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  1.    #1  
    I currently have a Casio BE-300, but lack of suitable third-party software for it is making me consider keeping it strictly as an MP3 player/digital photo display unit. So naturally, I'm considering getting a PDA which won't restrict me to using just the built-in apps.

    The Treo 90 looks interesting, and I had a chance to fiddle with
    one at my local Future Shop today.

    Up close and personal, the Treo 90 looks a bit different from the way it does on the official Handspring site. For one thing, the case colour is a rather pale bronze colour, not quite as deep as the official Handspring photos would seem to indicate. The plastic flip cover looks thicker and more like the Treo 180/270 covers in the photos. In reality, it's rather thin.

    Switched on, the Treo's 12-bit display proved to be clear, very bright, and very readable. Unfortunately the 160 X 160-pixel display renders a very pixelated and somewhat coarse look. It's not as smooth and bright as the Visor Prism, and not quite as nice as the Sony Clié displays, or even Palm's M515 colour unit.

    The famous (or infamous, if you prefer) 'hot spot' on the 90's screen is clearly the result of the backlight used for illumination, and it doesn't interfere all that much.

    One can only hope that future iterations of the '90 will have better displays.

    The real, and rather pleasant surprise, is found in the ergonomics. The '90 is feather light and fits in your hand comfortably. The application buttons are easy to locate and use. In fact, their location and size is so natural that you actually want to use them to access the various main applications. With previous Palm devices I've owned, these buttons always seemed somewhat superfluous.

    The keyboard is very good. It does take a little getting used to,
    but it's not long before you find yourself typing like a pro- or should that be 'thumbing'?, since the Treo 90's keyboard is more like a thumb-board than anything else. In fact, you could easily and comfortably type out a 250 - 500 word article using the Treo's keyboard - if you have small hands and fingers, like I do.
    It's that good. Handspring have done their homework here, even if they have shamelessly copied the general layout of the RIM Blackberry thumb-board. In sum, for anyone who has trouble with Graffiti, it's a life-saver.

    I have just one minor quibble with the keyboard: Capitalizing the letter "S" and and any of the other letters found on the left side of the board can be tricky. That's because your thumbs are so close together when one holds down the shift key, and the other depresses the appropriate letter key. It's like a game of "Twister" for people who are "all thumbs" in miniature.

    The 'feel' of the keys and buttons is generally good as well. Overall, they're very positive and offer good tactile feedback. A Clié-style jog-dial would be a nice feature but is actually not necessary, since the scroll buttons found in the bottom middle of the user interface perform the same navigational function.

    Several things about the Treo 90 were mildly off-putting. The case, as compact and light as it is, feels a bit flimsy, and the stylus is rather short. In fairness to Handspring, however, the sizing is the end result of having to fit it into a rather small package. At least it feels substantial compared to the swizzle sticks that come with most handheld computers.

    There's also no MP3 capability. Then again, few people buy a Palm OS device to listen to music, Sony Clié units excepted.

    At $479.99 (Canadian), the price is about right, if a little on the high side. There are effectively no competing handhelds available in the Canadian market at that price level, unless you want to settle for a monochrome Palm or older Windows CE devices, or Casio's BE-300 Pocket Manager.

    In the final analysis, the Treo 90 is striking because of the generally good value it offers and its intelligent if not entirely innovative ergonomics. Just a few nips, tucks, and minor improvements need to be made, and Handspring will have an absolute winner on its hands. Now if someone would just pay me for writing this review, I could go out and buy one tomorrow!
    Donations gratefully accepted!

    Overall rating: B -
  2. #2  
    after reading your message I toddled off to my neighborhood Future Shop. It had only the dummy display model and a clerk who could care less bout $500 sale. Went to Mississauga FS, had not even dummy altho the clerk if possible was dumber, ignorant, and less helpful if that can be believed, than the 1st one. Finally went to another FS which had 1 in stock they'd received a day ago and a caring sales rep. Got to play after he opened box and charged it for me. Gonna be a learning curve moving from styles driven but liked what i saw very much

    My conundrum ... price is just toooooo high (not even considering the $ which i doubt i'll see even partial value for, tied to my Visor Deluxe in accessories). That aside, I made a trip to Staples to see if they had. Nope and no idea if/when. Asked if they would honour extended warranty if I got from US Staples ... unequivocal NO ! The Cdn XWarranty is good in US but not vice versa apparently.

    Still with the exchange, I'm sorely tempted to buy stateside.

    Have you or anyone come up with a source / price / best value for us Canadians having a new $5.00 bill that spends a lot like the US $1 ?
  3. #3  
    As a fellow Canadian, I am looking at Amazon to buy my Treo. I know the new Amazon.ca doesn't carry electronics (rather sad that they don't, I guess they figure Canadians don't have electricity yet) but I will buy from Amazon.com. Having an American mailbox (one that accepts UPS and Fed-ex) is REALLY handy to have...I went to the Future Shop in Vancouver (Their big flagship store) and they had an open box deal that they let me play with (It went for $431..some deal eh?) and it's pretty suite. The only thing is is the stylus fell out on the demo unit, it was funny watching the salesperson try to explain it was me not putting it in right . While this worries me a bit I believe that it isn't really an issue (especially compared to the iPaq and its screen difficulties).
    Alex.
  4. #4  
    [QUOTE]Originally posted by pathfinder62

    I have just one minor quibble with the keyboard: Capitalizing the letter "S" and and any of the other letters found on the left side of the board can be tricky. That's because your thumbs are so close together when one holds down the shift key, and the other depresses the appropriate letter key. It's like a game of "Twister" for people who are "all thumbs" in miniature.


    Good News! The Treo has a "sticky" shift key. You don't have to hold it down while pressing the letter key.
  5.    #5  
    Originally posted by Confused
    after reading your message I toddled off to my neighborhood Future Shop. It had only the dummy display model and a clerk who could care less bout $500 sale. Went to Mississauga FS, had not even dummy altho the clerk if possible was dumber, ignorant, and less helpful if that can be believed, than the 1st one. Finally went to another FS which had 1 in stock they'd received a day ago and a caring sales rep. Got to play after he opened box and charged it for me. Gonna be a learning curve moving from styles driven but liked what i saw very much

    My conundrum ... price is just toooooo high (not even considering the $ which i doubt i'll see even partial value for, tied to my Visor Deluxe in accessories). That aside, I made a trip to Staples to see if they had. Nope and no idea if/when. Asked if they would honour extended warranty if I got from US Staples ... unequivocal NO ! The Cdn XWarranty is good in US but not vice versa apparently.

    Still with the exchange, I'm sorely tempted to buy stateside.

    Have you or anyone come up with a source / price / best value for us Canadians having a new $5.00 bill that spends a lot like the US $1 ?
    How typical of Future Shop not to care whether they make a sale or not. Same thing with Staples: "Duhh... Treo *what*?" Amazingly, they had Treo 180's in stock but no idea what the Treo 90 is or whether they were going to carry it. F*ck 'em, I say.

    This same mentality seems to have infected the entire retail industry in Canada. I call it the "English Shopkeeper Syndrome": "This is all we have on sale, we have just one in stock, or have to order it, and it's overpriced. Like it or lump it, and you'll *bloody well like it*!"No wonder why big Canadian retailers like The Bay (around since 1670!) are in trouble.

    Unless you can find a Treo90 in the States for less than $299, you won't save any money. Any savings you do get (remember you'll have to pay GST/PST once you declare it at the border), will be eaten up by what you spend in gas and your time.

    As for the value of Canadian pesos, well, we have to pay the Americans something for defending us, since we won't spend any money on our own defence forces. The price we pay for security is a weak dollar.

    We've got to start doing more in Canada than just exporting our natural resources. A *colour* RIM Blackberry PDA with SD and CF slots, anyone? If such a beast existed, it could be bought with Canadian currency and would be priced competitively - and would mean we're not paying $500 to acquire something with a market value of $299.


    Thus endeth my rant.
  6. #6  
    If it makes you feel any better, I've gone to two different Staples stores and and Circuit City here in the Seattle, WA area, and they haven't had any Teo 90's to look at either.

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