After laying down the initial $350 bucks for the Treo 650 (not counting rebates), I kind of thought that I wouldn’t be throwing more money at the device. Well, I figured I would get some screen protectors, and a case… and 2GB SD card… and maybe a bluetooth headset. But that’s fine; you pay more money to add more gadgets to your “smartphone”, I can accept that. What I have trouble accepting is that you have to pay even more money on extra software to make the Treo usable.
Let’s start with the ironically-named “Blazer” web browser. “Blazer”, which I will forever deride with the demeaning “quotes”, offers anything but blazing speed. The browser renders pages with a zombie-like shuffling pace and slows the Treo down to a crawl. If I become frustrated with its ridiculous performance, I can’t even hit the “stop” icon or switch to another application, or even turn off the Treo without waiting agonizing seconds for its dinosaur brain to respond. The primary alternative for Verizon customers is the “Xiino” browser (some Java detail makes Opera Mobile unavailable). Xiino looks like crap, renders pages like crap, but operates at a speed that laps “Blazer” a dozen times over. You can try Xiino out for a month, but registering it will run you about $25 dollars.. I guess you’ve got to respect the sheer balls of the person who asks that much money for a browser that doesn’t really work.
With regards to this browser situation, the best thing to do under the circumstances is to use both browsers. When “Blazer” is too slow, use Xiino; when Xiino’s render job looks like a Jackson Pollock, use “Blazer”. But I’m not going to pay the money for Xiino. A decent web browser is something that the Treo 650 should come with by default.
Web browsing isn’t the Treo 650’s only problem. Tucked away in the World Clock application is the only realistic means of setting a wake-up alarm. You can set a single alarm with a choice of six different annoying midis – no way to set a recurring alarm, no way to choose your own alarm tones. And really, no way to know whether the alarm will actually go off when you set it for, or whether you’ll wake up with the feeling that the sun is a little higher in the sky than it should be. I had this problem randomly maybe 2-4 times per month – the alarm just wouldn’t ring. If I woke up the Treo, then it would instantly start sounding. Is this more irony? I wake up the Treo instead of the other way around? I wound up forking out $10 for an application called mobileCLOCK that has all the features a software alarm clock should. Moreover, the odd problem of the alarm not ringing has only happened once with mobileCLOCK. Again, a decent alarm clock is something the Treo 650 should already have.
There are plenty of other things to complain about software-wise. I’ve heard of people who have to use some special audio application (VolumeCare) so that they can adjust the volume level of the Treo appropriately. I’d like it if the Treo shipped with a file manager, better sound support and integration (i.e., Pocket Tunes), and a decent game or two. Look at how much you spend with these applications:
mobileCLOCK – $9.50
Pocket Tunes 3.1 Basic – $14.95
VolumeCare 5 Pro – $17.95
Xiino – $25.00 (difficult to find exact price on this)
Just about any game – $19.99
So you’re pushing $100 on top of what you already paid just so you can get close to the kind of functionality that the Treo should have by default. With that said, the core Palm apps like the Memo, TODO list, Contacts, and Calendar all work great. Of course, they’d better work great since Palm has been producing those apps for over five years. Maybe all this is the result of software not catching up with hardware. Or maybe it’s just a business decision designed to milk the consumer out of more money. Coming from a Linux environment, I’m used to getting pretty much all the software I need for free. But now I fork out $350 for my Treo 650 with Palm OS and find that I still haven’t paid enough to get what I need. It’s a nice racket, certainly. If the handheld market ever becomes more standardized, maybe we’ll see some improvements in the software scene.
So why do I hate the Treo 650? Because my arm is going to fucking fall off from constantly reaching for my wallet.