Stranded In The Southland

Friday, March 25, 2005

Treo 300 vs. Treo 600

Okay, I've been a happy Treo 300 user for the last couple of years, but I recently broke two of them within a year. They are kind of fragile -- they're made out of cheap, low-impact plastic -- so I cleverly bought the insurance, and the insurance got me a new Treo each time.

This last time, though, they informed me that since I'd destroyed two Treos within a year, they were dropping me from the insurance. Further, they said rather snippily, they might not replace the phone with a Treo 300, but with an equivilent phone. I kinda panic'ed and pushed them on it, and they said that it would still be a Treo, but maybe not a 300. Hmmm.

To my surprise and delight, they sent me a brand-spankin' new Treo 600, the next-generation Treo. It is smaller, cuter, and far more capable. It has a camera, an SD slot, an ARM CPU, and double the memory (32MB).

The CPU runs nearly five times faster than the CPU in my old 300; it really isn't that noticably faster, but it is important that I can now run PalmOS 5 applications. This is a big win. Having the SD card means that I can stack up 1GB worth of data -- since the phone plays mp3's, I could imagine using up all this space.

In fact, I'm hoping to start using this phone as an in-car mp3 player -- I can get a charger and a stereo adaptor for it, so I can just pipe stuff straight into my car via a tape deck adaptor, and enjoy tunes whereever I go. Yow.

I'm a little bummed that this isn't a flip phone -- I really liked the way that the cover protected the screen on the 300, and I liked being able to just whip it out and answer it. With the 600, you have to hit a button to unlock the screen, and I need to buy a new holster which will protect it a bit better. On the other hand, the flip phone hinge was what broke on both of my Treo 300's, so maybe it isn't so bad to nuke that part.

All of the software is just a little updated for the 600. I can attach pictures to specific callers (although this is kind of clunky), but in general, things stay pretty much the same. The browser is much better than on the 300 -- I can actually set it up to display maps from, so I can navigate. With the 300, the maps would be automagically reduced in size, so I couldn't read them.

Strangely enough, the browser refused to display all of a 120 KB web page that the 300 viewed just fine. In fact, the phone crashed when trying to display it. That's been my only crash, though, so I'm not too upset quite yet. My firmware is up to date, so hopefully this was just an anomoly.

It is supposed to be easy to hook up the 600 to your laptop to use as a modem, but I haven' t looked up the details since I got the phone. Hopefully it'll work out, as it is occasionally useful to be able to check e-mail or whatever remotely. There is supposedly a soft 100MB/month limit -- if you use more data than that, Sprint will come after you, possibly suspending your data service.

There's also a nice SMS messaging app added. Unfortunately, my SO is temporarily phoneless, and I really don't send SMS messages to a whole lot of other folks. We'll see how this works out -- in principle, SMS seems far more useful than something like voicemail, since it is quick and clear and doesn't take a long time to retrieve.

Other than that one odd crash (in two weeks of heavy usage) and the lack of a flip phone, I've been pretty pleased with the Treo 600. It seems to do the job, and it certainly adds some important functionality. Woo hoo.