Goodbye, Treo 650

My Treo 650 is dead. A few days ago it stopped working – wouldn’t turn on, wouldn’t charge. I futzed around it for it a bit and got it to work for a few hours. And then it stopped working again. And then I got it working again and had the screen go wacky on me a couple of times and now it is not working again. I opened it up and looked around for loose connections and didn’t see anything.

So now I’m looking for a new Cingular (err, AT&T) phone.

I was hoping to get something with nice 3G data speeds and a decent camera. I want something fairly easy to type on since I always used my Treo more for Internet than for phone calls. When I do make phone calls, I want to actually be able to hear them (I had a lot of problems in this regard with my Treo) and I want to be able to use Bluetooth and have a longer than 4 foot range.

So far it’s not looking good. All of the phones I’ve looked at so far seem to fall short in one area or another.

  • Cingular 8525 – Despite its 3G capability, Web surfing speed was atrocioius when I tried it in store. Did not like Windows Mobile or the overall feel of the phone.
  • Samsung Sync – CNET was not impressed with call quality, navigation, and buttons
  • LG CU500 – User reviews a bit sketchy on CNET
  • Motorola RAZR V3xx – not quad band, CNET seemed to indicate so-so voice quality, seems to be crippled by Cingular (e.g.: no MP3 ring tones, constant Java permission warnings for non-Cingular apps)
  • Blackberry 8800 – GPS is very cool, but no 3G and no camera.
  • Blackberry 8100c – No 3G and not sure yet if I will like the Blackberry OS or the trackball.

I’ve only really played with the 8525 so far (a few weeks ago), so I still need to head over to a store and try them out in person as the feel of a phone and its UI is a very subjective thing.

If anyone has any recommendations for phones I should look at, please do post them…

Canon SD800IS

We just got a new Canon SD800IS, right before a trip to Europe (a few cities in the Netherlands and Belgium and Paris, and London).

We had a Canon S40 which served us well, but on our last trip while we were in Vancouver we started having trouble with the sliding lens cover and with the camera not turning on or powering itself off because of poor switch contact. I made some attempts to fix it and had limited success, but it’s not perfect and I’m not confident that it will continue to work reliably. So we figured we’d take the chance to upgrade and take advantage of the latest technology like image stabilization, orientation sensing, and ridiculously big memory cards that cost little more than a burrito.

I love the small, pocketable size. The user interface is snappy. It’s much quicker to turn this camera on and snap a photo since you don’t have to wait long for the barrel to extend and for the camera to “boot up”. Another feature that I dig is the orientation sensor – looking forward to not having to rotate photos that are taken sideways. With a 4 GB SDHC card, we have room for 1000+ pics at the highest resolution and medium compression. Newegg threw in a bonus 2 GB SD card with it too, so we should have plenty of room. Amusingly, the camera comes with a 16 MB SD card in the box, which is a joke. When the camera arrived, I popped it in and took 8 pictures before the card was full! I don’t know why they bother. I’d rather they not include the 16 GB card and knock a few bucks off the price that I could put towards a reasonably-sized memory card.

The thing that I don’t like about this camera so far are a few aspects of the build quality – namely the door over the battery and memory card compartment and even worse, the door over the USB and A/V ports. The hinges on these doors are extremely flimsy – shockingly so for what I’ve come to expect from Canon. Luckily, I probably won’t use the latter door very much, because otherwise I can’t imagine it lasting a week. The battery and memory card door is a tad sturdier but will get used a lot more so I’m a bit worried about that. Maybe I should pack some duct tape in my bag? 🙂

It will be interesting to see how the camera performs in the real world, on vacation. I am hoping that the small size and image stabilization will be features that I will appreciate a lot. And I hope that I don’t leave a broken-off battery door somewhere on the streets of Amsterdam…

My new PocketPC – sort of

Pocket PC emulator

Someday I’m probably going to take the plunge and replace my Treo 650 with some kind of Windows Mobile device, since the Windows Mobile devices always seem to have more features like 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth 2.0, and a nice amount of RAM. Actually, “someday” might’ve gotten a bit sooner after yesterday, when my wife called me on my Treo and the device crashed and reset when I answered the call.

I’ve long been a Palm user though and when I’ve played with Windows Mobile in the store, I’ve never really felt comfortable with it. And I’d need to find new apps to replace things like Sudoku, Directory Assistant, FlightStatus, etc.

So I thought that I’d download an emulator and play with it a bit to see if I could get comfortable with the interface and the available apps.

The emulator is decent, but somewhat annoying to install. First, I had to find this page and then download the emulator and the images, which are separate downloads. Then I could install the emulator. But before you can install the images, it turns out you to have to install the Virtual Machine Network Driver for Microsoft Device Emulator. Then I ran the program but found that it would crash on startup in Virtual PC on my PowerBook. So then I repeated the process on my wife’s Windows laptop and finally, it worked.

Treo 650 improvised antenna

A few days ago, my Treo 650 fell on to pavement and the antenna snapped off. I ordered a new short antenna from but in the meantime, I’ve managed to get good reception by clipping an alligator clip with a short length of wire on to the point on the circuit board where the antenna connects. Originally, I had the other clip connected to the antenna itself, but it fell off and I realized that reception was just as good without it.

Treo with an alligator clip antenna

Treo busted!

Well unfortunately last night, my Treo 650 fell out of my jacket pocket on to the pavement. The battery cover and battery went flying – no big deal as that’s happened before and it’s easily put back. The bigger problem is that the little stubby antenna snapped off. Now the reception is really, really sporadic. I can get service in some spots but not in a lot of others that previously worked, like the inside of my house. I guess I could get a little Torx bit and open it up and then see if it can be reconnected with solder and glue, but maybe this is a good excuse to upgrade!

I briefly looked at some of the new GSM phones, such as the Samsung Blackjack, Motorola Q, and the Blackberry Pearl, but the one that seemed to have the best set of features for me was the Cingular 8525. 3G (UMTS/HSDPA), Wi-fi, Bluetooth 2.0, A2DP, 2 megapixel camera, and a Mini-USB port for charging. I haven’t yet gone to a store to check out these phones in person, though, and it’s quite possible that my preference will change a lot after I do that.

I guess there’s the iPhone too, but I don’t know how I feel about a device that is all touchscreen and no buttons. I’m tactile. I like buttons.

Any others I should look at?

We’re in HD

Well, our 40″ LCD TV (a Sony KDL-40V2500) arrived yesterday afternoon! I’ve got it basically set up, though I want to redo the cables, including using HDMI from the TiVo Series 3 into the receiver (a Pioneer VSX-82TXS); right now I’m using component cables and relying on the receiver to upconvert from component to HDMI, which I’m using to connect the receiver to the TV.

The quality is excellent on HD content and not too bad for SD content. I’ve also hooked my G4 15″ PowerBook up to the TV via a DVI to HDMI cable and I can display my Mac desktop in 1080i, nice and sharp, though the fonts are small unless you’re pretty close. No big deal as the main reason for hooking the PowerBook up to the TV is to watch HD material (like NBC’s Heroes, which I found pretty good Xvid files for) full-screen in DivX Player. The TiVo Series 3 screens look really nice on this TV too as they are displayed in 720p.

I’ll probably post a bit more about the TV later, after I’ve gotten a chance to play with it a bit more.