Posted on Sat - January 14, 2006

To Treo or not to Treo, that is the question - Updated

Someone pointed out that for a guy who dislikes phones and despises cellphones, I'm putting a lot of thought and effort into something that is essentially a very high end cellphone.

They are probably right.

Which means I need to consider alternatives.

First, totally breaking out of my box and going with a BlackBerry instead of a Palm.

Disadvantages include limited Macintosh compatibility. Big, BIG disadvantage is keeping the information on a central server that isn't under my control (Paris Hilton "hacked" phone). I don't like the form factor, and it seems to be very tough to actually get specs and prices out of their site.

Advantages include reliability and the bling factor, which I don't think counts for much in my neck of the woods.

I'll admit their site looks good, but I would prefer prices out in the open and a little more explanation of what I am buying. There also don't seem to be a lot of third party applications, which makes me think it is a closed ecosystem.

Until last week, the parent company had made no real effort to open up to Macintosh.

So moving on to Palm alternatives.

Treo 650
Advantages include that it is available now and is a proven winner. It's a cell phone integrated with a PDA, has a decent camera and a halfway decent microphone. It has text messaging. Disadvantages are the memory issues and the small screen. Incidentally, it looks like not all the memory issues are solved in the 700w.

Treo 700w
Better screen than the 650, but still small. All the advantages of the 650 with a couple of problems fixed. Disadvantages, the OS is provided by Microsoft, which does not fill me with confidence. Apparently The Missing Sync can link it to Macintosh though.

One of the disadvantages with a Treo is that it will always be a compromise device. Rather than getting a first rate PDA melded to a first rate cell phone, you get an okay PDA with an okay cellphone. The question is if the tradeoff of integration into one device is worth the tradeoff of quality. Many people say yes, me, I am not so sure.

Add the fact that paranoid geek that I am, I am not totally convinced that carrying a gadget that has all your vital info on it while it simultaneously can be used to track your every movement even if it is switched off is a good idea.

Cost is also a factor. By the time you add $40 a month for service and another $40-$50 for internet access, all of the sudden, all of the sudden I'm spending nearly a hundred bucks a month for something that I am not convinced I needed in the first place.

Some of the advantages include a great screen, high resolution, an internal 4GB hard drive. Does voice memos. Portrait mode. WiFi and Bluetooth make it easy to connect with my computer and share my home wireless network. Disadvantages include no camera and that hard drive. Also expensive, considering that I am looking at laying out about $200 for accessories and another $200 for upgraded software. All of the sudden we're within shouting distance of a kilobuck.

But there are some big advantages to having that much storage. All of the sudden I could ditch my thumb drive and put a couple of encrypted disk images on the PDA. That would make it easy to transfer project files from computer to computer securely. I wouldn't even have to connect the Palm to the computer, just transfer the file, decrypt it on the other computer, and I am in business.

Palm TX
My favorite of the regular Palms so far. It has a great screen, 128 megs of memory, and supports a 2GB expansion card, which puts it in the same class as the LifeDrive as far as storage for considerably less. It runs both BlueTooth and WiFi. Disadvantages are no camera and no voice memos.

With The Missing Sync, my Macs could directly access the memory card exactly as if it were a drive.

Part of the reason I am attracted to this one is because it seems a natural step up from my m515. There is nothing revolutionary in this device, it just seems to be a first rate PDA.

Palm Z22
Basically it is cheap and would give me what I have now, only with an updated OS. No Bluetooth, no WiFi. No camera, no voice memos.

Palm Tungsten E2
Seems to be about midway between the Z22 and the TX. It does have Bluetooth, but not WiFi. No camera, no voice memos.

So of these choices, I have to say that if the Treo 700p is not an option, the Palm TX looks pretty good.

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