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Jewish World Review
Jan. 13, 2006
/ 13 Teves, 5766
Palm's Interesting Flip-Flop
To hear some critics tell it, Palm, Inc., has become the John F. Kerry of
handheld computer makers: abandoning its own, eponymous operating software
for Microsoft's Windows Mobile 5.0, they suggest, was like being "for" the
Palm OS before they "voted" against it.
That's not totally true: Palm assures - swears, even - they will keep
working on the Palm OS and bringing out new devices that use the software.
Right now, I have no reason to doubt them.
Thus the arrival last week of Palm's Treo 700w
phone/personal-digital-assistant combo is a watershed of sorts, but not
yet a Waterloo. The Treo 700w is a capable device, occasionally
frustrating, but not so terrible as to scare off many users. It's
designed, Palm admits, to appeal to corporate buyers who will accept only
Microsoft-compatible products in their purchasing.
The size and layout are surprisingly similar to Palm's latest Treos, such
as the 650. There are some Windows Mobile-specific buttons, but if you've
used the earlier model, you can pick up with the 700w quickly. The new
Treo is designed to work on Verizon's high-speed wireless network, and
this it does well. E-mails zip back and forth rapidly, while Internet Web
pages load super-fast. A "desktop" viewing option will give you a
life-like Internet experience, albeit in quadrants you'll have to maneuver
around due to the 240-by-240-pixel screen. There's no landscape viewing
option, sad to say.
E-mail comes via a handheld version of Microsoft Outlook, and it works
reasonably well. I could set up, though not rename, separate accounts, and
long messages could be retrieved one at a time. Sending e-mail worked
well, too, as did e-mailing photos - the 700w has a very nice 1.3
megapixel camera built in.
Missing are the standard Palm applications, but the Windows Mobile
equivalents are pretty good. The pocket version of Excel comes in handy if
you're playing around with spreadsheets and number-crunching. Ditto for
the mobilized Microsoft Word, although even the Treo 700's nice built-in
keyboard isn't a substitute for the real thing when it comes to writing
more than a very short e-mail.
Phone dialing can be summoned by typing the name, or even initials, of a
contact - numbers pop up for your selection. Speed dial can be done by
name, or even by selecting a picture from the main screen.
What's not to like? It's not the Palm OS, and that will disappoint some
people. You can't sync the 700w with Macintosh computers yet; third party
software will come, at an extra cost, of course. And the Verizon phone is
great in New York but not in New Delhi - for global use, a Treo that
supports the GSM phone system is required.
Still, Palm deserves respect for making an effort. Windows Mobile still
has some growing to do as a handheld operating system, and perhaps Palm
can help nudge this along. The Treo 700w, priced $399 with a service plan
from Verizon, isn't perhaps as great as one might hope, but it isn't as
ghastly as some suggest.
Palm does, however, deserve even more praise for a little accessory
launched alongside the new Treo: the $199 TripKit , which takes $300
worth of Treo accessories - leather holster, Bluetooth headset, travel and
car chargers, an extra battery and a stylus/pen combo - and rolls them up,
literally, in a nice leather case. Road warriors will sing hosannas over
this one: it's stylish and practical. It supports the Treo 650 and 700w;
if you have either phone, it's worth checking out.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.
© 2006, News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of The Washington Times. Visit the paper at http://www.washingtontimes.com