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  1.    #1  
    [I posted this in another PDA forum, so for some it may be a repeat. I have some minor nagging complaints below, if anyone has some tips for me I would appreciate it. My comments come off somewhat negative, but really I love this little Treo]

    Treo 90 Review / RIM Comparison

    I got my Treo 90 last night and wanted to post a mini review. I bought it at Staples for 279, decent price and I am too impatient to buy over the web.

    I have had a couple of palms in the past, most recently the Palm V. I use a lot of replacement and add on software: DateBK5, TealGlance, ToDo+ and a few others. I have also had a RIM pager which I was totally addicted to. Yes, a CrackBerry. I am mostly looking to upgrade for three things: a color screen, to be able to enter a lot more text quickly and to get more memory. Farther off, I would like a cell PDA combo but don't like the current batch. My main criteria are size and ergonomics and design.

    Fisrt Reaction: [written the first night] Well I'm not sure this keyboard is as good as I thought it would be. In fact, the blackberry keyboard is a lot better. It would do more things intuitively.

    More detail [written on the plane to clevland] There are two different functions that must be accomodated with the user interface - device control which includes running programs quickly and menus and data input. Data input style that must be accomodated: small data bits in random fields on the screen (like entering a new meeting that repeats) and then short fast spurts of data like a cell phone number and then long almost all text for emails or journal entries.

    The key to PDA bliss is for all these different things gel together. The traditional grafitti based palm does this well, with emphasis on pointing at the screen for navigation. The OS and apps expect people to select from dropdowns etc.

    Now the RIM pager does this very well too, but with emphasis on typing text. Notice how the blackberry puts in the period automatically after two spaces but the Treo does not. The RIM keyboard is slightly bigger and the right side keys are pointed towards the center. This makes a huge difference. I have realized writing this article that one key to the success of the RIM keyboard is the jog dial/button. It handles the minor navigation needed while letting your hands stay mostly on the keyboard.

    The Treo sadly does not have this jog dial and therefore relies on the stylus for this navigation (because there is no way to move one line up or one line down with the keyboard). Switching back and forth between thumb board and stylus will drive me crazy. I still think that I can do this keyboard faster than graffitti though for anything more than half a sentence. Maybe my grafitti skills are less than perfect, but beyond that length I start trying to go too fast and my brain gets ahead of my stylus.

    The Treo is actually too small, it is smaller than the blackberry. Not good for typing over a long period. Also, the black berry numbers are always available without having to shift or anything. [note later on: the blackberry doesn't have this but the top keyboard row is the numbers, not a phone keypad arrangement]
    For a bit last night I was laying down, I sometimes clear my todos at night, jot a note or thought in a journal, etc. So when I was typing at a strange angle, the device is hard to hold. Its so small that it was hard to hold and type at the same time, I never thought I would call a pda too small!!

    Using the Treo 90 makes you realize how well the RIM is designed. The jog wheel helps a lot to make the RIM easy to use and the menus are context sensitive so the right menu is available at the right time.

    I wrote this whole thing on the Treo, which I would not be able to do without the keyboard. My hands would be really tired writing that much grafitti, but not from thumb padding.

    I guess my final bit on the PDA design rant is that a unit should be keyboard only and NO stylus to force keyboard application ergonomics. As it is now, a hybrid, there is too much that cannot be done with the keyboard. I'm sure other people will have other opinions.

    [trip continues from clevland to boston]

    On to other topics. I like the screen. The colors are good (not great but good), I am not looking for my pda to show a lot of pictures. I have low demands on color. One application, I forget which one, said that the color mode was not supported and it was switching to grayscale mode. [heineken delivered, mmmm beer] don't get me wrong, I would like a bigger, high resolution, 16 bit color screen, but I am coming from the world of a greyscale palm V.

    If anyone can invent a hack that turns two spaces into a period and capitalizes the next letter, I would be grateful.

    The shape and feel of the Treo is without compare. It fits nicely in the hand, smooth rounded corners make it seem even smaller than it is. The bottom row of buttons are nice, like little flattened jelly beans. They are intented so your fingers find them easily. The up button is too close to the space bar, I frequently hit it by mistake.

    I mentioned in passing that the number keys were set up like phone - this is not a communicator, why are they done that way? I think this to me is a very typical example that this product was rushed to market with only minimal usability testing. I predict that many of the things I have pointed out will be fixed in the Treo 95 or whatever name they use as the next model.

    Maybe I am too harsh on the keyboard. Maybe if you have never used the blackberry keyboard you will not mind the Treo keyboard. Maybe I have Fat Thumbs. After all, I have written all of this on the Treo, so the keyboard must be somewhat functional.

    I really like the Treo, I am going to be sad to take it back, but I think that is what I am going to do. The only saving thing might be if I load one of the grafitti replacements like Jot. But I still doubt it because it is hard to navigate without pulling out the stylus.

    By the way, all of my hotsynching to date with this has been IR synch to Outlook. I was already running Chapura so I did not install any of the software that came with the Treo.


    Okay that's it for now. Not bad for a fisrt post.
  2. mrjoec's Avatar
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    #2  
    Nice early review. I suggest playing with it a bit more before making a final decision.

    You are aware of the menu key, right? It's right next to the 0 (as in the number zero, not the letter o). Press that key, and the menus will come down, allowing you to select any command with the scroll buttons, then activate it with the space bar. Or, you can press that key, followed by the letter corresponding to it's short cut, which most commands have. To Copy, for instance, just hit the menu key followed by the C key. To paste, menu followed by P, and so on. That should save you from whipping out that stylus so much.

    The more I get used to the shortcuts on the keyboard, the more I realize that there was a lot more thought that went into this product than a lot of people are giving Handspring credit for. Chances are, if you think there should be a keyboard command for something, there is. Try reading through the manuals, or asking around on forums like these. Most people around here are pretty helpful.

    I've been using my stylus less and less lately.

    I can't say that I ever used a Blackberry keyboard, so I can't argue against its superiority. I think I read somewhere that the shape and positioning of the keys was something that RIM has a patent on, so Handspring had no choice but to alter it a bit.

    Anyway, keep playing with your Treo, and let us know what you decide.
    mrjoec
    www.joecieplinski.com
  3.    #3  
    Originally posted by mrjoec
    .....
    You are aware of the menu key, right?

    ............. [deleted]......

    Try reading through the manuals,



    Yes, am aware of the menu key, it is okay and i am getting used to it. I was more talking about moving between fields (where there is no shortcut at all that i am aware of and also moving up a line or down a line, again not keyboard command to do that).

    As for "RTFM", the manual that came with mine (and correct me if yours was different) was very slim and basic. Were you really suggesting that I would learn something new by reading it? (and I did actually read it once). Unless you have a different manual than me, I think your suggestion was a bit off. If you meant some online manual or site that has hints and tips and shortcuts, please post me a link.

    Cheers!
  4. #4  
    Originally posted by GadgetSlut



    Yes, am aware of the menu key, it is okay and i am getting used to it. I was more talking about moving between fields (where there is no shortcut at all that i am aware of and also moving up a line or down a line, again not keyboard command to do that).

    Hi

    I have a 270 not a 90, but I don't know why the following keyboard shortcut wouldn't work on the 90 as well. When moving between fields using the keyboard, press the blue option key then the space key one after the other. It works like a tab key allowing you to move from field to field without using the stylus.

    Regards,

    George
  5.    #5  
    Thanks for the suggestion... I tried Option Space (both holding the Option key or just toggling it on) in regular contacts and DateBk+ and ToDoPlus and DateBK5 and TealPhone and it did not work in any of these.

    Can you give me a very specific example of where Option Space works for you and I will try it on the 90.

    It is really frustrating not to be able to move between fields with the keyboard.... I hope you are right and I am uninformed on this point.
  6. #6  
    Originally posted by GadgetSlut
    Thanks for the suggestion... I tried Option Space (both holding the Option key or just toggling it on) in regular contacts and DateBk+ and ToDoPlus and DateBK5 and TealPhone and it did not work in any of these.

    Can you give me a very specific example of where Option Space works for you and I will try it on the 90.

    It is really frustrating not to be able to move between fields with the keyboard.... I hope you are right and I am uninformed on this point.
    Hi

    I went back and tried the shortcut I suggested on the apps you listed except for tealphone which I don't use and it didn't work on the 290 either. I apologize for the bad advice the tab function must of been specific to the application I was using at the time. Several others I have tried since also didn't work with the option space combination. I should have tried the shortcut key out on other applications before offering the advice.

    Regards

    George
  7.    #7  
    Thanks, I always appreciate follow ups like this.

    I wish you had a different answer though, i find this a show stopper. I guess I am just too addicted to the CrackBerry. I am returning the Treo tomorrow and am looking at either the 957 Blackberry (bigger screen) or the 5810 Blackberry cell phone.

    Of course no color and very limited software, but designed very well.
  8. #8  
    Gadget background:
    I used the 950 pager-sized Blackberry for 6-7 months, prior to switching over to the larger 957 in September 2001. Suffice to say, I'm a stone cold Crackberry Fan. That thing ruined me, in terms of expectations (read: demands) I have when looking at other PDAs. My hatred of Graffiti instigated a PocketPC purchase in late 2000, which I abandoned, with pleasure, when the Treo90 materialized. Short version: gremlins! It's one thing to deal with a desktop/notebook's inexplicable hangs and crashes. Quite another when it happens, frequently (!!), after the "honeymoon period" [about 4-5 months] with a PDA.



    Other Keyboard-Based PDAs:
    I tried the Zaurus-- returned it-- keyboard sets down inside the thing, midway up from the bottom, making it much too onerous to type comfortably. That set-down-inside configuration means there is a ledge surrounding the keyboard, which dramatically interferes with natural thumb movement across the top and bottom rows, leaving only the middle row readily accessible.

    Experimented with the Sony-- laughed. The keys are literally flat, lying flush with the device itself, making accurate typing tedious **at best,** even for those with comparatively small pinkies. That keyboard location is also situated oddly-- midway up the device-- dumb, as it kills the natural tendency to cup the device in both hands. It's also large, like PocketPCs [exception: the new Toshiba]. Folks-- if it's too big to be carried comfortably EVERYwhere, you've lost half the battle before ya even start!



    The Crackberry vs the Treo90:
    First, the Blackberry manual is obvious, as it's in printed form. There IS an equally informative and extensive (254 pgs) Treo90 manual, but in PDF format [4 mb file], on the CD. Definitiely a must-read, IF you want to LEARN how to exploit the device.

    Second, the keyboards are not duplicative, nor can they be, given RIM's [the Blackberry maker] patent on its device/keyboard. Confirming an excellent point made by a previous poster.

    Third, a reality check: during the initial months of using the BB, my thumbs became swollen, in the joint area. Predictable, since I had never before engaged in thumb-typing! As I grew use to the daily tapping, the swelling disappeared. Which yields another reality check: since I am so used to the BB way of handling input, it's downright disconcerting to start playing with another device, which has its own set of nuances. I ain't Job, but patience, borne of understanding the nature of different devices, is imperative enough to coerce even this model of impatience into acting accordingly.



    With that as background:
    "the blackberry puts in the period automatically after two spaces but the Treo does not."
    True. You insert the Treo period, then a space; it then auto-capitalizes the next word. Different nuance, but also intelligent: the period on the Treo does not require a simultaneous second-key/option push; the BB does. Additionally, in various programs where, say, only numbers are acceptable as input, there is no need to push the Treo dual-key combo to yield a number.

    "The RIM keyboard is slightly bigger and the right side keys are pointed towards the center. This makes a huge difference."
    I'm staring at both-- the size difference is miniscule. Both sets of keys are angled. On the Treo, all are angled to the right. On the BB, the left side is angled to the left; the right side, angled to the right. In terms of use, on the continuum, no resulting hassle, at least, for this user.

    "I have realized writing this article that one key to the success of the RIM keyboard is the jog dial/button. It handles the minor navigation needed while letting your hands stay mostly on the keyboard."
    I added a third-party freebie to enhance navigation with the BB [TaskSwitch], and I've done the same with the Treo [McPhling - $12]. Neither device offers perfect navigation, out the box. Both are easily cured-- see next item as well.

    "there is no way to move one line up or one line down with the keyboard"
    A freebie add-on, mentioned and described on this board, with URL, cures this: TreoKeyBoardUtilities. See "Treo 90 Questions" thread at http://discussion.treocentral.com/tc...threadid=24701

    "Also, the black berry numbers are always available without having to shift or anything."
    Numbers: [testing both now to ensure accuracy of following response] With the Blackberry, you MUST press BOTH the orange ALT key PLUS the orange number-you-want key, to get a number. With the Treo, you must press the blue option-key with the desired number, to get the number on screen.

    "The Treo is actually too small, it is smaller than the blackberry. Not good for typing over a long period."
    I never typed long documents on the BB, due to the lack of software. It could be done, with its MemoPad, but it just wasn't worth it. I now do so daily, with the T90:
    -- create/edit court documents, which sync beautifully [read: intact] with WordPerfect
    . . . [DocumentsToGo]
    -- create ebooks, monthly overviews, issue analysis, etc.
    . . . [Natara.com's Bonsai]
    -- ToDo's linked to the Contact/CaseFile-name, thereby yielding a history list per contact
    . . . [iambic.com's ActionNames]
    -- create/revise tax deductible expenses, as well as other lists
    . . . [IliumSoftware.com's ListPro- desktop companion for constant access, printing]
    -- keep all website passwords, serial numbers, software access codes, bank account info, credit card data, etc. encrypted **per category**
    . . . [IliumSoftware.com's EWallet, with desktop companion so it's ALWAYS available]
    . . . === (note: both ListPro and EWallet were carried over from the PocketPC) ===
    -- perform calculations, with a running virtual tape, which can be saved for later editing and exports to MemoPad [free- tApCalc]
    . . . [http://www.softtrends.com/PRODUCTS/tApCalc/tapcalc.html -
    . . . a bear to install, but worth it-- install version 3 of Appforge.com's Booster **first**]
    -- keep several versions of a running journal, which includes time logging
    . . . [Natara.com's DayNotez, desktop companion yields perfect syncs both ways, + TimeJournal]
    -- read/carry the Bible [Laridian.com's MyBible] and dozens of ebooks [PalmReader]
    -- save material from web pages and convert to an ebook for later convenient reading
    . . . [free- IE2PDB; http://www.camelot.net/software/ie2pdb.htm]
    -- save segments of websites for later reading
    . . . [free- iSiloX plus $ iSilo reader]
    -- and play a few delightfully addictive games as my chill-out [Free: Gobble (PacMan clone), free HMaki (Bubble-Pop clone), free Patience (Solitaire, etc clones), free TBlaster- Treo specific; and Bejeweled, Eyes of Hourus, and AcidFreecell].
    -- much more than you care to read or I wanna type here


    Conclusion:
    Despite the sheer number of PDAs in my history, I approach each new device with the acknowledgement that I'm a dummy, as regards that specific device. Barring immediate turn-offs, buying/playing with the thing is merely one part of a two-step process, as I ALWAYS research, before and after purchase. I darn near ate the Treo pdf manual, printing it out and highlighting as I LEARNED the nuances involved. I scoured this and other boards, and ran multiple Google searches. Because I had no previous daily exposure to PalmOS [due to the &^%$% Graffiti], I even went so far as to order all past issues of the UK zine, PalmUser. Best money spent to date, as the zine is incredibly informative, with minimal ad-devoted pages among the 100+ pages per issue. The bad news is I no longer browse American newsstands looking for Palm-anything-- simply not as in-depth, so it's a waste of my $$. In short, the Treo is indeed fun, but first and foremost, it's a tool, and I treat it accordingly while in the learning phase.

    For more than a year, I had a BB clipped to my waist. For the past month-plus, it's been replaced with the Treo90. I'd have never believed that was possible.

    The BB has no rival when it comes to always-on email and wireless web browsing/Google searches [see the free Trancell.com service].

    (For **my** needs) The Treo90 has no rival when it comes to form factor, ease of use, and across-the-board productivity enhancement. The thing paid for itself, as I make more $$ now, because I can always find my notes, and I always know what's ahead courtesy of "haunting here-it-comes ToDos, appearing a week in advance, daily---, all with minimal input on my part. [Great, since I suffer from LTL disability: LongTerm Laziness.]

    My cell is still temperamental when it comes to coverage--- which explains why I continue to avoid all-in-one devices. The technology ain't there yet, and I ain't in the mood to pretend and get my feelings hurt, on a near-daily basis. So the cell and BB stay within easy reach, typically in a unisex waist bag. [Walmart's, of all places, has a surprisingly good selection, for both men and women, at under 10 bucks pricing. Mini-back packs also. Who knew, eh?]

    But no matter where I am or where I go, the Treo gets its clip-on placement front and right-side, just as religiously as I slide shoes on my feet. Synopsis: it's one heck of a [fun] ***tool***, that gets the job done, in style.

    Just my two cents worth, y'all! Treat it accordingly.

    =====
    BTW, as regards the BB 5810-- while the 950 and 957 are available as "Internet Edition" [personal use] or "Corporate Edition" [corporate server required], my (preliminary) research yielded the conclusion the 5810 is a corporate deal only (Exchange or Lotus Notes, & perhaps another). So as not to interfere with the BB form factor, it also has some sort of plug-in ear-phone device. Since I know me, I have every reason to believe that, ultimately, that plug-in doohickey is gonna do what my post-it notes did, regularly-- when I ain't looking, they grow feet, of the Carl Lewis variety, and make a mad dash away from my searching hands and pleading eyes!
    Last edited by WebSter; 07/14/2002 at 12:39 PM.
  9.    #9  
    Great Post! Thanks for the updates, some of my original note was written from memory (i.e. size of keyboard and availability of number keys without hitting option key). You are right on both counts, I should do more editing/checking before posting.

    The other usability issue I hit was my thumb hitting the "up" button instead of the space, a little too frequent. Does that happen to you?

    I must admit I only gave the 90 a week trial, but with fairly extensive use. I think it does A LOT of things right and I really wish I had seen the Hack that does one line up and down, to me that is essential.

    Since you have used the BB 957 a lot, did you use the Organizer features - contacts, calendar and to do's? I would be interested in your comments. Since I am used to Palm add on programs, this would be a huge step back in functionality, but maybe acceptable trade off to get back in the BB world (when I had a BB iin the past it was BB, palm and cell combo which was just too much to carry around.).

    Right now I am leaning towards waiting for the new Blackberries to see if any of the new products might suit me.
  10. #10  
    Yo GadgetSlut,

    [I'm sufferin' some SERIOUS alias/handle envy! ]

    We're getting off topic here. How's about sending me an email directly, with specific Qs, and I'll be happy to get back at cha, using my BB address for more immediate back & forth.
    ...... passin_on_by AT excite DOT com
    If you're using a Net email account, advise. I'll pass on my procmail scheme to you. Auto-organizes good mail as it hits the server, and kills all spam. [3 months start to finish, but "Lawhamercy!" was it worth it!! Straight email bliss since late 2001!]

    Short answer for those breezin' thru-- the one down side of the Blackberry-- PIM exists in name only. Beyond pityful!

    Later.

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