Should I get a Treo?
August 13, 2007 6:33 PM   Subscribe

Should I switch to a Treo? Please help me figure out if it is right for me.


PRO: Palm. My Palm Pilot is my life blood and has been for years. I carry it everywhere. I have a T|X which has a wireless card in it, but as I'm not always places with a wireless signal, I don't use it more than once a week.

LITTLE CON: Cost, which is +$20/month on Sprint's unlimited data package. My current bill is ~$40/month for 500 daytime minutes and unlimited nights on Sprint. $60/month is a lot of money for me as a grad student!

LITTLE CON: Cost II, the 755p is $200 after rebate right now, which isn't bad, especially considering I'd sell my T|X for about that much.

CON: Quality, while I am not on my cell phone chatting away very often, the sound quality of my boyfriend's Treo does bug me. I hate not being able to cradle a phone in my neck/shoulder, but I could get a bluetooth device.

CON/MAYBE PRO: Distraction factor, I like not being able to check my e-mail for hours at a time but there are some times (like today) that I was away from e-mail for 10 hours and I should/could of replied to some important ones.

PRO: Being able to find stuff out whenever I want!

PRO: Not having to run back to my office/house to reply to an e-mail, perhaps allowing me greater freedom?
posted by k8t to Computers & Internet (26 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
FWIW, I've had a 650 for about 2 years now. At this point it resets itself on the average of twice an hour. The 'z' and 'e' keys (and thus the * and 1 keys) don't work. Apps disappear regularly only to mysteriously reappear after a soft reset (or not, sometimes). The phone quality, like you said, sucks. The calendar key hasn't worked for about 8 months.

On the plus side, I can browse the internet at dial up speeds (the newer Treo's have EVDO) wherever I am.

I wish cell phone providers would allow customers to test drive phones for 30 days or so. I might have gone with a different phone.
posted by knowles at 6:50 PM on August 13, 2007

You could get a used (refurbished) Sprint Treo 650 for a lot less.

You should be able to haggle for a lower data plan than $20. When I first signed up with Sprint, unlimited (untethered) data was $7.50 and now it is $15.00. It isn't PowerVision, but it works.

I live in the mountains, and I have almost voice quaility issues. A wonderful application to use on Treos is called VolumeCare, which gives you a nice volume boost.

Being able to have Google (including gMail) everywhere is wonderful, but the distraction factor can be a beast. I actually cancelled my data plan once already because of this.

All in all, I love having a smartphone, if only to have one less thing to carry around.
posted by 4ster at 6:53 PM on August 13, 2007

Response by poster: The 600 and 650 aren't 3G though.
posted by k8t at 6:59 PM on August 13, 2007

Response by poster: 3G = EVDO
posted by k8t at 7:00 PM on August 13, 2007

Best answer: I have the Treo 680. Overall, it's been a mixed bag and it will probably be the last gadget with Palm OS I buy.

Like you, I am totally dependent on my Palm and have only gone maybe 3 days in the last 9 years without using one, each of those three days were spent waiting for my new Palm to be overnighted to me to replace one that had broken. I use it to organize my life, to store large volumes of reference information for work, to keep to do lists, to take notes at meetings, to play games, listen to music, look things up on the internet, read metafilter, and email. I am pathologic.

Things I appreciate now that I have been using it awhile: I like Palm OS, the interface is comfortable, and syncing is now pretty much flawless. I like that this one device replaces several others that I used to carry around. The 680 and the 755p are nicely pocket-sized and I don't have to wear it on some geeky belt case. Having streaming internet radio wherever I go is cool. Checking email while in line at the grocery store or looking up something on Wikipedia while out to dinner to prove my point in a conversation -- super cool. Basically, my Treo does everything my computer does, just a little slower and on a smaller screen.

Things that annoy the shit out of me now that I have been using it awhile: The phone freezes up all the time when a call comes through (like maybe 20% of the time) and I have to call the person back. The phone is sleek and slippery and easy to drop (I would highly recommend egrips). The battery life on the 680 sucks, I have to charge every night which so far hasn't been a problem, but still. Finally (and I hope someone else who knows more will comment) the wireless data protocol that the 680 uses is not quite 3G, I have heard it described as 2.75G. It's too slow for surfing the internet unless you disable images and then it's just barely passable. I am totally amazed by how fast my friend's Motorola Q is at web browsing. And yes, it's very difficult to cradle under the neck but I still manage.

I think the bottom line is that each individual function of the Treo is done better by some other product but nothing out there combines everything into one device and yet still is a fully functional pocket computer. If you are just looking at a phone, address book, schedule, email, and web browser, you might be better off with a Blackberry or Iphone.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:00 PM on August 13, 2007

I love my Treo. In fact, it's now my only phone, even got rid of my home phone. I've had the 650 for over three years now and very little trouble - all the keys still work and it's very dependable. It's great having all your contacts available at any time and great to be able to check e-mail.

I also sync with my Google calendar, so all my appointments and reminders show up. Google also texts me in advance of things so I get another reminder that way. Great.

For the most part, the sound quality is fine and I've had very few people complain. I live in SoCal and reception on Sprint has been very good here. The Google Maps for traffic is an invaluable tool too if you live somewhere where the freeways get congested. It has saved me hours on the roads. (guess I'm pretty googlified!)

It can do many things: games, apps, music, etc but I use it almost exclusively for phone, e-mail and, for some reason, the calculator!

Couldn't live without it. You'll love it.
posted by stevea. at 7:07 PM on August 13, 2007

I have the treo 700p, and don't hate it, but nor am I thrilled with it. The data rate is great, but the browser is a real dog (and I've had no luck getting Opera to work on it, though supposedly it's possible), and the one-app-at-a-time seems clunky for an internet device (though if one of the apps weren't an ssh client it might seem better).

The guy in the store upsold me to some dumb plan with a 15% off (that made it the same price as the regular plan) and then when I got my bill I realized it wasn't what I wanted and called and they switched me down the the $20/mo data plan, but kept the 15% discount.

The 700p is really phenomenal for battery life - but that comes at the cost of being very thick and heavy. I'm not sure how the slimmer 755 compares.
posted by aubilenon at 7:08 PM on August 13, 2007


My company gives them out and everyone who has one hates it for its small buttons, laggy hardware, and tiny screen. I chose to stick with my HTC Hermes (Cingular 8525) and I couldn't be happier. Save up some cash and get yourself a PPC phone made by HTC. They are of awesome quality and can be found (rebranded) under most major carriers.
posted by ThFullEffect at 7:35 PM on August 13, 2007

I have a 700. Don't.

And I used to love Palm devices.
posted by unixrat at 7:40 PM on August 13, 2007

If you'd consider ditching the Palm platform, I can tell you I've got the HTC Apache (which Sprint sells as the "PPC6700") and it's had stability issues of it's own (which I think are more WM5-related than Apache-related.) I've had it for a little over a year and it seems to finally be whipped into shape, but only due to a steady regimen of licit and illicit updates and fixes. It's likely that they now ship it with more recent firmware than mine had, but it would be a good idea to check when you get the phone just in case. And, uh, don't get one if you're not willing to invest some time in tinkering/troubleshooting. I knew more or less what I was getting myself into and am very happy with the phone overall.
posted by contraption at 7:55 PM on August 13, 2007

Don't. It's bulky, incredibly obnoxious as a phone, and in the end, totally pointless.
posted by alon at 7:57 PM on August 13, 2007

If you aren't in a huge hurry, I'd wait.

Feature phones keep getting more features, and smartphones and data plans are likely to get shaken up post-iPhone as the other carriers and manufacturers rise to the challenge.

See where things are in 3-6 months.
posted by Good Brain at 8:08 PM on August 13, 2007

BlackBerry > Treo
posted by heavenstobetsy at 8:09 PM on August 13, 2007

I've had a Treo 650 for around 2 years now, and it's barely hobbling along. It has held up to a remarkable amount of abuse, but a final shot of water courtesy of my son rendered the touch screen non-touchable. Not that a phone should be able to stand up to that, it was just final gasp for mine.

I don't like the Palm OS. I can't switch between programs and keep them running (downloading email while working on a to do list). It crashes a lot if you play around with third party software. If you like using a Palm, the Treo would probably be a good fit for you. The keyboard is nice, but I'm sure you know the particulars from using your boyfriend's Treo. Sound quality is not great, but there's a program called Volume Care that greatly increases the volume.

Here's another thought.. doesn't the T|X have bluetooth? You could get any relatively cheap bluetooth phone and use that to connect with your current handheld for email and surfing. That being said, it's a hassle, it's slow, unreliable, and you'll still be paying $20 a month.

For me, that's what it comes down to. I was willing to pay $20 a month for the few times a month I needed to have email/internet on the road - the rest of the time I use it is just bonus (and I did use it quite a bit). You'll be carrying one device instead of two, as well.
posted by shinynewnick at 8:23 PM on August 13, 2007

LITTLE CON: Cost, which is +$20/month on Sprint's unlimited data package. My current bill is ~$40/month for 500 daytime minutes and unlimited nights on Sprint. $60/month is a lot of money for me as a grad student!
Are you aware of Sprint SERO?
posted by kickingtheground at 8:26 PM on August 13, 2007

I have a 650 and still like because:

1. The incredible amount of palm software out there for it. All these 3rd party apps. Nothing like Dope Wars in the bathroom. Its more an ultra-portable computer than a phone.

2. Its pretty tough. I must be on my third year with this and its still going strong. The "P" key is stickey, but everything else is fine.

3. I get a decent deal with sprint after I complained about my phone service. Unlimited data, lots of minutes, etc for 50 bucks a month.

4. Battery life is pretty good and you can buy a second battery for it.

The new phones just arent that much nicer to upgrade yet. Sure EVDO or a faster processor would be nicer, but thats like moving up from a 3.0 ghz pentium to a 3.8 ghz pentium. Just not worth it.

If you can get a 650 or 700 used for 100 bucks or so and get on a cheap sprint plan, then youre set. If you want something thin and sexy be prepared to drop an easy 300-400 dollars.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:47 PM on August 13, 2007

Are you aware of Sprint SERO?

Just to help out, here is a fatwallet thread about SERO.

I haven't used it myself (currently on AT&T), but it looks to be a great deal for new customers. I'm not sure how it works for existing customers like yourself, but worth checking out.
posted by shinynewnick at 9:14 PM on August 13, 2007

Best answer: If you're a Palm fan, you have to try a Treo. I'd get a used one off ebay first.

Someone above said it had been forever since they went more than 3 days without using a Palm. With me, it's more like 3 hours in the past 10 years (I have backups for when they break). My life is in my Palm.

My history w/ Palms:
Personal -> 1mb TRG upgraded Personal -> Pro -> III -> IIIc -> Vx -> T -> T3 -> 680.

The Treo 680 is my favorite Palm ever. T3 is second (I used it for 3 years, and still have it, and it works great). I have zero experience with other Treos, because earlier ones felt like I was giving up too much (easy voice recording, for example) to consolidate from separate phone and Palm.

It took a bit to get used to the smaller screen and the keyboard (instead of graffiti) but my oh my I love this thing. It's also the first Palm device I've enjoyed enough to want to spend money on it. Before I relied only on freeware, but I've spent about $50 on software for the Treo, specifically the Hobbyist Software launcher and utilities and another company's awesome voice/call recording app called CallRec. With this software, the Treo is complete. I love being able to just touch my side button to record an in-progress call, or replay a cute voicemail from my kid and record it, saving it forever.

Treos have two glaring faults: battery life (fixable with aftermarket larger-capacity batteries from companies like Seidio) and the headset jack. Palm uses a sub-par jack in all the Treos that I know of. Frequent use of the jack causes it to fail eventually. There are soldering fixes for it, or just get a new one from Palm if you're under warranty. I'm on my 3rd Treo 680 in 9 months due to the headset jack failing, but it's still my favorite Palm ever. And if you're a Bluetooth user (I'm not--I never found one that sounds as clean as my Ety-Com wired earset), it's nothing to worry about at all.

As far as stability, in my experience it's no different than any other Palm I've had. The more apps you load on it, the more unstable you can make it. But over the past decade I've gotten quite adept at isolating issues. I average one crash per week these days, usually when I'm trying the latest beta of my favorite software.

Oh, and did I mention the 680 supports SDHC right out of the box? I have an 8 gig card in mine, jammed w/ mp3's and pictures of the family, as well as a half gig of work documents. If switching carriers is an option, go to T-Mobile or AT&T and give the 680 a try. The 680 replaced my T3, Sony phone, as well as my mp3 player.

There's no device out there that I crave. I'm that happy w/ my Treo. I love it so much I bought another one for my wife a couple weeks ago. Her history w/ Palm devices is very similar to mine, and so far she's thrilled.
posted by Bradley at 9:19 PM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

Oh, and did I mention the 680 supports SDHC right out of the box?

Huh? My 680 does not do this. Want to buy a near new 4 GB card?
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:27 PM on August 13, 2007

If your an existing customer, you will not be able to get into the SERO plan, but if you are not, look into SERO!!!

I just switched back to Sprint after a buddy told me about SERO (employee referral). I have a PPC 6800 with 500 anytime minutes, unlimited data, and unlimited text. I pay $30 a month and another $7 for insurance. This is a major plus for me, as I love streaming my movies and shows to my PPC while I am at work. Couldn't imagine what I would pay without this plan.

P.S. Figure out how to raise a little more money and buy a 6800. I have used the treo and now own the 6800 and can tell you from experience that the treo does not hold a candle to the 6800. I paid $288 for each of my 6800s (wife's and mine), but I bought them with confidence, knowing I will not need to upgrade for 2 years.
posted by B(oYo)BIES at 11:24 PM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

The Treo is a good phone. I used to think it was the best phone around. Here were my pros and cons

1. It handled my abuse
2. Lasted about two years (this was really important to me)
3. Could switch out batteries
4. Liked the Palm OS

1. It was buggy at times
2. Didn't play very nice with my Mac (Missing Sync fixed that)
3. Internet sucked ass
4. Keyboard got flakey
5. Clunky as hell
6. Hated the Palm OS

Then I got an iPhone. *WOW*
posted by bkeene12 at 5:53 AM on August 14, 2007

I had a 600, then a 650 when the 600 crapped out. I hated the 650 phone quality so much I got a blackjack. I now love my blackjack.

If you're not stuck to a treo because of your email system (our system runs Good handheld which means I can't get a blackberry), I'd get a blackberry. They are more universal and have gotten a lot more abuse and use because of that.
posted by BuddhaBelly at 7:01 AM on August 14, 2007

Response by poster: I didn't make it clear in my OP: I am not willing to leave the Palm OS.
posted by k8t at 8:30 AM on August 14, 2007

I've owned a Palm III, i705, Treo 650, and Treo 700. I moved to the Treo because of a 'killer app' that I needed, and I got a 700 after one of the keys on the 650 quit working.

Be aware that software that runs on earlier Palms does not work with the Treo. I missed the stylus based interface when I moved to the treo, and it has a smaller screen.

I have Sprint, it's nice being able to access the net but it is slow, about dialup speed. Unless you have some compelling reason why you need to have this, particularly as a starving grad student, I wouldn't spring for it. The treo makes a bulky phone -- before I had it, I would sometimes leave the Palm behind and just carry my cell (hiking, going out at night). If you carry your Palm and cell everywhere this might not be a big factor for you.

I looked up T|X. I sure hope that's not what you have. Obviously, I'm not familiar with it, so can't comment on that part of your question.
posted by yohko at 8:16 AM on August 15, 2007

I loathed my Treo 650 with a fiery passion. The interface was never intuitive to me and I struggled to use it. Also, it wasn't a great phone - dialing and receiving calls was sort of glitchy. It was a decent small web browser, a passable camera phone and great for email.

After 6 months I ditched the Treo. I wish I hadn't waited that long.
posted by 26.2 at 8:48 AM on August 15, 2007

Response by poster: Final decision: trying my boyfriend's used 700 and if I hate it, I can switch back to my old phone. If I love it and NEED the 3G, I can buy the new phone! Thanks all.
posted by k8t at 2:23 PM on August 15, 2007

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