My Current Smartphone

If my #2 device is an iPad, what is #1?  What could possibly be so great that it pushed the iPad to #2.  You’ll think I’m joking, so read this whole article before forming an opinion.

Most people who own Smartphones rarely use Notes, Notepad, or whatever it’s called on your device.  Fewer still ever use their device to write a Microsoft Word document.  However, that’s the function I use the most!  Measure how much time I spend with various apps, and you’ll agree that I spend the most time editing and writing documents.  Documents, all kinds of documents, mostly Microsoft Word documents.  My second most-used App?  Notes.  Because I sync this device and my iPad to the same computer, the same Notes sync to all 3 devices and more (more because I have MobileMe, which I’ll explain in a later post.).

What about games?  I went through a time with my first computer when I was spending too much time playing games, almost every night.  That computer was at my office, and several of us stayed late night after night playing Pac Man and other early games.  A couple of notebook computers ago, I uninstalled Solitaire and other games I was spending too much time on.  I remember having a selection of games on a Palm device, and I spent too much time getting too good at several games.  I downloaded a few free games onto my iPad, but haven’t played them yet.  I’m writing this on my newest Windows notebook computer, and I just realized I’ve NEVER played any of the games that came installed.

My device of choice?  A Palm Treo 700wx running Windows Mobile Professional v6.0 (not the new Windows Phone 7).  I mentioned that Word Processing is very important to me, and the word processing experience on Windows Mobile 6.x is currently the best on a mobile device.  There are several reasons to prefer this combination of hardware and software.  First is the screen, called a resistive screen.  A stylus working with the menus found on WinMo 6.x devices is the quickest way to select text and perform various functions.  Apple, Android, Palm, Windows Phone 7 and many devices today use a different technology called a capacitive screen.  You can use your fingers instead of a stylus on a capacitive screen.  In fact, only a special and expensive stylus will work — most won’t.  Sounds good, but your fingers aren’t as good a tool for tapping a precise spot on the screen.  Oil, dirt and other stuff from your fingers ends up on the screen.  We use our fingers as makeshift pliers, screwdrivers, forks and other tools, but the real tools are much better than fingers.  Much as I like the iPad, word processing on the iPad is clunkier and slower than on the Treo.

The Treo’s Windows Mobile software works with standard fonts.  The same fonts on my computers can be on the Treo.  The iPad and many other devices use their own special fonts, which don’t translate exactly the same cross-platform.

Next factor is getting documents in and out of the device.  It’s easy with the Treo.  Docs in the Treo’s main memory are also in a folder on the computers I sync with.  Many other docs are on SD cards.  Pop an SD card into the Treo, work with Word or Excel (spreadsheet) files, then pop the SD card into any computer.  It’s not that quick or easy with the iPad.

Backing up the Treo is easy.  A program on the Treo backs up everything to a file on the SD card.  Every week I take that SD card, pop it into a computer, and make a copy of the whole SD card.  I make another Treo backup to a second SD card, just in case.

The sad thing is, iPad backups and document import/export could be very easy.  Apple makes a ‘Camera Connector Kit’ for the iPad.  Insert the dongle into the iPad’s connector port, pop an SD card into the dongle, and the iPad reads and imports pictures from the SD card.  An iOS update could allow other files to be imported, and exported.  Backups to an SD card could also be allowed.  Please, Apple.

I had problems with my Treo last fall.  Time to buy another phone before this one dies!  I had kept up with the device reviews, had several possibilities in mind, so off I went to the phone store.  I would NEVER buy a device online or mail order unless I was very familiar with that device hands-on.  The devices running Windows Mobile 6.x were all end-of-life and out-of-stock.  After trying several Android devices, I decided the best device was what I had.  I called the insurance company, they had refurbished Treos in stock, so they shipped me another one.  Another advantage of a refurb over a new phone is — no contract!

Finding the Treo 4 years ago was like finding Miss America on a blind date.  The salesman didn’t want to sell it to me!  “You looked at everything we had, found fault with everything, and I’m sure you’ll find fault with this.  This is brand new, released only yesterday, and a hot item.  This is the only one left.  I sell it to you, you’ll bring it back, and someone else who may appreciate it won’t get to use it because this is the last one we have in stock for a few days.”  I had to admit what he said was true, but I needed a phone.  Mine had fallen in the snow.  I retrieved it immediately, but it was obviously damaged and dying.  I always analyze everything to death, so jumping on a just-released device is not like me.  The Treo 700w had been released only yesterday, reviews on the Internet sites weren’t published yet, so this was taking a huge chance.  This could be a piece of junk, and I was agreeing to buy, use, and keep it for an entire year.  I told him that was the phone I wanted, he copied data from my dying phone to the Treo, and away I went.  Four years later, this is still the best phone, for me.  An earlier article (below) lists other Treo advantages.

I saw that salesman in an electronics store a year or two later.  I reminded him how he hadn’t wanted to sell the Treo to me.  He remembered me, and laughed at how the phone he was sure I wouldn’t like turned out to be the perfect phone for me.


About pdacomputing

Small business owner in Pittsburgh, PA. I've used different mobile platforms over the years; currently using 2 very different platforms.
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