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Comments on: Mossberg Weighs in on New Smartphones

In a recent review of two new Microsoft powered phones, Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal, remarks on his opinions of the current devices and software for the latest smartphones. He praises the Treo 600 as the gold standard for smartphones, and has a number of issues and thinks they are no where near as good as the Treo.
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World to MS: Its the software, stupid!

rsc1000 @ 12/16/2003 1:51:02 PM #
OK - that sounds harsh. BUT - while Palm has been busy closing the gap with regards to features and power, MS has done a few things to improve the basic functionality of PPC - namely fixing bugs, optimizing the OS and making the PIM apps somewhat better. BUT the lack of flexibilty in terms of what liscensees can do is REALLY starting to show. It can be a development nightmare trying to support all of the Palm variations - but the end result is that people get products that are more interesting, innovative and better (though admitedly this appraoch can sometimes lead to dud products). I can't wait to see how successful OS 6 is at bringing all of these liscensee technologies together under "1 roof" - namely: landscape support, phone features, and apis for alternate input/controls (d-pad, j-dial, etc). I hope they do it right.

RE: World to MS: Its the software, stupid!
mj6798 @ 12/16/2003 7:18:32 PM #
BUT the lack of flexibilty in terms of what liscensees can do is REALLY starting to show. It can be a development nightmare trying to support all of the Palm variations - but the end result is that people get products that are more interesting, innovative and better (though admitedly this appraoch can sometimes lead to dud products).

All existing Palm devices could easily have a single, consistent set of APIs, with none of this mess of different screen and sound APIs, inconsistent fonts, etc. The reason Palm is having such problems with incompatibilities is because they started way too late to rewrite their OS; the ARM-based Palms should have shipped with a completely new OS. And even without a rewrite, they could have at least created scalable APIs and/or adopted other companies' APIs, rather than adding one new hack after another.

Furthermore, Microsoft does give manufacturers a choice: if you don't want to be tied to a particular kind of device, just use Windows CE. And there is an enormous variety of Windows CE-based hardware out there.

RE: World to MS: Its the software, stupid!
rsc1000 @ 12/16/2003 7:44:51 PM #
>>The reason Palm is having such problems with incompatibilities is because they started way too late to rewrite their OS; the ARM-based Palms should have shipped with a completely new OS.

Way too late? I certainly would have liked to see them standardize these things sooner - but a 10% jump in marketshare in the U.S. suggests that they weren't "too late". PalmSource has WAY less resources (ei: money and people) than MS - so they let their liscensees work out the APIs first - then integrate similar features later. It's not ideal - but there are a few advantages to this (one being that you know that a given feature will be used because it already is being used - no wasting resources writting code that no liscensee plans to use).

>>Furthermore, Microsoft does give manufacturers a choice: if you don't want to be tied to a particular kind of device, just use Windows CE.

You do realize why thats stupid don't you? I mean - asside from the joy of the horriblly integrated CE versions of Office (which can always be couinte on to be their regardless of the 'subset' of CE on offer) - exactly who the hell would be such a 'custom' ce device without any software. And before you retort that Palm OS devices frequently require some degree of customization in order for software to run well - the effort in such cases (when required) is freakin' minimal compared to re-tooling an app built for say PPC - to run on a handheld PC. Why the hell do think there are so few 'custom' Win CE devices? I know there out there - but they don't sell well. Why - NO SOFTWARE!

RE: World to MS: Its the software, stupid!
rsc1000 @ 12/16/2003 7:55:16 PM #
>>the effort in such cases (when required) is freakin' minimal compared to re-tooling an app built for say PPC - to run on a handheld PC.

Oops - i meant to say "the effort in such cases (when required) is freakin' minimal compared to re-tooling an app built for say PPC - to run on a HPC WinCE device.


RE: World to MS: Its the software, stupid!
Foo Fighter @ 12/17/2003 3:40:53 PM #
What does Pocket PC have to do with this article?

-------------------------------
My blog: www.pocketfactory.com

Good Review

Bartman007 @ 12/16/2003 2:00:48 PM #
I think it was pretty good, but I was amazed at how much Verison and AT&T-W charge for unlimited data, then on top of that they cripple the bar at the top. Wow.
Strike a win for Palm OS Smartphones as he says that even the Samsung i500 is a better alternative.

I think that Microsoft needs to work in the WinMobileforSmartphones software and also iron out better deals with service providers, if they want to compete in this market.


Peace,
-Bartman007

RE: Good Review
Admin @ 12/16/2003 2:11:43 PM #
I have personally used the MS SPV smartphone extensively, and have been quite unfond of it.

I found the basic OS very unintuitive and hard to use from many different standpoints. I echo everything Walt says, I mean the device itself ran a 100+mhz chip and was still sluggish at basic tasks. Not to mention the lack of 3rd party software but there is no office compatibility at all and it takes "6 taps" to get to an accurate battery meter.

RE: Good Review
hoodoo @ 12/16/2003 2:31:29 PM #
Even worse is that Caller ID problem, not showing until after the call goes to voice mail. Duh. I hope they don't charge extra for the caller ID service!

biased or the Treo 600 is that good?

a3 @ 12/16/2003 2:26:15 PM #
Just a question from the top of my mind...

as a matter of fact the question could also be: biased or PPC 4 smartphones is that bad?

____________________________________________
Former Tapwave's Helix fan, now a T|T3 fan.

RE: biased or the Treo 600 is that good?
hoodoo @ 12/16/2003 2:34:38 PM #
Obviously it seems PPC4 is that bad...if the Treo 600 had those kind of problems, this board would have gone absolutely bonkers when it was released. For the 600s perceived faults, at least it does what it's supposed to do and seems useable (I haven't used one myself), regardless if certain features aren't ideal (i.e. screen res., etc.). I mean, my Treo 180 performs better than the PPC phones! I have caller ID that works, I can use docs to go, my battery meter is on the screen! Wooooo...these aren't fancy things we're talking about here.

RE: biased or the Treo 600 is that good?
theharmonyguy @ 12/16/2003 4:30:55 PM #
Well, I'm definitely no Mossberg fan and wouldn't exactly consider him an "unbiased source". But I think he's pretty right in this case.

And the Treo 600 really is an amazing piece of work - a lot of thought went into its design. I haven't actually used one, but I have read up on it a good bit and heard comments from other reviewers. I hear very few negatives about it.

I still don't think it's perfect; I probably wouldn't actually buy one. The design still needs some work from my perspective, but I favor clamshell over candybar. Still, the Treo 600 is a very good device with lots of potential.

RE: biased or the Treo 600 is that good?
ceejay @ 12/16/2003 5:03:44 PM #
I have stopped using my TT and switched to a Treo 600. Of course I miss the 320x320 display, but other than that it's a fantastic smartphone. The design is spot on and quality is excellent.
RE: biased or the Treo 600 is that good?
RhinoSteve @ 12/16/2003 6:51:40 PM #
And now that Treo and Universal Connector are under the same IP umbrella, I hope the next hardware release of the Treo 600 will have the PalmOne Universal Connector. To have all these sleds on a Smartphone would be very very helpful in a lot of enterprise applications.

RE: biased or the Treo 600 is that good?
MV-Jon @ 12/17/2003 11:22:38 AM #
I would kill to have the Treo 600 with Verizon, but once again, Verizon not letting us have cool toys :(


Jon Niola
President/CEO
Media Vortex, Inc.

RE: biased or the Treo 600 is that good?
dsm363 @ 12/17/2003 12:12:01 PM #
I just got the Sprint version and love it. The only drawback is the screen resolution since I'm upgrading from a Tungsten T but I still love the phone. The unlimited data with Sprint makes it really nice.

Dave

RE: biased or the Treo 600 is that good?
just_little_me @ 12/17/2003 4:31:37 PM #
"I would kill to have the Treo 600 with Verizon, but once again, Verizon not letting us have cool toys :("

I just don't understand how the US telco's can be so arrogant and also why consumers continue to *accept* it. I don't see all the picture (not living there and all), but I'm not tied to any telco here and I can use *any* device that I can get my hands on. If I decide to move to another telco for whatever reason I can even take my number with me!

What's *stopping* you using a Treo 600 on the Verizon network? Why can't you buy one outright? I could do exactly that here if I wanted - pop in my Vodafone sim and away I go... :)


JLM

RE: biased or the Treo 600 is that good?
jennyfur @ 12/17/2003 4:56:04 PM #
JLM... I believe the reason is because Verizon is CDMA, not GSM. They don't have SIMs. The Sprint Treo 600 is the only CDMA version available so far.

If any of us here in the states have a GSM phone, we can switch between GSM carriers. As of November 24th, many of us can even take our numbers with us (but not all of us yet...that won't happen until May) just like you can. Also, in the US you sign a contract for your cell plan with one carrier. The contract might be for a year, or two years, but either way you will be charged money if you break that contract and leave before it's up. Some carriers go so far as to lock their phones so that they are unusable on other carriers (unless you unlock them). Now that number portability is in effect, we are seeing some more competition. One carrier even goes so far as to offer a plan that isn't a contract. So things are getting better. We accept it because there is no other choice.

RE: biased or the Treo 600 is that good?
Slider @ 12/19/2003 9:14:13 AM #
I've had my Treo 600 for about a week and have been pretty well satisfied with it.Yes, the screen could have a higher resolution. Yes, the camara is mediocre. Yes, the software is not directly compatable with other Palm OS 5 products. Is it perfect - No. Is it darn good - Yes. My version is the GSM from Cingular and it is working / connecting flawlessly. My rating is an A-

What about Comparison to Sony-Ericsson P900

stupomer @ 12/16/2003 6:10:57 PM #
The P900 has Hi-resolution screen, proven "PDA" OS (Symbian), ports of many of the best commercial software available for PalmOS and MS, beautiful design. By my review of the specs, only thing that P900 suffers from is relatively high price. Does anyone have any experience with ease of use i.e. how many taps/menus for this and that function, integration of phone&pda functionality?


RE: What about Comparison to Sony-Ericsson P900
Michael Mace @ 12/16/2003 6:57:23 PM #
Here's what the New York Times said, comparing the Treo 600, SonyEricsson p900, and Microsoft Smartphone:

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/11/technology/circuits/11stat.html

(Free registration required.)

And, please forgive me for a blatantly promotional post, but here are a few other recent reviews and commentaries on the Treo 600 and other new Palm Powered devices. We're very proud of the coverage they've been getting, and I just can't restrain myself...

--Popular Science magazine gave Best of What's New awards to three Palm Powered devices: the Tapwave Zodiac entertainment handheld, Sony Clie UX-50, and Samsung i500 smartphone.
http://www.popsci.com/popsci/bown/2003/gadgets/0,18882,,00.html

--The New York Times' holiday buying guide recommended four Palm Powered handhelds: the Handspring Treo 600 smartphone, Tapwave Zodiac, Sony Clie UX-50, and Garmin iQue 3600 GPS handheld.
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/20/technology/circuits/20mobile.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/20/technology/circuits/20gaming.html

--The Washington Post's Gadget Guide recommended Palm OS in general, and listed four handhelds specifically: the Palm Tungsten E, the Palm Zire 21, Sony's low-end Clie handhelds, and the Handspring Treo 600.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/technology/columns/fastforward/2003/gadgetguide/handhelds.html

--BusinessWeek's Tech Buying Guide cited numerous Palm Powered products, including the Handspring Treo 600, TapWave Zodiac, and Garmin iQue 3600. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/03_45/b3857609.htm

--Time Magazine's Tech Buyer's Guide featured the Handspring Treo 600 and TapWave Zodiac.
http://www.time.com/time/techtime/200311/buyersguide/phone.html (click on "More Gear" to see the Palm Powered devices)

--The 2003 Tech Guide from US News featured the Handspring Treo 600 and Garmin iQue 3600.
http://www.usnews.com/usnews/nycu/tech/2003guide/guide_home.htm

--Fortune Magazine featured the Garmin iQue 3600 in its fall technology buying guide.
http://www.fortune.com/fortune/photoessay/0,18467,525671-5,00.html

--Computerworld's Cool Stuff 2004 guide featured the Handspring Treo 600, Sony Clie UX-50, and the Palm Tungsten T3.
http://www.computerworld.com/hardwaretopics/hardware/story/0,10801,87538,00.html?SKC=home87538

--CNET's list of the top ten must-have gadgets of all sorts included three Palm Powered devices: the Sony Clie UX-50, the Samsung i500, and the Garmin iQue 3600. In CNET's handheld review ratings, the top-rated product, and three of the top four, are all Palm Powered (Tapwave Zodiac 2, Handspring Treo 600, and Sony Clie UX-50). Of the 12 handhelds rated 8.0 or higher on a 10-point scale, nine are Palm Powered.
http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-3423_7-1008327-1.html?tag=cnetfd.ld
http://reviews.cnet.com/4502-3127_7-0.html?tag=srch&qt=&orderby=-7eRating

--PCWorld Magazine's list of the top "12 Fun Tech Products" included two Palm Powered devices, the AlphaSmart Dana Wireless laptop alternative and the Garmin iQue 3600. And its guide to "Great Gadgets for the Holidays" featured the Handspring Treo 600 and Palm Zire 21.
http://www.pcworld.com/reviews/article/0,aid,112916,pg,1,00.asp
http://www.pcworld.com/reviews/article/0,aid,113215,pg,4,00.asp

-- TechTV's "Top 20 Gifts" included the Handspring Treo 600 and Garmin iQue 3600.
http://www.techtv.com/holiday/story/0,23008,3405717,00.html

--Realty Times named the Palm Powered Kyocera 7135 smartphone the Best Tech Tool of 2003.
http://realtytimes.com/rtapages/20031203_techtool.htm

--PC Magazine and eWeek named the Handspring Treo 600 Best of Show for mobile devices at the CeBIT America conference in New York.
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,4149,1131726,00.asp

RE: What about Comparison to Sony-Ericsson P900
nrosser @ 12/17/2003 10:16:39 AM #
Go Michael go!!

His point is that the 600 has won, overwhelmingly, the vote of the public and critics as being the best and most intuitive and usable converged device out there.
And as someone who started down the converged wireless path with a PalmVx and Omnisky (boy those were the days), then to Kyo6035, and then to a Treo300 and now with a 600, I can say the 600 is by far the best-designed of all. And, to echo Walt's point about the data plan cost playing a LARGE role in the overall value of the device, having unlimited data from Sprint for $10 a month (I'm grandfathered, thank you), makes the whole experience all that much better. It's the sum of the parts - the design and usability of the device, the low-cost data plan, and the carriers' high-speed networks - that will win the day in the end. All these things work together, for the 600, to provide an unbeatable combination.

RE: What about Comparison to Sony-Ericsson P900
Edward Green @ 12/17/2003 1:13:47 PM #
In a Nokia & S/E dominated market I find that my Treo 600 gets a lot of interest. I havn't seen them in the shops though. It will be interesting to see how european sales are doing of the Treo.

Edward Green
--
http://www.khite.co.uk
RE: What about Comparison to Sony-Ericsson P900
Michael Mace @ 12/17/2003 2:09:06 PM #
nrosser wrote:

>His point is that the 600 has won, overwhelmingly, the vote of the public and critics

Well, actually, my point was that different people like different devices, and you really see that when you put together all the reviews and buying guides. The common thread in all those articles is that Palm Powered devices are very prominent. We've been saying for several years now that diversity is the future of the mobile market, and I think the reviews confirm it.

Mike
CCO, PalmSource Inc.

Mr. Mace--You Forgot This Review of the 600
ozz @ 12/17/2003 5:20:20 PM #
RE: What about Comparison to Sony-Ericsson P900
nrosser @ 12/17/2003 11:42:36 PM #
thanks Mike, for clarifying - always dangerous when someone states a point on behalf of someone else :-)

Dead on ...

RhinoSteve @ 12/16/2003 6:45:50 PM #
I have to say that I have seen the same. The MS Smartphone marketing initative trying to sell large corporate accounts and have the field users work with a custom or semi-custom app that iare bundled with the MS Smartphones.

It is a big push style of marketing. From the reports in the street, there is a lot of backlash from people in the field simply refusing to use MS phones. This review is just one more voice on how the IT manager found out that a too good to be true deal for MS smartphones is in fact that.

How I would love to see the return rate of the MS Smartphones to these service providers.

How to improve the Treo 600

Gekko @ 12/17/2003 1:36:37 PM #
1. Nix the Antenna Nub. Use internal antenna a la Nokia.
2. Nix the Thumboard. Or at least provide a NO-Thumboard version.
3. Nix the 160x160 screen. Do 320x320 or 480x320.
4. Offer a TDMA version.


RE: How to improve the Treo 600
cbowers @ 12/17/2003 1:44:32 PM #
"2. Nix the Thumboard. Or at least provide a NO-Thumboard version."

? To each his own I guess, but the keyboard is half the point...

"4. Offer a TDMA version."

They do, it's the GSM version (GSM is one of the flavors of Time Division Multiple Access).

I assume you mean IS-136 though. That's so 1980's. Why not though, retro is in. But why stop at IS-136 when you can go all the way with retro. Make an analog only model.

RE: How to improve the Treo 600
DJS_TX @ 12/17/2003 2:09:13 PM #
1. Nix the Antenna Nub. Use internal antenna a la Nokia.

Maybe a valid point but the more you cram inside, the bigger it is.

2. Nix the Thumboard. Or at least provide a NO-Thumboard version.
It's a matter of taste but I was anti-thumboard until I tried it. If you are going to compose email and do a lot of text entry it is a nice interface. Also the treo 5-way is functionally way superior to the Tungsten style 5-way, you can navigate most programs without a stylus easily. One handed use is a definite plus once you get the hang of it.

3. Nix the 160x160 screen. Do 320x320 or 480x320.
A 320x320 screen draws 4 times the current of a 160x160. High res is mostly eye candy in my opinion, I'll take excellent battery life over eye candy any day. I honestly don't miss my Tungsten 320x320 screen, especially now that my battery (including the additional phone activity) lasts longer than my TT did.

4. Offer a TDMA version.
TDMA is dying. Nobody and I mean NOBODY makes a TDMA smartphone. Why would somebody sink the R&D into a dying market?



RE: How to improve the Treo 600
Gekko @ 12/17/2003 2:39:03 PM #
>"TDMA is dying."

Nokia obviously doesn't think so and I think they know a little something about the mobile phone market.

-----

Nokia unveils the world's smallest TDMA phone with color display
September 12, 2003

Stylish and lightweight Nokia 6560 offers advanced features in an ultra-compact form

"This handset clearly demonstrates Nokia's continuing commitment to the TDMA market."

http://press.nokia.com/PR/200309/917193_5.html



RE: How to improve the Treo 600
ganoe @ 12/17/2003 9:36:48 PM #
> A 320x320 screen draws 4 times the current of a 160x160.

and you know that from??? Since most of the power is for the backlight/sidelight, I suspect if the screen doesn't change size you're looking at the same light. Yeah, the draw is going to be higher, but I doubt it is close to 4 times.

RE: How to improve the Treo 600
just_little_me @ 12/18/2003 4:37:18 PM #
Way more pixels on a hires display - therefore larger video buffer that needs refreshing - therefore much larger current draw than low res. This is why they nixed the hires and went lores.

JLM

RE: How to improve the Treo 600
DJS_TX @ 12/19/2003 9:34:02 AM #
[quote]
> A 320x320 screen draws 4 times the current of a 160x160.

and you know that from??? Since most of the power is for the backlight/sidelight, I suspect if the screen doesn't change size you're looking at the same light. Yeah, the draw is going to be higher, but I doubt it is close to 4 times.
[/quote]
Simple math my friend. A 320x320 screen has 4 times as many pixels. 4 times as many pixels means 4 times the current. It takes 4 times as much current to drive 4 times as many pixels.

David


RE: How to improve the Treo 600
abosco @ 12/19/2003 4:24:21 PM #
>>Nokia obviously doesn't think so and I think they
>>know a little something about the mobile phone market.

Yeah, they've shown how much they know about consumers with their great smartphone N-Gage. I got really excited when I heard six year old games were being ported to it. Oh man. Excuse me while I wet myself.

Nokia makes over-designed, and overall disgusting phones. Half of their lineup gave me explosive diarrhea. Like that half-football sidetalkin touchscreen smartphone. Where's the other half? N-Gage has been a joke since its very announcement, and their mainstream smartphone looks like a pear with, yes, overstyled buttons for no other reason than to make it harder for you to make a phone call. Go with Sony Ericsson. Their entire lineup offers incredible features at ridiculously low prices. Nokia may have a strong foothold, but they're going the wrong route in terms of hardware design and OS.

-Bosco
NX80v + Wifi + BT + T616

RE: How to improve the Treo 600
abosco @ 12/19/2003 4:33:37 PM #
Forgot to add this:

>>Simple math my friend. A 320x320 screen has 4 times as many pixels. 4 times as many pixels means 4 times the current. It takes 4 times as much current to drive 4 times as many pixels.

Pixel count doesn't compare to screen brightness and size. If the screen were 320x320, it would have to push four times as many pixels, and it would draw four times the battery power, but in comparison to the backlight, the effect is negligable. We're talking maybe an extra half hour to an hour standby.

-Bosco
NX80v + Wifi + BT + T616

At this rate...

nuxi @ 12/17/2003 1:52:44 PM #
At this rate, Walt Mossberg will get around to posting a Tungsten E review before PIC does.


RE: At this rate...
nuxi @ 12/17/2003 2:00:45 PM #
RE: At this rate...
Admin @ 12/19/2003 1:03:29 PM #
sorry, I know I'm behind on reviews! Workin on it now

Different Strokes

treo007 @ 12/18/2003 4:53:25 PM #
Look, I hate most of what comes out of the Microsoft Mobility Group. So it's amazing at how much I love my MPx200 so far.

It's the ONLY, and I mean only, smartphone to ever come out that I can be proud of taking out of my pocket. As for comparing it to the Treo in terms of form factor and sex appeal, well there isn't a comparison. The Treo looks like you're holding a PDA up to your head. No one would even know the MPx200 is even a Smartphone.

New time, new face

SeldomVisitor @ 4/26/2007 6:25:28 AM #
Emporer Mossberg has new clothes:

-- http://allthingsd.com/

Purty!

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