Smitten by the Treo 650

Wed, 07/20/2005 - 00:00
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Where's my bad boy?

It's late at night. I'm rushing to finish a story and feel a bit peckish. I order my Treo 650 to go down and make me a sandwich.

All right, I'm hallucinating. We all know smartphones can't prepare food -- I doubt any of them can even open the ref. But in the last three months, I've come to rely so much on my smartphone that almost anytime I need to do something I turn to it instinctively.

It's a Treo 650, the one product that's probably keeping Palm corporation afloat. Its name is supposed to indicate its three main functions: take your money, give you status and make you worry you'll break it. No, actually it's a phone, a PDA, and an internet access device packed in one small, hyper-expensive handset. Given what I spent on it, I should think the least it could do would be to putter around the kitchen.

Don't get me wrong. I've become rather attached to this little bad boy. Not that excessively attached, mind you. So what if I always keep it within reach? Or spend a lot of time gazing lovingly at it? Or occasionally caress it? Stroke it? Have you had your battery charge today, precious? My precious. Gollum, gollum...

Ahem, yes, where was I again? It actually took me a while to work up enough nerve to get the Treo 650. First there was the cost to consider: roughly US$700 for an unlocked device (in the US, it's way cheaper if you get it as part of a telco subscription). The official price here in Manila is a heart-stopping P39,900, though some dealers will slice a chunk off that if you haggle. If it's any consolation, it's even more expensive in Europe, coming out to at least US$ 900.

Prism and Treo
Prism Visorphone, meet Treo 650

Second, there's the fact that the Treo 650 is small: smaller than your average PDA, smaller than the Handspring Prism Visorphone combination I'd been contentedly using for four years. OK, it's not as tiny as those dinky teensy mobile phones, the

ones that look like you could easily swallow or inhale up a nostril; but the Treo 650 is a lightweight, not a brick like the Visor. Its screen is perhaps 75 per cent that of the Prism Visorphone, which I really had to replace: I wouldn't exactly say it was in a tatty state, but its antenna was taped up, its power button wouldn't work and the battery was failing. My decision to get the Treo more or less firmed up when the Visorphone's battery fell off one day as I was phoning someone.

To replace it I briefly considered getting one of those Pocket PC iPag thingies, but the thought of having to convert all those old Palm databases I'd accumulated over the years, and not being able to use thousands of Palm shareware and freeware titles, made me decide to stick with Palm.

I'd heard mixed reviews about the Treo 650's predecessor, the 600, so I wasn't really that enthused. Besides, as a devoted Visor owner, there was a time two years back when I swore I'd never buy a Treo. Call it disappointment at being abandoned by Jeff Hawkins, who suddenly terminated the entire Visor line and declared the future lay in smartphones.

What changed my mind? Desperation. I was going abroad in a couple of weeks and for my work I needed the functionality and versatility that I'd gotten used to with the Prism/Visorphone. The Treo 650 seemed to be the closest fit.

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