Back to initial review Part 1
Handspring Treo 180: Two Months Later
I posted my Handspring Treo 180 Review right before and soon after I purchased one for myself. Two months later, after using it daily as my main cell phone and PDA, here are my thoughts. I have not tried the new color Treo 270, though it sounds even better. I'll update this when I do. [Last modified 28 May 2002]
I'm quite happy that I purchased my Treo 180 and recommend it. It is usually the only phone I carry outside of the home or office, and the one I forward other phones to, etc. Here are some specifics:
I think the combination of a cellphone with a PDA and keyboard in a small package is great for me. I find that I keep it with me at all times, either in a case on my belt or in a pocket (it's small enough).
The combination (including small size) is a very empowering device. You feel you have so much more capability on your belt or in your pocket than you did before.
The keyboard (as implemented by Handspring) works great and is a major enhancement to a PDA.
The integration of the PDA contact information with the phone is something that I now can't image doing without. I put just about every number I dial into the address book, some "just in case" like restaurants I'm going to.
Having the rest of the PDA with me at all times without carrying two devices is great. So many times people call and I have to check my schedule. It's right there, and accessible during the call.
Having a browser with Internet access in my pocket has added a new feeling of access to data. (I've successfully used it to find addresses of obscure events, find current flight information, or track the news during lunch.)
Using SMS for email connectivity (along with a keyboard) has let me tap into notifications (e.g., from airlines of gate changes) or send my own (e.g., "Arrived safe early at 12:45 am"). (I don't use it for regular email, yet, though I could.)
My GSM carrier, Voicestream, has worse coverage than others I have access to (AT&T, Nextel) in some areas (e.g., only AT&T worked in a Maine coast town, no Voicestream near Akron or Cleveland, Ohio), and better in others (e.g., my house). The Voicestream plan (800 minutes, including modem calls to Earthlink, per month with weekends unlimited and free for $59.95/mo.) and customer service (dial 611 to get number of minutes used, tech support, etc.) has been very nice.
The optional soft "action" case protects the Treo very nicely. It's easy to put the Treo in it and take it out, and easy to wear. Unfortunately, it is so well padded that the vibrator is not that noticeable when you are moving around and the padding muffles the ring somewhat. I haven't tried the belt clip yet, which should be better in these areas (but who knows how well it protects the unit).
Ever since I got a charger cable for my car, the battery life has not been a problem.
The speakerphone feature has been very useful in a variety of situations and works surprisingly well. When you use the Treo in normal "hold up to the ear" mode, it leaks sound a bit so people around you can hear some of what you're hearing (like other flip phones?). The earpiece is fine, and doesn't have that problem.
The ability to upgrade the unit with new software is another new feeling of freedom unlike other consumer electronic devices. Not only have I improved the user interface with the upgrade mentioned in the review, but Handspring has also released a simple download that improves phone standby battery life and makes the call forwarding work better:
The ability to interact with a phone with a decent screen-based human interface makes me feel more hopeful about the success of future phone features.
The monochrome screen of the Treo 180 is acceptable, but the 270 lit color display sounds like it might be worth the extra money in some situations.
It's pretty amazing how well you can operate the entire unit, including phone calls, with one hand and with barely looking. I almost always dial numbers with the keyboard, not the on screen keypad.
It's worth reading the manuals. I've met Treo owners who didn't know how to turn on the backlight (double press the power button), etc. Practice helps, too. Handing the Treo to someone else and telling them what to do takes a little practice. ("Type the first letter of their first name, then..., no, you don't have to use your nail to press the keys... now press 'space' to dial...hang up with..."). They do learn how to use it and don't complain (especially when they see how fast it finds phone numbers).
In general, Treo owners I've spoken to or read about are very happy. (I don't count people who just think about owning one, or don't really spend any time with one. That's not a fair test of such a personal, powerful device.) It impresses me that after all this time, and after seeing so many other phones, Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal still likes it, too, though given my own feelings and the obvious care that went into the design, I'm not surprised.
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