Treo 700w Review: Part 1
I’ve now had the opportunity to play around with my Treo 700w for a little over a week and I’m slowly getting a sense of what it can do and how well and easy (or bad and complicated) it is to use on a daily basis.
First I must state that I have no previous experience whatsoever with Windows Mobile or Pocket PC devices and so I will be unable to compare the performance of the Treo 700w to competing devices powered by this OS. Instead I will be using my beloved Treo 650 running PalmOS as the benchmark for evaluating the forthcoming Treo 700w.
My intention is not to write about “the battle of the OS’” pitching PalmSource against Microsoft but to evaluate both pragmatically and neutrally. It is evident that some Treonauts will categorically prefer either PalmOS or Windows Mobile without much consideration for performance and usability while others will carefully weigh the pros and cons of each to decide which Treo to purchase. There is no doubt that both the Treo 650 and Treo 700w have unique pros and cons that will each be more or less appealing to different Treonauts and as you’ll discover in my review the ‘perfect’ solution combining the best of both worlds is still not in sight.
Below are the main areas of performance and usability of the Treo 700w that I will be taking a closer look at and review in the coming days:
- Synchronization (Microsoft ActiveSync 4.1)
- Today (Home screen)
- Phone (Calls, Speed Dial)
- Email (part of Messaging)
- Browser (Internet Explorer)
- SMS and MMS (part of Messaging)
- Pictures & Videos
- Windows Media Mobile (Movies, Music, TV, Streaming Audio & Video)
- Word, Excel and PowerPoint Mobile
- Pocket MSN (Messenger, Hotmail)
- Verizon Wireless Sync
In this first part of my review I will be taking you through my experiences with the Synchronization and Today functions. Additionally, in parentheses I have added my opinion of how each function compares to our Treo 650.
1. Synchronization with Microsoft ActiveSync 4.1 (Better)
Installing ActiveSync on my PC was done in a few minutes and after following the simple instructions and setting my preferences (I chose to sync my Outlook Contacts, Calendar, Tasks and Notes leaving out the email, IE Favorites, Files and Media options) I was ready to sync my Treo for the first time using either my existing Seidio Retractable Sync & Charge cable or the standard Treo 650 cradle.
There are a number of things that I particularly liked about ActiveSync such as the fact that it syncs in the background without the annoying, distracting and even stressful Hotsync progress windows that appear on screen under PalmOS – I could easily keep working without noticing that a sync was in progress.
Additionally, the Explore button in ActiveSync easily allows me to view, add or delete files on my Treo 700w. Similarly, you can also access the files on any SD card inserted in the Treo 700w so that it becomes a useful USB card reader – I really love this and wish that it was available out of the box in our Treo 650 instead of having to use a third party program such as Softick Card Export II.
Under Tools there is also an option to quickly Add/Remove Programs and perhaps more importantly was the very cool finding that once your Treo 700w is connected to your PC it can automatically share its Internet connection saving you from having to use data minutes if you don’t happen to have an unlimited wireless data plan (it’s kind of the same setup that I use with reverse BT DUN on my Treo 650 but much, much easier).
2. Today (Better)
There is much to like about the Treo 700w’s Today screen even if it could be considered to be somewhat cluttered with too much information if you decide to add all of the options that you can have which include: Lookup Field (Type name or number), Date, Speed Dial (Text + Picture), Owner Info, Messaging, Tasks, Web Search, Pocket MSN, Calendar and Picture. I personally chose to add everything except Owner Info and Picture (which was making my Today screen run extremely slow…).
As on the Treo 650, typing any character will automatically start a Contacts search. However, the Treo 700w has a few minor but neat additions such as the fact that the contacts begin to appear in a pop up (see below) within the Lookup Field and that it also has a smart feature which allows it to determine whether you are trying to dial a number (below right) or search a contact. Unfortunately, as with the Treo 650 you can only perform a First or Last Name search and not a Company which I find annoying on both devices.
Next is the Speed Dial section which offers you the option of dialing via either Picture or Text as well as a Quick Key for any existing or new contact that you want.
Below this I have added the Email and Tasks which I can access via either the 5Way button or simply with my thumb on the screen to open each respective application.
One function of the Today screen which I particularly like and which immediately makes the most of its high speed data connection is the Web Search box in which you type anything then hit the return key to see a couple of seconds later your query results from Google… very neat.
I haven’t yet properly setup my MSN account and so I will have to slightly skim this part but I can quickly tell you that the icons for the MSN butterfly, house, messenger and mail respectively open 1) an MSN jump page; 2) the MSN Mobile web page in IE Mobile; 3) MSN Messenger and 4) your Hotmail account. Any existing MSN user will undoubtedly be absolutely delighted to see such a tight integration on the Treo 700w.
I can also tell you as a bit of a preview that I was able to follow a link here from WindowsMedia.com which allowed me to perfectly stream both TV and video on the Treo 700w…
Lastly I have my Calendar function at the very bottom of the Today screen which like the Email and Task will take me to the application with either the 5Way or my thumb on the screen.
I hope that this will have given you a good overview of how ActiveSync and Today work with the Treo 700w and how it compares to the Treo 650. Also, even though I write that I consider both these functions to be ‘Better’ overall than the similar ones under PalmOS in our Treo 650 there are nonetheless other ones which I will review in the coming days that are definitely not so.
UPDATE: Treo 700w Review Part 2 is now available.
UPDATE: The Treo 700w is now available to purchase from the Treonauts Shop for only $299.00 (after mail-in rebate and 2 years new voice & data account).
Treonauts always take a close look at things…