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Treo 600: How to leave your laptop behind

Treo 600 Sets You Free!I recently had the opportunity to exchange emails with Peter Arts during which I found out that he used his Treo 600 as a laptop replacement! I told him how awed I was by this and asked him if he would be willing to share his experiences via this blog. His absolutely brilliant article follows.  Thanks Peter!


Appreciate your interest in how I have successfully leveraged my Treo 600 in place of a laptop. If your needs mesh with the Treo's capabilities (and your carrier's bandwidth), it is a really sweet alternative to carrying all that gear/weight around all the time.

First of all, 2 caveats as to when this is not a good idea:

1) If your laptop is both your mobile and main computer. No PDA is an acceptable replacement for a situation where full computing power, multiple windows, multi-tasking, and speed-speed-speed are required. A PDA is an augmenting technology for your main PC.

2) If you travel to a lot of areas that do not have wireless infrastructure set up to support your Treo (i.e. rural areas, that don't support your wireless carrier, etc.)

Having addressed those issues, I'll now give you the Reader's Digest version of my story...

My first wireless Palm was using my Vx with OmniSky service. Very limited infrastructure, but served most of my travel areas. While there were definite compromises (small screen, grayscale, RAM usage) it was worth it to me at the time. I was working almost exclusively in NYC, and used my laptop for client/partner meetings. This meant needing to review/edit relevant documents, eMails, typing notes, etc. I was carrying a loaded laptop bag up and down the stairs of NY Subways every day. After a while, you notice that one shoulder is definitely leaning South, and your aspirin purchases have gone North. With OmniSky, Documents To Go, and a folding keyboard, I was able to handle all of my meeting needs, reduce the weight on my shoulder by several pounds, and introduce a new element of conversation into my meetings (the WOW! factor of this setup was not to be believed). Although OmniSky went out of business all too soon, the lessons were learned.

When I got a Treo 300, there were still a lot of compromises...I had to use the thumboard, slow processor, limited RAM, no expansion. However, it was do-able and worth it (especially if you used both AfterBurner hack and Quickbits together to goose the processor speed). With the introduction of the Treo 600, most of those compromises went away. The integration of functionality between wireless, PDA and phone functionality is unbelievable, and really adds to the ease of using this for portable computing. Unlike OmniSky and other ISP's, SprintPCS allows you to send messages over their network using the SMTP for your various accounts. Previously, I had to get a subscription to SMTP.com. The Blazer browser (developed by Handspring) automatically formats any website for optimal PDA viewing...eliminating the need to stick with 'PDA-friendly' sites.

I've bulleted the setup on my Treo 600 for easier viewing:

  • The folding keyboard ($49.99):  Its great, and has a connection for your Treo charger, that let's you charge while still using the keyboard. So, you can go through long meetings or online sessions without battery concerns
  • 512mb SD card ($108.99): All my attachments, music, backup files etc. go on this card
  • Power Run ($15): Let's you actually run applications from an SD card...keeps that RAM free!
  • Snapper Mail ($29.95-$59.95): This is a slick, intuitive eMail client that couples with Docs To Go or QuickOffice to handle attachments in their native format...it handles attachments up to 2mb in size. Now supports both POP and IMAP mail
  • QuickOffice ($29.95-$39.95) and Documents To Go ($29.99-$49.99): Either suite will support MS Office better then the PPC versions. Also will handle your eMail attachments, graphic files, etc. Unlike PPC, allows you to keep your files in YOUR folder of preference...not in what MS considers best
  • Arrow Launcher ($7.95): Just brilliant! Quickly find contacts by any criteria, apps, utilities, etc. Simple, elegant and powerful
  • SoundRec (Donation): Neat, free app, that lets you record voice memos on your Palm
  • Diddlebug (Free): Easy sticky notes/drawing app. Snapper Mail will let you send as an attachment. Great for phone #'s on the fly
  • Profiles (Free): Lets you to take 'snapshots' of your Treo at specific settings, and save them as named profiles/modes. Some of mine are
    • Meeting
    • Normal

    • Daylight
    • Alarm Clock
    • Nightime-in-car
  • KS Datebook (Free): A free replacement for the default Palm Datebook. Adds some really nice tweaks that should have been there in the 1st-place
  • KeyCaps 600 (Donate $10): This utility give the Treo thumboard the same functionality as the Blackberry...double-click to get 'shifted' characters, hold a button for caps. Again...why didn't palmOne do this themselves? tsk, tsk
  • Vindigo ($3.50/Month or $24.95/Year): For anyone who has ever gone into a city that they are not intimate with. This will help you find your way, find restaurants, find bars, museums, concerts, even a clean bathroom. Never worry about asking for directions or recommendations again. Yea! Yearly subscription is the best bargain in the Palm world
  • PocketTunes Deluxe ($27.95 or $14.95 Basic): What's an iPOD? Skinnable, integrated music machine for the Treo. It handles MP3, WMA, Ogg Vorbis, Wav and streaming broadcasts. Plays in the background while you are doing other things on your Treo, and sounds just dandy in my car, via a cassette adapter. Feeling frisky? Go for a 1gb SD card, and get some comfy earphones!

The fun of being a Palm-nut, is that we are legion. If this is posted, I can be sure that there will be responses about dozens of tweaks I haven't considered (or known about), and that some Palm developer, somewhere, is working on new and un-thought of functionality. For anyone in the position/mindset to shed their laptop slavery, I hope that this may give you some hope.

Did you enjoy this article?  Would you like to see more like these in the future?  If yes, please consider that we are humble but passionate bloggers who do not benefit from the resources of Megacorp Inc.  Be considerate in kind and help us to bring you more cool Treo stuff by visiting just one of our sponsors.  This little effort upon each of your visits makes a huge difference and we hope that you'll continue to see the signs of our appreciation as your bloguide grows.  Thank you!

Posted by Andrew on July 18, 2004 at 03:44 PM

Treo 600

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by Kevin | Sep 7, 2004 9:23:51 AM

I have to agree with this totally. I use my Treo in lieu of a laptop, though I'm not a hardcore business user. I consider "Directory Assistant" to be an indispensable app as it allows me to quickly and easily find a phone number when I'm out on the go. I've used it for numerous things such as calling restaurants and stores for closing times. My friends generally respond with "holy crap that's cool!". Yeah, try dragging your laptop out and booting it up to do THAT! And who wants to pay $1.25 a phone call to get a number?

by Robert | Sep 24, 2004 6:28:52 PM

Well i still carry my laptop esp. now that free wireless internet is available in most decent business hotels. Another reason is for back up of Treo data, just in case I have a hard reset, I can restore everything.

But the Treo is wonderfully handy, after 6 mth's of owning it, I feel I'm just starting to levearge it's power. Kevin your are correct, using it for dir. assistance is great and for that I've found that that http://wap.switchboard.com is best - finds business or individuals and you can even get driving directions.

I will definitely try out some of the programs listed above.

Another app I must rave about is PdaNet. This allows your laptop to get internet connection through your synch cable - Treo. You can get about 2x modem speed anywhere your phone gets a good signal.

by David | Feb 13, 2005 5:48:37 PM

Forgive me as I am probably posting this in the wrong location, but I cannot find the general posting spot.

I use Audible.Com for listening to books on my Treo 600. I love it. Driving to work, working out in the gym, never far from the phone. The downside however, is that when the phone rings, the audible software doesn't keep my place. Instead it rewinds to some random spot. Anyone have any idea how to correct this. What would be ideal is the book to stop at exactly the same spot where the story was playing prior to the phone rining. Thanks in advance.



by Roy | May 31, 2005 4:49:33 PM

Great article!! Do these work with the 650 as well?

Also, for you 650 users, has anyone figured out how to get the vibrate mode to "really vibrate"? I've missed many calls because the vibration is not noticeable sometimes.

by Gregg Lain | Sep 22, 2006 2:27:15 PM

This is a great article - but whats with the last post??


by andrew | Sep 22, 2006 2:37:21 PM

Gregg - thanks, I just deleted that last comment.

Cheers, A.

by Laptop Skin | Aug 14, 2009 6:52:51 AM

Nice topic.I read & enjoyed.Thanks.

The comments to this entry are closed.

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