java websites as the Communicator. I've just installed Opera Mini 4 Final this afternoon and perhaps this is the killer web app.
    [/LIST]
  • Dieter, for the record, I agree with most of your gripes but would like to add:
    [LIST=1]
    [*]After having used a WM device, I find the Palm os refreshingly simple to navigate.
    [*]The media apps may be third party but from what I've seen, they _are_ better.
    [*]After having used a Nokia Communicator 9000, 3 Treos and 2 WM Device, I'm yet to see a navigator as good with Java websites as the Communicator. I've just installed Opera Mini 4 Final this afternoon and perhaps this is the killer web app.
    [/LIST]
    I definitely agree with the point about the media apps. Kinoma is absolutely fantastic for the Palm OS. I can stream the TreoCentral Treocast without ever downloading it, can pause it, come back to it later, and it picks up right where I left off! And that is with STREAMING! Full access to internet video (i.e. YouTube), excellent media management. In fact, the only thing missing is background play.
    Now I also use the Slingplayer, PocketTunes and CorePlayer, and coupled with Softick Audio Gateway, I have A2DP as well! The iPhone can't do that. Not all Windows Mobile phones can do that.
  • gjlowe, Can you explain why you use three players?
    You've explained PocketTunes (becuase it plays in the background and with the phone off). Are there any other reasons? And why use CorePlayer as well?
    At the moment I use both and hoping to discard one if I purchase Kinoma EX 4.
  • My 650, but there was a time that was given to my co-worker because of the bulky antenna (not a good way). Lots 680 and keep the memory (in my opinion) much thinner than the 650. To be free I have to buy a data plan with T-Mobile Internet service (where is the wifi)? Pocket Tunes 680 (skin love shock) and 650 had Real Player. I realized the 680 was able to download java and another browser (Opera). must first download the java.