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Handhelds Hardware

The Handspring Treo In Real Life 240

Posted by timothy
from the promising-promising dept.
Dave Aiello writes: "For the past year, I have searched for a single device that could replace my cellular telephone, PDA, and pager. The products I used, a Nokia 8860 with AT&T Wireless service, a Palm V, and a Research in Motion 850 with Cingular Wireless Data service, are each fine products in their own right. But, the awkwardness of carrying them at once, the cost of maintaining two separate wireless service accounts, and the lack of integration between them kept my frustration level high." Dave has given a thorough look at the realities of using Handspring's new Treo to consolidate the functions that each of these other devices provides -- learn from his experiences, below.

Motivations

The Treo 180 intrigued me when it was announced. I thought that it was close to the ideal unified device for me, because it would increase the utility of the Palm OS by integrating telephony and providing wireless web and email access. After a few weeks of research into the development of the Treo and its expected feature set, I decided to buy one and to quickly end service on my Nokia mobile phone and RIM pager.

I quit the other products altogether because I realized that as long as I was able to fall back on them, I would never fully adopt the Treo. After a month of using it, I still see situations where I could do what I want to do with my old devices more easily than I can with the Treo. Nevertheless, I am glad that I got rid of the other devices, I am learning to live with the current limitations of the Treo, and I believe that the Treo is just going to keep getting better in the next few months.

Hardware and Support

In the past, a number of friends told me that the Handspring Visors that they bought had serious quality problems. Issues most often cited were memory problems that caused otherwise stable applications to crash, and display failures. So, I was concerned that Handspring would have difficulty producing a device reliable enough to be used as a mobile phone.

My Treo 180 seemed solid for the first 18 hours I had it. Then I discovered that the backlight on the display did not operate at all. This is a show-stopper on the Treo because it is virtually impossible to use the mobile telephone feature in your car at night without the backlight. I expected to have to deal with this problem for a while because there was a two to three week wait for delivery of new Treo orders at the time.

To my surprise, I got a replacement Treo that worked properly in less than two days, and I had a week to transfer my data from the old Treo and return it (at no additional charge). The only thing I had to do to get Handspring Technical Support to offer me a replacement was indicate that I had read and followed the troubleshooting instructions that appear on Handspring's support web site. My conclusion from this experience is that hardware quality is acceptable and product support is excellent.

I want to mention a couple of physical design issues about the Treo 180 that I have not seen addressed in other reviews. One view of the Phone application is an on-screen dial pad, used to dial numbers not in your address book. Until I started using the Treo, I did not realize that much of my mobile phone dialing had been accomplished in the past without looking at the dial pad. In other words, I dialed by feeling the relative position of the keys. This is impossible with the Treo on-screen keypad.

A smaller design problem I noticed is that the headset jack is on the upper left side of the unit, right above the jog dial. This makes using the headset difficult unless the headset plug is flipped up so that the cable extends above the device, opposite the way most people would naturally orient the plug.

I also feel obligated to comment on the Treo's internal battery. The low-battery warning comes on fairly consistently after about 2 hours of call time. Since I spend a lot of time on the road, I tend to carry my charger in my briefcase, and charge when I am at my desk. This works well for me because the charger works quite rapidly, but some people will be disappointed by the relatively limited capacity of the Treo battery.

Palm Software

Although I was an experienced Palm user before I got my Treo 180, it took me a couple of weeks to understand all of the issues surrounding software for this device. Probably everyone knows that the 180 is the first PalmOS-based PDA to ship with a built-in keyboard; this has a number of side-effects that you won't be able to evaluate properly even if someone hands you a working Treo so you can try it for yourself.

The first problem, which you won't notice if you just look at the phone and calendar applications, is that most existing Palm applications do not provide menu equivalents for all of their major functions. I work around this problem in two ways: I downloaded a utility called PowerJog that allows me to use the jog dial to click on-screen buttons. My other approach is to look for applications that work better than the ones that Handspring ships with the Treo. For instance, I think One-Touch Mail 2.3 is ill-suited for the Treo: it's overkill for hand-held email and it's not keyboard friendly. A better choice is Mailer from ElectricPocket, although it is $29.95 after a 30-day trial period.

The second problem I ran into was the assumption that Treo users would happily use Windows or the Macintosh as their desktop or laptop OS. Many Slashdot readers use Linux instead. Although there are a number of ways to synchronize the Treo using Linux, some of the Internet applications are configured via a Mac or PC application, and then installed through the synchronization process.

OTOH, I would argue that the PalmOS is the single greatest strength of the Treo. Programs already exist to add functionality to the jog dial and to configure the extended functions of the Treo (like which application starts when the lid is opened, and which program runs when the user holds the Option key and presses an application button). None of this functionality was developed by Handspring, but the user community added it within a couple of weeks of the Treo's release. Handspring seems to understand that it is delivering a communications platform, not just a PDA with phone and Internet features added.

Internet Functionality: Not Really Ready for Prime Time

I bought my Treo knowing that Internet access would not work smoothly for a while. This is because the communicator was shipped before GPRS (Generalized Packet Radio Service) support was ready. Yes, you can make data calls to an ISP and this works well, but call setup time is still at least 30 seconds, which seems like an eternity to me.

I want to use GPRS, but I am seriously questioning whether users paying for their own mobile service will sign up, due to the high rates providers are charging in the United States. For instance, VoiceStream's highest-use consumer GPRS plan charges $39.95 a month for 10 megabytes of data transmission, plus $4.00 for each additional megabyte. This is in addition to the monthly service plan for voice calls. Cingular GPRS rates are similar. Nobody I know has used GPRS enough to have a feel for how much data service they will actually use, but the rates worry me.

SMS (Short Message Service) is a big feature of the Treo, which should make the communicator a hit in Europe and Asia where SMS is used more than in North America. There are two problems with SMS on the Treo, IMHO. Every American cell phone user I send SMS messages to is shocked that their phone has this capability, and they often don't know how to respond. The SMS client application, Handspring SMS 3.5H, has a bug in it that makes it difficult to reply to SMS messages received from VoiceStream's SMS-email gateway. The bug is a relatively simple addressing problem that was acknowledged by Handspring Technical Support. But, I have not seen anything indicating that they have updated their SMS client, and I'm not sure that this problem occurs on any other provider than VoiceStream.

Handspring recently announced a software/service offering called TreoMail that is touted as a competitor to Blackberry Enterprise Server. The Blackberry product lets corporate users read their Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Domino mail on a Research in Motion pager. Handspring apparently feels it needs a product like this to be credible in the corporate wireless email market.

I am using a Beta version of TreoMail Internet edition, which periodically connects my POP3 mail account to a server at Visto which hosts TreoMail. This product is really immature, because it's obviously intended to be used with GPRS rather than dial-up Internet access, and my Treo doesn't support GPRS yet. The problem should be mitigated by the option that TreoMail provides to send an SMS message when email arrives, but Handspring recently announced that the SMS alert would only work on Cingular's network until beta testing is completed.

Conclusion

I think Handspring made the right choice by shipping the Treo 180 before GPRS support was completed. The device is so well designed and the mobile phone-PDA integration works so well, that the hardware and software glitches I've identified seem insignificant. Handspring is making progress toward delivering mobile Internet applications, and third parties are developing software for it as well. I like the Treo so much that I am playing with IDEs for Palm OS development that I never would have looked at when I was using a Palm V.

This device is not for everyone, and it is virtually useless in areas where GSM cellular service is not available. That's a large part of the more rural areas of the United States and Canada as we speak. But, AT&T Wireless and Cingular are rolling out GSM support on their networks over the coming months, and devices such as the Treo will begin to take off. This is one of the first integrated communication devices that has more advantages than drawbacks, but it won't be the only successful one.


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The Handspring Treo In Real Life

Comments Filter:
  • one device? (Score:1, Funny)

    by ekephart (256467)
    For the past year, I have searched for a single device that could replace my cellular telephone, PDA, and pager.

    duct tape and matches
  • Well, sounds like something that will be cool now, but quickly eclipsed when GPRS comes out. Too bad...this would have been cool about 2 years ago..

    Too bad,

    Joe
  • Just a month? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Many of us have been overly pleased with our Kyocera QCP-6035s, many for well over a year.

    Color Cell Phone + Color PDA = horrible battery life, which is why many of us are sticking to what we have which already works, aside from the whole treo's lacking trimode thing.
  • US Specific (Score:1, Troll)

    by clambert (519009)
    Most of this article is US specific. (based on the 1900mhz GSM band) The rest of the world (900/1800mhz GSM) has a whole slew of additional options, and this is one area where the US really falls short in comparison.
    • I believe that the Treo 180 shipped in the United States is dual band (900/1900 mHz), see Treo specs [handspring.com].

      Sorry if you think the review is too US-centric. I wanted to emphasize the current GSM network availability issues in the United States, without implying to Europeans and Asians that the phone wouldn't work for them. I believe the 900/1800 version offered in those areas works very well, and has fewer limitations than the US version.

    • Re:US Specific (Score:3, Informative)

      The phone itself, like most of the high end GSM phones are tri band world phones, they will work anywhere they can pickup a signal on 900/1800/1900 ranges.... However at $2 a min roaming overseas... its cheaper to take your phone, pop out your local providers sim card, and go buy yourself prepaid sim cards from whatever provider is in your part of the world your headed.

      I was looking into the Treo, I already have voicestream GSM/GPRS on my motorola timeport P280 (which has a really stupid IR issue of it being off by default and having to hit the menu's to activate it, does not support phone number entry beaming via the irDA... and crashes when you attempt to use anytype of GSM software to sync your address book with a pda or anything via irDA (yes 300 or so numbers went poof.. always remember to store your numbers in the sim card not the phone if you use a P280. This problem appears to be specific with the P280 which requires the rather expensive datakit ($69 USD) that has Starfish Truesync to sync the phone as the std AT command set does not work on the P280. However the P260 and other phones have no problems with this).

      I ended up buying a Ipaq and a Timeport to Ipaq data cable (ouch, $59 USD.. almost as much as the datakit for the timeports from motorola) which allows me to use the irDA on both the phone and the ipaq to connect to each other and use both GPRS and std dialup (the latter chewing up min on your phone service, not metered by bandwidth, but I have unlimited weekend and evening hours with voicestream).

      End of story, with the research I did before going out and chosing my present setup, if your going to get a Treo, its gonna cost you around $550 for the phone unless you get it with service, then its only $300 (and for those of us who were already voicestream customers.. you get screwed, we gotta pay the full price, which is why I got an ipaq and data cable instead at around the same cost). I would recomend you wait till mid 2002, when they release the Treo 280, its a colour version, and will have all the support you need, and will run about $600ish (according to handsprings site).

      Bleh
  • by richlb (168636)
    I tried the Visor Phone when it was released, and always felt like I was going to break it. It was bigger than I was comfortable with, and really hurt my wrist trying to hold it to my ear. This sounds like it's a little more egonomic. I may give it a try, since I dropped my Visor and damaged the screen anyway.

    • I tried the Visor Phone when it was released, and always felt like I was going to break it. It was bigger than I was comfortable with, and really hurt my wrist trying to hold it to my ear. This sounds like it's a little more egonomic.

      I upgraded from a Visor Platinum with a VisorPhone to a Treo 180g. The Treo is definitely a lot more comfortable to use. It's smaller, lighter, and fits in the hand better. Besides the earpiece, it also has a speakerphone which works nicely for hands free calling.
  • by stray (73778) on Monday April 08, 2002 @01:29PM (#3304292) Homepage
    Nevertheless, I am glad that I got rid of the other devices, I am learning to live with the current limitations of the Treo [...]
    That's exactly what I lament about all the PDA's and cell-phone/pda chymeras I've used so far. They all require *you* to adapt to work around their obvious limitations, and IMHO that's not what technology should be about. I'd keep falling back to my paper filofax and plain-vanilla-cellphone if it wasn't for geekdom and my need for wireless ssh.
    • by d5w (513456) on Monday April 08, 2002 @01:43PM (#3304402)
      They all require *you* to adapt to work around their obvious limitations, and IMHO that's not what technology should be about.
      I disagree; this is always what technology is about. Any new technology requires you to adapt; to give up old habits and adopt new ones. Good design is about making the tradeoffs worthwhile. The telegraph introduced constraints on written communication; the automobile was a cranky (sorry) machine that had to be nursed along; dealing with telephones required all the hassles of operators, party lines, lack of privacy and lost connections; and all of those were worth adapting to. Many of the problems were overcome with later technology, but the earlier technology was still worthwhile.

      In the particular case of PDAs, when I shifted to using a bare-bones PalmOS device a few years ago it was, and still is, the most limited option available in many ways. But it worked; it provided useful functionality not available in a low-tech form in a good form-factor; and the penalties weren't hard to adapt to. So it became a habit.

    • by wiredog (43288)
      They all require *you* to adapt to work around their obvious limitations

      That's not a bug, it's a feature. The Newton tried to learn how you wrote (it tried to adapt to the user). The Palm requires you to adapt to it. The Palm costs less, and works better. There are highly adaptable systems out there. They're called "notebook computers". A PDA needs to do a few things, very well, at low cost. With low cost being the important part. Thus Grafitti, by freeing up processor power for other things, is better than the Newton system.

    • by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Monday April 08, 2002 @01:54PM (#3304472) Homepage
      Frankly, the whole "review" strikes me as an exercise in the resolution of cognitive dissonance. The fact is I think he really regrets getting the Treo - the problems he enumerates are many, the limitations irksome, and the benefits questionable - but after you've plopped down $500+ there's a motivation on a subconscious level to *defend* your choice as rational.

      This review has been helpful to me - I had been considering a Treo, but at this point I think I'll pass.

  • I was finally able to look at one of these things first hand at a local Best Buy. Naturally, it was a floor model and didn't work.

    How are the keyboards on these things? It felt kind of mushy. They keyboard itself is rather small, so I wanted to gauge how the Handspring guys had handled the error control, etc. etc.

    • by dave_aiello (9791) on Monday April 08, 2002 @01:37PM (#3304356) Homepage
      It feels the same to me as the keyboards on the Blackberry pagers from Research in Motion. The difference is in the size of the keyboard: the Treo keyboard is 2/3 to 3/4 of the size of the Blackberries. I should also point out that the Treo keyboard has slightly convex keytops which makes it easier for someone with large fingers to hit the right key. This is an improvement over the RIM 850 that I have.

    • I can't answer your keypad question, but if you didn't like the keypad on the demo model you could always go for a 180g, which has the normal graffiti area.
  • Is it possible... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NanoGator (522640) on Monday April 08, 2002 @01:30PM (#3304300) Homepage Journal
    ... to turn off the cell phone part of it and have just the PDA on?

    The only thing preventing me from buying one of these guys is that I'm concerned I can't use it on a plane. This may sound silly to some people, but I like the idea if simply carrying that aboard instead of my laptop. Since I already carry a cell-phone around everywhere I go, then that'd mean one less thing to carry.

    Anybody know if this is possible?
    • Re:Is it possible... (Score:5, Informative)

      by dave_aiello (9791) on Monday April 08, 2002 @01:33PM (#3304331) Homepage
      Yes, you can turn off the cell phone and leave the PDA on. It works just like a normal Palm OS device at that point. All you do is hold down the Power button at the top of the unit until you hear a series of three decending musical tones.

      • Thanks!! Much appreciated. :)
      • I've been seriously tempted to buy a Treo for the past couple months, however....

        How's the coverage area in your experience with Voicestream (decent provider??) or Cingular? I live in the Philadelphia area and travel to NJ, NYC, and MD frequently. Apparently my only option is voicestream here, but is the coverage good in your experience where you are and outside? I'm on Cingular with a Nokia 8260 right now and I really don't want to give up decent coverage.

        Also could you perhaps further expand on how it compares to the blackberry for the email service, not necessarily the integration with corporate email, but in general. I'm not so interested in web browsing, but I love the blackberry and the ability to get emails almost instantly without having to explicitly connect and stuff. I've got a Motorola T900 via Skytel which is sort of comparable, but I find the messaging size limitations rather annoying (I believe it piggybacks on SMS or something)...
        • I live in Central New Jersey, so I think I am in the same service area that you are. As far as I know, your only Treo-compatible service option in the New York / Philadelphia area today is VoiceStream. Cingular and AT&T Wireless are still TDMA in these markets. Supposedly, AT&T Wireless is on the verge of rolling out GSM, but they would not tell me what the deployment dates were in the New York and Philadelphia markets.

          VoiceStream service has been very good in New Jersey. My Treo drops far fewer calls than my Nokia 8860 did on AT&T Wireless, particularly in Central and Southern New Jersey along the New Jersey Turnpike.

          I was just as worried as you were about giving up TDMA for GSM. My advice is to check out a VoiceStream coverage map, and see if they say they have service where you spend most of your time. Sounds stupid, but that's how I got the courage up to try the Treo.

          Regarding email service and the comparison between the Treo and a Blackberry, I have to tell you that the Blackberry is a better email device today. It will probably continue to be a better email device until the Treo gets GPRS support. Once the GPRS upgrade becomes available, then the questions will be:

          1. How much GPRS service do you use?
          2. How much will that add to your bill?
          3. Will GPRS service be available throughout your provider's GSM coverage area?
          Hope this helps,
    • by cmdr_beeftaco (562067) on Monday April 08, 2002 @02:21PM (#3304615)
      don't worry about it, i leave my cell phone on all of my plane flights and I have only crashed once.
    • Re:Is it possible... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jCaT (1320)
      even if it is, the last time I got on a flight they informed us that the use of PDA's was also now prohibited unless the plane was at the gate. They made a point of saying that you used to be able to use them in the air, but that recently they had tightened the rules back a bit.

      Back to the article- The author mentions how hard it is to dial without having tactile buttons. THANK YOU! that's why I can't stand any of these hotshot new universal TV remotes, or even the apps for palm/visor that provide that functionality. I know my tv remote so well that I almost never look at it, except for those very infrequently used buttons. It should require no thought at all, and this is something the "combo" phone/pda makers haven't addressed much yet.
  • Modem? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DdJ (10790) on Monday April 08, 2002 @01:30PM (#3304303) Homepage Journal
    Folks have already said that the Treo can make a data call to an ISP and establish an internet connection. Cool.

    Can the Treo also be used as an external modem for other devices that want to do that? One of the things I like about my StarTAC is that a simple cable turns it into a wireless modem for all my laptops. Can I do something similar with the Treo? If not, it's of no use to me, as I'll have to carry around another phone anyway for laptop use.
    • Re:Modem? (Score:3, Informative)

      by dave_aiello (9791)
      There does not appear to be a provision for connecting the Treo to a laptop. (Correct me if I'm wrong.) What I would have liked is for the Treo to support Bluetooth and have it be switchable in the same way that the mobile phone feature is.

    • I also have the same question.

      I have a VisorPhone and you cannot use the IRDA port while using the phone for a data call.

      Does anybody knows if the Treo has the same limitation? (The handspring FAQ offer no help on that aspect).

  • Get a Kyocera 6035 (Score:5, Informative)

    by cybrthng (22291) on Monday April 08, 2002 @01:30PM (#3304305) Journal
    The Kyocera 6035 is basially free with a SprintPCS plan.

    Long Battery Life

    PalmOS 3.5

    8 Megs ram

    Multi-Mode Cell support

    Excellent Palm Phone Integration

    Built in Wireless Modem

    Works GREAT with Blazer Browser

    The phone supports SMS and tons of other features. Sure it is a tad big, bit it is worth it. Sprint is upgrading there network as well to suport 1000 character SMS messages to other networks as well.

    I can check my mail, telnet into the servers and run some checkup scripts, surf the web and talk to my wife all on a single device. Plus i can drag the cradle with me, and use the wireless modem from my laptop and login to the interenet while i'm on the train. Albeit only 14.4, but better then nothing.

    The Kyocera is about 130.00 from Sprintpcs.com and you get a 50.00 and 75.00 rebate.. so its only a few bucks. BlazerBrowser is a free download and for more information check out

    SmartPhone (Kyocera) Source [smartphonesource.com]

    • by PCM2 (4486) on Monday April 08, 2002 @01:41PM (#3304375) Homepage
      I have one of these and I think it's great.

      As an aside, I didn't get all of the rebates you mentioned. As an existing Sprint PCS customer, I wasn't eligible for the $70 rebate that was given out to new customers when they sign up for the service -- despite the fact that they made me sign a one-year contract when I upgraded my service to include data access. That's right ... you read that correctly ... *BECAUSE* I was an existing customer who had been using Sprint for about four years, I had to pay more. Still, my total price was $150, which is a pretty damn good deal for replacing both my 4-year-old mobile phone and my five-year old PalmPilot Pro at the same time.

      Anyway, so far I've found the Kyocera to be really admirably designed. Just about everything works the way it should, though it took me a while to figure out how to paste phone numbers into the Dialer application (you highlight the number and then immediately hit the Phone shaped button that replaces the Calculator button on this model).

      One great thing about this Palm/Phone combo is that it has a real keypad for dialing... a much better solution for making phone calls in the dark than a backlight, IMHO.
      • Voicestream does seem to recognize that existing customers upgrade their phones from time to time and provides appropriate discounts. I recently upgraded my phone after having had it for about two years. I called customer service, explained that my phone had become a bit old and beat up and that I wanted a new one, told them which one I want, and they offered me a good discount on it: $50 less than they were asking new customers for the same phone in the local Voicestream store. The only downer was that I had to order it on the phone and wait while it was shipped to me, as they said they no longer provide discounts to existing customers *at* *the* *stores*.

        I don't know if this policy applies to the Treo, but you could ask.

        Now that I think about it, several friends of mine who are sprint customers got discounted prices on replacement phones after a year of service, although the choices they were offered were limited. (However, in one case he brought the phone back to the Sprint store and told them "I hate this phone", so they gave him a store credit to use on any phone he wanted, and he got one he really loves.) You might want to call Sprint and inquire.
    • Always wait on pricing! I got one of these back in January and paid over $200. I was at Circuit City on Friday and they had it for $8. $108 - $100 rebate. Ouch!

      The 'blazer' browser isn't all that good imo because it locks up during use - the 'stop' button never works. Other than that, it's a decent unit.
    • I've been looking for an compact solution for sending short telemetry messages back from vehicles, based on a widely deployed and affordable transport service. How feasible is it to hack up a piece of software that will send messages using SMS from one of these?
      • I speak as a European here, so I may get the technical details wrong.

        The Kyocera is a CDMA phone. This brings many advantages (CDMA is a very clever way to design a network, and is very efficient in its use of spectrum.)

        But CDMA does not support SMS.

        Nor, unfortunately, does it support roaming. A GSM phone may be less technically proficient, but (assuming it is tri-band) it will work - seamlessly! - in Europe, and most of the US and Asia.

        So, in short, it is unlikely anyone will be able to hack SMS on this.

        *r
    • Can someone who has used a Kyocera 6035 tell me if I can talk on the cell phone with a headset and use the PDA to read and write information at the same time?

      Same question for the Treo...

  • No link? (Score:2, Informative)

    by displacer (136053)
    What?!?!? A slashdot story with no link. Well, here's one for the Treo [handspring.com]
  • This is a show-stopper on the Treo because it is virtually impossible to use the mobile telephone feature in your car at night without the backlight

    Is it too much to ask that you pull over before you call someone in your car, at night? Maybe stop under a street light somewhere to chat?
    Driving around at night on your phone is dangerous, to you and to other people. Why can't you wait the 10 extra seconds to get somewhere that you can stop at? I for one am tired of getting almost run over by some idiot on a cellphone every day. I walk to work, and pretty much everywhere else. And when I get a walk signal in a cross walk and start a cross, and some guy on a cellphone comes around the corner making a right turn and almost kills me, it really ruins my mood. So do me a favor, stop it. Just put the damn phone down for 5 minutes, get where you are going, then talk after you park. There is no good reason to be on the phone while the vehicle is moving if you are driving. If it's an emergency you should probably be stopped anyways, if you're on the way to the hospital you should have called before you got in the car.
    Ugh... crazy yapping bastards on their phones...

    Kintanon
    • All things considered, there is the option of being a passenger in a car, and I don't really know why it's important to pull over to the side, when the passenger needs to make a call or say, browse the web to find a local map...
      • Maybe you should re-read the post and look at the part that says 'when you are driving' I put it in there just for that reason. Passengers can chat all they want.

        Kintanon
        • Passengers can chat all they want.

          But they can't dial unless they turn on the light, and that would be bad for the driver. So this Treo is lose-lose proposition for someone who drives a lot, either as a driver or as a passenger.

    • I agree - even hands - free sets distracts the driver from driving - solution: let's outlaw automatic transmissions so the driver will be too busy shifting so he won't have time for cell phones...
  • by Cutriss (262920) on Monday April 08, 2002 @01:32PM (#3304324) Homepage
    From the Treo FAQ:

    Q. Will your product be upgradeable to GPRS?
    A. Yes. In the second half of the year, Handspring plans to offer a software upgrade that enables Treo to work on GPRS networks. The upgrade will be available from Handspring's web site. The current hardware in Treo is GPRS-ready.

    Q. What version of GPRS is the Treo communicator going to use?
    A. The Treo communicator will support GPRS Class 2, which will provide two channels down and one channel up (otherwise know as "2+1").
  • The thing that makes me distrust the Treo is the inclusion of a really tiny keyboard instad of a more functional Graffiti writing area.

    While I know that, eventually, a Treo with such an option will be available for people who can Graffiti write faster than they can peck tiny chicklet-sized keys, I do not think it was wise for Handspring to roll out the keyboard model first, as the early-adopters are sure to be those replacing their Palms...with business users rolling in after it's been proven useful.

    Just my two cents...
    • Ummm (Score:3, Informative)

      by FallLine (12211)
      Firstly, you can choose between buying the Treo with the thumb keyboard OR with the graffiti/stylus instead. Secondly, if you've ever used a Blackberry/RIM pager, I really don't think you'd think you can write faster with a Palm. I've been using Palm for years, but I could quickly beat my own graffiti speed within, say, 2 or 3 hours of using a blackberry. Honestly. The only problem with such a keyboard, as I see it, is that it requires a certain form factor and that you need to find some alternative pointing device, which may be inferior to a stylus for pointing, but on the aggregate... I suspect this thumb keyboard would be much more desirable.
  • It's all about cargo pants. Sure, I get laughed at going to through metal detectors and I have to wear a belt, but I've got my cell phone in my left leg pocket, PDA in the right, pager in my upper left pocket and, uh, silly putty in the upper right pocket.

    As much as it would be convenient to carry just one item, it still seems like 3 is the way to go for a little while longer. Being able to feel the phone keys is a big plus, and being able to lookup and enter something on my Palm while I'm on the phone is key. Breaking one item won't cripple the others, and changing services is much easier that way.
    • Amen, brother. It takes me about 5 minutes to unload my pockets, go through the metal detector, then reload everything back in, but it's worth it. And I too have longed to merge my PDA and cell phone, just because the saved weight/space would allow me to have even -more- useful stuff, like maybe that bag of trail mix i've been thinking about...

      I might be getting a Treo soon. :)
  • Still free with a one year contract. Basically, its the grand-daddy of the Treo. Form factor is a bit bigger, no GPRS (ever!) but pretty much does everything else. Cell Phone, Palm Software, Internet Access. What more could you want? Plus, with the Prism, you've got color!
  • vs. other options? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nathana (2525)
    For those who have tried both, how does the Treo compare to, say, the Kyocera series of PalmOS-based smartphones [kyocera-wireless.com], or even the old Qualcomm pdQ series [kyocera-wireless.com]?

    (BTW, I think the Kyocera is your only option currently if you want Palm + phone in one unit and you are on a CDMA-based wireless network, such as Sprint or Verizon.)
  • yea this thing bites
    1)no color
    2)not tri or quad band, cant use it to travel

    try a sonnyericsson P800
    http://www.sonyericsson.com/spg.jsp?page=C2_ 1_16&B =ie

    truth be known, Microsoft makes a nice unit based of pocket pc its called the XDA O2
    http://www.howardforums.com/showthread.php?s=& thre adid=18161

    if your going to buy a all in one then dont waste money on some things that dont support the true benifits of GPRS/GSM.

    other nice phones
    http://www.howardforums.com/showthread.php ?s=&thre adid=18496
  • Why do people still use the Palm OS? I mean, I can understand that most of you probably hate Microsoft, but I mean c'mon, the IPaq is so much better in every regard over the PalmOS. I suppose price might be the major issue, but other than the two above-mentioned issues, is there anything that the PalmOS does better than PocketPC?
    • Why do people still use the Palm OS? I mean, I can understand that most of you probably hate Microsoft, but I mean c'mon, the IPaq is so much better in every regard over the PalmOS. I suppose price might be the major issue, but other than the two above-mentioned issues, is there anything that the PalmOS does better than PocketPC?


      A) PalmOS devices get vastly superior battery life for the same functionality. Note: If you try to use a PocketPC in the way that they are advertized (e.g., Word, Excel, mp3s, etc), your batteries quickly drain.

      B) PalmOS based devices tend to be smaller.

      C) PalmOS is simpler and easier to use for PDA tasks (e.g., address book, contacts, etc) since they involve fewer strokes and such.

      D) PalmOS devices cost less.

      E) A wider selection of PalmOS applications.

      I'd phrase the question another way, how is a PocketPC superior for the tasks that I need? Namely, what makes it superior, never mind not inferior, as a PDA? I just don't see it. Until batteries are improved on substantially, processing power grows rapidly, wireless connectivity is truely dependable, and/or data entry (e.g., keyboard) is improved on substantially, I just don't see a compelling argument for going much beyond what PalmOS is today. Palm is still very much on the game today and PocketPC's nominal improvements in offerings of features seem almost irrelevant given the missing pieces of today and probably tomorrow.
    • Why PocketPC? (Score:3, Informative)

      by GMFTatsujin (239569)
      Here's a couple of reasons I can think of off the top of my head:

      1) PalmOS apps are designed generally to do one thing, and one thing only, really really well. WinCE apps carry the baggage of trying to be everything at once.

      2) I'll betcha my Prism can outlast your iPaq between charges. My supervisor has an iPaq and he's constantly bitching about battery life, losing data, and so on. I can go a couple of weeks without worrying.

      3) Keep the size of the screen in mind. It's the size of an index card, and thus, is really good at organizing anything you could fit on an index card - phone numbers, addresses, forms to fill in for databases, etc. The Palm rocks at this because there's no expectation for it to do the work of a desktop (or even a laptop). The apps are therefore very trim, and when designed well, streamlined. The iPaq, again, has the legacy of "It's Windows! It does it *all!*" to live up to - hence, you tend to get a giant multipurpose app that requires lots of viewing space to use and is cramped to work in. Most of the time I don't need *Word*, I just need to look at a document quickly. That's my experience, anyway.

      4) Many many many many apps. Most of them free or cost a mere pittance. iPaq apps, not so much, and not as wide a variety. Again, just my experience.

      5) Cost. For the price of an iPaq I could get a more powerful laptop (although a bit dated) that could do all the same things with my existing software - and would be easier on the eyes.

      6) Ease of syncing - my user base of 3500+ seems to be able to deal with "insert into cradle - push button - remove from cradle" better than the bizarre continuous syncing model of the iPaq. I can't explain it, but them's the facts. I think that again, it has to do with the expectations of how the device is supposed to perform.

      7) Fast navigation and info retrieval. I think it was a mistake to put the Windows interface, start button and all, onto the iPaq. It looks like Windows, but it doesn't *behave* like Windows. For me, a guy who has supported Windows since 3.11, trying to navigate around the iPaq is bewildering. The Palm built a quick little interface from scratch, closer to the *way* early Macintosh days, and for the design of the device, it works more cleanly for me. I don't expect it to act like anything other than what it is - a Palm. The iPaq has enough subtle differences from Windows to throw me off course.

      There's more, but I've already typed more than I think I should have. :)

      This isn't to say there's no downside to the Palm. Application interoperability is a joke at best, there's a lack of standardized formats in which to to keep the same type of data, and if you want the multimedia/MP3/quicktime/whatever in your pocket, looks elsewhere or prepare to by more hardware. I don't miss looking at movies the size of a postage stamp, though. Keeping the interfaces common is rough too - seems like everybody wants to design their own custom buttons to do the same thing.

      I think it comes down to this: the PalmOS is good at keeping all my information nuggets together, and at retrieving them quickly. When I'm on the go I don't generally need to recalculate a spreadsheet, tweak my thesis paper, or browse the web (tho there are Palm apps that will let you do these things if you want them). The PalmOS excels as an information manager, and is a damn good one, and I find it more useful to me than a laptop-equivalent would be under the same circumstances. The iPaq tries to replicate the Windows document creation and management experience, and on a device that size with the consessions to the human interface, it doesn't fly.

      Again, just me.
      GMFTatsujin
    • Two words: Battery Life.

      PalmOS apps is another thing...seriously, it's time J2ME should take off. We've been waiting for cross-platform mobile apps for *WAY* *TOO* long...
  • The Treo looks like a good Smartphone/all-on-one-device/whatever you want to call it... but at $399 with activation, how many can they realistically expect to sell? While the price isn't too terrible when you compare the cost of purchasing PDA/Cell Phone/RIM-style devices separately, that's a pretty good chunk of money to lay down especially if you've already invested the $$$ in separate devices (and already have a wireless contract with another carrier.)

    And then there's the longevity issue; Handspring has put all their eggs in one basket with the Treo. Donna Dubinsky made a vague announcement back in January that Handspring is exiting the traditional organizer market... they're dropping their only color device, the Prism, and the rest of the Visors are still stuck at Palm OS 3.5 with no plans for improvement to the Visor line.

    While a company has to do what's in its best interests in the long term, the episode could have been handled better than it was; Dubinsky's vague statement pissed off a lot of current Visor owners, and Handspring probably lost a lot of potential Treo customers right there; why buy a Treo if Handspring is going to be belly up in a couple of years, or move on to some other product after you've invested hundreds of dollars on the Treo and accessories?

    That being said, if I could comfortably afford one and needed a new wireless contract, I'd probably go for it. :)
  • >>For the past year, I have searched for a single device that could replace my cellular telephone, PDA, and pager

    I've had a visorphone for over a year now, and it satisfies all of the above criteria, except for the pager. Though you can run sms, yahoo im, and though I've never tried it, you could probably run finger while telnetting. A little bulky, but not much more than a visor with a box of matches stuck to it. Besides you can get a cheap visor for $99 and the phone for "free" with contract. (As opposed to $450 for a treo). Plus you can plug in other modules when not in use as a phone.

    Web access is about as satisfying as eating soup with a screwdriver, but in an emergency, it works.
  • by nubbie (454788)
    the Nokia [nokia.com] 9290 [nokiausa.com]. It does pretty much everything - Wireless Web / Wireless E-Mail / Office Use / Organizer / Mobile Multimedia and of course its a phone too. It states that it hasn't been authorized by the FCC yet, but when it is, I think this will be one of their best ones out there.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 08, 2002 @01:54PM (#3304476)
    ..and I'm very happy. I won mine over at www.visorcentral.com . A few notes:
    Battery life improves by leaps and bounds if you have the second generation treo. Apparently, Handspring had the wrong specs for the radio and it can be set up with longer standny (though not talk) time. How? Get it replaced with the "newer" version, which has larger letters on the keyboard as well as a "language picker" app that lets you choose from various Euro langauges.

    3rd party apps are indeed the way to keep the treo happy. Switcheroo is an excellent way to launch apps directly from the keyboard, and TreoButton allows you to remap several of the main buttons in good ways.

    Connection time is reduced by five or ten seconds by using VoiceStream's own WAP ISP number and settings.

    Handspring finally put the IR port on top!

    The speakerphone works excellently.
    Size is excellent as well, it feels smaller than it looks, because of slightly curved corners and edges.

    The sound switch on the top is one of those hit-your-head-because-its-so-simple ideas. a physical switch that turns off ALL sounds that you can check if you're paranoid about that sort of thing.
    The phone/radio management is also good, switching it on and of easy. Also, dialing is easy too, especially once you have the numbers in your address book. another neat feature is you Can use the physical keyboard to punch out new numbers, and the treo will recognize that you're pecking out a new number, not spelling a name.

  • My set-up... (Score:3, Informative)

    by singularity (2031) <nowalmart@@@gmail...com> on Monday April 08, 2002 @01:55PM (#3304481) Homepage Journal
    I currently use a Handspring Visor Platinum and a Samsung SCH-3500 with SprintPCS.

    I connect the two via a cable from Gomadic [gomadic.com].

    It works fairly well. I currently do not sign up for Sprint's Wireless Web deal, so I pay by the minute (adding it to my plan would require $10/month, and I would like to keep my current plan).

    I do not use it that much, only when travelling, which basically means about two weekends a month or so.

    I was impressed with how easy it was to set up. After getting the cable, it probably took about ten minutes of fairly easy work to get connected the first time.

    Having to carry both items is not that big of a deal. I tyipcaly carry my phone in my front pocket and my Visor in a rear pocket. And since I am usually travelling, I typically have either a backpack or another bag with me, as well.

    Connecting takes about 25 seconds. On occasion I will get dropped almost immediately after connecting. I have started to notice that the drops seem dependent on the charge of the battery. As the cell battery gets lower, the more drops I get.

    Connection speed is limited to 14.4

    I currently only check my email. I have not done any web work with the Visor. I use Eudora's free email client. Being able to leave mail on the server, using POP3, means that I do not have to worry about synching the email with the desktop, a Mac, when I return, which I think is key.

    Eudora/Palm also allows you to disconnect immediately after a send/check, which cuts down on the minutes used (nice when I am paying for access by the minute).

    I think that eventually I will go with a combination device like the Treo. It will be a while, though. There are many times when I only carry my phone, and I like having its smaller size. Even now I am considering purchasing a phone smaller than the 3500.
  • Give me... (Score:2, Funny)

    by aaronvegh (546815)
    give me a single device that incorporates:
    • a Palm-based OS
    • an always-on IP connection (a la GPRS)
    • a big hard drive (~10 GB to start)
    • digital still/video camera
    • music/video playback
    • cell phone
    • and pluggable into a desktop for instant syncing like the iPod
    I would SO be there for that. :-)
  • It's only taken my 32 years to figure that out. I got the Newton 110, the Palm Pilot Pro, The HP320 lx (WinCE), etc.

    What I'm finding is, the stuff I can _really_ use are 7.0 version products. The Ipaq, nominally, is the third PPC OS, on a third generation (or fourth) hardware platform. Likewise, my nokia 8290 is an upteenth generation device (having owned an 81XX and a 232 model previously). They both work VERY well. And I was happy I could go from three devices to two.

    The jump from two devices to one will most likely take another generation or two. Not really because I don't want to live with the hardware shortcomings or growing pains of the new devices, but because it's TOO EXPENSIVE to adopt this soon. Two hardware iterations from now, the device will have triple the battery life, much more bandwidth (which'll be cheap...remember paying for Internet acces that WASN'T All You Can Eat?) better connectivity (how long was USB out before it became prominent?) and a better gui.

    'Early adopterism' is a disease of the Geek Elite. It's also a rather expensive habit.
  • as soon as you combine your palm pilot and cell phone in one you'll be lucky if you are able / allowed to jot notes down on your palm while on the cell phone.

    get a handsfree headset and really hope that the all-in-one designers weren't morons and don't lock it in phone mode while you're talking.
    • FWIW, the Treo lets you use all of the other Palm applications (with the exception of Internet access) while a mobile phone call is in progress. So, you can make notes into your Palm when you are on the phone.

      I am not sure whether GPRS will work while a voice call is in progress, once the GPRS upgrade is available. But, that would be great, wouldn't it?

  • Does GPRS have any advantages that outweigh the restrictions on data transfer?

    The SprintPCS service I get with my Handspring + PCS springboard is only $40/mo and it's unlimited in terms of transfer - it's billed by the minute instead, and when you sign up for the Wireless Web package those minutes come out of your voice allocation. IE those "200 anytime and 238472834723487 weekend minutes!" turn out to be incredible deals for those of us who are at work during the day and out at night. The speed is pretty OK - I mainly use it for ssh and it is perfectly usable. Web access is fast enough, even with images.
    • GPRS gives you the "always-on" capability that would let you turn a Treo and a POP3 mailbox into a pager on steroids that is competitive with the Blackberry devices from RIM. GPRS would also provide you with the ability to develop services that were packet-oriented instead of call-oriented: things like instant messaging or network device monitoring.
  • by imuffin (196159) on Monday April 08, 2002 @02:52PM (#3304893)
    The low-battery warning comes on fairly consistently after about 2 hours of call time. Since I spend a lot of time on the road, I tend to carry my charger in my briefcase, and charge when I am at my desk. This works well for me because the charger works quite rapidly, but some people will be disappointed by the relatively limited capacity of the Treo battery.

    This is true- the battery life is pretty much unacceptable on the Treo. However, the new firmware [visorcentral.com] shipping on newer units is supposed to dramatically improve the battery life. Supposedly, Handspring will make this downloadable soon.

    Yes, you can make data calls to an ISP and this works well, but call setup time is still at least 30 seconds, which seems like an eternity to me.


    This doesn't have to be the case. If you dial into your own ISP, it will take quite a while to negotiate the connection - but if you are using voicestream, you can call into their ISDN [visorvillage.com] enabled number. It's quite reliable and connects in about 6 seconds. When I switched from my standard ISP to dialing into voicesteam's (which is free, BTW) it made all the difference in the world as far as usability of the internet features.
  • What's the big fuzz about here? As far as I can tell, and quite amazingly, it seems that the big form factor is what makes the Treo and similar devices so sought after. I mean, my cell phone can do everything the Treo can; the only difference is that PDA functions are more handy on the Treo because of the larger screen and friendlier keypad.

    For me, the whole point of a mobile device is its portability. If I want something which can display large amounts of information and which is easy to type on, I'll use my laptop. It's a case of balancing portability and usability, and on that scale the whole Treo/PDA class of products just seems to fall between two chairs for me.
  • And I would agree generally with many of the points above.
    1) The ability to voicedial does not mitigate the loss of tactile dialing. I do 75% of my phoning while driving (yes, I'm one of THEM) and not being able to dial while driving is really tough. Voicedial helps, but then I have to have the number in my addressbook first.
    2) the joint functionality is barely more useful than duct-taping a phone and a pda together. Sure you can dial numbers out of the address book, but the two branches of functionality (phone functions: call logging, message reception, etc) are all on the "phone" interface. The palm functions are all on the palm interface. Want to look up a spreadsheet while you're on the phone? SORRY.
    3) the buttons/ergonomics are atrocious. Part of it has to do with the only case available being this clunky folding leatherette POS (with no belt clip, I might add :( ), but having buttons on opposing sides means its convenient for neither lefties OR righties.
    4) the power meter is a fantasy. Have the phone on, it reads 50% remain. Turn off phone, it says 25% remain (only running the palm?) turn phone back on, it says 100% remain. Reliable=not!
    5) the software interface is possibly the worst. Sure the palm's the palm. But the phone didn't have to be locked into a rectangular grid of 1-9 buttons like a phone - it's a screen, they could have done anything with it. No ability to scroll through what's on the screen with any of the buttons, and a lot of the phone functions are hidden beneath buttons that only a stylus is small enough to hit.
    6) the phone is mediocre in terms of signal control, reception, dropping etc but that might be Sprint vs. AT&T (my old carrier)

    Despite all this bitching, I'd still give it a 5.5 on a 1-10 score (10 being good). I only have to carry 1 "thing" which is a plus. And all my stuff (no matter how clumsily presented) is in one place.

    It's clearly first-generation, and it will get better, but hey, that's life at the bleeding edge. I just wish I could find SOMEONE at Samsung that would care about these user issues, so the i-Whatever could be better.
    • I also have a Samsung I300.

      I subscribe to Sprint PCS's Voice Command. If I want to Dial my girlfriend, I just hist * (Talk) then say "Dial 123-456-7890, (wait a few seconds to have the system acknowledge it), Yes" then volia, it's dialed. Yes, it's redundant because I've got it [a voice dialer] on my phone, but I keep it there anywhere.

      I also can't run some of the other apps for the palm internet on my phone. I downloaded the AOL instant Messenger for the Palm, and it crashes my palm to the point of a soft reset each time it runs. Not cool.

      The software interface is there; you can play games and jot notes while you're on the cell phone/speakerphone if you so desire. My big bitch is that it doesn't have any ports or sockets for the Palm Add-ons, and that the docking cradle is different.

      You can also get a belt clip (i've got one that I ordered online) and other accessories for the phone if you look in the right places; a good google search for Samsung I300 will bring you up some good places to get accessories for it. It's a good phone...once you get use to it. I use it in conjunction with a headset, and I use it quite often, store the usual information on there, and would rather give my TiVo up instead of this.

  • bullet proof? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by doggo (34827) on Monday April 08, 2002 @03:12PM (#3305032) Homepage
    My question is, is the Treo as durable as a normal cell phone? I own a Visor Deluxe, and am dissapointed with how flimsy it seems compared to other PDAs. I've compared it to the Palm V and a Sony PEG-T615C, both of which seemed much more solid and sturdy. Don't get me wrong, my Visor served me well for a year and a half, but now is seeming rather useless since I got a Nokia 3360.

    The Nokia is very durable. The first day I had it it dropped 4 feet to pavement and didn't even scuff the finish. The removable plastic shell seems to really protect it well, and I don't feel like I need a case or anything. If it gets scratched or scuffed, I can buy a new cover. Plus it has appointment alarms, clock, phone book, and games, and (supposedly)can be used as a modem. Maybe I just under-utilized my Visor, but the phone does enough for me.

    So does the Treo seem solid. Would you feel comfortable tossing it across the room to a friend to use? Would you bang it down on the coffee table in disgust after an exasperating call?
  • Does the European Treo support GPRS, seeing as it's avaliable across most of Europe now?
  • I've been wondering about the Treo (and the Kyocera phone/PDA) for a while now, but haven't seen anything beyond the normal insufficient reviews in the technology press.

    Your review answered a lot of my questions and of course stimulated discussion. It's appreciated!

  • The experience I've had with handspring tech support has been very positive. They're really quick about replacing broken devices and less likely to charge you for it that you'd expect.

    My wife broke her first one by dropping it, and they replaced it for free, and didn't complain when she took a long time to send back the broken one.

    Neither of us have had any problems with the hardware (other than when it had been dropped), so it seems to me like you either get one that's fine or you get one that's just broken, and you can get it replaced without too much trouble.
  • Kyocera QCP-6035 (Score:2, Informative)

    by Moonwick (6444)
    I'm not the first one to do this, but anyone who's in the market for a device such as this should definitely consider the kyocera smartphone.

    I had reservations about the unit; it is a bit large, and does have a few drawbacks, but the engineers that developed it did an admirable job. The phone functionality is almost seamlessly added into the Palm OS. Battery life is also impressive; I see 4-5 days of life with light-moderate use.

    It's worth noting that the best bet right now for wireless data seems to be CDMA-based networks (which this phone is designed for). 14.4kbps, ±700ms latency, and 5-6 second call-setup time.

    To answer a question that someone had asked about the Treo: You can in fact turn off just the phone functionaluity for use on an airplane. It simply functions as a regular Palm at that point.

    At the price it's going for now $150 from Sprint, it's also a far better deal than the Treo. However, it doesn't have the dual-band, worldwide capabilities of its competitor.
  • I don't like the idea of having one big clunky device that does everything.

    I'd much rater have a bunch of small, single purpose devices that can talk to each other, using Bluetooth or something similar.

    That way you have your phone, which is just a phone, as simple as possible. Then you have your PDA, which can connect to the web and share contacts by talking to the phone. Then you have your MP3 player as another device. Then the MP3 player, phone and PDA can all play sound through your one wireless headset.

    Hopefully now that bluetooth is finally almost here, this sort of thing can become a reality.
  • What you really want is a Bluetooth SDIO card for your Palm and one of the many GPRS/Bluetooth mobile phones out there. You get a great, light, high battery life phone. You also get to continue using your PDA, but with fast email and web access. In a year or two, you can upgrade either and still have a working combination no problem. Hey, why not get a groovy BT headset - you'll never need to get your phone out of your pocket/bag again, apart from to recharge it! (Make calls with voice dialling. Update your phone book with Outlook and auto-syncing...)

    Now you're convinced it works better, justify it with the numbers:

    Bluetooth upgrade for your Palm = $129
    Bluetooth/GPRS phones e.g. Ericsson T65 = $220 or $30 with a contract (in the UK)
    Total = $350 or $160 with contract

    OK, heck let's chuck in a new Palm m125 for $200
    Total = $550 or $360 with contract

    Treo = $550 or $399 with contract.

    Now you see why Bluetooth is so special.
  • $999 [radioshack.ca] for the combo, or separate $249 [radioshack.ca] +
    $149 [radioshack.ca] = $398 and $602 in your pocket. I bet for $602 you can afford a pair of pants with room for both.
  • by Fjord (99230)
    this must be one of the Slashvertisements [slashdot.org] they were talking about a few days ago.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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