WMExperts on the Treo Pro, Round Robin Style

I'm gonna be honest here, folks, this is a tough one for me. My goal in the Smartphone Round Robin is to look at another platform from a WinMo perspective. Of course, the Treo Pro runs Windows Mobile, so it's a pickle. Not to mention that WMExperts has already:

  • Unboxed the Treo Pro and lined it up with the competition
  • Given it a full 6000+ word, 45 photo review
  • Hit up a Q & A
  • Examined its camera
  • Put it head to head with the Epix
  • Put it head to head with the Fuze
  • ...and much, much more.

What to do? Well, for one, I ought to explain why we went with the Treo Pro instead of the Centro. Find that in the video above, where you'll find that I'm eschewing our traditional Round Robin format and replacing it with a trip down Treo memory lane. The goal: I'm trying to work my way towards the full review later this week, when I'll examine what makes a Treo a Treo and how exactly that design philosophy can jive with Windows Mobile.

It's just a start for today, the video above poses the questions but doesn't provide the answers. It certainly feels like there's a "Treo-ness" up there in the world of Platonic ideals that applies to Palm's products more so than it does to others. It has something to do with the fact that Treos seem to hit all your standard smartphone functions at 75% efficiency but none of them at 100%, whereas most smartphones will give you 90% at one feature but only 50% at the rest.

Rather than show you all of my cards now, I'm hoping y'all can take advantage of the Smartphone Round Robin contest and comment on this post with your feedback. What makes a Treo a Treo and how can Palm find a way to not become 'just another Windows Mobile manufacturer?' Who knows, maybe your answer to that question will net your the HTC Fuze and the Redfly that Celio has generously sponsored for a lucky reader. (I haven't really hit on it yet (I will), but stuff like the Redfly is a big reason I'm a fan of Windows Mobile).

41 Comments
  • In my opinion it is the integration of hardware and software. As you mentioned the Treos do everything well, not perfect, but they seem to work best as a device for someone always on the go because they always have good one handed operation. You can get to anything quickly and they always integrate some of their own features to make this happen. owning a treo 750 and a tilt, I find that while I prefer the tilt most of the time, when I am on the run the treo is just easier.
  • Dieter,
    I think the real reason we are drawn back to Palm time and time again is for the simple reasons. Tweaking under the hood as opposed to tweaking the exterior has give Palm the advantage of keeping their branding unique and efficient for most users needs. One of the flaws (or advantages, depending on how you look at this thing) is it isn't eye candy like the other devices out there offer.
    I personally do get jealous at times, but then I watch how other devices just miserably fail at the simplest of tasks that I can do with ease on my Palm products. Dunno, taking an "under" powered chip and making the most of WM 6.1 isn't the easiest thing to do, throwing in an overpowered chip, adding bloatware and hoping she doesn't sink is just reckless to me. There is a reason why there are so many HTC firmware updates (many will claim, "They support their devices", and while I agree, they wouldn't have to if they had gotten most of it right the first time).
    Dunno, just saying.
  • Unfortunately, as beloved as the original Treos are/were, I don't think Palm is going to survive. They gave us the original PDA, but could never really find the vision to follow through. Palm's best shot is as an Android platform, but that would eliminate the corporate users. So here's my suggestion, Android is open, Palm should throw all its money into porting Exchange Active Sync to Android and should roll out something that looks like a Touch Pro (they could improve the keyboard and screen) with Android AND Active Sync. That's their best hope of survival. I'm not an Android fan, prefering WinMo, BB or S60, but it has the buzz that Palm desperately needs.
  • I think Palm Treos have incredible potential, and I think they can come out with a really ground breaking device. I think that the Treo Pro is a really good example of what Palm can do, and I think they are only going to get better with time.
  • I strongly disagree with Bunbury. Android might be Palm's best shot if Palm had just been sitting on its hands the last few years. (And yes, they've been accused of it.) However, at this point, Palm's best shot is Nova. They have to make Nova work, given all the delays and pent-up anticipation.
  • Well one of the big things I think was missed in the video and it's the reason I stick with WM on Treo's only is the one step access to most things. I've used WM on many other devices and it just takes FAR TOO MANY steps to do something. You want to make a call to someone you frequently call from the call log? Go to the phone app, scroll through the call log, click on the name/number, get presented with a log of calls from/to that person, click on the freakin number again and now it dials. Where as on the Treo you click the green call button and a menu of most recent calls pops up, you scroll to the number and hit the call button again and it dials. REALLY QUICK AND EASY. Of course you can setup a shortcut on WM phones on the today screen to quick dial, but that's in a tabbed menu so you have to touch the screen to get to that shortcut, then touch the screen again to dial...On WM on the Treo there's no touching the screen needed to do the same thing MUCH faster and easier.
    From what I've seen on Windows Mobile devices Palm seems to somehow tweak the OS to make it stupid simple and FAST to do just about anything. Anytime I'm on a non-treo WM phone it seems every time I want to do something I get presented with a series of options before getting to what I want, where as on the treo they have eliminated all those options and just cut to the chase.
    Of course there's also the ability to operate the phone entirely with one hand and very little stylus usage that's to me the other signature of the Treo's.
    And yes, I'm still bent VZW hasn't come up with a new treo (800w or Pro)...Grrr...
  • Oh and almost forgot...I can't stand Palm OS as it's no where near as robust for a heavy office user as Windows Mobile is, but Palm does such a good job with the implementation of OS's on their devices that I will keep my current 755P over any other WM device out there until I can get a WM Treo (new one thank you, not the 700) on VZW again. WM on other devices is a joke in my opinion.
  • I like the concept of the Treo, I am interested in the form factor, however my only concerns are the resolution for compatibility with certain programs like SPB Mobile Shell. If only Tmobile or ATT would pick it up I might switch. I can't afford unlocked right now :-(.
  • I think that the winmob treos give an interesting glimpse into where palm os could have gone if they hadn't been so distracted by every manner of spinning off, spinning in, spinning around of the Palm OS.
    Palm has a very good grasp of one handed use, and they make devices that tend to stick with people, because the designs are intuitive or at least easy to use, and it becomes second nature to do so. They also recognize that you shouldn't have to work to use a PDA.
    Unfortunately, Palm OS got so old and creaky that it fell behind, and with winmob being so easy to tweak and skin and add "special sauce" that Palm probably finds it easier to develop a treo pro than a stable centro.
  • I have a Moto Q and can also show the list of most recent calls when green button is pressed. That is WM ability, not palm.
  • @Q
    It's possible that Nov could work, but I honestly think there are already enough operating systems out there. UIQ just died. Android just began, but only by the grace of Google, who's very name causes irrational loyalty and fits of joy among the masses. Android is still half baked at best. The BB OS needs an update, S60 needs an update, WinMo Pro needs an update. But all of them are in much strong positions than Palm, which is bleeding cash.
    The move to being a HW manufacturer that provides OS tweaks was the right one, but with WinMo they are head to head with HTC, Samsung and now SE. With Android they have only one wicked ugly G1 and that Australian phone. They could have gotten in early, associated Palm with Google and revived the brand.
  • Treo has the form factor that fits me best, WM is my op. system of choice. My 700wx was and is still a very durable device, they seem to hold up well in adverse enviorments such as contruction work.
    I used a Touch for a few months after giving my 700wx to my son, but I am now back with a Treo 800W and after 3 weeks all is good so far.
  • If I could only get a touchscreen on my berry, and I would be stoke.
  • I have to say that Palm is most likely done for. and I have to agree that I think that this set up of physical keyboard and touch screen would be more appropriate for a blackberry. Personally I prefer my WinMo phones of the Fuze variety.
  • Great video Dieter! I just don't agree with your takes on the front-facing qwerty... Slider is the way to go
  • Oh, & not to double-post for the contest, but the Verizon Treo after the 650 (1:35 Minute Mark) is the 700w, not the 700p ;)
  • My Treo Pro even missing the green send button customization is still somehow a "phone-pda" and not a "pda-phone". It brings the best of WM Standard to Professional, and at a minimum WM7 better do this by default (but it won't somehow I fear). In fact, when Palm software engineers are done with NOVA, maybe they could help Redmond with their dogfood........maybe the lack of TLC with the ROM means The Treo 850 will be the last WM Treo? (still better than any cooked ROM I've ever flashed on other HTC devices though)
  • i think it has to do with the familiarity of them all. you can usually pick up a treo and get to know it within a couple of seconds weather it be palm or wm
    i really love how palm integrates the software with the buttons. how many other phones do you know have a dedicated key for email, calender and calls in convenient spots? Other devices tend to spread out the buttons across the keyboard making it awkward to use.
    the simple fact that you can press one button and go to calender and another to go to email just makes it that much easier.
    i can perform a majority of the basic tasks with my eyes closed on a treo thanks to its button design and familiarity
  • Great comments all! I was a little worried that a video that posed questions instead of positing firm opinions wouldn't go over well, but the conversation here is stupendous. Keep 'em coming!
  • I don't think Palm at this point can go back to running a "Palm OS", I think the centro was the last of the dead breed and I can't see how Nova is gonna save Palm at this point as it will be going up against WinMob, Android etc...etc..too late to the game, and only the hardcore are sticking around awaiting it's arrival.
  • Sounds to me the reviewer's trying really hard to not say the same things that have been said in the thorough review already done.
    That's nothing to blame the reviewer for, obviously.
    All points to the end of the treo dynasty :p
  • Palm just didn't do enough with the Treo for it to make any real head way. From a hardware standpoint it is only doing what others have been doing for the last 3 years...and can't match modern htc devices.
    From a software point of view, it's kind of basic as Dieter pointed out, which a bit of a shame as it makes the phone seem a bit dated, even more so when compared next to the HTC Touchflo 3D devices. You have to wonder if Palm just didn't have much money around to develop any UI enhancements for the Treo Pro.
  • Palm just didn't do enough with the Treo for it to make any real head way. From a hardware standpoint it is only doing what others have been doing for the last 3 years...and can't match modern htc devices.
    From a software point of view, it's kind of basic as Dieter pointed out, which a bit of a shame as it makes the phone seem a bit dated, even more so when compared next to the HTC Touchflo 3D devices. You have to wonder if Palm just didn't have much money around to develop any UI enhancements for the Treo Pro.
    You can have HTC' s crap quality and bloatware software slowing it down.
    My 700wx was far from perfect but it was also rock solid and sofar my 800w is too.
  • Palm has managed to maintain a distinctive form factor but these days that seems to be about all that's left. I don't see them doing enough for differentiation (whether or not you like Touch Flo, at least it makes for a very distinctive device), and it isn't clear why they're even still alive since they don't seem to be engaging in this level of personalization. I think that with Touch Flo and Panels we're seeing the beginnings of Windows Mobile becoming just a platform with the essential personality and device distinction being developed as a layer on top, and Palm will need to figure out how to play that game if they want to succeed. Personally, I prefer a slide-out keyboard so as to get a bigger display anyway, so I'm not into their form factor, but if the experience just blew me away, I might reconsider that. None of the existing examples is there yet (not even the iPhone) but you can start to imagine what's possible; Palm needs to do some gazing into the future, look at where this is going, and jump ahead of the others - and the key is to provide power without providing complexity but with enough visual flash to attract interest. Either that, or they could just fade away. Don't think there's a choice in between.
  • I agree with those who've said that there is a comforting familiarity about the Treo Pro, and that even though it's a WM device there's still a Palm-y way about it that makes things easier. I think there's a lot to be said for getting a device that you just know how to use right away and don't need to spend a week pouring through a manual or online forums just to figure out how to make a phone call on your phone. Long Live Palm!
  • While I mostly agree with Dieter's review, I was disappointed that his trip down memory lane didn't include the 750 - the first Palm WM device with the antenna-less form factor and a significanly enhanced "Special Sauce." For me, the 750 was pretty close to functionally perfect, but decidedly unsexy. The Pro is pretty dang sexy (OK, I revel in my geekness), but functionally leaves me only lukewarm. It's a WM Smartphone. I am afraid that WM devices are headed in the direction of PCs - the difference between a Dell and an HP and JoeBob's PC and Bait-o-Rama will be negligible.
  • Here is a post I had on the HTC Fuze review but I will add a few comments specifically with concerns to the Treo Pro:
    The Form Factor is great with concerns to focusing on the primary purpose of the phone; to be a communications decivce. Phone Calls, E-mails, and Text Messages are all easy to do.
    Option Uses (Web Surfing, GPS) ... these things are limited due to one main reason, screen size. With concerns to the OS .. please read theotehr post I copy here now:
    To be quick ...
    Like most Apple products, the most simplistic functions work becuase Apple controls/limits what the user can and cannot do with the Hardware and Software interface. This, in many ways, is a good policy but, can be limited and shortsighted. It's Apple's way or the Highway ... you better just learn to do it their way.
    With Windows Mobile, there is a lot more openess and options to the experience. It is more for a power-user who wants to adapt the phone to an experience that works for them. It needs a TON of work ... and the whole concept of having to run a shell to make it more user friendly is rather wasteful in nature ... Wasterful in system resources.
    I like the I-Phone althought I currently use a Mogul. Mostly becuase I am on Sprint is the reason I haven't switched. One other main reason ... I need a tactile keyboard. With a bit bigger fingers ... typing on the Iphone is a miserable experience. I like feeback when I press.
    The main thing is people love to show me how great Safari is ... Fantastic. How many times do you really use a full keyboard when surfing the net. When it comes to e-mail and text messages (MAIN purposes for using a communication device) the full tactile keyboard that doesn't take up precious screen real estate is priceless.
    - Don
  • I agree with those who've said that Palm needs to really knock it out of the park with the new OS (now called something other than Nova, I believe), or else fade into oblivion entirely. It's like the new Guns N Roses album - if you're going to make your fans wait 17 years for your new offering, it had better be mind-blowingly awesome. Alas, I fear that, much like poor old Axl Rose, Palm will be unable to deliver a product in the end that makes it seem like it was worth the wait. I'm rooting for them, though - my Treo 650 has given me enough years of joy that I remain hopeful, if skeptical, that Palm will rise again.
  • OSs should be simplified and hardware quality should be improved. this will dictate who wins.
  • Eh, I'm not a huge fan of the treo.
  • Hi Dieter,
    The best thing about your video review was "why the treo is a treo" because that way you put things in perspective.
    The reason why the Treo was a hit really goes back to last century when the Palm Pilot was an instant hit, beacause it did what it did simpler and "efficienter" than anybody (the iphone of the 90's) and improved in the right direction with the same effiencicy and simplicity until today's Treo.
    I think they are at the end of a DEAD END. They squeezed all the juice and there is no more. The only survival for Plam is with a dramatic mind shift. Will that ever happen?
  • Let's hope whatever they unveil at the 2009 CES turns out to be as exciting as they promise!
  • I think this thread is winding down. Everything ab out the Treo has been said?
    Let's see the next one the G1
  • id still pick the fuze over treo pro
  • I'm gonna have to say I'm a Fuze guy.
  • I'd like to say it's a new browser from Harpo Industries that will be introduced at the MWC next week but can I blame it on my glasses needing cleaning? :)
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  • I do not think Palm is going to stay alive. Give us the original PDA, but could never really find a vision for the follow-up. Best shot with the Palm platform is a robot, but this would eliminate the corporate users.
  • Although I have never had Palm, Palm Treo parents prefer to design than that. Functionality wise, I hope the Pro is the reason of my time. But still.