Two weeks ago I was in Seattle for my yearly training. I attended a late night content review and was surprised when the Palm US sales team showed up to talk about the relationship with Microsoft. In return for getting between us and a cold frosty mug sensation, they handed out the Palm Treo 750 with Windows Mobile 6 installed to everyone that was there. So how good is this device?
The only way to find out is to activate the phone and give it a whirl. So I started up a corporate account with AT&T and a few days later my SIM arrived. My SIM took the long way getting to my house. Apparently FEDEX likes to send everything to Memphis. Someone I know mentioned it’s actually required due to some commerce law. I hope that isn’t the case.
Since I’ve been a Verizon Motorola Q user for over a year, I figured a comparison was in order. Now keep in mind my preferred phone OS is the Windows Mobile Smartphone version, not Pocket PC. I like single handed operation. It’s interesting because the description of the differences in the FAQ is almost invalid with the Windows Mobile 6 release. See the HTC Touch for further evidence of that. That little phone is super sexy. I had one in my hands two weeks ago. Another reason I am moving back to GSM SIM based phones.
Some Side-by-Side Notes
When you start looking at the devices side-by-side, there are some differences for sure. The Q has that thin kewl feel to it but it’s a little wide and square. That makes the holster wider. Button layout and design on both devices are good, but already I prefer the tactile feel of the Treo. The Q buttons are harder to press and have an oblong pill shape. I like the fact that the Q buttons have more space between them, but I’m not finding that to be too much of an issue on the Treo, and I just started using it. Lets face it, neither has a 60wpm keyboard. If you are typing long messages, use a laptop. Both have a nice screen although I like the longer portrait screen on the Treo better. Silent vibration is good on both. It appears that battery life is pretty similar on both but I just started testing that. I hope the Treo has better battery life but it’s not looking like it so far. I need to hit the road with it for about a week to see how it behaves before I really know.
Yesterday I spent some time testing the 3G speed on the Treo 750. I used the http://text.dslreports.com/mspeed?jisok=1&more=1 1meg test link. At my house, the Treo can barely use the 3G network and routinely clocked 600k download speeds. When I moved into Southlake proper and had better tower coverage, the Treo speeds jumped to about 750k. This is comparable to the Q’s EVDO speeds from Verizon. It’s about time everyone caught up with Verizon. Also keep in mind my Q isn’t an EVDO Rev A device.
Windows Mobile 6
To be fair to the Q, it isn’t running Windows Mobile 6 (WM6). I think I would be much happier with it if it did. The improvements we’ve made to WM6 were apparent right away. I had to go look at the Windows Mobile 6 features to figure out what we did, and what was the work from Palm. I still don’t have that totally figured out, but the Delivering Great Performance and Value for IT Professionals datasheet was an excellent start.
Unlocking – since we push pin unlock policies to Exchange users, I must use a pin after 15 minutes. Locking and unlocking the Treo keyboard is much easier than the Q. Entering the pin is also much easier.
HTML email – some of my MacBook Pro buddies have this annoying habit of changing rich text or HTML email into plain text. Most of the phone users do the same thing. WM6 and the Treo 750 don’t. I can read the pretty colors and pictures, and when I reply, it keeps the formatting intact.
Global Address List – I like the ability to look people up in the corporate address book. This comes in handy for email, but it also super handy for looking up phone numbers for people in your company. Now if we could just get people to keep their information up-to-date.
Phone functions – I want my device to be a phone first and a PDA second. So far I like the intelligent design of button usage, easy access to voice mail, ability to see missed calls easily, etc. It’s much cleaner on the Treo 750 but I don’t yet know who to give the credit. Ok, scratch that. I give the credit to us for the core OS, Palm for a nice device, and AT&T for good integration of all of the above. Although this particular phone is a WM6 SmartPhone, it’s similar to a Pocket PC style device because it has a touch screen. I’m not really using the screen much, but it’s nice to have when you want to use the stylus.
Security – there are a plethora of new security features. I can now open DRM’d email. You can encrypt storage card data (highly requested). There’s an array of new certificate support and the device can essentially be a full citizen on your corporate network. This gives administrators and users a stronger more secure platform for applications and personal data.
Speed – I talked about network speed above. It isn’t earth shattering but it’s nice to see ATT/Cingular in a competitive position now. The improved speed of the OS is also apparent. Part of that comes from a more intuitive design and better phone mechanics. It really appears we listened to all of the feedback because I keep saying thank you as I use the phone.
We have a hit. Microsoft certainly has a hit with Windows Mobile 6. Palm has a hit with the Treo 750 and I am appreciative for the opportunity to try it out. AT&T is sitting pretty nicely with the iPhone and this device. I do not know when the WM6 versions of the Treo 750 will start to ship, but you are going to like it. I assume AT&T or T-Mobile will have the HTC Touch pretty soon as well. Lots of goodies coming for Christmas, that’s for sure.
[UPDATE 1] My first battery test lasted 48 hours. Not bad. That included a few phone calls, lots of speed tests, lots of dinking around in the system with the LCD turned on, changing the cell radio bands several times to test various configurations, etc. Not exactly daily usage. Not only that, the phone was sitting here at my house most of the time which is close to being a dead zone and therefore puts a higher drain on the device (as coverage drops and it scans again). One complaint I have about the device is the lack of visual feedback from the status light. It’s normally off so if you are used to seeing a green light when things are good, get used to the off indicator means that now. I guess it saves power by not lighting the light. Sneaky. If you see the light on and yellow, the signal probably dropped. If you see red, it probably means the battery is getting ready to be toast. My device came with an extra battery and battery charger. Inside the box there are sync cables (proprietary end on one side, usb on the other), ear buds, and car charger cable (nice). Like most people, I would have preferred to have it charge and sync from a standard USB cable but I am used to carrying the AC charger cable on the road. I’ve only lost one in about eight years.
[UPDATE 2] Ok, I’ve been on the road with the device and it has performed extremely well. I’m getting at least 48 hours or more of battery life although I still have ActiveSync set to sync on 30 minute intervals. I’ve done a lot of speed testing and I have yet to break the 1MG download speed mark, but speeds have been consistently above 650k everywhere I’ve been, except at my house. I also took the time to download Mobile Device Center 6.1 and sync with my Windows Vista machine. That worked pretty well and I nuked a bunch of crap on my MiniSD card. I took a picture of my dog on the couch without a flash in low light conditions. I was surprised at how well that turned out. Another thing I did this week was try out some of the kewl tools from http://www.spbsoftwarehouse.com. I tried the Mobile Shell, Pocket Plus, and Phone Suite tools. Mobile Shell was my favorite. Oh and for those of you that read this post this far, I’ve been promised a number of devices will be heading my way. Supposedly the first one on the list will be the Motorola GSM Q. Should be fun. I hope they send a HTC Touch, too.