Back To Palm OS With Treo

January 18th, 2008

Mobile Gadgets

The first smartphone I ever purchased was a huge and heavy flip phone called the Kyocera 7135 featuring a quick little interface called Palm OS. It was originally released in 2002 to the United States and with a retail price of $499. People flocked to it in droves and before you knew it everyone had this absolute brick of a phone to their ears. You’ve got to remember that this was some time ago. It was around this time that RIM released the Blackberry 6720 (Talk about bricks!). Check out these photos of the Blackberry to show you how far back in time we’re talking about.

Death To Japan

After I ran my Kyocera 7135 into a shallow grave with over 4 years of daily use since it was purchased new in an Alltel store by its original owners, I decided to get with the times and move to the phone that had everyone talking: Blackberry. I purchased a Blackberry 7250. It wasn’t the newest one on the block but this was before RIM added any serious multimedia support like picture and video capture. At the time, and this is still fairly true for most of the Blackberry devices — they’re all extremely similar in their features.I shuffled around with a few regular phones until I had my heart set on a Treo 650 which included a superb VGA camera with excellent quality compared to other 640×480 phones. I needed to take pictures. I had been without for too long. Just when I was about to buy one of the refurbished Alltel Treo 650’s on eBay, something caught my eye…

Windows Mobile PocketPC

I thought it was a scam at first. Even after I won it and paid for it, I still thought to myself, “You just got owned!” And then I spoke to the seller. This middle-aged man took a U.S. Government job in which he was offered a free Samsung Blackjack. Wanting to ditch his monthly bill, he posted his UTStarcom PPC-6700 (HTC Apache) for $100 ‘Buy It Now’ on eBay. At the time, this phone was selling for upwards of $300 and the offerings on Alltel’s website with a new contract wasn’t far off.

Even after a brief argument with my then girlfriend about spending money on gadgets, she even admitted that there isn’t much this phone can’t do. Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, touchscreen, huge sliding QWERTY keyboard, EvDO, multi-tasking, etc. The only problem was Windows Mobile 5, which came pre-loaded with the smartphone was horrible. A ton of lag under normal use, constant freezing which required “reboots” just like Windows on your desktop PC. It was a nightmare. I started surfing around hacking sites that were cooking up Windows Mobile 6 updates which the newer version of this phone, the 6800, offered. After flashing over the upgrade to WM6, my PPC 6700 ran like a champ but it was heavy and the sliding keyboard was too much work for everyday use and quick text messages. I started to get bored with it fast…

Back To Palm OS

Alltel Treo 700p

I’ve always wanted a Treo. Deep down in my heart I was meant to be with this phone and this phone was made to share my desk space. Getting used to the small, cramped QWERTY keypad was a breeze due to my years of cell phone use and tinkering with small electronics. After a couple days of using my new Treo, my average handheld WPM has skyrocketed even with the use of a few backspaces.

Camera & Video

The 1.3mp camera is “instant” unlike the 6700 which was cursed by a small hardware delay between hitting the photo button and the photo actually being captured. Even the WM6 upgrade didn’t fix the issue which doesn’t exist on the newer 6800 model.

Treo 700p Camera

Push Button Messages

The Treo comes with a very good e-mail application called VersaMail. This program has become almost legendary these days as a newer version always seems to top the previous one. There are some third party mail software titles for the Treo but ask any Treo user and he’ll probably be swearing by VersaMail. Another great feature is threaded chat-style SMS text messages which was so sought after by other phones, someone brought it to the Treo 700w (Windows Mobile) via a hack/patch. Talk about popular!

No More MMS

My Blackberry didn’t do it. My 6700 with th original WM5 didn’t either. But I managed to get it working on WM6 and it worked pretty well to send small pictures and videos back and forth to regular phones like my Wife’s Motorola E815. I’m not sure if I miss the ability to send and receive MMS as more people I communicate with upgrade to smartphones. Oh well…

High Speed Internet

I clocked my new Alltel Treo 700p at an average of 350kbps in my neck of the woods. Fast enough for me! In major cities you can expect close to 1mbps on average from your phone and that makes a really good companion to tethering your phone with your laptop. You can use your Treo to act like a modem using both Windows and Mac. I’ve heard about some people using readily available (and free) software to pull it off on Linux, too.

The Big Screen

The Treo 700p features a higher resolution screen than its Windows Mobile counterpart. I wish there were more backlight/screen options like the ability to completely turn the screen off during a call, etc. but a bunch of third party apps are available to tackle your gripes. Palm OS has been around the block a few times and the amount of available applications is absolutely amazing.

Movies & More

There’s a wide variety of movie players available for Palm OS and some of the best ones are free. Loading a 700MB Xvid copy of Steal This Film II from the expandable memory looks smooth and crisp in full screen mode. Smooth enough that I’d compare it to any regular handheld media player such as the iPod or Zune.

Must Have Apps

A lot of people ask me what applications I use the most on my smartphones. I’m a chat addict and need more mediums than the average text messager. While threaded SMS is wonderful, it’s just not enough to satisfy my needs. I’ve extended the value of my Treo 700p with great applications like the ones listed below.


I like my Treo. Although I do miss some features of the Windows Mobile smartphone I had, the Treo keeps attaching pluses to my minuses and I’ll be next in line to buy the Treo 800 or whatever comes next that provides a lot of new features. I do hope the next revision of the Treo supports Wi-Fi and real multi-tasking abilities. Only time will tell…

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About Richard

Richard is a professional web developer and business consultant. He opened his first web hosting company at the age of 13 out of his bedroom on an ISDN connection and hasn't looked back since. Richard currently resides in sunny Florida.

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