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Talkin' Treo - v021508

Fri Feb 15, 2008 - 10:36 AM EST - By Annie Latham

Week ending 15 February 2008

Palm can be slow about a lot of things, but this week props go out to them for jumping so quickly on Research in Motion’s BlackBerry blackout by running a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times touting Palm’s “uptime.” For once, RIM is in the hot seat.

As anticipated, Barcelona news flowed steadily all week. The surprising thing to me was the number of announcements Microsoft made. They sure were busy! The Centro had a busy week too —gaining a lot of traction and visibility. So without further ado, Let’s Talk Treo!

Palm News

It’s Centro Week!!

The Centro had an amazing week – appearing in all kinds of places (and stories).

Centro Goes to Europe

It’s official… Palm announced the European release of their Palm OS-based Centro smartphone, their smallest and lightest Palm smartphone to date.

Mike Slocombe of Digital Lifestyles wrote:

“The Centro has proved a hit in the States, with Palm reporting higher than expected sales figures, although we could find no UK operators offering the phone when we wrote this (we checked with T-Mobile and they told us that they currently had no plans to offer the Centro). Although the lack of Wi-Fi and 3G are major omissions, we’d say that £199 for a SIM-free, quadband phone sporting a high-res 320 x320 touchscreen, a class-leading set of Office apps, Palm’s user-friendly interface, and a fair smattering of multimedia gizmos, is something of a bargain, so we’ll try and get our hands on one when the phone becomes available from Feb 14th.”

This was also written about by Dieter at TreoCentral.

Centro Coming to AT&T?

There has been significant buzz all week about an AT&T (GSM) version of Centro that is supposedly coming soon. At Engadget Mobile, Chris Ziegler noted that it will be white with a green keypad (!?!). Stay tuned for an official announcement from Palm.

Palm Centro Selling Well with Women

Ryan Kim at the San Francisco Chronicle reported this week on some early customer information Palm has compiled about users of the Centro.

“In a buyer survey, Palm found they have twice as many women Centro customers as they do with users of its traditional Treo products, which are more business friendly…
…The number of under-35 Centro users has also increased by 150 percent compared to other Palm users.”

The numbers seem to indicate that Palm is having success expanding the market for their product offerings.

Centro Sales Exceed Expectations

This week, CBS Marketwatch reported encouraging news about the Palm Centro. In a story datelined Barcelona, Palm CEO, Ed Colligan talked about how early data suggests the Centro may help Palm reach a new category of consumers.

"It's exceeding our expectations. We started going after a very different market with this device. An early survey of buyers shows that 72% of people who bought the Centro previously had a traditional handset and not a smart phone…"

Colligan downplayed the risk of going after the consumer segment just when the economic outlook is worsening and customers show signs of curbing spending.

Oprah Gives Away Pink Centros on Tuesday’s Show

Talk about great placement… On Tuesday’s Oprah television show (the one featuring David Cassidy and the Cosby Kids: All Grown Up), Oprah gave everyone in the audience a Pink Centro. Sprint had a hand in this, no doubt. There was also a “text message” promotion tied to the show:

Sprint Customers were encouraged to text the word "pink" to 6789 before February 19 to receive a free ring tone of David Cassidy's "I Think I Love You."

Moving right along…

Recent TreoCentral Guides, Reviews & More

Clue-Review: SanDisk 6GB microSDHC Card and Reader for Palm Centro - By Jay Gross

Jay checked out SanDisk’s offering for the Centro: a 6GB microSDHC card and reader. The “HC” stands for high capacity, and he noted, “This one tiny ‘chip’ contains more memory than all of my previous computers put together.” If you haven’t yet tried to use external memory with your Centro, this is a great article to get you started.

“Micro SD cards are so small they readily tempt the Gremlins in Charge of Losing Tiny Stuff. But oh, the joy. Thousands of music files all in one place, and easy to put there. SanDisk makes life with Centro all the better, with interchangeable, removable, hugely capacious storage. This sweet, thoughtful little kit of a six-gigabyte micro SD card, an SD card adapter, and a dedicated USB reader-writer is their latest high-capacity offering. Unfortunately, this six-gig card is not honored correctly in the Centro, though the four-gigabyte version has been reported to work fine.”

Review: HanDBase 4.0 - By Harv Laser

This week, Harv took a look at HanDBase -- a “relational database manager” for desktops, PDAs, and smart phones which offers data entry, searching, sorting, filtering, printing and synchronization between desktops and the Treo.

“Don’t let the words “database programs” scare you away. Although they’ve been around for ages, and they may not be the most thrilling category of programs out there, once you wrap your mind around how useful a well-coded database program can be, you’ll probably think of hundreds of ways you could use HanDBase in your daily personal and professional life… …HanDBase is another one of those rare, high-quality apps backed by a company who obviously cares about their customers and that shelf-full of awards they’ve earned proves it.”

Review: Plantronics Voyager 855 Bluetooth Headset - By Andre Kibbe

Andre gave the Plantronics Voyager 855 Bluetooth Headset a tryout. It is one of those multi-purpose ones that handles calls and music.

“I love the design of the Voyager 855. The wearability is excellent due to the overall lightweight and the selection of ear hooks and ear gels. The call quality is good enough, but there are better sounding sets available in the same price range. If you’re looking for a great stereo headset for extensive music listening, consider a dedicated pair expressly designed for the purpose. For its overall functionality, this is an above-average headset if you mainly need to handle phone calls, but would still like the option of streaming music without the bulk of a second headset.”

Clue: Treo Software Roundup - By Jennifer Chappell

Some of the interesting new software releases that Jennifer talked about included: AFK Sudoku, FlashInfo, Revival, Smyled, Magic Bubble, SMS-Chat, Speereo Voice Mailer and Speereo Voice Organizer.Sapie. As for updates, some of note include: BlockBuster, Boa Constrictor, Illustrix Animal Dream, NeatFreak Pack, FolderMirror, Jet Ducks, Master Kick and Pocket Informant.

Talkin’ TreoCast

In this episode, the hosts discuss the Sprint Treo 755p ROM update and the Mobile World Congress (including why Palm isn’t really there). They also take a look at the hot new browsers that are coming down the pike for Windows.

Elsewhere in the World of Treo…

More Joy for Centro Owners!

Review: Palm 1150 mAh Battery for Centro

An original 1150mAh replacement Palm Centro battery is now finally available for $44.95. Andrew over at Treonauts wrote:

“This 1150mAh spare Centro battery from Palm will provide you with an additional 3.5 hours of talk time or 240 hours of standby time – perfect for that extra juice you’ll need while on the go.”

Review: Mobi Centro Battery Cradle

Now that you can actually get a spare battery for the Centro, you may be interested in finding a convenient way to charge it. Andrew also took a look at the Centro Battery Cradle by Mobi Products.

“The only small drawback with the Centro Battery Cradle is that the USB cable only provides power to charge your smartphone while the included wall charger powers your battery. Having said this, if like me you would like to power both your Centro and battery from a wall outlet there is a simple solution which consists of getting a separate USB Wall Adapter and plugging the USB cable into it.”

Review: Otterbox 1921 Palm Treo Case

“AWright” over at Brighthand checked out the OtterBox 1921 case for the Treo 680/750/755p models that takes on “a surprisingly functional approach to protection.”

“Because the OtterBox 1921 has all of the buttons and hands-friendly design, it's not only quite usable, but a pleasure to use. Sure, I might have looked really strange with such a large device and not taking a meter reading, but on the hazardous route of commuting to work, having my Treo protected with the OtterBox 1921 made for a niche that I wanted to be in: the one of non-bruised mobile devices.”

Treo 500 Unlocked & Unboxed

At Tam’s Windows Mobile Smartphone Blog, there is an unboxing video of the Palm Treo 500 (NOT the Vodafone one).

“In the end, the Palm Treo 500 ships with the same (well-done) hardware bundle found in the 500v’s box. However, Palm significantly beefed up the presentation, packaging the stuff in a fashion similar to the one that debuted along the Treo 680. While this probably won’t make much of a difference for a seasoned mobile device addict, having a “quickstart” manual handy can be a great way to mitigate initial frustrations for the average user…”

Hands-On: New Windows Mobile Browsers

Over at Smart Device Central, Sascha Segan and Jamie Lendino talked about some new Windows Mobile browsers that were on display at the 2008 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (from Opera, Skyfire Labs, and Torch Mobile).

Clue: Speeding up Internet Explorer Mobile Web Browsing

Malatesta at WMExperts, has posted an article detailing a little trick “that takes less than 2 minutes to do that can greatly increase the speed of your mobile browser…switch your DNS severs to OpenDNS.”

Clue: Hands-free Options for your Car

This week, Katherine Boehret in the Mossberg Solution column, discussed two devices that bring Bluetooth technology to older cars in hopes of integrating hands-free phone calls and music with a car’s stereo system. She tried the $130 Venturi Mini from NextGen Venturi Ltd. (www.myventuri.com) and $120 Parrot PMK5800 from Parrot Inc. (www.parrot.com) on three cars made in 2000 and 2005 and made an interesting observation:

“The position of a car’s cigarette lighter matters to the Venturi Mini and the Parrot. This plug is often positioned near the gearshift, and in my manual car, it would’ve been difficult to operate these gadgets while in fifth gear (I didn’t try). The location of this plug also determines how loud or soft your voice sound to callers. So as to not sound so far away during calls I tried to lean closer to the devices, but this isn’t safe while driving. The Venturi Mini looks like a hip device, but without voice recognition software and a smart interface, it’s frustrating and dangerous to use. Parrot’s PMK5800 plugs in and works and its voice-recognition software makes it a true hands-free device that will improve the way you use Bluetooth in your car. Just look out for static, especially in big cities.”

Clue: Resizing Photos on Windows Mobile Phones

CNET’s Crave site noted that for about twenty bucks, PhotoContacts for Windows Mobile and Pocket PC “rolls your contact list into a stylish wrapper with better people skills than your default address book.” There is a “First Look” video so you can see it in action for yourself.

Talkin’ Microsoft News…

It was a busy week for Microsoft. Along with the activity surrounding the Yahoo! bid, they also bought Danger, had a management change and much, much more…

Microsoft to Buy Mobile Startup Danger

Microsoft agreed Monday to buy cell phone software maker Danger Inc., to help strengthen its position in consumer mobile phones and build its defenses against a major Google Inc. initiative. Danger, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based company, builds Web browsing, messaging, social networking and other software for mobile devices. The vast majority of its revenue — $50.6 million in 2007 — comes from selling its technology to a single client — T-Mobile USA for its Sidekick phones, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The companies did not disclose financial details of the deal.

Commentary: Information Week’s Stephen Wellman

Stephen Wellman wrote:

"I suspect Microsoft has two plans in mind for Danger's technology. First, Microsoft will use Danger to gain more teen and youth mobile market share. The company will try to expand Danger's reach into other markets by incorporating Danger's software with new handset form factors. Microsoft will also use its existing carrier partnerships to get the Sidekick into other carrier networks. Second, I think Microsoft will take some of the things that Danger does well, like Web browsing and messaging, and incorporate that functionality into Windows Mobile. I expect Microsoft to try to make Windows Mobile look more like Danger, not the other way around."

A Win for Redmond: Sony Ericsson to use Windows Mobile

Sony Ericsson, the fourth-largest maker of mobile phones, announced it will begin offering its first handsets running on Windows Mobile software later this year. That leaves only Nokia, the market leader, in declining to put the Windows phone operating system in its lineup. Nokia relies on software from Symbian, of which it is the dominant owner. The Windows Mobile software will be built into Sony-Ericsson's X1, the first in its new Xperia premium line of qwerty-keyboard multimedia phones that will be available in the second half of this year.

Here’s a link to PC Magazine’s write-up.

MSN Direct Now Available for Windows Mobile

Also at Mobile World Congress 2008, Microsoft announced the availability of a technology preview for accessing MSN Direct content on Windows Mobile-based devices. With this technology preview, customers can receive instant access to information such as weather and stock updates, top news stories and entertainment, sports and business news. The information is presented in a “at-a-glance” format that can be easily accessed directly from the home screen of a device. Content is automatically updated so that customers have immediate access to the content that matters most to them.

Kevin from JKontheRun had put together an under-seven-minute video that shows MSN Direct in action. He remarked:

“There are plenty of third party applications that can provide the same info, if not more, but not all of them are free. Then again, I'm not sure I'd call this implementation "free" exactly; no it doesn't cost you anything, but there's a fair share of ads. They're not obtrusive, but they're there as you'll see in the video.”

News: Microsoft Has New Mobile Chief

Pieter Knook, the senior vice president in Microsoft's Mobile and Embedded Devices unit -- is leaving (jumping over to Vodafone be in charge of this telecom's new Internet services division). He is being replaced by Andy Lees who was previously a Microsoft vice president in charge of Micosoft’s company's Server & Tools Marketing and Solutions Group.

Commentary: Michael Gartenberg/Jupiter Research

…The Windows Mobile appointment is a "bit of an odd move since it's not clear to me what mobile expertise Lees has at time when Windows Mobile needs a strong hand at the helm." …
For the company to tap an executive from Server & Tools could raise eyebrows at a time when Windows Mobile is seeking to make a bigger push into the consumer market…

News: Boingo Adds Windows Mobile 6 Support

Boingo Wireless has just added support for Windows Mobile 6 and Sony Ericsson Symbian UIQ based smartphone. The prices are same - unlimited hotspot access for $7.95, €5.95, or £3.95 per month.

Note: Boingo has been supporting Windows Mobile 5 devices since February 2007.

News: Nvidia Dials Into Mobile Phones

CNET’s Tom Krazit has written about how Nvidia is seeking to gain a piece of the exploding smartphone market, with its first major applications processor scheduled to arrive in phones next year.

“The graphics chip company is showing off the fruits of its $357 million PortalPlayer acquisition with the APX 2500, its first attempt at building a true computing processor for mobile phones… The APX 2500 is designed as a standalone application processor for multimedia phones where talking takes a back seat to watching videos and browsing the Web.”

Nvidia is pushing the APX 2500 as the fastest way for handset makers to build a smartphone based on Windows Mobile . Nvidia designed its chip in collaboration with Microsoft, and the next version of the operating system will be able to exploit technology within Nvidia's chip.

Clue: Mobile Finance Options

James A. Martin at PDA Street has done an article on the programs that are available to help you track your finances while on the go if you’re a sole proprietor or if you own a business with just a few employees.

News: Charge Anywhere for the Treo

Comstar Interactive (www.comstarinteractive.com), a leading provider of secure Mobile Payment solutions and electronic payment services, just announced the release of Charge Anywhere v2.0 (www.chargeanywhere.com) Secure Mobile Payment solution for merchants using Palm Treo smartphone devices. Charge Anywhere v2.0 Mobile is Visa Payment Application Best Practices (PABP) validated, and specifically designed to empower mobile payments for businesses seeking a comprehensive mobile payment solution. This announcement follows Charge Anywhere having recently receiving the “Designed for Palm Products” honor, and its selection by Palm as “Windows Application of the Month.”

News: Paramount’s New Mobile Studio

According to a story that appeared in Variety, Paramount is launching a mobile unit to spearhead its efforts to license, develop and distribute content for cell phones. It will be headed by senior vice president of mobile and interactive, Sandi Isaacs, who also oversees the studio's videogame activities.

Follow-up News: What Redford Said at the Mobile World Congress

As mentioned in last week’s column, Robert Redford was scheduled to speak at the Mobile World Congress. Fierce Mobile Content posted a story about what he said. Robert Redford touted the mobile platform as the ideal distribution channel for the short-form productions so central to his personal vision for independent filmmaking, arguing:

"Technology doesn't get traction until artists push their way into it and conjoin with it--the more art lends itself to new technology, it's going to drive it in new commercial ways."

News: BuzzMyGoat Launch Brings Video to Your Text Life

Ah… leave it to a UK-based company to have so much fun with a press release…

BuzzMyGoat – a revolutionary new mobile video service that enables anyone to manipulate, personalize and communicate with comedy video clips – launched last week. At www.BuzzMyGoat.com anyone can create professional, customized television comedy sketches to send to friends, colleagues, clients or business contacts. The new technology behind BuzzMyGoat means specially shot audio and video segments can be seamlessly integrated into a unique new clip in a virtually limitless number of combinations.

Endnotes & Ponderables:

I was perusing the Personal Journal section of the Wall Street Journal when I noticed one of the medical Q and A items dealt with active noise canceling headphones causing queasiness. That was the first time I had heard of it. Here’s the answer:

“Bose's Acoustic Noise Canceling headphones work by electronically determining the difference between wanted and unwanted sounds, and creating a correction signal that acts to negate the unwanted noise, according to its Web site. (The company didn't respond to requests to comment.) Sarah Stackpole, a New York ear, nose and throat doctor, speculates that the sound waves that cancel each other out may still transmit enough very low frequency vibrations to stimulate the balance receptors that are connected to the hearing hair cells in the inner ear. These vibrations are akin to those caused by blast explosions or barotrauma in scuba diving, but much less forceful, she says. The disequilibrium that some people may feel from this is made worse because the vibrations falsely signal that the head is moving, but the eyes report that the head is stationary. Those mixed signals make the headphone wearer feel dizzy.”

Say what?? Then, to my surprise, I turned the page to find a full-page ad for the very same headphones. Bad placement, huh? Bose, you ought to ask for your money back.

That’s a wrap!

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