Still very pleased with the Treo 650. I can read my mail on it, the web browser is not bad, and I found a very good Tetris. I still require some Lazyweb action, however:

  • I have yet to figure out how to convert an MP3 file to a ringtone that will work on the Treo. Please advise:

    • What format does the Treo want its ringtones in?

    • How do I make one of those from a WAV or MP3?

    • How do I then get that file into the phone?

    • Answer: cdavies has the goods on converting WAV to AMR! It's a hassle, but it works.

  • It takes eight minutes to hotsync (over bluetooth) even when nothing has changed. Is that normal? (Because it's not exactly "reasonable").

      Answer: "Bluetooth sucks, use USB." 45 seconds.
  • Apparently the function of the LED on the phone is "blink constantly when the phone is on". that's useless (and distracting, when it's sitting on my desk). I want the LED to blink when I have voicemail or SMS, and to be off otherwise. How do I do that?

      ½ Answer: 1) upgrade firmware; 2) then there's a preference in the Phone app to not blink the LED. I think it still doesn't light up when there is voicemail, though, which is still dumb.

      ½ Answer #2: LEDoff will also turn the LED off, if you don't want to upgrade the firmware. It also claims to be able to turn the LED on for voicemail, but that doesn't work on my phone.

  • I have yet to find an AIM client for the phone that fails to suck. I want it to be always connected; pop up SMS-like notifications when new messages come in; and allow simultanious connection to AIM along with the copy of Adium running on my desktop. (Yes, this is possible. You can have concurrent AIM logins from different computers with Adium and GAIM, but not with iChat or with any of the PalmOS AIM clients I've tried).

      ½ Answer: Apparently Verichat has a preference to not kick you off your other AIM connections, and it seems to be a pretty reasonable AIM client (though it has caused my phone to lock up hard several times). However, they not only charge you for the software, they also charge a yearly subscription fee, which is just absurd.

As always, please only answer if you know the answer. I'm never interested in your guesses.

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57 Responses:

  1. poincaraux says:

    Butler (from will do what you want for the LED.

    • poincaraux says:

      Actually, I wasn't reading so carefully earlier .. I know that Butler will do what you want for voicemail, but I have no idea what it does with SMS. Neither I nor my friends use SMS. The Butler documentation says it does the right thing, but I've never tried it.

      • shaddai says:

        Works great for SMS, although (at least on my Treo 600 on SprintPCS) the "change status light on voicemail" doesn't work anymore. The attention grabber still functions, oddly enough.

  2. davidglover says:

    Natively, the Treo will only play ringtones in AMR and MIDI formats, and I don't believe it supports the addition of user-created ringtones. You'll need to buy Ringo Pro if you want MP3 ringtones.

    Bluetooth hotsync is very slow, yes. It's slightly faster if you use Missing Sync - but the best solution is just plug the cable in.

    For AIM, the newly released Mundu 3 is what you want.

    • doesn't support the addition of user-created WAV-based ringtones, or user-created ringtones at all?

      can you reasonably import MIDI files?

      • davidglover says:

        As far as I'm aware, "at all". If you can, it's not obviously documented.

      • keimel says:

        I've always just downloaded MIDI files from whatever website I saw them at. If I was having trouble navigating to that site, I'd put the midi into my website and download from there.

        The Treo has always just recognized the .mid files, stored them, and made them available to me as ring tones. There is a size limit, but I do not remember it. Exceeding the size limit on the 600 crashed it very hard. I have no exceeded any limit on the 650 yet. Perhaps a thing to do tomorrow. :)

        Not sure if this answers your 'reasonably import midi files' question, as I was unsure of hte source and destination in your question. Still, I hope it might help you.

  3. lohphat says:

    Make sure you're running the latest firmware beofre you start loading up on apps and data. The stock MMU code had too large a block size and mem was wasted. Head to and find if there's an update for your carrier.

    • zonereyrie says:

      Seconded - I did the Cingular update yesterday and went from nearly full to having close to 9MB available. The block size was WAY too big. And the update patched a number of other things too.

  4. ninjarat says:

    Slow sync over Bluetooth is normal -- and worse on my T5 (same architecture as Treo650) because it has several times the storage capacity of Treo650. No real way to fix it because of the relatively low bandwidth and high latency of Bluetooth networks.

  5. unwiredben says:

    Depending on the software load on your Treo (make sure you've got the most recent update for your type), you should have a setting in the Phone application under Menu/Options/General Preferences called "Blink green LED when in coverage". Turn that setting off.

    As for ringtones... the browser will let you download MIDI files with a .mid extension and install those directly as ringtones. To get an uncompressed WAV file installed, the easiest way is to email it yourself then open the WAV file as an attachment on the phone. Hotsync isn't registered for them, but the internal phone app is and programs that use the Exchange Manager will let you register WAV files with the phone app.

    • davidglover says:

      There's no "Blink green LED" option on my generic GSM Treo 650.

      • unwiredben says:

        The option is in the current Sprint Treo software, but since this is actually controlled by the radio module, not the Palm OS software, the implementation isn't the same across GSM and CDMA versions. I think this will be in a future GSM software release, but I can't make any promises.

      • lohphat says:

        I have an unlocked GSM Treo 650. To get more control over the LED use LED Off.

  6. boggyb says:

    My recollection of a Palm over a serial port is that they take their time to synchronize, even if nothing's changed, mainly because the last part of the process is a backup of the databases. Bluetooth probably excerbates the problem due to the added delays and overhead. The only way of speeding things up would be to use USB. Serial and IrDA woud probably give about the same throughput as Bluetooth, although serial has lesss delays.

    Flashing LEDs are not limited to the Treo, as (Sony) Ericsson cellphones do that as well. It's never bothered me, as my phone's (a pre-Sony T39m) way of signalling is to flash the light faster and flash the backlight as well. Each to their own.

    BTW, there's a nice collection of freeware available for PalmOS. Some of the stuff I've come across includes a GameBoy emulator (needs a reasonably beefy Palm), a TV remote, and a rather nice space invaders-type game. Might still have these kicking around somewhere, if you're intrested (I've always had a soft spot for Palm-type systems).

    • spc78 says:

      Jesus, now I know why I got rid of my palm based smart phones, and switched to a simple bluetooth phone with a calendar and contacts list. My SE T608 syncs with iCal and the Mac address book in about 30 to 90 seconds max (over bluetooth even!). Granted the process occasionally shits on itself, but that's because Sprint and SE rushed the T608 to market, and SE now refuses to support it.

  7. deificar says:

    I'm still standing by Verichat. I can even give it to you if you'd like.

    • jwz says:

      I tried it briefly -- it kicks my desktop AIM connection off. And even if it didn't, there's no fuckin' way I'm paying a yearly subscription fee for a chat program.

      • deificar says:

        Oh wow, I didn't realize it had a yearly fee. I thought at the worst it was a pay once type thing. The fact that it kicks your desktop client off is a little weird though; I always get a message from the "system manager" telling me I'm signed on from multiple locations, but I can still maintain a connection from all of them. There isn't anyway of avoiding that part though, so I just created a new account specifically for my phone.

      • davidglover says:

        For the benefit of those who might not mind the yearly fee, to allow multiple connections, in Verichat:

        Options - Preferences - Miscellaneous - "Allow simultaneous logins"

      • hermeticseal says:

        by the way, does leaving verichat running all the time monopolize the radio? i.e. will you miss calls if you are logged in to AIM with verichat, or does it eventually give up the radio? i know that i miss calls occasionally while chatter is doing its thing.

        • mspong says:

          Yes, but it has an option to not do so and just do some trickiness using SMS instead of a regular network connection.

          This is only a problem on Sprint's network, though. On Cingular/Verizon/etc, calls will take precedence over the network connection and will still get through even if you're actively transmitting data.

          • More to the point, this is a problem for cell networks that are not "3G". (It's not a problem with GSM/GPRS phones because the data traffic doesn't travel on the same connection as the voice traffic. Verizon is some other digital network--do I mean CDMA, maybe?--of which this is also true. Sprint is still, just, Sprint.)

  8. cdavies says:

    Here's how to get a ringtone from an mp3. Use sox to get the audio in to one word samples, 1 channel 8000 samples RAW audio (sox command line -r 8000 -w -c 1).

    This part works on Linux, I hope it works on your mac too. Get the AMR-NB reference implementation from Unzip the source, and open the makefile. From the cflags remove pedantic, add -DMMS_IO. make the source. Use the resulting encoder executable to encode the raw file you created earlier. With this command line:

    encoder -dtx MR122 out.amr

    Transfer it to your phone with bluetooth or email or whatever, it should just recognise it as a ringtone. If you're impatient and want to make sure it works, here's the ringtone I'm currently using on my Nokia 9500, Dueling Banjos.

    • jwz says:

      Awesome, thanks! It took some hacking to get that code to compile on Linux, but I made it work. It died early on OSX, so I didn't try too hard there.

      • hermeticseal says:

        if you grab the latest version of the stuff at the above link and give -D__sun__ it will compile on OSX (10.3.9 anyway) with no problems... and it works, i successfully made a ringtone with my powerbook yesterday.

        also when using quicktime to convert mp3 (or whatever) to raw, you need to export as AIFF, 8-bit mono.

    • jwz says:

      FWIW, someone mailed me and said that Nokia Multimedia Converter 2.0 is another way to create .AMR files, but I haven't tried it, as I lead a blissfully Windows-free existence.

      • cdavies says:


        My mac based friends tell me that the pretty mac GUI version of FFMPEG can be compiled with AMR support, but since that uses the same AMR code from the reference implementation, you may be sceptical about this. I don't have a Mac so I really have no clue what works and what doesn't.

        • valentwine says:

          I do not have a Treo, but I do have a Mac and ffmpegX installed, a GUI frontend for open source AV transcoding on OS X. That software ships with AMR narrowband as a supported target. Get it here for free and use your OS X GUI instead of your Linux box to make ringtones:

          It is nagware, but it seems to only nag when you open the application, not while you're using it and it doesn't do anything obnoixous like insert things into your video or audio stream.


          • cdavies says:

            Ewwww. I don't know which is sleasier, a nagware front end for free software, or a peice of software that distributes the reference implementation of a patented codec without paying the license fee and charges money for it.

            Someone sue this guy immediately.

    • dossy says:

      This is strange ... I can download .wav's to my Cingular GSM Treo 650 and set them up as ringtones just fine. I tried converting to .amr and everything went fine, but the phone didn't seem to recognize it as a ringtone?

      Still, thanks for the pointers to the reference implementation of the AMR-NB codec.

      • tendyl says:

        I have a new Treo 650 and downloaded a .wav for a ringtone; one problem - how the heck to I get my Treo to find this as a ringtone? i.e. where do I need to save it? I'm not being very geeky riht now.

        • dossy says:

          I published the .wav to a HTTP server of mine, and accessed the URL to the .wav using the built-in Blazer web browser on the Treo 650. It prompts you to save the file to either "Save to: Sounds / Card". Select "Sounds" ... it won't use ringtones off the external SD card.

          Once you've saved it, go to the launcher and into "Preferences" then "Sound & Alerts". Select Application "Phone" and in the "Volume / Tones" selection, select "Tones". If you try to change the ringtone, your newly downloaded ringtone should be included in the list.

          Looking at the internal memory using FileZ, the ringtones are named "Ton-FILENAME" based on FILENAME.wav. FileZ says "Type: WAVf", "Creator: HsTo".

          Hope this helps! Let me know if you still can't get it working.

          (I don't recall what bitrate/etc. the .wav file has to be, or if there's any kind of requirement/limitation.)

  9. Although the first Tiger iChat client broke concurrent logins the 10.4.2 update fixed it. Works great.

  10. zonereyrie says:

    One thing you can do to speed up HotSync is disable any crap you don't really need. Yes, I know it is obvious, but worth mentioning - some of the optional software can really bog down the sync. I've installed Adobe Reader and Documents To Go, but by default I have them set to 'Do Nothing' in HotSync manager. I've also set the mail clients to 'Do Nothing' by default, since if I'm going to access email I'm probably going to do it wirelessly anyway.

    You could also set 'Backup' to 'Do Nothing' and save some time - but make sure you do the backup periodically, just in case.

    • wilecoyote says:

      Off-topic, and sorry for hijacking the thread, but: how does Adobe Reader for Palm deal with images in PDFs? I am considering buying a PDA, and this is one of the factors that I'm considering. (From what I've seen, there is a PDF -> Palm converter, but does it work well with embedded images in PDFs?)

      • zonereyrie says:

        I haven't noticed any problems, but, honestly, I haven't made heavy use of it either. If there is some document you'd like me to check out just point me at it and I'll try it.

  11. brianenigma says:

    1. I despise ringtones and always have my Treo on silent, but if you want MP3 ringtones, Make Magazine's online version recently had an article which points to a non-free app, LightWav that will let you use MP3, OGG, etc. It does this through some kind of system extension hackery because out of the box, it only works with MIDI files (which you can install with the built-in web browser, if you point it to a web server that has the correct content type for MIDI files.)

    2. Are you using the official Palm Desktop or a third-party synchronization program. I do not remember how fast the original Palm Desktop app syncs over bluetooth, but The Missing Sync is really quite good about detecting deltas and only sending changes over the link--much less than 8 minutes of sync time for basic synchronizations. Keep in mind, though, that the way it backs up freshly installed applications is a little screwy. If you install an app during a sync, then do absolutely nothing with the Palm, then sync again...well, the app then makes a "round trip" by returning back to the PC for backup. It would seem more intelligent for them to do an instant backup of the *.PRC when the initial installation sync is made, but they don't do that for some reason.

    3. Others have recommended Butler, but I have no personal experience with the app.

    4. You may have to break down and get VeriChat. I noted in a previous response, you said that logging in from multiple machines did not work for you, but I can assure you that it really does work. Maybe they disable that in the demo version? The yearly fee they are charging now sucks--I managed to sign up when they were offering both the yearly thing and a lifetime subscription and took advantage of the latter. I wish you luck in your search for a free client that works for you, but my experience with the Palm (your mileage may vary) is that 99% of the free software is free because it is written by someone learning the platform and is usually substandard code.

    • lohphat says:

      Problem is that there is no protected memory access and memory leaks from poorly written apps can wedge the damn thing tighter than jwz', um...code. Mmm...reset loops.

      • zenspider says:

        This might not be news to you but:

        #*ERR[dial] = show what app was the last to crash the phone. It took me a while to find this and realize that agendus was a flaming dog turd. Once I removed it everything was stable.

  12. you have a phone with an actual display that works??



  13. LEDoff does what you want with the blinking, and is free. It works perfectly on my 600, and the page claims that it works on the 650 too.

  14. rmitz says:

    Ooh, what tetris did you find?

  15. mspong says:

    Well, I got fed up with my Treo and sold it a few weeks ago (still waiting for a smartphone that doesn't suck, and a PalmOS-based one just isn't gonna cut it in this day and age). But I did have mine for 4 or 5 months and learned stuff the hard way (I wrote up a post on my blog about the apps I ended up settling on).

    Anyway. For mp3 ringtones, I used Lightwav, which works fine (and since it plays through PocketTunes, it also supports wav, wma, and even ogg).

    To speed up Bluetooth syncing, I used Missing Sync and turned off the "full backup" option. Without that, it syncs much much faster (although I usually did a full backup once a week or so).

    For LED controls, you can use Butler, although it's a pretty buggy and annoying program. I just learned to deal with the blinking.

    For AIM, Verichat is the best PalmOS client, but like you said, they charge a subscription fee. Most US cell providers have SMS to AIM gateways, though. There are (provider-specific) numbers you can send SMS's to which will do things like log onto AIM, log out, query your online buddies list, send an SMS to a person, block somebody, and so on. Google to find these numbers for your specific provider.

    • raindrift says:

      FWIW, if you've disabled the "full backup" option on sync, you can use a program like Backup Buddy to make scheduled backups to an SD card instead. It's especially handy if you're travelling and won't be able to sync for a while.

    • tiff_seattle says:

      The Samsung I730 doesn't suck, but it's kinda pricey. I think the Treo would be a wonderful device if only Palm had a decent QA department. Those things simply break down way too often.

  16. citizenx says:

    But I seem to recall something about that's just the way it works with shitty AIM connection when I was using a Cliè, and that's not too different from a Treo (excepting the no phone thing). Consequently, I did not use AIM on it. It was pointless.

    Also, speaking of ringtones.

  17. unwiredben says:

    The subscription fee for Verichat covers the cost of them running their servers -- the Verichat client doesn't connect directly to AIM, it connects to their server which maintains your presence on the different chat systems. This means that you don't have to keep a constant connection running from the phone to their server. The application can work in a few different modes; it can wake up periodically and check the server to see if there are new IMs or it can be pushed "wakeup messages" over SMS that causes it to fetch the new data from their service.

    If the app did all the work, the annual subscription would be ridiculous, but since you're actually using a network service that requires ongoing work on the vendor's part, it doesn't bother me that much.