Treo 600, Sidekick Comment

january 15, 2006

There was a comment on my old Treo 600 vs. Sidekick II posting that I replied to. I wanted to put up my reply as a posting with elaboration. The original comment came from a Stephen:

It would be interesting to revisit your review [of the Treo 600] now, after you’ve had some time. I suffered through some of the data outages with the Sidekick II, too, but now as I look at new smartphones like the PPC-6700 and the upcoming UTC Wizard, I have to say I’m so used to this OS. Everything else seems less “natural.” And, I loathe the idea of going to Microsoft anything…. The OS update that added JavaScript and improved web sites helped a good bit. Part of me wonders if the SK III with EDGE will come out soon enough to recapture my interest. I really wish Apple would do a Sidekick-like device, integrated with an iPod. That would be the bomb.
I used the Treo 600 for all of three months (plus or minus a little), got a Motorola Razr V3 and stuck the Treo into its box. Stuffed the box into my closet with the thought that I would pull it out later if I got the hankering to use a smartphone again. Last week, I pulled it out, charged it up, HotSync’d it, stuck my SIM in, and well…took the SIM out, hard reset it, put it back in its box, and sold it to a co-worker. Then I took the wad of money from the Treo 600 sale and bought a Nokia 6682 smartphone. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t bring myself back to using the Treo. It wasn’t anything major, but lots of minor things that got me to sell it. The stubby antenna always poked me in the ear when I talked on the phone. The need to use a stylus, even a small amount of time bugged me. The non-removable battery bugged me. The need to have to charge the phone every night bugged me. The need to use a cable to sync bugged me. The proprietary image format that was used when a picture was saved to an SD card bugged me. The terrible camera bugged me. See, it wasn’t anything big like it couldn’t get reception (on the contrary, it got great reception). Nor was it some serious problem with it crashing (though it did from time to time). It was just a bunch of minor things. There were two other factors that got me to sell the Treo 600 last week and not hold onto it. The first was the release of the Treo 700w. With that release, Palm had discontinued the Treo 600. With the discontinuation, that meant the resale value of a Treo 600 would plummet. I had to get it out of my hands before it was worth nothing on the resale market. The second large reason was that the battery was not (easily) replaceable. If I let the thing sit in my closet for a long time, the battery would not only be dead from not having a charge, it would be dead from age (remember, batteries are chemical reactions and those only go on for a fair amount of time). I wanted to get a fair amount of return on what I paid for the thing and I also did not want to screw the buyer with a phone that had a bad battery. We’ll see how the Nokia works out. I love the Bluetooth, the 1.3Mpixel camera, and the keypad navigation. Oh, and the speedy EDGE support. Typing on the phone is not a joy as I have to deal with T9 (which I am fairly fast at, but is not the same as having a thumbboard). Though, that sword cuts both ways as I can now tap out messages fairly quickly with one hand, whereas I was a bit slow with one hand on the Treo. The pictures from the 1.3Mpixel camera are actually surprisingly good. I did not buy the phone specifically for the camera, but I am definitely going to be using the camera more because of the quality of the pictures. Now pictures from my phone do not look like abstract art. Bluetooth is great. I don't use my BT headset much, but I love transfering files and syncing wirelessly with my Powerbook. But, I'll have to use the phone more before I give it a rave review or sad rejection. So far, if nothing strange happens, I think I will be leaning towards rave review. I’ll admit, I really did like the Sidekick OS. It was easy to use, very intuitive and fun. I wish that it could be customized so that I didn’t have to stare at anime characters all day long. I wish that it could be open, so that I could load my own apps onto it. But, the one thing that still bothers me is the fact that it is tied to Danger’s backend servers. When I left the Sidekick behind, all the data I had on it was gone also. I couldn’t get it off the device and trying to get it off the website was a joke. I don’t like someone holding my data hostage like that. And, even if the backend servers have gotten better, I still don’t like being tied down to them. With my old Treo and with my new Nokia, I am free to use whatever browser I want. All of them have Javascript support built-in and I don't have to rely on a backend proxy server to rerender all the pages for me. At first, I thought all of the backend stuff was cool, but when problems started happening -- down servers, hacked servers, and data held hostage -- that really put out the excitement pretty quickly. If you step back and look at the Sidekick, you'll come to realize that it is nothing but a dumb terminal. The Sidekick is a brick without Danger's servers, it can't be used anywhere else but T-Mobile (which must make T-Mobile execs happy) and if Danger ever when out of business, you have a brick. With a true smartphone, it all runs and gets stored on the phone itself. Yea, I wish Apple would come out with an updated Newton device — with the option of WiFi VoIP, not GSM. That would be a killer device.