Writings on technology and society from Wellington, New Zealand

Thursday, March 20, 2008

My phone is dead. Long live my phone!

For three years I have had a Palm Treo 650, which is one of the PalmOS based phones. That followed on from a succession of Palm Pilots I used from 2001 onwards. I liked the Palm platform – it did some nice things, and most importantly it was easy for people to develop software for so there was lots of it available. As an example, when I went to South America, I went with a Spanish-English dictionary embedded in my telephone.

And my Treo was nice. I liked the full QWERTY keyboard, the integration of the contacts list and calendar with the ones on my computer, the way an SMS conversation was laid out in a chat, and the external ‘silent’ switch. Email was possible if rudimentary, and web surfing – well, you had to squint at the screen. Sometimes the phone crashed which was very annoying, but I forgave the instability for years because the phone was just so useful. Then I broke it.

I was sitting on a chair lift in France a couple of weeks ago, and I was slightly in the wrong place on the seat. When the safety bar came down, it and half a dozen burly skiers wound up resting on the screen of my Treo. And that was it for the phone. I wound up borrowing a phone in Switzerland – a small Nokia with menus in German. Then a Sony Ericson P990i in England – theoretically a smart phone, but everything I wanted to do with it was either not possible or just too hard to figure out. Then, back in New Zealand, another tiny Nokia loaner. I didn’t find it liberating trying to do without my contact list in a phone – just frustrating.

That brings me to my new phone. What to get? The Palm platform is looking pretty sick these days. I’d tried a Symbian phone (the P990i), although perhaps not the best example of one, and I was tempted by the Nokia E91i with its QWERTY keyboard and easy syncing to my Mac. But the E91i doesn’t have the SMS as chat feature that Treos have, or the external silent switch. Vodafone¬† sent me a new Treo as my old one was insured with them, but it runs Windows mobile not PalmOS, and won’t play with my Mac at all. So that’s on Trademe. As you’ve gathered if you are still with me, I care deeply about my technology. Call me finicky.

I have settled on an iPhone. It arrived less than a week ago so it’s early days yet, but I think we are going to get on just fine. It syncs beautifully with my Mac (of course!), has an increasing number of applications available for it, is easy to use, has the SMS chat feature and an external silent switch, and a full QWERTY virtual keyboard. Also, because it’s an iPod as well, that cuts down the number of machines I tote around on a daily basis. And it’s drop-dead gorgeous.

Here’s hoping for a long relationship!

posted by colin at 8:15 am  


  1. OK, so the obvious question not answered is “how are you connecting your iPhone to a New Zealand mobile network?”

    Comment by Peter — 22 March 2008 @ 8:33 am

  2. How did you manage to get your hands on one? eBay I assume… I wouldn’t mind a quick demo the next time our paths cross.

    I’ve been grappling with similar issues. My Sony Ericsson is driving me mad. I’ve been contemplating an old Treo, but the battery is likely to be knackered. I don’t like the direction Palm are going in one little bit either… I miss the functionality of my Palm III, all I want is a Palm III with phone functionality really!

    Comment by Brian — 23 March 2008 @ 8:04 am

  3. Peter – I bought one which had already had Ziphone applied to it. That’s a software unlock method. I need to be careful not to allow iTunes to update the phone’s operating software, but apart from that there don’t appear to be any downsides.

    As a general warning – this is more of a risk than I like taking with what to me is an essential tool, and I don’t recommend it to anyone who doesn’t understand that risk. But it works for me, so far.

    Brian – I got my iPhone from in Tauranga, on recommendation from another friend. Happy to show it off, drop me a line.

    I’ll post a review in the next week or so.


    Comment by colin — 25 March 2008 @ 6:13 am

  4. […] I wrote earlier, my Treo came to a sticky end and I had to get a new phone. The 650 was one of the PalmOS-powered […]

    Pingback by » Two weeks with an iPhone — 28 March 2008 @ 2:48 pm

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