amanda k brown

“Celebrations Week” or “Treo 850 Review”

Posted on: Monday 18.Jan.10

Another week gone by, and another year.

On such cold days, I love having my postcard wall, with pictures of tropical islands, beaches, and vacation spots. Jack Frost seemed to be adamant about bringing us some poor weather of snow and ice. Always makes for some nice photo-ops though! I did enjoy going out to snap a few shots.

Over the weekend, there was much celebrating of anniversaries and birthdays, showers of gifts, lots of friends and family, and of course cake.  A particularly charming gentleman took me out for dinner and drinks, and gave me plenty of love and attention for my special day–along with an amazing gift:

One of the best birthday presents ever: Palm 850

This little baby has already become my newest tech love. Keep in mind I was previously using an old Samsung A707, which was sufficient. Efficient. Nothing flashy, but did what I needed a phone to do. But now I’ve added Facebook, chat, Twitter, Google, advanced text, and maps to my phone’s to-do list!

This naturally means I have to do a quick review of my new toy. Since you can Google reviews on your own, I’ll just point out my take on the highlights reel.

Keyboard

I have to start here, because this is what made me the most nervous in searching for a new phone. The full keyboard was extremely intuitive for me. I was always afraid of reaching out to keyboarded phones, wondering if it would be overkill. As a “texter”, I quickly picked up thumb-typing and now can’t imagine going back to having the alphabet crammed onto 8 keys.

The keys themselves are a little small, but this isn’t a negative for me, especially since they’re spread apart just enough to prevent mistyping. However, I imagine someone with larger hands may be frustrated by the button sizes.

One other note on the keyboard–the “F”/5 key has a raised dot, like the F and J keys on a desktop keyboard to help you find “home”. I absolutely love this. It may seem minor, but it’s one of those little nuggets of detail that really helps if you’re a heavy keyboard user.

Phone Design

The sleek and slender 4.49″ x 2.36″ design really pulls together all the essentials in a relatively minimalist nutshell. The glossy plastic, but sturdy feeling enclosure is great for your average user, but I expect it’ll scratch easily. The buttons all do what you’d expect them to, and are placed where you’d expect them to be placed–power button on top, side volume slider, side wi-fi toggle, and an optional button defaulted to camera. The front interface buttons are also self-explanatory, unless you remap them to something else.

The phone is touchscreen, which is fantastic. This screen isn’t enormous, and may leave some users wanting–but for my first smartphone is more than enough. For the occasions you want better precision or simple scrolling, the d-pad is also well designed. I prefer this to the Blackberry‘s trackball, which notoriously malfunctions or falls out and gets lost in cleaning.

The “Palm” center button lights up when you have a message waiting (if configured to do so), which can be a nice feature when leaving it on the night stand. For those glued to their phones, this may not be quite as necessary or even could become a mild annoyance.

Audio and Sound Quality

Let’s not forget the 3.5mm stereo jack at the bottom of the device, as well as the external speaker. Both of these work well. It’s no iPod, but it’ll handle your mp3s well enough for your enjoyment. The internal speaker works as advertised, and the volume levels available offer a fantastic range of options to adjust to people screaming at you while at concerts, or your sibling who still forgets not to mumble.

Messaging and Connectivity

From texts to emails, this little beauty does the trick.

I adore the “threaded” text message conversations, so I can easily read through a conversation at a later date. This avoids the scenario where Katie messages me on Tuesday and says “Coffee this weekend?” To which I immediately respond “Sure, what time?” Then two days later get a message that simply says “how’s noon,” by which time I’ve completely forgotten what we’re talking about.

It connected seamlessly with my Gmail and work email accounts, as well as Windows Live. I also have it syncing with my Google contacts and calendar, which is extremely handy, since my online contact list tends to stay the most current. One frustration I had was a Google issue, but I can’t sync anything other than my main calendar on my Google account. Disappointing, but I’ll live.

Other Notes

The camera works surprisingly well, once you get the hang of the settings, as long as you’re in a well-lighted area. If you’re in a low-light restaurant, I wouldn’t hold your breath for anything worth looking at.

The Treo Pro does run WM 6.1. This lets it easily sync to my desktop computer, and means it’s user-friendly–since it works like every other Windows OS. However, it likely also carries the occasional crash-issues found with other Windows operating systems. Overall, I actually like it, at least for now.

I enjoy using apps and gps on my phone–google maps for mobile works really well, and has a number of features worth exploring. Snaptu is one of my favorite [java-based] applications, which is great for social networking and news browsing. It runs smoothly and is easy to customize. I also installed Opera Mini faster than you could imagine, to avoid using mobile IE. I haven’t seen any issues trying to use these with the WM interface.

Overall

I really enjoy this phone so far. I think I’d label it a good “beginner” smartphone. This isn’t for the heavy constant 5000 messages a day and a gazillion apps people. This is for the casual, “huh, that’s a nice feature” people, which suits me quite nicely. On the down-side, Palm is on its way out, so the chances of being able to stick with an upgraded design of this phone in the future are slim. On the up-side, that means these will start plummeting in price. Who knows, maybe whoever buys Palm will try to keep these going.

For a more in-depth look of the Palm Treo Pro check out PalmInfoCenter.

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