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Views, Rumours & Releases From 3GSM

As I mentioned previously, I’ve spent the last few days in Barcelona for the 3GSM World Congress to get a glimpse at what the mobile industry is up to.

Overall there was surprisingly very little new, ‘cool’ or really innovative to see among the hundreds of exhibitors – perhaps it is indicative of an industry that is somewhat struggling to find meaningful developments outside its core telephony offerings.

I also have to admit that I was rather bored seeing the hundreds of standard and feature phones on display by the likes of Samsung, SonyEricsson and Nokia all of which only seem to be able to deliver but a fraction of what our Treo can.  I guess that once you own a Treo it’s rather difficult to go back to a ‘normal’ phone no matter how appealing its design might be.

Having said this, let me take you through some of the most interesting 3GSM highlights:

PALM
Palm did not have an exhibition stand at 3GSM but instead the company opted for a rather nice and large outdoor private meeting area (below) where many of its European carrier partners and international suppliers inevitably sat down to discuss the future Treo roadmap.

Many new Treo 700w boxes as well as ‘Top Secret’ locked steel cases (presumably holding Treo prototypes) were seen on the premises.  A few people later confidentially confirmed that they had seen the famed ‘Hollywood’ prototype due to be released later this year and that it was indeed thinner and slicker than the Treo 650…

PALMSOURCE
On Tuesday, I attended the ACCESS/PalmSource press conference where they announced the ACCESS Linux Platform (ALP) which will become the future PalmOS platform for our Treo.

Naturally I was delighted to learn that progress continues to be made on the next generation operating system for our Treo but the presentation was highly technical and aside from a short demo there was little in the way of any tangible ‘front end’ developments.

PalmSource assured me that all of the company’s resources are currently working on getting ALP ready at the soonest.  However, the fact is that ALP’s SDK (which licensees and developers need to develop new products) will not be released before the end of 2006.  We should therefore now get used to the reality that an ALP powered Treo is unlikely to become available before the end of 2007 or early 2008 – nearly two years away.

I am always looking for something new and better so naturally I would have liked to see ALP ready sooner.  However, I’m not one to cry over spilled milk so I am getting used to the idea that my next two Treo smartphone upgrades in 2006 (Treo 700p or Hollywood) and 2007 will still use PalmSource’s Garnet v5.x.x operating system – albeit with additional improvements and modifications.

Since the Treo operating system will not see major changes until 2008 devices are released I believe that the burden of creating a truly appealing Treo worth upgrading to will fall squarely on Palm who will need to use all of its hardware design skills to deliver some truly ‘sexy’ next generation Treo smartphones.

SANDISK
In light of the recent first pictures and some specifications of the Treo 700p (which benefits from FAT32 driver support to use SD Cards larger than 2GB) I was curious to meet with SanDisk (one of the largest manufacturers in the field) to learn more about the future release of 4GB and 8GB SD cards.

Apparently, even though some 4GB SD cards have already been released by third-parties, the reason that SanDisk and other large manufacturers have not yet released theirs is because the SD Card Association has not yet released final specifications and also because most handheld devices (Treo, PDA’s, digital cameras) on the market today cannot read cards above 2GB.

Assuming that no other delays occur, 4GB SD cards should appear commercially in May-June this year with an 8GB announcement near September and release in Q4 2006.  I certainly would not mind ending the year with multiple 4GB and at least one 8GB card for music on my Treo…

TREO KILLERS
A few months ago Nokia announced (see Another Treo Killer? Nokia’s E61) that it would be releasing a new series of ‘enterprise’ phones including the E61 pictured below which I had the opportunity to play around with at 3GSM.

As you can see the device is wider than our Treo but although the keys are larger I found them more difficult to use (space bar is too small, keys are too hard and one handed operation is more painful) while the 5Way is cumbersome and the screen although large is not touch screen.  Overall, the Nokia E61 like its almost twin MotoQ seems to compete more directly with BlackBerry handhelds than with our Treo smartphones. 

One thing that I continue to like about the Nokia E61 though is its support for ‘advanced voice services’ such as VoIP and other SIP-based call services which will work with Cisco and Avaya WLAN and IP communications. 

At any rate, we will have plenty to like and talk about with multiple Treo smartphone releases in the coming months…

Treonauts always want something new and better


Posted by Andrew on February 16, 2006 at 01:13 PM

Treo Opinion

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Comments

1
by dmm | Feb 16, 2006 3:21:05 PM

When you say that ALP "will become the future PalmOS platform for our Treo," do you have anything definite, i.e. a statement from anyone, to solidly back that up? AFAIK Palm hasn't yet commented on it publicly and there've been articles noting that point.

I'll be very excited to see this be in a future Treo; I just don't want to put the cart before the horse as far as Palm's using it.

2
by Phil | Feb 16, 2006 3:36:48 PM

Andrew,

Perhaps you've covered this before, but I'm curious. What is your day job? (Of course, feel free to obfuscate details if necessary.) I assume treonauts is a hobby and you have some other full time employment in the high tech industry. Is that correct? Or do you actually make your living off this website?

3
by Andrew | Feb 16, 2006 4:38:23 PM

Phil - I am 100% dedicated to Treonauts and exploring the Treo lifestyle...

Cheers, A.

4
by s.elements | Feb 17, 2006 5:33:37 AM

Damn Andrew, that's right up there with being a rock star in my opinion;) Hehehe:P

That Nokia is U.G.L.Y.

Andrew - have you given Chattermail another go? I bought Snappermail myself(because of YOU), but on a whim I decided to try out Chattermail's demo, and it is WAY better than Snappermail. Chatter works completely in the background, so the screen won't turn on at any point, and when you go to send messages, you don't have to sit there and stare at the progress bar; you can go do something else or start composing a new email as it sends in the background. And the UI is almost just as good as Snapper's. And there are more options. And when you're 'always on', the battery drop is marginal at best. It's amazing getting emails before they show up on my laptop. Anyway...I love my Treo! Give me a job at Treonauts! Hehe:P

5
by TazUk | Feb 17, 2006 12:04:18 PM

When Palm designed the Treo 600 that got the dimensions about perfect, it's small enough to slip into your pocket or hold up to your head when making calls, but big enough to use easily. What I don't get is why the other manufacturers haven't caught on to this. That Nokia is way to big to use as an everyday phone, it would be like holding my old iPaq against my head!

6
by Andy | Feb 17, 2006 12:27:10 PM

Let me get this straight. We go on and on and on about no built-in wifi, and virtually no support for wifi with our Treos, and this Nokia comes out with _built-in_ 802.11g and it gets glanced over?

I am sad to hear about the keyboard being iffy on the E61, I was hoping this would be a new phone for me since the 700p specs look so dissapointing, hopefully its a preference thing and I'll end up liking it. When you were there was there any hint of when this Nokia will be released? Also why do you call it the Q's twin when they don't share some major features, like the operating system? Just curious.

7
by Andrew | Feb 17, 2006 12:42:03 PM

Andy - the fact that the E61 has WiFi doesn't by default make it great... Like you I am also disappointed about the lack of WiFi support on the Treo 650 (at least the Treo 700w has SDIO) but blame for this is likely in carriers' court.

E61 should be released in Q1 in Europe and probably Q2 in the US. I only saw GSM and WCDMA though which means likely no support for Verizon/Sprint's CDMA networks.

I used the 'twin' wording because on the outside the Q and E61 are very similar.

Cheers, A.

8
by Gfunkmagic | Feb 17, 2006 2:01:44 PM

Andrew, I must admit I'm jealous of you being able to go to the 3GSM world conference and seeing all these cool phone gadgets etc! ;)

Also, are you telling me that NO ONE was able to take a quick snap shot of the Treo Hollywood protoypes at that outdoor display?! Not even a peep? Also, what about a sketch or approximation of dimensions? Was everybody there under strict NDA? Also, have you seen the prototype and are you also under NDA?

Thanks...

9
by Malatesta | Feb 17, 2006 3:40:31 PM

dmm, Re: any concrete info about Linux

Actually, it's been all over the 'net:
http://www.engadget.com/2006/02/14/palm-os-5-rip-access-linux-platform-alp-hello-beautiful/

http://www.engadget.com/2006/02/16/first-screens-of-access-linux-platform-surface/

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/02/14/palmsource_linux_alp/

I think it's fairly certain at this point that this is the new OS. Not for the 650 or 700 but whatever is in 2008.

10
by Michael Denny | Feb 19, 2006 8:50:43 AM

Has anyone seen a comparison between the Symbian OS 9.1 used in the Nokia E61 and the Palm Garnet? At first blush, Symbian seems to offer multitasking (permits multiple simultaneous bluetooth connections), and better security (each app has its own address space).
Does anyone have a detailed comparison?

11
by Gregory Jordan | Feb 25, 2006 8:01:22 PM

I like the looks of the E61 too. So much so that I couldn't wait, so I bought one of those iPaq things from Cingular, as the form is similar. I've had Treo's through Sprint for the past 3-4 years and intended to get one through Cingular when my Sprint contract was up last month. But I thought the iPaq looked a little sleeker and it had that flip-off protective screen. After a week with the iPaq (which I should say is not to be compared to the E61, the form was just similar) I was going crazy. I couldn't wait to get back to the store and get the Treo. I doubt I'll give the E61 a second look when it arrives.

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