July 23, 2005

Treo 650 from the Kyocera 7135 (both on Verizon)

I 'upgraded' to the Treo 650 because my Kyo was getting creaky (zero key getting strange, battery wearing down) and Verizon's Data group told me that essentially they couldn't replace it for me because they weren't getting any more of them. The New Hotness was the Treo 650. That was my option.

This made me sad, because I didn't really want the Treo 650. The Kyocera did everything I really wanted it to do, save perhaps Bluetooth and having a fast enough processor to run ssh. But progress marches on. I've become used to not being able to replace watches or sneakers I like- penalty of living in this consumerist culture, and not having enough money to buy really nice stuff that in fact they keep making year after year - but having enough money to find the model I really like out of those available. I know, I know, crocodile tears, I'm shutting up now.

So anyway, here I am with the Treo 650. I've had it a couple of weeks, I suppose, maybe a week and a half. Upshot: Still don't like it. Usually I'm over the moon with tech toys. I really like the PalmOS despite its creaking age, even though I'd rather have my Newton back - because for the ultrasmall formfactor, and for the limited PIM functions I'd like my phone/convergence device to have, the PalmOS works for me much better than WinCE does. And I'm just. Not. Running. That. Piece. Of. Shit.

In any case, the Treo is really...a compromise. The main problem I have with it is that it breaks the One Really Good Thing about the Kyocera: the Kyocera was, first and foremost, a bulletproof damn phone. Verizon was anal about releasing it, which may have led to its untimely demise; it may have had a slow processor for the time when it finally came out. But damn it, that phone would pull in four-or five-bar service inside elevators in the Boston metro area on the VZW network. I could make calls in the subway. I almost never dropped calls, unless I was moving at high speed and/or near obvious interference. I got a Digital signal almost all the way up to my parents' house in northeastern Vermont- and only when I finally dipped down into the last valley did the 'D' vanish off the status display.

The Kyo is a damn tank. The flip opens and closes solidly. There is a story that they were aiming for the feel of a Mercedes car door - and they achieved it, or at least, the 'phone equivalent. Two years in, and the keys may have been going- but the flip action was rock-solid and felt it. No latch required. I gravity-tested that thing onto brick and concrete fifty or sixty times - nothing more than some light scratching around the edges, where the phone was textured for grip anyway.

I like Graffiti, personally. The separate Graffiti area meant more screen real estate. It meant I was slower on SMS and contact entry than thumboarding friends, but whatever. I could still play Taipan and Dopewars, so who cared? It would have been nice to have a CPU that didn't stagger on MP3s beefier than 96Kbps, but again, meh.

So long, trusty friend. Verizon explained through doubletalk that the 'NAM programming' for the Kyocera is no longer being updated. Treo, here we come.

The Treo is a PDA with phone functionality. It shows. It's a PDA shape, and using it as a phone sucks for me. I have to hold it at exactly the right angle to my head to get sound from the earpiece - and the candybar formfactor means no holding it with my shoulder. I need to use the earpiece. The bluetooth earpiece (from Palm) has crappy sound if it's more than a foot or two from the phone, especially if it's on the other side of my head. Either I have neutronium tooth fillings, or this thing is not too impressive. Plus, the loudest setting on it rates 'whisper' in my book - and I wasn't a fan of The Who in my younger days. My hearing isn't too bad.

Most unforgivable - reception sucks. In places my Kyo got 4 or 5 bars, this phone strains to eke out 1 or 2. If I turn off Bluetooth and reset the radio (cycle the phone), it will sometimes bump to 2 or 3. But not always. And then how am I going to take the call? With the headset cord that plugs into the bottom of the damn thing?

Dialing? Um, yeah. Numbers buried in the crap-feeling keyboard, or use the screen. No tactile feedback there, so...nope. And the keyboard numbers are lost in a sea of identical chiclets. No feedback, aural or otherwise, when using the headset. Finally, the fucking thing shuts off after around ten seconds and locks down the keys - and I haven't found a way to disable that. I'm sure it's easy, but all I know is that two Verizon guys admitted that they haven't found a way to stop it doing that either. Which means that during a phone call, the screen can shut down. And then, guess what? the button that I normally press to get the screen back when the phone is off is the 'power' button. But during a call? Yep. It hangs up.

Battery life? Seems OK. the Kyo was a rock there too, and this one seems fine as well. Palms have always done OK by me on battery, so no complaints.

Verizon, on the other hand, seems to have gone out of their way to cripple this thing. They seem to want me to purchase their 'wireless unlimited data plan' badly. Very badly. Although I finally did get it to Bluetooth Sync, I haven't ventured too far into trying to get it to work with email, because that seems to start tossing huge amounts of packets around all the time, at $0.15/k. Time to upgrade that. I can't use it as a Dial-up Networking modem via bluetooth, because that would prevent them from selling me an entirely different piece of kit at $150 and a whole new data plan for it. Sure, there's a hack, but after paying multiple hundreds of dollars to essentially rent a handheld device, plus dag'near a hundred bones a month for service, I just want the thing to work, thanks.

It's fragile as hell. I've dropped it twice (because they seem incapable of selling me a reasonable case for it for under $65, at least, that's in stock). There are now three large patches of noticeable road rash on the phone case - fortunately, not on the screen, and things still work.

I miss functionality from the Kyo. MP3 ringtones, for one. This thing has a faster processor, theoretically more memory, and a more advanced OS. Why doesn't it do MP3 ringtones? Oh, of course. Because they want to sell me software to do that. Well, I buy Ringo. This would be the bee's knees, except Verizon updated the firmware yesterday, and now - well, now, when I get a phone call, the phone soft-resets.

Many times (more than twenty in the past week) I've clicked the five-way nav to 'wake up' the phone and instead of getting the comforting phone app screen, I've gotten a horrible 'crashed' looking mishmash of graphics. The only way to recover has been to cycle apps three or four times before returning to the phone app.

There's a camera in this phone. I don't think I need one, but it's nice to have. I seem to be paying on the order of $400 for this thing, and they stick a VGA camera in here. Whisky Tango Foxtrot. If you're going to go to the trouble of putting a camera in this thing, at least put one in that lets me leave my separate digicam at home, boys and girls, or it isn't worth the damn complexity.

Hm. What else. Can't listen to audio over Bluetooth. What the hell is BT good for on this thing, essentially? I saw a friend's BT headset (Jabra) on his Moto phone. It had one button, just like this headset (the Treo set). That headset could:

  • Redial the last call
  • Voice dial
  • Turn on/off the phone
  • Cycle through call log
  • ...and a couple other neat tricks.
This one? Bupkes. It can hang up. That's about it. Sometimes it can pick up. But not always. I've now missed around five calls because I tried to pick them up with the Palm BT headset only to have the damn thing keep ringing through to voicemail. Sure, I can buy voicedialing software for the headset and phone. Hm. I detect a pattern, here. I can buy ringtones, too.

Fuck that.

I miss Qualcomm, damn it. I don't want a phone built by a PDA company. I want a phone built by a phone company, with PDA functionality. Apparently that's too much to ask.

Posted by jbz at July 23, 2005 3:16 AM | TrackBack


how can get treo 650 nam program.

Posted by: ahsan at October 3, 2005 7:54 PM

thank you for your post. wish I had read it before buying the treo 650. piece of shit phone, loses its reception when a truck drives past, needs 8 to 10 rings before the boothtooth picks it up or goes to voice mail before the blue tooth picks it up. phone needs to wake up every morning. hate the phone. cost SS$1,200. Now trying to sell it to a sucker so that I can buy a reliable Nokia phone. PDA phones are not ready!!

Posted by: pdaphone sucker at September 7, 2005 3:23 PM
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