Treo 650, month one

I'm still pretty happy with this phone; it's certainly the best phone I've used to date. But since it's been a month, here are the things about it that still bug me:

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  • I wish both the ringer and the vibrator had more oomph. I often don't notice it going off when it's in my pocket.

  • Every now and then it locks up and I have to pop the battery to reset it. This has only happened to me maybe 6 times, but it happened twice today. (Possibly this is the fault of VersaMail or VeriChat, I don't know.)

  • Until you get used to it, it's really easy to call people by mistake. I have my "front page" set to display a list of "favorites" instead of the on-screen keypad. This means that what happens is, I say "goodbye" and reach for the "hang up" button, but the other person hangs up first, and I end up calling whoever's quick-dial is now in that spot on the screen instead. This seems like a pretty rookie UI design blunder, but the solution is to never use the on screen "hang up" button, but always use the hard button on the keypad.

  • When you get a call from someone not in your address book, at the end of the call it asks whether to add them, which is nice. But if you hesitate for more than ~2 seconds when deciding whether you want to do that, the phone turns off and you can't get back there again. At that point, you pretty much have to go into call history, remember the number, go to address book, and re-enter it manually. Wow, awesome.

  • Mashing the side volume buttons makes the ringer stop if it's a voice call, but not if it's a text message.

  • I found out the hard way that, though both iCal and the PalmOS calendar have a field for "location", the iSync/Palm Desktop conduit doesn't sync that! So there I was on my way somewhere, sure that the address was in my phone's calendar, only it wasn't. Does Missing Sync solve this? I couldn't find anywhere a description of what exactly that improves, aside from a lot of crap I don't need, like iPhoto integration. That list doesn't answer questions like "will the location field sync", "will the address book userpics sync", etc.

  • There's an AIM feature you can turn on where, when you're "away", AOL will forward messages as text-messages to your phone. That sounds perfect, but when I try to set that up, the confirmation text message from AOL to my phone never arrives. It appears that AOL can't get text messages to my (Sprint) phone at all, though plenty of other people can. AOL tech support says "yes, it should definitely work with Sprint". I haven't called Sprint yet, because I can't imagine getting a satisfying answer from them, but has anyone else experienced this sort of thing?

  • Since that doesn't work, I have VeriChat set up with a different AIM login ("jwz phone") that I told it to keep online all the time, but it doesn't. It seems like after about half a day, it goes offline and never auto-reconnects until I go into VeriChat manually. Since I want this more for incoming messages than outgoing, that makes it pretty useless.

  • I have VersaMail set up to talk to my home mail server over POP3S (it makes me feel good that my mail only passes through Sprint's network in encrypted form). My desktop mail reader keeps mail on the server for 24 hours, which gives me a second copy of the mail on the phone. Except that it doesn't work for shit, because VersaMail can never maintain a connection to the damned server! Typically I'll hit "get mail" and have ~200 messages that I need to download, and it'll download 10 and stall out. Then another 12 and stall out. Then 4 and stall out, and so on. And of course the phone is locked up solid while it's waiting to time out: you can't even power it off. I don't have these problems browsing web pages, so it doesn't seem like this is just a "network is down" issue.

  • The filters in VersaMail don't work. I just wanted to filter personal, work, cron, and LJ messages into different folders, and auto-junk certain obvious spam (ebay, etc.) First problem: you can only have 9 filter rules total! Second problem: if you have more than ~3 filter rules, it randomly ignores half of them, and dumps all of those messages into Inbox anyway. So I just turn off filtering entirely and wade through a raw inbox when I want to read my mail remotely.

    Is there a PalmOS mail reader that sucks less than VersaMail?

  • I used LEDoff to make the phone not blink the LED incessantly to indicate "we get signal", but regardless of settings, it still does not turn on the LED when I have messages. Maybe this is a Sprint thing, since other people report having that work.

  • KMaps (the interface to Google Maps) kinda works, but is sloooow and a total pig (in that you have to install an entire Java runtime first). And it doesn't behave like a Palm application (e.g., no menus). It's a cute hack, but useless in the real world.

    Is there an interactive map browser that works well on small devices like this? Meaning: no Javascript perversions; pages without baroque guilding around the maps; and basic N/S/E/W/zoom links? Yahoo Maps doesn't load, and MapQuest is just totally unusable.

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42 Responses:

  1. davidglover says:

    SnapperMail is widely considered the "best" PalmOS e-mail client, but it's quite expensive.

    • ckd says:

      Depends on the version, of course. I'm using the "Enterprise" version (IMAP over SSL for incoming, SMTP-AUTH over SSL for outgoing) on my Tungsten C and love it. It's well worth the money.

      • edolnx says:

        Seconded. I am also using SnapperMail Enterprise on a Tungsten T. Does everything I want, and works reliably. It is $60, but it's $60 that I didn't regret spending.

  2. unuselessj says:

    From my experience, MSN Mobile [ http://mobile.msn.com/ ] has one of the better mobile device map and direction services. It now has a new map searching service under "beta services," but I am still not sure how accurate it is in any area. It should work with any browser available for Palm OS though.

  3. greyface says:

    When you get a call from someone not in your address book, at the end of the call it asks whether to add them, which is nice. But if you hesitate for more than ~2 seconds when deciding whether you want to do that, the phone turns off and you can't get back there again. At that point, you pretty much have to go into call history, remember the number, go to address book, and re-enter it manually. Wow, awesome.

    I have the ancient and barbaric Treo 270. But, even back in the dark ages when THAT device was built there was a "copy phone #" on-screen button in the call history UI. I'm consistently amazed at how much well used and liked UI features are removed from following versions, but it seems pretty egregious to have NO number-copying functionality.

    Failing that, is it possible to enter the call-details and highlight, "/c" (or whatever copy is on the 650) it onto the clipboard? Not that you should be forced to enter the call-details... but remembering 10 digits of phone number is kind of a pain in the tail, (which was kind of your point).

    • martling says:

      I have the slightly less ancient Treo 600. It doesn't have the feature <lj user="jwz"> describes - this appears to have been added in the 650 - but does have an "Add Contact" button appear next to "Details" in the call log when the selected call is from/to an unrecognised number. If they have actually taken this out as well as adding the new feature, they are fuckwits.

      • unwiredben says:

        No, the "Add Contact" button is still there in the Call Log screen, just highlight the number, and tap that button to create a new contacts entry.

  4. revsphynx says:

    When I had my Handspring with a Visorphone (also the Palm OS), Verichat locked up more times than I could count.

  5. purple_b says:

    you pretty much have to go into call history, remember the number, go to address book, and re-enter it manually

    1. go to the call log
    2. tap the #
    (this part is lame) it will then ask you if you want to dial it, hit cancel.
    3. choose "Add Contact"

    Another problem I have is when someone who is in your address book calls from their land/work/cell # that you don't have in your phone.
    If you do the above steps it makes a new entry, there is no way to add that # to an existing entry. The best I've been able to come up with is this.

    1. go to the call log
    2. tap the #. It will then ask you if you want to dial it, hit cancel. (still lame)
    3. hit details
    4. choose "copy phone #" you now have it in the clip board, and can go to the persons entry and paste it in to the appropriate spot.

    • wfaulk says:

      If you use the D-Pad (or whatever they call it) to select the entry, you don't have to cancel calling. And since he's talking about the most recent entry, that shouldn't be too difficult.

  6. rmitz says:

    I've been happy with ChatterEmail. They have SSL options, it's not very expensive, and I enjoy having IMAP IDLE support, so that I effectively have the same user experience as a blackberry in terms of getting email realtime.

    I did get it into a weird state by doing a lot of experimental crap, but just removing all the chatteremail related files with filez and reinstalling fixed it.

    Also, the ringer seems ear-splittingly loud to me, I assume you've turned it up and it's just all that crazy rock music making it seem quiet.

    • satmandu says:

      I would also second the Chatteremail love.

      The most recent chatteremail betas (ok, the last 20 CE betas) have had the ability to save messages to an SD card, which reduces the space used by a message in the limited onboard RAM of the device to something like 50 bytes.

      CE also uses a non Palm SSl library, which actually does background operations without crashing the device like the palm ssl library does.

      This allows hitting send on an email, and then doing something else, while CE chugs away in the background sending the message.

      I would highly highly recommend it.

    • mspong says:

      Yes, ChatterEmail rocks.

    • helter says:

      I have my chatteremail setup with imap to a spamcop address that automatically pops from my server. That way I get hassle free and spamfree email with only a few minutes of delay in most cases.

    • jwz says:

      Ok, I've got the trial versions of both Chatter and Snapper... but I can't figure out how to get Chatter to actually download any messages! It can send mail, and I can see from my pop3s server logs that it is connecting and logging in properly, but then no messages actually show up in the Inbox on the phone. What am I missing?

      • rmitz says:

        In the per-mailbox settings, (Box->Edit Mailbox->Deliver) the window for "last N days" may be what you want to change--if there are no messages within that window, it won't download them. Also, by default it will probably only download new messages, otherwise you need to hit the sync messages flag.

        Setting the options (of which there are lots, and plenty of them are useful to tweak), is probably the weakest point--it's a bit disorganized, and is set up in such a way for maximum flexibility rather than maximum ease of use. Many options are per mailbox (or at least per server). The global preferences also have a few interesting options as well.

        • jwz says:

          Yeah, it's not downloading shit, even when brand new messages are available on the server. I sent a bug log to the developer, we'll see what he makes of it.

          SnapperMail seems not-horrible, though I like the two-line small-font message display in VersaMail better. Chatter is cheaper, though. (But Versa came free with the phone, dammit...)

  7. I use Tube for some maps. Probably not exactly what you want, but it might be worth checking out.

    I have a Kyocera 7135, that came with some lame Eudora mail that only does POP3.. but it does work. I just setup some scripts server-side to make sure there's only a day's worth of email in there.. Seems I need to check out this Chattermail, that sounds like exactly what I want.

    I was playing with a PalmOS jabber client the other day, using it to interface with AIM. Acceptable for me I think. I don't like VeriChat's pricing, and I don't really need to be always able to recieve messages, so this seems an acceptable solution - though I *could* leave it online all the time too. The only real issue I have with using jabber is that you can't use your AIM buddy list easily.

  8. ex_cortana says:

    Snapper Mail is the way to go, definitely a quality app

  9. kalephunk says:

    I can't believe you put up with those crappy issues and still like the phone. Hiptop all the way.

    Regardless, Missing Sync for hiptop transfers the location field -- Treo one should, too.

    • chetfarmer says:

      I just downloaded & installed Chatter, and I'm hooked already. VersaMail is teh suck compared to this.

      And hiptops? Hiptops have been utterly crippled by providers to the point that they're little more than toys. They're all about data lock-in and virtually no actual PDA functions as compared to a Palm device. I have 300+ memos in my Treo.

      • kalephunk says:

        I have 47 notes, 200-some contacts, a ton of calendar items, etc on my hiptop, and I sync them with my mac via Missing Sync. I can also type on it with ease....

        • chetfarmer says:

          well, obviously, 300 > 47. The Hiptop interface doesn't handle that kind of volume well. It's also pretty clear if you've used both devices that the interface and functions on offer with a Palm's calendar and address book exceed that available on the hiptop despite its supposed "coolness."

          Typing for me on the Treo is just as easy as it was on the Hiptop, but mileage varies.

    • jwz says:

      I won't use a Hiptop because Danger is the phone company's bitch. I want a computer that has a phone in it, not a phone that contains only the precise applications that T-Mobile has decided in their infinite wisdom that it's ok for me to run.

      Also, T-Mobile's network is legendarily low-coverage and unreliable.

      I'm friends with one of the Hiptop developers, so I know all about the politics that made the device turn out the way it did. I think it's shame, because the physical ergonomics of the device are fantastic. But I'm always, always going to go for a platform on which third-party software is possible. (Yeah, I know I could register for the "developer" option and then be able to install ssh and a trivially tiny number of other "nonstandard" apps. That's nothing compared to what's available for open platforms.)

      Also I find the "upload everything to the mothership" model they use kind of disturbing (e.g., this gag, written long before that Paris Hilton incident.)

      • violentbloom says:

        tmobile works fine for me, far better coverage than att or att/cingular that's for sure, and the customer service is way better than all the other carriers. not that they don't all suck in some way.

        • semiclever says:

          It really depends on the area, and possibly the time. When I lived in the bay area (a year ago) T-Mobile indeed had a terrible rap. In Texas now it has great coverage.

          • brianfeldman says:

            Last month I drove from Maryland to California and back; I was pleasantly surprised by T-Mobile's coverage. I was hesitant to use them when I bought a Treo 300 and signed up last year, almost exclusively due to the possibility of bad coverage, but in the end the $20/month for unlimited GPRS won out. And wouldn't you know it I had voice coverage across probably about 90% of the US, and GPRS 75%!

            Unfortunately, yesterday, for the first time I've ever noticed, there was a serious service issue. The phone seemed like it was fine but no calls came in. Turns out the cell tower in the area was dead and that hour she was waiting outside while I was waiting for her call was enough to make us late enough for the Jimmy Eat World/Green Day show that I missed every moment of the former. Argh. Not truly T-Mobile's fault, I suppose.

      • wtfwtf_ok says:

        The ssh client is a one-time $5 and you don't need the developer kit. The only letdown is that if left idle it goes dead in just a few minutes, but I suppose there's some technical reason that they can't keep open an idle connection.

        While it's great that any software can be installed on a treo, I'm not sure what else I need after nicely done email, AIM, pretty good browser, ssh client, calendar, yadda, and a camera. It's all fairly well executed and works well together, with a consistent interface.

        Oh, and when you email a picture it actually includes a jpg in the email as an attachment, unlike Sprint (are they still doing this?) which sends a url to a page where the picture can be viewed.

        I have not had any problems with T-mobile's network. In fact I decided to get a sidekick after sshing to my home computer on my ladyfriend's new sidekick from the middle of nowhere on top of a mountain in Utah.

        While the mothership probably has pictures of my penis now, I'm not Paris Hilton so nobody really cares. I have mixed feelings about the mothership uploading, as one could imagine. On the one hand it was really nice to enter all the phone numbers from my old phone using the web interface and have them magically show up on the device and also to never have to worry about backing up, but on the other hand is my penis.

        • jwz says:

          Well, for example, the mail reader that came with my phone isn't working very well. Treo: I've got at least 2 other things to try. Hiptop: sorry. Maybe all the software on the Hiptop is already the best imaginable, but my experience with computers does not lead me to expect that.

          I entered all my phone numbers in the address book I was using already and they just showed up on the phone, which was plenty magical for me.

          If you send a picture in a text message, it uploads it to sprint and sends a URL (because, I guess, what else are they gonna do in 200 bytes) but you can also send it to an email address as a real attachment.

          "First they came for Paris Hilton's penis, and I did nothing..."

      • geoff says:

        i hada Danger T-Mobile sk2 back in May and returned it.. here's why

  10. n3nbb says:

    When I checked into the location field not being transferred by Missing Sync I was told it's because Apple's conduit (which Missing Sync uses) doesn't transfer that bit of data, along with several others, despite them being present on both sides.

    • jwz says:

      So you're saying that Location doesn't transfer even if you do buy Missing Sync?

      It's good to know that <lj user="kalephunk">'s "it works fine with Missing Sync on my Hiptop" non-sequitur was as meaningless as I had assumed it to be.

      If Missing Sync doesn't replace the Apple conduit, I can't imagine why anyone would find it useful for anything at all. Maybe their entire business model is "you used to need this on OS9, so why not buy it again anyway..."

      • n3nbb says:

        I bought it on someone's recommendation, and it does have a few useful features (mounting the SD card on your computer during a sync, providing a desktop memo interface, etc.) although I woulnd't be surprised if they could be replaced for free.

        The limit seems to be Apple's conduit, and I'm almost finding it annoying enough to look into what it takes to write a replacement.

  11. gregv says:

    Yahoo Maps doesn't load for you? I've used it a few times in Blazer. It's even nice having the optimized mode to see the whole thing and the wide mode for more legibility.

    The thing that doesn't work is tapping on the map to move it. I have to use the N/S/E/W arrows which is painfully slow as it requires an entire page reload every step.

    Maybe it's a firmware issue with whatever carrier you're using? (They put out CDMA and GSM updates separately. I'm using Sprint CDMA.) I don't know why else it wouldn't work for you.

    • jwz says:

      Hmm, the last time I tried, it was redirecting to somewhere that doesn't exist. It's loading now, though (and advising me to upgrade from Netscape 4.0!) but it's still pretty fuckin' unusable, even in wide-page mode...

  12. packetslave says:

    You shouldn't need to pop the battery to reset the Treo. When you open the battery compartment, there's a tiny little recessed button to the left of the battery (left as you're looking at the back of the phone). Press it with a pen or the stylus and you soft reset.

    Still a pain, but you've got the back open anyway and it's less annoying than prying the battery out and popping it back in.

  13. yozlet says:

    For giving your ringer more oomph: Volume Care can boost your speaker (and other) volume.

    For LED behaviour: Butler has always done the trick for me.

    For maps: Vindigo stores a pretty usable SF map, with lots of extras (bars, restaurants, cinema times etc.)

    All of the above are payware, but none more than about $25 (Vindigo is $2/month)

  14. akosut says:

    Mark/Space released The Missing Sync for Palm OS 5.0 yesterday. For Tiger, it includes new conduits to sync with Address Book and iCal that replace the iSync conduits. I have confirmed that on my Treo 650, it properly syncs the location field, syncs iCal calendars with Palm calendar categories, and syncs Address Book user pictures. It still doesn't properly sync events spanning multiple days (my other pet peeve about the iSync conduit), but it's a huge improvement.