As nice as that new iPhone 3G undoubtedly would be, there is something to be said for sticking with the tried, true and certainly capable-of-getting-the-job-done unit. I already have two smart phones, a Treo 750 in a deep iridescent blue and a Blackberry Curve in an ever-so-smashing red. Right up front, I must point out that I have FAR more familiarity with the Treo as it is my primary phone. But, I have some basis for comparing the two units to each other and for assessing whether I should make that shiny leap that I am considering.
The questions I grapple with are whether these existing phones answer all of my business needs and whether there is something else out there that can do better? First, the Treo. It feels nice and solid and fits my pocket , even if it is a bit chubby. Construction quality is excellent, save for the snapped stylus I suffered last weekend after a year and a half of heavy use. It came with Windows Mobile 5 and I subsequently flashed it with Windows Mobile 6. The newest Win-Mo version, 6.1, is running on the Treo Pro, which is available unlocked but not at that compelling ATT discount. Version 6 is fine for me. I like the familiarity of a Windows system, albeit a stripped down one. I have push email and could even have Exchange and enterprise push email if it were available at my place of business. It handles my email needs nearly flawlessly. My only complaint is an apparent inability to select and mark a group of emails in one function. Maybe it can, but I have yet to locate this function.
The phone sounds very clear. It occasionally hiccups, but that seems to be more a function of the ATT cell system than the phone itself. A shut-down helps. I use the voice command function regularly to make calls. This has worked MUCH better after flashing to version 6. The ability to make MP3 ringtones is very fun and a bit of a cost-saver if you want to get funky with your sounds and alarms.
The threaded messaging is nice. This feature groups your text messages by correspondent, providing automatic ordering of messages and affording ease of searching. I also like the multi-media messaging function.
The Treo screams at HSDPA speed, rendering web pages quickly. Even at slower speeds, it performs admirably and doesn’t offend my impatient nature. I don’t have an air card and it doesn’t have WiFI (the Pro remedies that), but the Treo can function as a modem for your laptop, with the addition of a software program called PDAnet. I highly recommend unlimited data plans if you are thinking about tethering.
The Treo has run out of internal storage memory on me when I have fail to archive old messages diligently, as it only has 63MB on board. I added a miniSD card to hold pictures and videos. Picture and video functions work fine, although the old 1.3 megapixel res is getting old by smartphone standards. Also, the relatively low res screen is nothing to write home about, but does get the job done.
I love that there are plenty of software application out there to “pimp” your phone. I store most on my card, to keep space clear. I have a fun little weather app on my today screen, the Splash suite to keep my information organized and an RSS reader. There are many great free apps; check out Freeware for tons of great stuff. There are also paid apps, many specific to law practice, including time and billing software: browse around MobileTopSoft to get ideas (I don’t have any of these programs so I cannot endorse their utility).
One real downside for me, the ever-vigilant budget shopper, is the price. I paid WAY too much for it, and even now, almost 2 years after its release, it still sells for the ATT-subsidized price of $199. Another is the Treo’s inability to play nice with Vista on a regular basis – I have to jump through hoops playing matchmaker every fourth or fifth sync. I think this might be a Vista problem. Nonetheless, my Treo 750 still mostly fills all of my needs admirably, only occasionally requiring a reset to fix its confused little brain, and it feels fine and familiar in hand.
As a postscript to my waxing on the Treo 750, I should mention my Blackberry Curve. I bought it less than a year ago as a secondary phone. It really never ever bucks. Solid as a rock, performance-wise. Great e-mail functionality, which was my main reason for purchasing it. But it does not feel as nice as my 750, and sports cheaper construction. Keyboard is not as easy to use so my typing is slower and less accurate. The phone function is not as strong and clear as the Treo. I prefer having my emails look like they should, with images and layout, rather than the stripped down text and code found on the Curve. I also am not one for the Blackberry web browser, but I understand that the new Blackberry operating system improves on the old in both of these areas. Data speed is quite slow. Screen is fine. There are a lot of functions on the phone that I don’t need. I do not like the stripped down calendar interface. I do like the camera, which is 2 megapixels. Like the Treo, the Curve has excellent BlueTooth functionality. I must add that Curve’s battery blows away the Treo’s battery: I can get maybe 24 hours of use out of the Treo if I am lucky and conservative and about 4 days out of the Curve.
Both phones can play music. However, I never use them for portable playback, preferring to get my tune-age from my iPod 2nd gen Nano.
I don’t sync with the Curve, so I cannot speak from firsthand experience about its functionality in this regard. I understand that it is powered by Roxio’s Easy Media Creator and is fairly straightforward.