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  1. aldamon's Avatar
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    #221  
    Has anyone here tried the voice command yet? It's supposedly pretty powerful and may address a few of the usability issues. Just curious.
  2. #222  
    Hi guys, I've had some more time to play around with mine and it's definitely growing on me. My previous comments still stand, but I think it's important to think of this thing as more of a pocket-sized computer and less of a smartphone. I should throw in, though, that I've heard some wonderful things about some voice command software (which apparently costs an extra $40) which supposedly works great with no training and can be used for dialing numbers as well as launching apps. That could help level the playing field a bit. As a one-handed, look-up-a-contact-quickly smartphone, the Treo 650 definitely blows this away. But if you (and I) can switch over to a "dial a contact by voice" mentality when in the car (which is when I need one-handed lookup the most), this could become a non-issue.

    So after playing with mine for a bit more, I can tell you that the D-Pad integration is better than it appeared at first, but it's still not implemented perfectly in some apps. In IE, the URL field seemed to be the trickiest one to get to, but moving around other on-screen links and text boxes seemed to work as expected. There were other apps that had buggy implementations as well. Considering that these are all built-in Microsoft-supplied apps, that's pretty sad. But is it rare enough so as to not be a deal-breaker for me? I'd say so.

    I'll report on more positive (and negative) experiences later...
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.
  3. #223  
    Quote Originally Posted by Scott R
    I got mine today, so I can now add to the list with my very brief real-world experiences.

    Good
    - Looks like D-Pad/keyboard on-screen navigation is implemented better than I expected. I can do most things I need to do without touching the screen. But see below.

    Bad
    - On-screen navigation isn't implemented as well as with the Treo 600/650. By that I mean that it isn't as obvious how to move from here to there. For example...If I'm using PIE and I've got the focus on the URL field I can't use the joystick to move the focus somewhere else. I've got to use the Tab key on the keyboard first. Then I've got the focus on a link on the web page and can now use the joystick to "tab" around and change focus.

    - GUI for phone app is not optimized well for a screen this small. The number buttons are too small. This is the same GUI they use for the 6600 which has a significantly larger screen. A screen this small needs a phone app (and, I'd argue, any portrait-oriented app) with fewer, larger thumb-friendly on-screen buttons.

    - It needs more dedicated application buttons. In particular, I think it would benefit from a dedicated "Menu" button. Instead, most apps end up wasting one of their precious "soft" buttons for pulling up the application menu.

    - Another trait missing that is found on the Palm OS is what mode the "Shift" is in. Microsoft thinks they know better than us and likes to auto-capitalize the first letter of fields. Fine. But at least let me know that you've auto-shifted so that I know to manually un-shift if I need to start a word with a lowercase letter.

    * In short, usability is classic "Pocket PC" (i.e., poor) as compared to the Palm OS.

    Ugly
    - What an ugly beast this thing is. My Treo 650 is a thing of beauty in comparison. Cheap silver plastic is reminiscent of my old Treo 300, though I think my Treo 300 seemed better.
    That blows. Any word on how well IE works compared to Blazer? Specifically, logging into secured sites, clicking on phone numbers in web pages and having them automatically dial in the phone app, things like that.

    Also, $40 extra for voice command? That's got to be a joke on a phone that expensive.
  4. #224  
    More comments I made at pdaphonehome.com which I'll repost here...

    I mentioned this briefly before and ruffled some feathers, but since we're all Treo 650 owners here, it may be safe to say it here: The usability of the Treo definitely seems better to me. I won't go into details now, but will probably do so at another time. The D-Pad and keyboard integration into the OS on the Treo just feels very natural and efficient. On the PPC I find myself unsure as to what I'm supposed to press next to get it to do what I want. Sometimes I'm using the joystick, sometimes the Tab key, sometimes the directional arrows. Often, there's overlap in what they all do. I would say that Windows Mobile has its roots in the Windows keyboard shortcuts. So using the tab key to move from field to field on a web form or to change the active highlighted button works very similarly (too bad there's no Shift/Tab function to tab backwards). One other usability issue is that while the Treo highlights active objects with a blue highlight, WM uses a far less noticeable bolding or dotted line around an object. Remember that the screen is tiny and you may be using this outdoors, so it could be especially tricky to figure out what's highlighted in those situations.

    Quality of plastics is very cheap looking on the 6700. This reminds me of my Treo 300. The 600/650 were a big improvement there. Personally, that's almost a non-issue for me. I'm agitated by the cheap look of my $600+ phone, but ultimately I'll make my decision based on features and how well it all works for me.

    Screen is brighter on the 650, which doesn't shock me since the 650's screen is blindingly bright. I've still got the clear protective sticky on my 6700's screen, so that's not ideal, but I'm pretty sure I noticed some real-world issues with the 6700 in this regard. Using it under bright sunlight I found it more difficult to read the phone app screen both with the brightness set to max and with the backlight completely off. In both cases, the 650 was better. Some of this, though, I think is the fault of Microsoft's colorful phone app which uses white text on a black background. It's pretty to look at in anything other than sunlight, but it's a bad choice usability/readability-wise under direct sun. For some reason I thought MS let you skin the phone app but I can't seem to find it. But if some 3rd party phone app would change the color scheme to be black text on a white background (or maybe white text on a black background), it might hopefully improve outdoor visibility significantly.

    One odd thing I've noticed is that the front buttons won't turn the device on when it's asleep. You have to use the power button on top (near the MiniSD card slot and antenna). Wait...I just checked the system settings and this is configurable.

    Remember all of those folks who upgraded from a Treo 600 to a 650 and complained about how they were losing hard buttons? Well, this thing definitely could use some more dedicated hard buttons for launching apps. In closed mode, you've got a hard button for launching the phone app and a hard button for dropping down the "Start" menu On one side are a hard button for the voice recorder and launching IE and on the other a button for launching the camera app. I think you can reconfigure all of those and that's not bad in closed mode. When the keyboard is open, though, many of these buttons are less accessible and I feel like the device would benefit from some quick-launch apps around the keyboard. On that note, I also don't feel like the placement of the "Start" and "OK" buttons within the keyboard is ideal.

    Speaking of the keyboard...did I mention that I like it much better than the Treo's overall? This was one of the biggest reasons I bought this phone. The feel of the keyboard is far from perfect, but back when I had a Treo 300 I longed for a roomier thumbboard and felt that the 600's was worse and the 650's was worse still. Again, the 6700's keyboard isn't perfect, but once I got accustomed to the flat keys, I definitely notice a huge improvement in terms of overall comfort.

    Anyways, these comments don't begin to even scratch the surface of how these two devices compare, but hopefully these extra insights are useful.
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.
  5. #225  
    Scott.

    Hope all is well and thanks for the valuable feedback thus far.

    Could you comment when you get some time with, on battery life? The 3.7hrs listed as talk or total...possibly longer or shorter, etc.

    It seems like its growing on you though

    Regards,
    dolo
    .:Every passing minute is a chance to turn it all around:.
  6. #226  
    Scott: have you thought about what kind of case you would use? It looks little big for the pocket.
    Palm III-->Palm IIIxe-->Palm 505-->Samsung i300-->Treo 600-->PPC 6600-->Treo 650-->Treo 700wx-->BB Pearl--> BB Curve

  7. #227  
    I'll have to get back to you on the battery life thing.

    Regarding a case...it comes with a decent looking, but bulky, beltclip case, but I'll probably carry it around the same way I've carried my Treo 650 around: Naked in my left pocket all by itself. That keeps the bulk to a minimum and provides all the protection I seem to need.
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.
  8. #228  
    And the IE questions from above?
  9. #229  
    Quote Originally Posted by Scott R
    I got mine today, so I can now add to the list with my very brief real-world experiences.

    Good
    - Looks like D-Pad/keyboard on-screen navigation is implemented better than I expected. I can do most things I need to do without touching the screen. But see below.

    Bad
    - On-screen navigation isn't implemented as well as with the Treo 600/650. By that I mean that it isn't as obvious how to move from here to there. For example...If I'm using PIE and I've got the focus on the URL field I can't use the joystick to move the focus somewhere else. I've got to use the Tab key on the keyboard first. Then I've got the focus on a link on the web page and can now use the joystick to "tab" around and change focus.

    - GUI for phone app is not optimized well for a screen this small. The number buttons are too small. This is the same GUI they use for the 6600 which has a significantly larger screen. A screen this small needs a phone app (and, I'd argue, any portrait-oriented app) with fewer, larger thumb-friendly on-screen buttons.

    - It needs more dedicated application buttons. In particular, I think it would benefit from a dedicated "Menu" button. Instead, most apps end up wasting one of their precious "soft" buttons for pulling up the application menu.

    - Another trait missing that is found on the Palm OS is what mode the "Shift" is in. Microsoft thinks they know better than us and likes to auto-capitalize the first letter of fields. Fine. But at least let me know that you've auto-shifted so that I know to manually un-shift if I need to start a word with a lowercase letter.

    * In short, usability is classic "Pocket PC" (i.e., poor) as compared to the Palm OS.

    Ugly
    - What an ugly beast this thing is. My Treo 650 is a thing of beauty in comparison. Cheap silver plastic is reminiscent of my old Treo 300, though I think my Treo 300 seemed better.
    I know everything can seem all DOOM and GLOOM... I don't doubt you are having these problems. I am going to bet these problems are more of a "learning curve" problem than anything else.

    For example: Take a total stranger who is a power user on another phone, and hand them a Treo 650... it will be like deer looking into the headlights of a truck.

    Give it a few days, and really look into the shortcuts, tips/tricks, etc. Don't try to use it like a Treo, use it like a PPC. Once you get passed that, you will find its most of the time just as easy, easier, or a little more difficult than the Treo.

    Good Luck.
  10. #230  
    Quote Originally Posted by 2000 Man
    Also, $40 extra for voice command? That's got to be a joke on a phone that expensive.
    Kinda like paying an extra $40 for a cradle for a $600 Treo. And waiting 6 months to buy it because it hadn't be released yet. Voice dialing is extra on the Treo as well.

    First impressions from my brother-in-law (damigs) is that the phone is not as big as it seems in the pics and actually seems lighter than the Treo. He's been playing around with it since last night, so I'll try to get him to post some comments soon (he's not answering my SMS, so I wonder if that implementation isn't as good as the Treo's).
    I'm back!
  11. naivete's Avatar
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    #231  
    Quote Originally Posted by scottymomo
    Definitely brick like and certainly looks and feels thicker.
    OH MY GOD!! I can't help but to think that he got a free pass because of his post count.

    ScottR and scottymomo, thanks for your investigative work.
  12. #232  
    Quote Originally Posted by Scott R
    I'll have to get back to you on the battery life thing.

    Regarding a case...it comes with a decent looking, but bulky, beltclip case, but I'll probably carry it around the same way I've carried my Treo 650 around: Naked in my left pocket all by itself. That keeps the bulk to a minimum and provides all the protection I seem to need.
    If you decide it's not working for you, I'd be willing to take it off your hands. I'd even trade you my mint condition 650 for it.
    I'm back!
  13. #233  
    Give me an example of a secure site that I can try. As for phone numbers in web pages, it doesn't look like it works. Do these web pages need to use a special tag or is the browser supposed to auto-detect it? If the latter, I tried two different sites and they didn't show up as links. I should note, though, that I'm using IE and there are several other web browsers available that I'm anxious to try.
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.
  14. naivete's Avatar
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    #234  
  15. #235  
    Quote Originally Posted by Scott R
    Give me an example of a secure site that I can try. As for phone numbers in web pages, it doesn't look like it works. Do these web pages need to use a special tag or is the browser supposed to auto-detect it? If the latter, I tried two different sites and they didn't show up as links. I should note, though, that I'm using IE and there are several other web browsers available that I'm anxious to try.
    Having the phone numbers not work is a let down. If you don't have online banking, try logging into Paypal.
  16. sledgie's Avatar
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       #236  
    the phone numbers should work. google a business and you will see their phone number pop up, if you click the phone number it will auto dial it
  17. #237  
    I Googled a business and the phone number did not appear as a link.

    I logged into my PayPal account successfully.
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.
  18. #238  
    OK, here's a little example of some usability deficiencies with using PIE (Pocket Internet Explorer) as compared to Blazer on the Treo 650. Unfortunately, my Treo 650 is inactive, so I can't compare them directly and my memory may be failing slightly on exactly how my Treo 650 worked (isn't that sad- I just shut it down yesterday)...

    So you're inside PIE. First off, there's too much wasted screen real estate. The URL text box is always visible. I'd rather that the title bar displayed the site name I was looking at and have temporary pop-up for entering a URL that I want to go to. At the top is the Windows Start bar. It also shows signal strength info, etc. so it makes sense for this to always be visible.

    At the bottom is another bar with the virtual buttons. This could be considered roughly equivalent in purpose to Blazer's icon bar. It's one advantage over Blazer is that you can trigger whatever two functions are visible via one hard button keypress. The disadvantages are significant: One of the soft buttons is usually dedicated to "Menu" which the Treo already has a dedicated hard button for. The other is often dedicated to "Back" which can be done most of the time on the Treo using the keyboard backspace key.

    Let's talk a bit more about going back...There's no way to jump three pages back, as you can with the Treo. Instead, you have to go back one page at a time. And in my quick test it looked like PIE was retrieving the previous page all over again from the data connection, rather than pull it out of cache. I may be able to change that by increasing my cache size, though.

    Want to pull down a web site? You can either get your focus onto the URL text field which requires using the keyboard Tab key and going all the way to the bottom of the page at which point tabbing once more will bring you back to the top and give focus to the URL field. Ugh. Or, you can cheat and tap on the URL field with your finger. This screen is tiny, so you've got to be careful you hit it right.

    The other way to open up a URL is if you've got it as one of your favorites. To do this, you use the soft button for "Menu" and the press "F" to jump and select "Favorites..." (these Windows-style shortcuts are nice). There you'll find a single-column list of all your favorites. You can add folders in this list to categorize your favorites as you see fit. I like this approach better than Blazer's. Huge problem though: You can't seem to reorganize your favorites once you've created them. You can edit your favorites (to change something in the URL or the description), but you can't move them into a folder you've just created. This can probably be managed via a file explorer app, so all is not lost. Still, it's yet another example of how MS hadn't fully thought things through usability-wise.

    I mentioned this before and it's not specific to PIE, but it's worth mentioning again here...WM won't tell you what mode your shift or ALT is in. So, press Shift once to capitalize a letter, press ALT (red dot) and Shift to turn on Caps Lock. Press ALT twice to put it in ALT lock mode (for entering multiple numbers). But you'll find no on-screen indication that you're in any sort of ALT or ALT Lock mode. This gets especially troublesome if you're entering a password in a field. PIE will hide all characters entered as asterisks. If you've got mixed case and/or numbers in your password, you'd better enter it all slowly and pay attention to what you're doing. Worth noting here: The PPC-6700 places the double-quote character as an ALT char on the OK button. Uh-oh. You want to type a double-quote but there's no visual indicator to make sure that the ALT mode is on, so if you didn't trigger the ALT mode you'll end up triggering the OK action instead.

    Highlighting fields and buttons isn't as easily noticeable as with the Treo. The 600/650 highlight things with a bold blue highlight. I'm not sure that choice of color is ideal, but it works pretty well in most scenarios. On WM, square single-line-width buttons become double-line-width buttons when they have the focus. On a screen this tiny, you have to look close to see the difference. Any WM experts know if there's anything like SkinUI for the Pocket PC? I'd love to make my buttons rounded and to have the button in focus have a more noticeable difference. As-is, usability suffers.

    Here's where I'm embarrassed by my failing memory...Scrolling down a page seems very slow with my PPC-6700 and PIE as compared to my Treo 650 and Blazer. On the Treo, I push up/down on the D-Pad to scroll the page and left/right to navigate through links, is that right? On the PPC-6700/PIE, up/down on the joystick (or cursor up/down on the keyboard) moves up/down links on the page. Left/right on the joystick or left/right cursor on the keyboard (or Tab on the keyboard for right only) moves left/right through the links on the page. There's no quick way to scroll down to the bottom of a page. You've got to press down and go through all of the links/fields you might encounter, or you cheat and try to tap on the scrollbar with your finger. Again, that's no fun because it's not finger-friendly. I blame PIE for this, rather than the PPC-6700. IMO, they should have up/down on the joystick (or up/down on the keyboard) serve to scroll one page at a time.

    So that I don't leave out some of the reasons why browsing on a PPC could be better than with a Treo, here are a couple...
    - WM is a multitasking OS. You can leave the browser to check on some information somewhere else (e.g., grab an address from one of your contacts) and then jump right back to the web page you were on without waiting for it to reload/redraw.
    - Some browsers support having multiple web pages open at once. Open up one page, open up another, then copy a link or snippet of info from one to the other (e.g., when you're writing up a forum reply and want to provide a quote/link/whatever from another web site).

    The good news, is that my biggest complaints I've itemized above in comparing Blazer to PIE could be corrected via software. That's why I'm hoping that another browser (or PIE plugin) might resolve some/most of my complaints.
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.
  19. #239  
    Thanks for the good review. It sounds like the 650 has a lot of advantages over the 6700 as it is, so I'll be waiting for the next Treo. The 6700 sounds more pocket computer and less PDAphone. Not what I need.
  20. #240  
    OK, usability comparison #2: Calling someone.

    Before I even begin, let me start out by saying that several PPC users have bragged about some voice recognition software (by MS I think) that costs about $40 and will supposedly change the way you use your phone in a no-hands-available environment (e.g., while driving your car). I look forward to trying out that demo. Until then, I can just compare dialing people in the way you would on other phones and the Treo 600/650. So here goes...

    With the PPC-6700 in closed-almost-looks-like-a-regular-phone mode, you press the green phone button. One thing to make note of is that this button is located at the very bottom of the device, requiring an unnatural repositioning of your thumb to reach. On the Treo 6xx, this button falls in a perfectly natural location.

    The screen is not as bright and is not as good in direct sunlight with the backlight off as compared to the Treo 6xx. This is worsened by the WM phone app's colorful blue-based skin. The standard Treo 6xx phone skin, by comparison, has much better contrast.

    On the PPC-6700, this phone dialer app has buttons that are too small to comfortably use without paying close attention. This is partially due to the PPC-6700's diminutive screen. Personally, I never liked tapping out phone numbers on my Treo 6xx, but if you have to do it, it will be less error-prone on the Treo. For example, the WM phone app has the numbers 1, 2, 3, and the "back/clear" button on the top row, whereas the Treo has only the 1, 2, and 3. So these virtual buttons are each about twice as wide as their WM equivalents. The height of the buttons looks to be pretty close. It's worth noting that the Treo doesn't need a virtual back/clear button because you can use the always-available thumbooard backspace button for that. The Treo also doesn't have virtual buttons for Talk and End, but the PPC-6700 wastes screen space on those unnecessarily (there are already hard buttons for those).

    Of course the way I would dial most of my friends/family with my Treo was to press the first letter of their first name and a couple letters of their last name using the always-available thumbboard. On the PPC-6700 you can't win for losing because:
    a) If you're in "phone-lookalike" mode, you don't have access to the thumbboard and pressing the virtual phone keys to simulate T9 input (e.g., 7-7-2-8 in hopes of it pulling up P-R-A-U and finding my wife's name) doesn't work. It will always interpret it as numeric input.
    b) If you're lucky enough to have access to both hands for looking up a contact, you can open the keyboard. You'll need to launch the contacts app (easy enough). Unfortunately, WM always looks up contacts via last name, so I'd have to type out R-A-U-L, etc. and would end up hitting the first of the Raulinaitis clan rather than jumping directly to my wife's name.

    Another problem...the PPC-6700, like the Treo, will shut off the screen backlight after a certain amount of time. The Treo 650 has two advantages, though. One, the unlit screen has better visibility in direct sun, so you can still see where some virtual buttons are. Two, the screen will ignore the first press and treat it instead as a "wake up" call to turn on the backlight and get ready to accept screen input again, whereas the PPC-6700 will accept input even on the unlit screen. So how do you turn on the screen backlight without accidentally triggering an unwanted action? Good question. Pushing the joystick in one of its directions is probably the safest course of action.

    The light at the end of the tunnel: Many of these problems can be corrected via software (or a 3rd party phone dialing / contact-lookup app). An affordable/free app may already exist.
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.

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