Today was my speaking engagement in Los Angeles and day #11 of the 81-day experiment—a great way to put the Treo 700w really in action while on the go. I knew I was in Los Angeles when the temperature got 15 degrees warmer than San Francisco, the guy in the car next to me was driving a convertible while wearing a bathing suit, the highways “downtown” were 3 to 6 lanes wide.
However, it was good getting some sun while I drove a convertible that Hertz gave me for only $20 more than the car I originally reserved--a major departure from the hybrid I drive in San Francisco, but this is LA. Unfortunately, there won’t be pictures from LA posted here because as you will see below, while things started well today for the Treo 700w, they didn’t end as smoothly.
The first thing I did today with the Treo 700w was installing the CD that came with the device and synchronizing my Outlook data. This process ended up successfully but it wasn’t as smooth as you would expect knowing that it is Windows talking to Windows, and it took quite a bit of time. However, when all was done, I could see my Outlook data, even the e-mail messages in the inbox, all having been successfully transferred to the Treo 700w.
Treo 700w user interface first impressions
What used to be the top 2 application buttons in the Treo 700p are here the action keys (the right action key and the left action key). You use them to take the action that is described on the touch screen right about them. This can be different from application to application.
The 5- way navigation key does a good job in helping you navigate menus and fields easily, and the center key in allowing you to make selections. This is pretty intuitive and also very useful for operating the device with one hand. I am going to see how far I can use the device without the need to pull the stylus out. Of course the ability to tap on the touch screen with the thumbs or fingers is also helpful in eliminating the need to use the stylus. Nothing against the stylus, just trying to experiment. Also, I am trying to minimize having loose components laying around, and the need to have both hands involved if they don’t need to.
When you open a new screen (either when you select a new application from the Start menu, or when you select a new option within an application), you can close this new screen either using the Ok button, or tapping the Ok on the top right corner of the screen. This will save/accept any changes you made as applicable. Even though the quick reference guide referred to an “X” that you can tap to close the screen without saving (similar to what a Cancel button would do), I haven’t seen the X on most screen, and there is no such a thing as a Cancel button. So there are situations where I felt that I needed to just cancel, and couldn’t find a way to do so. It could be that I haven’t discovered this easy cancel mechanism yet, or that I need to undergo a paradigm shift.
Similarities to Windows on the desktop
To open an application, you do so from the Start menu (sounds familiar?). In general, you don’t really close an application when you are done with it, you just switch to another one by pressing the Start menu again, and selecting the desired application.
The Treo 700w automatically manages the open applications and closes the ones that are not being used if it needs more memory for instance. However, you can also press and hold the Ok button, and see the list of open applications, and manually close a certain application, or close all application (sounds familiar too?).
The Today screen is one of the options in the Start menu, and the default screen that shows up when you turn the device on. The Today screen is quite useful. It gives you a quick search capability that allows you to start typing and at the same time it start matching contacts from your contacts list. It also shows you the highlights of your calendar, the number of e-mails in your inbox, gives you a shortcut to listening to your voice mail, to connecting to the Web, among other things. I am already finding it quite useful (also familiar?)
Nice voicemail interface
Voicemail also comes with a nice visual interface, where you can play messages, and save them, and move forward, and background, through a set of icons that are easy to understand. It is tempting to use the stylus here to tap on these little icons, but I am still experimenting with this no-stylus approach for now, so I was able to easily work with these voicemail icons using the 5-way navigation.
Accidentally disconnecting a call
It seems that when the screen shuts itself off (to preserve power), there are some side effects to that, which surprisingly I didn’t notice in the Treo 700p (the Palm OS version of the Treo 700 which I reviewed in the first 9 days of the experiment). One time I ended up disconnecting my call when I tried to bring the screen back to life, by pressing the power key. The technical support rep suggested that when I am on a call, I should bring the screen back on by tapping on it instead of pressing the power button. I will try that next time.
The unfortunate trouble
I mentioned yesterday that when I tried to connect to the Internet, I got an error. So today, I called technical support to resolve that error. After about one hour with the technical support rep who was very helpful and knowledgeable today, it seems that the device kept refusing to accept the new Internet connection settings, and refused to perform a “hard reset”. So the conclusion was that I needed to get it exchanged with a new device, which could be tomorrow’s task.