The Palm just announced its next big thing, and it’s a BIG THING:

The Palm Pre.  (Not to be confused with the Palm Treo Pro.)

It has almost everything I want, and more:

  • Large 3.1 inch touchscreen — 320×480 resolution HVGA display
  • Slide-out physical QWERTY keyboard (and if you complain about old Sidekick-like sliding keyboards, wait till you SEE this!)
  • GPS
  • WiFi
  • EVDO via the Sprint network
  • Integrated IM, SMS, and email
  • 3 megapixel camera with flash
  • Three sensors: ambient light, accelerometer, and proximity
  • 8gig storage (but no SD card slot)
  • Wireless charging dock (yes, I said wireless)
  • … and it feels like a smooth pebble in your hand …

I’ve looked at the iPhone and found it wanting for several reasons.   I’ve been waiting with bated breath for an Android smartphone running on the Verizon or Sprint network that looks and acts better than Tmobile’s new “brick.”  

But the Palm Pre might win my heart quicker than a beautiful Android phone.  Since the Sprint Palm Pre is coming out the first half of 2009, and since rumors have it that a Sprint Android phone will come out around the same time, it may be a true race to see which one I pick.

There are some things I really like about my trusty (but becoming ancient) Palm Treo 755p that I hope will carry over into the Palm Pre.  Let’s call it a Deaf Geek Wishlist:

  • Chatteremail was hands down the best email program I’ve ever used.  It was ultimately bought by Palm.  Will it be used as the default email program in the new Pre?  I hope so.
  • I loved the Palm’s LED notification that lights up (or blinks, depending on how you set it) if you’ve got new email.  Will the Pre have this too?
  • Via Chatteremail, I could set the Palm Treo 755p to vibrate up to 9 times for a new email.  I could even set it to vibrate 5 times for email from my partner and 3 times for anybody else’s.  The iPhone and the Android G1 only vibrates one time for new email etc.  Will the Pre be able to vibrate multiple times (ok, I know this isn’t sounding right, but stay with me please), and can this be customizable?
  • I must have an IMAP connection that works in the background while the smartphone’s screen is off.  Yes, like Chatteremail (again, that program!) does.  Emails must be fetched from my IMAP account (like Gmail) nearly as quickly as they arrive — and not 5 or 10 or 15 minutes later via polling.  And this must be done without having to set up or sign up for an Exchange server.  If this cannot be done on the Pre, then the deal’s off and I’m running off with an Android phone.
  • Will the Pre have videocamera capability?  I hope so.  I like recording quick video messages and sending them to my love and our children.  I just wish there was a videocamera on front of the Pre as well so I can have a videophone conversation.  Ah well, can’t have everything!

Treo Pro Coming Soon!

August 21, 2008

A new type of Treo is coming out – the Treo Pro! Will the Treo Pro, coupled with the Palm Centro, be enough to stop Palm’s declining market share of smartphones? Palm smartphones are now 3rd in usage nation-wide. While the iPhone is in 4th place, it’s catching up fast.

Some quick specs — it’ll have built-in GPS (including navigation), run on Windows Mobile (not Palm OS – damn), have wi-fi (yay!), have 256mb RAM memory, 2.0 megapixel camera, 320×320 touch screen that’s flush with the rest of the body (easier to keep clean!), have a slimmer body (I think it went through the South Beach diet), 3G data connectivity (fast data speeds), microUSB connector (no more hunting for the right connector!), and more.

I’m disappointed that it’s running on Windows Mobile instead of Palm OS — I run plenty of programs that are Palm OS-only, like Chatter, Bonsai, Bubbles, and a few others. Plus, I’m not certain how I can set up push email on Palm devices running on Windows Mobile, like I have on Palm OS devices.

(Thanks, Treonaunts!)

EDIT 8/22: Here’s the official Palm announcement, and a followup Palm blog post being bemused at all the attention and adoration it’s getting.

A quick blog post to let folks know that Google Maps Mobile has been updated to version 2.0.2.0. To install it, go to http://www.google.com/gmm via your Palm Treo or Centro’s web browser and download / install it over the air.

Google Maps Mobile My LocationThe biggest change is that for Palm Centro smartphones, it supports “My Location,” a close approximation of where you are. While it’s not exact, it’s good when searching for nearby stores. However, as my poor hapless partner reports, it’s confusing to see My Location when following driving directions — he constantly thinks it’s exactly where he is, and consequently gets lost. Turn it off when following directions, honey!

There are a few more smaller changes, notably combining “Location” and “Search” into one option. When using the keypad to scroll the screen, the scrolling is done smoothly instead of jerkly – a nice touch and easier for tracking the moving screen. When a location is found, a small green arrow “drops” onto it — nice animation. And when opening a location, you can then see links for “Directions to here,” “Directions from here,” and “Search nearby.”

Just don’t forget to periodically reset Google Maps, or else your map cache will grow too large.

Very nice touches, Google! One of my favorite Palm programs has gotten even better.

Whether you’re an intrepid Treo user like me or a novice like my partner, you’ve surely noticed that the newer Treos (the 680, 755p, and Centro, among others) have wimpy batteries.  They simply don’t last all day, and my partner and I often jockey over the extra battery chargers in the kitchen and in our cars.

This becomes especially pronounced when we use battery-intensive applications on the Treo – like Chatter, Causerie or any other IM programs, and web browsers.  Fortunately, aside from carrying a charger or an extra battery with us all day, there are some things we (and you!) could do to lengthen our Treo’s battery charge throughout the day.

Here’s the tip du jour:  turn off automatic date / time settings.

See … The newer Treo’s running Palm OS (and surely Window Mobile too but I’m not familiar with these) can keep checking the phone network to get the local date and time.  Very handy for keeping your Treo’s time and date accurate to the second.   Very useful when you’ve got to catch a train every day (like me).  But this is a constant power drain on our Treo’s batteries.  Turning this feature off and setting the date / time yourself (if necessary) saves a bit of battery power throughout the day.  After all, every bit helps!

Here’s how:

  • Press the “house” button on your Treo to view a list of applications installed.
  • Select the “Prefs” application.
  • Once inside Preferences for your Treo, select “Date / Time”.
  • The first option you see will be “Automatically set:”.   The drop-down menu under that has three options:
    • Nothing
    • Date and time
    • Date, time and time zone
  • Set this setting to “Nothing.”
  • Under “Manually set:”, make sure your location, date, and time are correct.  If the location isn’t correct, either select a city near you in the same time zone or scroll down to the bottom of the Location list and select “Edit list …”
  • Press “Done”

Ta-da!  You’re on the way toward saving a bit of battery power per day.  This may not be enough to keep you going all day without re-charging, but every little bit helps – especially in these eco-conscious days.

Stay tuned for more battery power tips!

Hobbyist logoIt seemed too good to be true.

One of my favorite Treo applications developer, Hobbyist Software, announced two nights ago that he has developed Bar Booster, a new Treo application (still in beta) that would increase my signal strength by one or two bars – at the expense of a slightly increased battery drain.

Since I take a commuter train through farmland and then the subway through underground tunnels, the signal strength of my Verizon Palm Treo 755p can go from 4 to just one or none in a matter of seconds. I’d wished that I could boost my signal strength. And so, Bar Booster seemed to be a godsend!

So, yesterday, I installed Bar Booster. Just 11k, which I thought was very small — yet I knew also that this is typical of Hobbyist Software’s other applications – they all have small “footprints” as well.

Maybe it was my imagination, but I could see a slightly better signal strength as my train choo-choo’ed across pastoral farmland. Emails continued to arrive, signal strength continued to fluctuate, I continued to browse the web. All was normal, yet I thought I saw a bit better signal strength.

When I changed trains and took the subway, I felt that signal strength was about the same as my train went thru the various underground tunnels. What a disappointment.

So, this morning, April 2nd, I got on the commuter train once again and opened Bar Booster to see if I could configure some settings. And what did I see but this message:

Ok folks, you probably guessed it. This was pure April Fool.

I hope you enjoyed it, you should probably disable it now!

Rob, the Hobbyist developer, certainly got me! Grumble grumble laugh. It certainly was too good to be true. Good one, Rob.

(I currently use several Hobbyist Software’s more legit offerings – Butler, Power Hero, Initiate, and Genius!, and have written about Genius! in the past.)

Got a hankering to know just exactly what time it is, whereever you are? Wanting to synchronize time with your pals but can’t decide whose watch / smartphone has exactly the correct time?

Go pay time.gov a visit on your mobile device / smartphone / pager.

time.gov screenshotBut what’s that? Time.gov’s Java-enabled functions doesn’t work on your smartphone? (These Java pages make it possible to see the time in real time on computers and Java-enabled phones – with the seconds running.) Don’t fret. Almost buried in a corner of many time.gov pages is a tiny link saying “Disable Java Animation” — clicking on this link allows you to see a non-Java version of that page. In fact, when you find your time zone and then get the non-Java version of that page, don’t forget to bookmark it on your smartphone’s web browser so you can quickly refer to it again. But keep in mind that, unlike Java versions of these pages, non-Java time.gov pages only show the time at the exact time the page was loaded onto your browser – that is, the time isn’t updated automatically unless you refresh the page.

I know many smartphones – including the Palm Treos – can automatically get the time and date from the network. But leaving this functionality on can be a huge power drain for the Palm Treos (and possibly other devices) – so that’s where having a bookmark to time.gov can come in handy if you leave this functionality off.

I’ll make it easy for you. Here’s a list of links to the non-Java pages of the various USA time zones. Gosh, ain’t it interesting how many time zones there really are in the USA and its territories? And remember when Alaska’s number of time zones changed from the previous four to just two now?

Happy times are indeed here! (And yes, I had previously blogged about checking time.gov from your computer.)

List of non-Java versions of time.gov time zone webpages:

Long-suffering Proud Geek readers may (will!) remember that I’m a huge fan of Chatter Email on the Palm Treo because Chatter gives the Palm Treo true-biz Push Email. Only, for a true Push Email experience, you had to be using an email service that has IMAP (rather than POP) access. Yahoo Mail doesn’t have this, and neither does Hotmail / Live mail. For a long time, Google’s Gmail didn’t either, until a few weeks ago. I enthusatically blogged about Gmail’s IMAP addition, and then a few days later I blogged with dismay that Chatter’s problems with Gmail’s IMAP has forced me to go back to my old email system (Fastmail.fm).

A few days ago, Marc, the creator of Chatter has released a new version (3.0.10) that now plays nicely with Gmail’s IMAP access. Hooray! I’m now using Gmail instead of Fastmail.fm, and push email works flawlessly except for two things: photos sent from Tmobile Sidekicks don’t seem to come attached to emails when pushed to my Treo (while photos from other sources and other smartphones come across just fine, strangely enough), and I occasionally get a “Delete Failed” error when deleting an email on my Treo. Those two issues were with a beta version of the now-stable 3.0.10 release, so I’m curious if I still see these issues with this release.

Although my recent blog post with instructions on how to configure your Chatter to work with Gmail via IMAP is still good, I noticed that Marc added a “Gmail (IMAP)” option to the drop-down list of account types when creating a new account. So, modified instructions below.

  1. You need to configure Gmail to allow IMAP. Within Gmail on the computer screen, click on “Settings” then the “Forwarding and POP / IMAP” tab. Then click on “Enable IMAP”. (NOTE: if you don’t see this yet, then try logging out and then into your Gmail account. Sometimes this will do the trick. If you still don’t see this, then wait a bit longer …)
  2. Within Chatter on your Treo, pull down the top menu and select “New Account”
  3. In the “Quick Setup” window, under “Choose the account type …” drop-down menu, select “Gmail (IMAP)”
  4. Under “Your Name,” type a name that you want to show up when sending emails
  5. Under “Login Name,” type your full Gmail email address (including the “@gmail.com” or your Google Apps extension)
  6. Under “PW,” type your Gmail password.
  7. Make sure “Always Online” is checked.
  8. Click on “OK”

And there you have it. Super-duper-easy — well, sorta. Don’t forget to go to “Edit Account” and configure your options if you want to load emails older than 14 days, customize your delete options, increase the “load” (the initial size of emails that Chatter pulls before asking if you want “More”), notification, etc.

Thanks, Marc, for continuing to update what is inarguably (at least by me and legions of loyal Chatter users) the best email program for the Palm Treos!

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