"Indispensable"on by Apathy Curve
Pros The first true convergence device
Cons Poorly designed thumb pad
Summary My review is from the perspective of a business professional who actually has use for the features of this phone, rather than the plague of technogeek children who normally post "reviews" on this site. I can tell you straight away, it's like having a second brain, secretary, and laptop attached to your belt clip. While not truly perfect, (more like a 9.5), I'm rounding up and giving the Treo 650 a perfect "10" in order to offset the enormous number of seemingly clueless people who rated it so low. In a mere two months, this device has become absolutely essential for me to do my job successfully.
First, to address the issue of the phone volume, I have talked on it extensively, both with a headphone and with the built-in speaker/mic, and I've been completely satisfied. Contrary to what some have said, it is quite audible and easy to hear, and I've had no complaints from the party I was talking with, in environments ranging from quiet restrooms to noisy stadiums and bars. Further, I'm half-deaf in my left ear from too many years around explosives. Perhaps you folks with trouble hearing it need to hold it closer to your ear and/or increase the volume (the rocker switch on the left-hand side). Those who have complained that they can't be heard probably just need to grab a pair and speak up. The phone has worked flawlessly for me.
As to the PDA functionality, the Treo 650 uses the Palm OS5 operating system, for which there is a plethora of aftermarket software available. I've got everything from a shopping database to a novel reader to an AutoCAD viewer to '80's arcade games on it right now. Yes, I can actually download AutoCAD drawings at the office, pull it out when I go out for a field inspection, and get detailed measurements right on my phone. The fact that SD cards are now dirt cheap makes this even easier. I simply load up a card with all the drawings from a given job, stick it in my pocket, and head to the site. Much easier than carrying around rolls of drawings. (And it's got an enormous "cool" factor to it as well, I must admit.)
The full synchro with my Outlook Contacts, Tasks, and Calender is what really made me dependent on this thing nearly overnight, though. When you have several hundred contacts, entering them in one, let alone two devices, becomes prohibitively time consuming. One push of a button, and it's done with this little gem. The Task synchro is equally useful, as it doesn't allow me to forget meetings or appointments when I'm away from my desk--something I was wont to do before buying this thing.
I also find I'm reading a lot more than I had been before I got this device. Now that my books are always with me, I can just pull it out and read when I have a few free minutes. I've got more recreational reading done in the past two months than I had in the previous two years.
The camera is very good in low light; most of the pictures of my drinking buddies on the caller I.D. were taken at happy hour in a dark, smoky bar, and the pictures are quite clear. It's easy to use, and gives more than adequate quality for a camera on a phone. If you want to create photographic artwork, go buy a digital SLR. This is not intended for such use.
Reception and signal strength on digital networks is quite good, and I've experienced no cut-out or stutter. Dropped calls are non-existent so far, but that's more a function of the network load than the phone.
All in all, this is the most handy little thing I've ever owned. If you're like me, you're always saying to yourself, (or your mate), "I need to remember to do such-and-such...", and then you promptly forget about it. Well, not any more; now I just grab my phone off my belt, enter the reminder, memo, calender event, or shopping item, and I won't forget, because this little spare brain won't let me. It already saved me from forgetting my girlfriend's birthday--that paid for it, right there.
In summary, if you actually have use for the features of this device, you'll find that it will quickly become a prized possession. If, on the other hand, you're a whiny techno-nerd living with mommy, and your Contacts folder consists of your own number and the local pizzeria, I'm sure you can find something else to complain about without unfairly attacking this excellent little device.
Pros cool to look at
Cons Buggiest thing I've ever used. Worse than Windows 3.1
First, let me say that this phone is potentially fantastic. I say "potentially", because there are some major flaws that prevent me from recommending this phone. If PalmOne fixes them in the future, I'd wholeheartedly recommend this. Until then, this phone is strictly for the technical gadget lover who can tolerate buggy life on the bleeding edge.
Random Reboots Turn the Phone Off
The phone sometimes reboots by itself, without any human interaction. Yep, it might just be sitting there on your desk and it might just decide to reboot. Now that might not sound so bad, but if you don't see it during the reboot, there's no obvious indication afterwards that this has happened. The user may never know that the phone rebooted. To make matters worse, the phone reboots to a mode where the PDA function is ON but phone section is OFF. So you might be using it to look up appointments and such and if you're not attentive, you might miss the fact that the phone is OFF. While the phone is OFF, incoming calls go directly to voicemail, and since the phone is OFF, you won't get any notifications that you have a voicemail. This makes for a very dangerous situation for a business professional relying on the Treo 650 as a communication device.
Random Phone Shutdowns
Sometimes, the phone doesn't reboot by itself, but it does seem to randomly shutdown or set the phone section to OFF. This situation seems to occur in marginal Sprint PCS service areas where the phone is switching often between a Sprint PCS tower and a Verizon tower.
So just as with the random reboots, you might be using it to look up appointments and such and if you're not attentive, you might miss the fact that the phone is OFF. While the phone is OFF, incoming calls go directly to voicemail, and since the phone is OFF, you won't get any notifications that you have a voicemail. Again, this makes for a very dangerous situation for a business professional relying on the Treo 650 as a communication device.
Versamail is a very buggy application. If you get any reasonable volume of email, like 10 or more a day, I guarantee it will reboot at least once every two days. When Versamail crashes, the phone reboots and ALL Versamail email settings including logins, passwords, settings, all emails that were stored on the phone, etc. If you're on the road away from your computer, this not the happiest of situations. You can re-enter all the settings back into the Treo 650, but it's quite tedious, and in most cases you'll wait to get back to your PC where a hotsync restores most Versamail settings. However, there are some settings that still need to be re-entered in to the Treo to get it back to it's original email condition.
Remember that a Versamail crash reboots the whole Treo 650 and as I've mentioned before, these reboots turn the phone OFF, so you won't get incoming calls or voicemail notifications until you manually turn the phone back on.
I've used blackberry's in the past, and the Palm Versamail application is promising in that it doesn't strip out any email formatting. However, as mentioned, Versamail is a horrible buggy application that may inspire you to throw your phone through the window at times when you really need an email.
Don't believe what you read in the Treo 650 forums about the "delete corrupted database" workaround. It doesn't work. It only postpones the next reboot from 2 days to maybe 4 days(after that 4th day it'll resume rebooting every 1 or 2 days again). In fact I rebuilt my phone from scratch with a brand new database via a hard reboot and the problem still existed. I even returned the phone for a 2nd Treo 650 and the 2nd one had the identical problem.
On one occassion, Versamail didn't even reboot the phone. The screen stayed brilliant white and didn't respond to any keys. Versamail locked up the phone so badly that neither a soft reboot, nor a "soft restart" (that's an undocumented Palm tech-support recommended reboot that's between a soft & hard reboot) could resusciate the phone. I had to hard-reboot, which loses all the data. Resynching with PC will restore most, but not all settings.
Blackberry email vs. Treo 650 email? Blackberry wins hands down in the email department on the sole basis of stability. Veramail is written by PalmOne themselves and it's hard to imagine that they could release something so horrid.
Headset locks the unit up
There's more to this instability story. Today I plugged in my Treo 650 handsfree and the phone just plain gave up the ghost, or at least for a few minutes it did. It didn't reboot by itself, but it just lay there like it had a heart attack. It didn't respond to any buttons. I had to soft reboot it to make it come back to life. No settings were lost.
Phone performance was ok with Sprint PCS. I can say OK because I compared it to the Sanyo VM4500 which always has 2 bars more reception than the Treo 650. In the New Jersey / New York area, Sprint PCS coverage is far better than T-Mobile, but not as good as Cingular or Verizon. The handsfree sound quality was great (far superior to the muffled sound of handsfree Motorola V600 or handsfree Ericsson T68i).
I got around to playing some MP3's from the SD card. The music had some skipping that became quite irritating after just a few minutes. Alas, that's not the end of the bad news. The included RealPlayer will also crash the Treo650 when editing playlists. Fortunately, the resulting reboots in these situations leave the phone on.
For a $300 to $600 device, it's quite disappointing that Treo includes practically nothing in the way of convenince with the unit. There's no carrying case, no protective case, no belt clip, and no charging/sync cradle. Blackberry's at least include a nice leatherette case/clip.
Pros great palm ; great games ; easy to use; voice dialing is very cool
Cons is that an echo??? the sound quality is poor.! no scratchpad.
Summary I had a difficult time returning the palm treo 650. I loved the functionality. the combination of a palm and a phone was great! (lighter on the pocket book) but every time i talked on the phone no one could not hear me clearly. i had to repeat myself or call back from a landline. people stated it souded as if i was in a tunnel... the microphone is poor quality!!!
hope they can correct this for the next version..
"Best PDA ever"on by palmcrash
Pros bluetooth (wireless headset, sync, etc), great screen, keyboard, excellent internet/phone/pda integration, best software selection, fast, keeps data/apps when battery's dead, $10 unlimited net, SD
Cons small memory (only 23MB), doesn't bundle cradle ($40 on amazon), sprint version doesn't have int'l roaming like GSM
Summary I broke my Verizon contract and bought this ultimate geek phone! I've had 3 other palm pilots in the past, but the features and performance of this puppy almost has me in tears of joy. =,)
$420 at buy.com - $150 sprint/treo promo (call sprint) - $150 rebate (after 6 months) = $120!!!
Phone/email (even gmail!)/web browser/IM/sms txt: check!
Camera/camcorder/music/video (even divx!) player: check!
Can run thousands of various programs & games: check!
Wash & fold laundry: ...speed dial set to the cleaners.
Although Verizon's phone reception is a bit better than Sprint's, I'm ticked off at Verizon's policy of crippling their phones' features to force people to buy their ringtones & pics. Sure enough, Verizon'll be releasing this same phone in a month or so, but with bunch of features disabled.
Sprint offers unlimited Internet & 100 SMS text for only $10, while Verizon & GSM providers charger $40+. Want hi-res camera? Get a Canon SD300! People using their phone as primary camera always crack me up. You can easily copy pics/movies to SD card from your computer.
Treo 650 doesn't have wifi, but who needs it when you have unlimited internet for $10, anyway? Bluetooth DUN is disabled, but get Shadowmite's free utility to enable it. Be sure to install Sprint's 1.08 ROM update (fixes memory cluster issue & gives louder headset/speaker).
PowerRun (run apps directly from SD card)
QLaunch (map multi apps to same hard button)
ShortCut5 (free; use "."+any letter(s) for shortcut test, ie. .firstname.lastname@example.org; existed in older Palm, but gone in Treo)
TreoNaviText (free; skip by words, ie. ctrl-left/right in windows)
TreoSelectText (select by word or line)Updated
The Sprint Treo 650 v1.12 update fixes these issues:
Resolves NVRAM space issue (freed up ~30% memory), better bluetooth (also includes BT Dial-Up Network), louder headset, faster phone connection, updated VersaMail, etc.
PalmOne used to offer a free 128MB SD card because of the NVRAM space issue, but not anymore for Sprint/Verizon (I already got mine though, hehe). I use a Lexar 256MB 32x (~$40), anyway.
Pros Great form factor, security improved from 300, Bluetooth
Cons Terrible customer service, keys lock out, memory and dialing problems
Summary The problems started before the phone--I should say, phones--arrived. I
ordered one phone from PalmOne's website. The website sent a message
saying the order didn't go through and I should try again. I did. Then
I checked my email, and I had two emails from PalmOne, each containing
a different order number, and each saying that my phone was on the way.
I called PalmOne immediately. I used the "existing orders" option on
the phone tree. I waited and waited. Then I hung up and called back,
this time choosing the "new orders" option. I got right through to a
rep, and explained my problem. He testily told me that I had gotten
through to the wrong place, and that he would transfer to me where I
"should have gone." I held for HALF AN HOUR. Finally, I got another
rep, who told me he couldn't stop an order that was in progress,
because his computer couldn't access the new order database (odd, I
thought, for an information technology company). I would have to wait
for both orders to arrive, and send one back. I decided right then and
there to send them both back. But....
Then they both arrived. I opened them. They looked beautiful. I left
one in the sealed plastic bag it came in. But I opened the other one.
It was so cool, and so highly anticipated. What could it hurt to try
it, I thought. Just one. So I did. I activated it.
It was fabulous. I admit it. I fell in love. It could take pictures. It
was faster than my old Treo 300. It was sleek. It was light. It had
Bluetooth. And it had a secure lockout that had been sorely lacking on
OK, so it wasn't quite perfect.
There's the dialing problem: you hit the dial button on the screen, and
nothing appears to happen. Then you hit it again. Then .... Ok, there
it goes, it's dialing. But wait, that same place on the screen where
the dial button used to be, is now the hang up button. And when you hit
that spot the second time, the phone remembered that you had hit that
spot, and when it finally gave you the dialing screen with the hang-up
button in that spot, it flashed that hang up button and hung up. So you
learn, hit that dial button just once, have faith, and wait. Don't give
up too soon and hit that button again, because you'll just hang up and
have to start over. Unless you really didn't quite hit that dial button
when you thought you did, in which case it won't dial at all.
And don't think you can just go to the call log, highlight the number
and hit the center button on the chassis to redial. Nope, that'll
cancel the call log,and return you to the main phone screen. Toggle
left to the details button and click that, but just once, because on
the next screen, the done button is in that spot. If you hit that
details button twice, it will remember that you did that,and when you
get to that details screen, it will flash the done button and send you
back to the main phone screen. No, when you get to that details screen,
you must toggle right again to press the dial button. And you must
wait, because the phone is going to tease you for a moment or two or
10-20 seconds, before finally, finally dialing that call.
The you read on a support site that you can just highlight the number
on the call log and press the off-hook button on the chassis. This will
dial your call. This turns out to be a damnable lie.
Meanwhile, I am letting time pass. I call and wait and wait for the
"right" customer service person to answer my call at PalmOne, for they
have made it abundantly clear that they will not accept returned
merchandise without an authorization number. And since I am one of the
shmoes who has already plopped down my credit card to buy one--no,
two--of their gizmos, they are in no hurry to talk to me. Apparently,
they are too busy laughing their way to the bank.
I hang up, planning to call next week. I forget to do so, and now I am
stuck with the second phone.
Why was I so stupid, you ask? Well for one thing, I was sitting up
nights trying to get all my old software on the device. I should really
call and plan to be on the phone for the next hour, I would think, and
then get busy with the software. In my work, I use a number of
memory-intensive applications, including ePocrates and the Sanford
Guide. These fit quite nicely on my Treo 300. As it turns out, there is
a slight memory problem with the 650. The transition to NVFS has
created a need for each application to use much more memory. My
applications don't fit anymore. I buy an SD card, only to discover that
a) my applications will not run from this card, and b) PalmOne
subsequently gave away free cards.
I manage to move everything I can possibly move, to the card. Now my
ePocrates can run. I delete the Sanford Guide. Thinks go reasonably
well, as I have learned to be very, very patient when dialing the
phone. Weeks pass.
Now the real fun begins. My phone turns on, but the buttons don't work.
I reset the phone. Same thing. I do a soft reset and a hard reset,
losing all the data I entered since my last backup. No luck. I realize
I can dial a number using the screen. This allows the phone to turn on,
but the keys still don't work. Someone calls me, and now suddenly the
keys work. Then I turn the screen off, and I am back to where I
Now, as it turns out, perhaps the only company in the world with worse
customer service in the world than PalmOne, is Sprint. Alas, PalmOne
has delegated technical support for its Sprint phones, to Sprint. I
call Sprint. I wait. I wait some more. It turns out the person I talk
to doesn't know anything about the 650. She puts me on hold, and
disconnects me. I call back. I wait. I wait some more. I get another
person who doesn't know the 650, but as it turns out, the 650 guy (that
would be the singular, guy) is supposed to be gone, but he is waiting
for his girlfriend to pick him up and is still there. He gets on the
line. "That phone," he says decisively. "is absolutely, positively
defective. Take it to a Sprint store, and they will replace it for
you." We wish each other well.
I go to the Sprint store. I am told that every time there has ever been
any problem with the 650, it has been the customer's fault for loading
software incorrectly. I am given a long lecture about how to load
software on the 650. This is a lecture I could have given myself, had
the representative run out of breath, which he did not, as I had by
this point become something of an expert on software compatibility on
the Treo 650. I was also told, that according to the store computer, I
had never spoken to customer service, let alone the 650 guy, and I had
never, ever been told that my 650 was "absolutely, positively
defective." I could leave my 650 in the store for some unspecified
number of days, and when the tech came in, she would look at it, and
undoubtedly tell me that I had loaded software incorrectly on my
And here is where I made an interesting discovery. If you call *2 from
your own phone, you may wait until hell freezes over and monkeys fly
from odd places until someone picks up on the other end. However, if
you call *2 from an activated display phone in a Sprint Store, a
chipper voice will greet you almost immediately. In the event of a
problem, you will be forwarded to someone who can actually make things
happen. And this someone, in my case, entered a few key strokes in his
computer, instructing the Sprint Store to replace my phone.
And so began my wait for a factory reconditioned phone. No, not a new
phone, a factory reconditioned phone. A week and a half later, it
This phone had better voice transmission quality. My friends no longer
complained that I sounded like I was calling through a tunnel. My
mother's hearing improved. I diligently followed the instructions for
loading software, and I was able to get most of my software on with
room to spare. Go figure.
The keys worked. For six weeks. Now, amazingly, I am having the same
key lock problem. I am beginning to understand from reading other
reviews, that this is not unusual.
Unfortunately, as I was about to walk out the door of the Sprint Store
with my factory-reconditioned phone, the representative said to me,
"Oh, and by the way, there is no warranty on this one."
I stopped in the Sprint Store today. I was told the tech wasn't in, and
was asked if I would like to leave my 650 for her to test whenever she
gets back in. I asked how much it will cost to break my contract with
Sprint. It'll be $150. I think I can get that on eBay for the other
My employer is giving me a Tungsten T5, which I will be using for my work-related software. For personal use, I will be buying a BlackBerry, and switching to Verizon.