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Moving to Windows Mobile Treo Pro

A Closer Look at my Move to Palm’s $549 Treo Pro & Associated Windows Mobile 6.1 Experiences

Windows Mobile Palm Treo

“I tried Windows Mobile a few years ago and it truly sucked.”

I found the above comment while reading some news online and I have to admit that it quite adequately describes how I also used to feel about the Windows Mobile operating system BEFORE I got my hands on Palm’s new Treo Pro and decided to make it my preferred everyday smartphone.

I am not now going to claim that Windows Mobile is the greatest operating system that I have ever come across but I have nonetheless been able to experience the fact that it’s actually quite a fast and powerful platform (particularly for the business market) – one that has become increasingly “friendlier” thanks to a number of Microsoft enhancements and many third-party solutions.  I would basically describe Windows Mobile as a good “shell” on which an increasing number of great applications are running.

In sharp contrast to previous WM versions that had some good and many rubbish features, Windows Mobile 6.1 manages to deliver quite a few great features and only some poor ones – a positive balance that now actually makes using your Treo Pro or Treo 800w smartphone on a daily basis rather efficient, productive and even fun.

In my particular case, as I’ve mentioned previously, it is important to point out that that it was not Windows Mobile software that attracted me to the Treo Pro but instead it was the Treo Pro hardware that attracted me to Windows Mobile. 

Palm’s latest smartphone thus stands as the perfect example that, like me, most people will often be swayed by great hardware design first and the operating system second.  I believe that this partly explains why Palm has lost so much market share over the last couple of years with a collection of uninspiring device designs in the face of the iPhone and BlackBerry.

Although I clearly still have some way to go before I can claim to be a Windows Mobile expert I nonetheless feel that after a couple of weeks I have managed to get a very good grip on this OS – a growing knowledge that helps to enhance my overall experience on a daily basis.  Having said this, below is a list of the Top 5 Windows Mobile software features that have thus far made the greatest impression on me:

Top 5 Windows Mobile Features (Treo Pro)

  1. Today Screen + UI Look & Feel
    There is no doubt that the Today Screen is one of the most unique and useful features of Windows Mobile.  I love the way that you can get so much done quickly without any further clicks from this screen alone.  Standard Today plug-ins such as Windows Live Search & Messenger, Google Search, Messaging, Tasks and Calendar make it ultrafast to look up information and view or modify daily activities.  Also, a new Comm Manager allows you to quickly control your Phone, Bluetooth, WiFi, Microsoft Direct Push and Data Connection.

    Today Screen Comm Manager

    Additionally, thanks to third-party software such as my preferred and essential Spb Mobile Shell you can add even more plug-ins such as an application Launcher, Clock, Weather and Fast Dial among others.

    Perhaps even more importantly is the fact for me that Windows Mobile has now actually become “rather nice to look at” with very rich graphics and complex animations which actually make it feel extremely fun and modern to interact with on a daily basis.
  2. Making & Receiving Calls
    Sometimes people forget to really pay attention to the “phone” portion of a smartphone.  Thankfully this is not the case with the Treo Pro as it is the first Windows Mobile smartphone from Palm that offers a new “Smartdial” screen (quickly accessed by simply pressing the green button) from which you can make a call within seconds by just typing the first few letters of a Contact’s first or last name.  

    Windows Mobile - Smartdial Windows Mobile - Phone

    Considering that I have over 1,800 Contacts it’s obvious that I need to find and dial these as quickly as possible and the Treo Pro does a great job on this front (albeit it does not have Search-by-Company which is dumb).

    Additionally, when using a Bluetooth Headset I was impressed to find out that when you answer a call by pressing the button on your smartphone the call smartly does not get routed to your BT headset.  Only when you answer the call from your headset does it actually route the audio there – very smart.
  3. Web Browsing
    Combined with ultrafast 3G data connectivity or WiFi, Pocket Internet Explorer provides a pretty good but rather slow mobile browsing experience.  It also lack strong multimedia support but for the most part I am able to easily access any content while on the go in an environment that looks and feels good.

    Opera Mobile 9.5 Skyfire Browser

    More importantly, although they are not part of Windows Mobile, the fact that there are three other excellent and ultrafast mobile browser alternatives which render webpages almost 100% as they would on your PC and provide full audio and video support plus are available for your smartphone at no additional cost is certainly a huge bonus – you have the stunning Opera Mobile 9.5 (screenshot above left), Skyfire browser (above right) and also Torch Mobile’s new Iris Browser.

    Therefore, the option of having not one but _four_ browsers on your Treo Pro smartphone gives you all the options that you’ll need for a superb mobile web browsing experience.
  4. Microsoft ActiveSync
    Although ActiveSync is not without flaws I love the way that I can quickly and easily Explore the contents of both my smartphone and its storage card to copy, paste or modify files as it is recognised as a “mass storage device”. 

    Microsoft ActiveSync

    The main thing is that compared to my previous Palm Centro I no longer need to remove the memory card every time I want to change or add a file.  Thanks to the SPE S&C Cable connected to my Treo Pro and PC I simply drag and drop those files I need on the go.
  5. MS Office Compatibility
    It’s clear that most business professionals will be delighted to have the full suite of Office Mobile (including Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Word as well as Adobe PDF Reader) bundled on their Windows Mobile Treo Pro smartphone.

    Excel Mobile Adobe Reader

    Not only are you able to synchronize and edit files from your PC as well as create new ones on your device but perhaps even more importantly you’ll be able to view any email attachments thanks to having these applications installed from the start on your smartphone.

    Separately, it’s evident that also having your Contacts, Calendar, Messaging, Notes and Tasks sync with Microsoft Outlook on your PC or via Microsoft Direct Push is rather convenient and essential.  In this respect, thanks to PocketMirror Professional I have also _finally_ managed to get more than 15 Outlook folders to sync with my smartphone (a Palm OS limitation that always bothered me).

My selection of Windows Mobile features above is but a small sample of the rather vast experience that a smartphone such as the Treo Pro can offer and over the coming weeks and months I will naturally continue to explore and share many more of these with you.

In the meantime, if you haven’t already been to Palm to buy your own Treo Pro below you’ll find 10 very good reasons to do so now…

Top 10 Reasons To Get Your Treo Pro

  1. Ultraslim & Ultrasleek Form-Factor & Stunning Design Treo Pro Top Marks
  2. Full QWERTY Keyboard + High Resolution 320x320 Flush Touchscreen Treo Pro Top Marks
  3. Built-in WiFi (802.11 b/g with WPA, WPA2, 801.1x authentication) Treo Pro Top Marks
  4. Built-in GPS (Standalone and Asssisted GPS) Treo Pro Top Marks
  5. High-Speed Wireless Data (3G HSDPA, UMTS, EDGE) Treo Pro Top Marks
  6. It’s a Palm Smartphone Treo Pro Top Marks
  7. Dedicated Silent Ringer Switch Button Treo Pro Top Marks
  8. Standard 5 Hours Talk Time (Up to 7 hours Continuous) Treo Pro Top Marks
  9. Dedicated WiFi On/Off Button Treo Pro Top Marks
  10. Windows Mobile Professional 6.1 Treo Pro Top Marks

Treonauts are always looking for new experiences


Posted by Andrew on September 30, 2008 at 08:16 PM

Treo Windows Mobile

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Comments

1
by floyd | Sep 30, 2008 11:34:08 PM

The problem with Palm is the price of their phone and windows mobile. Is there really that much difference of WinMo running on a HTC device than a Treo? There are a lot of smartphones that offer the same but at a cheaper price. Palm should create a Palm OS version of the Treo Pro for $249. I would ditch my HTC touch in a heartbeat.

2
by cel0202 | Oct 1, 2008 1:24:41 AM

Did they fix the following: When using Mobile Outlook for IMAP and/or with direct push, does it mark the messages as "replied" or "forwarded"? Previous Mobile Outlook versions did not do so and applications such as Flexmail and ChatterMail (VersaMail alternative on Palm OS) were the only ones that marked messages as "replied" or "forwarded" properly with the proper icon. Can someone shed some light? Thanks!

3
by Martin Egholm | Oct 1, 2008 3:10:48 AM

My biggest concern regarding a Windows device is based on my experience with an old version (on an iPaq) and my friends' HTC devices - namely the Calendar integration - it was so lousy and slow.

On my Palm I have DateBk6, and a hotkey for almost everything - one for launching, changing view, creating new appointments, etc. I don't need no stylus and it is extremely fast!

As I see it Windows CE/Mobile is more an OS with some hard/slow to launch applications, whereas Palm devices are the opposite - it's a dedicated PIM device that just happens to have an OS underneath.

In my eyes the PIM applications come in the first place, the device's look and feel in second...

How is your experience with the Treo Pro? Is it shiny Windows Mobile with Palm logo on, or is it a Palm running Windows Mobile?

BR,
Egholm

4
by Andrew | Oct 1, 2008 7:41:37 AM

Floyd - I have yet to find another WM smartphone that has anywhere near the good looks of the Treo Pro and its combination of front keyboard and touchscreen so I would argue that it definitely offers terrific value (also with the fact that it's unlocked).

I can't disagree with you that if Palm were to release a Treo Pro running Palm OS (albeit without WiFi or GPS) at a reasonable price even I might be rather tempted by this.

Cel202 - I don't yet know if this has been fixed but I'll look into it.

Martin - I can't say that I particularly like WM's PIM applications but they work and perfectly integrate with the MS Office environment. As you have done on Palm OS there are nonetheless quite a few third-party applications that replace it and do an excellent job (such as Agendus and Pocket Informant 8).

Overall I would say that the Treo Pro is foremost a Palm smartphone that is running Windows Mobile. It's true that most of the Palm enhancements on this device are hardware related but the WM 6.1 software plus enhancements is also very good.

Cheers, A.

5
by Abhi-J | Oct 1, 2008 8:48:54 AM

Ok - read your review and its a great indicator of whats on offer but-

I have a Treo 750, and my dad has a HTC Touch Dual. Firstly, The best part about the 750 is that I never have to take out my stylus or use the touch screen much - even though its WinMo 6! On the Treo Pro, I don't see dedicated menu buttoms for the bottom functions of the screen - I think these come in pretty handy on the 750. So I guess a Treo Pro user will be touching the screen quite often on the bottom side. Secondly, the call-from-today option is an HTC application in the Treo Pro. However, The palm extension on the Treo 750 works in a seamless way - just type in a few letters, and you see all contacts and their numbers - then press the green button on whatever you want and you're done. On my dad's HTC, I have to type in the letters, then SELECT the contact with the down arrow, and then press the green button. If it works in the same way on the Treo Pro, then this would be quite a compromise from Palm - since they make a user friendly phone first, and a pda second.

I know that the differences are not major for a first-time user, but for a Treo 750 user who wants to upgrade, it seems as if 2 major features might be missing on the Treo Pro.

BR,

Abhi-J

6
by Bruce Iwasaki | Oct 1, 2008 11:15:35 AM

Andrew: I've had a Treo since the 180, and have a 680 now. I am interested in the Pro, but have always been a Palm OS user. I have quite an investment in e-books from Palm Digital Media on my Treo -- over 60 including all of Shakespeare. Will those be readable and usable on the Windows Mobile OS? Thanks, BI

7
by Andrew | Oct 1, 2008 11:34:37 AM

Bruce - as I posted elsewhere, the good news is that thanks to an application called StyleTap http://www.styletap.com that enables PalmOS applications to run on PocketPC hardware platforms you will still be able to use most of your existing Palm OS software on the Treo Pro - thus making a switch to this smartphone a lot easier for those like you who have made a significant investment in PalmOS applications.

I hope this helps.

Cheers, A.

8
by Ed | Oct 1, 2008 11:52:10 AM

How about Linux support? Will I be able to sync it, or at least mount is as a removable drive?

9
by proee | Oct 1, 2008 12:34:44 PM

Andrew,

Do you think you could find the time to do a video of using Windows Mobile 6.1 on the treo pro. I'd like to hear you talk through some the better feature of the OS and show the speed of applications opening, etc.

thx, Homer.

10
by Andrew | Oct 1, 2008 12:46:26 PM

Ed - sorry but I have not experience with WM and Linux so can't help you on this front.

proee - I'm definitely planning to post a video review of Windows Mobile 6.1 running on the Treo Pro as soon as I get my smartphone "sorted out" with all the applications that I need.

Cheers, A.

11
by serge | Oct 1, 2008 12:59:22 PM

Thank you for the time you took at the defence of the Windows Mobile 6.1 Experience. You'v done a nice job.
But you ended to convince me that Palm, in what I call " a self-hatred process", has stopped investing in its own child : the Palm OS, in which I had great joys and compatibility with the Mac OS software.
I do like the the feeling of the Treo "Pro" as a hardware but I will never surrender to its Windows Mobile 6.1.
As a Macintosh user I have tried many times to switch to Windows and after few weeks I rushed back to an Apple machine. You know, once you have driven on a Rolls Royce it is hard to fall dawn on a Mercedes... (Please smile ...). So I give to Palm a last chance if the Treo pro will come with a Palm software with EVERYTHING because we ( Mac users) are always "punished" by some missing elements.
Please tell me when the Palm CEO and his staff will arrive to maturity!

12
by Darlene | Oct 1, 2008 1:28:56 PM

If purchasing this phone will it work with Sprint's network. I am not familiar with unlocked devices and am not sure if you purchase this what I would need to do to get it to work with Sprint? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks

13
by Andrew | Oct 1, 2008 1:40:48 PM

Darlene - the current Treo Pro is a GSM device that will only work on GSM wireless carriers such as AT&T and T-Mobile.

Both Verizon and Sprint need CDMA devices such as Palm's current Treo 800w.

I hope this helps.

Cheers, A.

14
by Debbie Dahn | Oct 2, 2008 12:10:20 AM

Neither Sprint nor Verizon support the Treo Pro at this time. WHO DOES provide service for it?

15
by Martin Egholm | Oct 2, 2008 3:52:12 AM

Andrew,

> Martin - I can't say that I particularly like
> WM's PIM applications but they work and perfectly
> integrate with the MS Office environment. As you
> have done on Palm OS there are nonetheless quite
> a few third-party applications that replace it
> and do an excellent job (such as Agendus and
> Pocket Informant 8).

Well, I don't care much about integration to MS Office - I rather have the device being perfect on its own.
I actually used Pocket Informant back then, my self. For a while I tricked my self into believing it did just as good as my (at that period) abandoned PalmVx with DateBk. But after some months I put the device in a drawer an recharged my Palm - my 400mhz xscale (?) color device was outperformed by a 20mhz gray device.

However, it's been a while, so maybe they have converged...

Thanks Andrew,
Egholm

16
by Jack | Oct 2, 2008 10:07:21 AM

@Bruce:

I've found on my Treo 800w that eReader for WinMo still reads the the books I had purchased for my Palm OS based devices.

17
by Eddie | Oct 2, 2008 3:11:55 PM

Do you have any information when (of if) the Treo Pro will be available from Sprint. Thanks Eddie

18
by Roland | Oct 3, 2008 3:12:09 PM

What about compatibility and syncing with Mac Address Book and iCal?

19
by dmm | Oct 7, 2008 10:42:55 AM

Eddie--there are at most *rumors* that Sprint will offer the Pro. I would predict that 1) they won't before March of 2009, if at all and 2) if they do offer it, it'll be as a replacement for the 800w. As that's just extrapolation based on rumor, though, take it with plenty of salt.

Roland--I'd look to The Missing Sync...

20
by Jess Stratton | Oct 7, 2008 11:08:18 AM

I'm really bummed out that Sprint won't be carrying this until next year (if at all). I currently have the Treo 800w and have just discovered that there is no stereo headset adapter for this device that actually works, making it a $299 paperweight as I can't use it to listen to MP3s in my car.
I would definitely make your list a "Top 11" and include a 3.5mm headset jack as a HUGE plus for a Treo phone.

21
by Sean | Oct 10, 2008 10:31:06 PM

Andrew,
Thanks for all you do for us Treo fans. One question about moving from Palm OS to WM: is there a program that will convert my palm contacts and calendar into a WM format? I would hate to think that I have to re-enter all of the data.

Thx- Sean

22
by Eimy | Oct 21, 2008 10:39:20 AM

I'm really torn between buying:
1. Treo Pro (wifi,GPS) + Ipod nano 8G or 549+150=$699
2. Centro (Palm OS)+ Ipod touch 8G (wifi)300+229= $529

I do carry both with me anyway so having two devices is not going to make a difference.

On one hand Treo Pro's hardware is really appealing, and I would have everything in it, but it is WM, will I be able to keep my previous palm os content? What changes will I need?

On the other hand, the ipod touch offers a really good browsing experience, and the centro has palm os, meaning not much change for me, and if you add that it would actually be cheaper, it's a tempting offer.

Any advice?

PS. In Amazon.com the Treo Pro is $521 and if you live in florida and have Prime, that's the final price.

23
by Karen | Oct 25, 2008 11:11:53 AM

I see all the hype and expectations on the Treo Pro. I am patiently waiting to see if Verizon will even consider bringing the 800W on board.Are they waiting for the Treo Pro?? It was going to be the 800w for me until I saw the Pro!! I currently have the 700W. Can one purchase the Pro and have Verizon for the service provider?
On another note, I have become one of the victims of non-synchability! I can no longer synch my phone to the desk top. I have been looking around for solutions and have discovered this to be a very common problem. Are we Treonauts commonly making a simple error? My concern is purchasing the Pro and eventually running into the same issue!! I don't want to pay such a high price and end up with this one major glitch down the road.

24
by sheren | Feb 6, 2009 6:36:15 AM

Andrew, i just got my treo pro yesterday and even on the loudest volume setting for ongoing calls, i have a hard time hearing the other party.
is there a software that can boost the call volume? i've been googling for it and cant find one yet.
any advise is greatly appreciated.
ps. i'm moving to treo pro from treo 600 (ancient, i know, but i love my treo 600 - i just need a better camera, so i'm migrating to treo pro).

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