Sprint Treo 650

March 7, 2005

It’s time to break out the insulated underwear; hell has frozen over and I’m once again a Sprint customer… Whodathunkit?

I’ve been jonesing for the Treo 650 for awhile now; pretty much ever since it became clear that it would eventually get wi-fi capability—with or without PalmOne’s help.

My attraction to the device is pretty simple—if I can get one single device to carry around in my pocket that is a decent phone, plus has a screen big enough to read e-books, plus has decent e-mail options, then I’m miles ahead.

The Treo 650 looks like just the ticket.

Why the Treo 650

I still love my Toshiba e-800 for e-books, but e-mail still absolutely sucks on Windows Mobile compared to PalmOS, and it’s a huge brick to carry around along with a phone; I’ve been using a Nokia 3650, which I also like a lot, but it’s not small by any stretch of the imagination.

So, I’ve been lusting after the Treo 650.  I’d been hoping that the only-cellular-service-I’ve-ever-still-liked-after-a-year (T-Mobile) would eventually get them, but it looks like it may be nigh on to doomsday before that happens.  So if I want one now for T-Mobile, it’d be $695 for an unlocked GSM phone from PalmOne, and I’d still have to deal with T-Mobile’s GPRS service still being glacially slow, with their rumored EDGE service still being as mythical as their Treo 650 offering.

So… That leaves the two official Treo 650 carriers, Sprint, and Cingular.  I’ve never used Cingular, but I’ve had a bellyfull of AT&T over the years, and I’ve never ran into anyone who felt Cingular was a lot better.  I’ve had billing issues with both Sprint and AT&T—the last time I had AT&T, they managed to screw up 10 monthly bills out of twelve—often for hundreds of dollars.  Sprint usually managed to get the bill right, but they seem to be congenitally unable to bill a damn credit card.  The last time I had Sprint, they managed to not bill the credit card (and then shut off service for late payment) 12 months out of 12.  The previous time I used them, they only managed to do it every other month or so.

The devil and the deep blue sea.  I went and visited both of their local stores today—I could get better rebates online, but a killer issue for me is whether they have a decent signal at my house, and buying locally I can take advantage of a return policy a lot easier should the coverage just suck.

It finally came down to data costs—I intend to use this to do a lot of e-mail, and Sprint’s unlimited data (a lot faster than GPRS) is $15 a month, flat rate.  Cingular’s (with EDGE support, a bit faster than Sprint PCS Vision) is $35 a month—or $240 a year more expensive.

So, I decided to try Sprint one more time, and see if we can get something working on automatic payments.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Signal strength is interesting; it only shows about 1.5 bars at the house, but it seems to make and receive calls reliably without dropping, and internet access seems to work fine.  So far, so good (I’ve never really been convinced how much the signal strength indicators are actually meaningful).

Voice quality is superb—the sound is much cleaner than my Nokia, and several people have said that my voice quality was very good.  I’m real picky about call quality, so I’m very happy about this.

My e-book reader of choice (Mobipocket) installed easily, and seems to work well on the phone.

It took Sprint a few hours to get the Internet access on (they told me at the store it’d be a day, and weren’t amused when I asked if we’d suddenly reverted to 1997), so I’ve not messed with mail much yet.

At the moment, I’m trying to get data syncing with the Mac squared away.  Two minutes with Palm Desktop for Mac, and I was out buying a copy of Missing Sync, which I’ve now got working and syncing Entourage; it remains to be seen if I can use Entourage for some stuff, and iCal for my calendar application…

More reports later, to be sure…


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