How Many Gadgets? Part 2, by Charles Olsen
In my last article, I talked about how I used to carry three handheld devices throughout most of the day: a cell phone, a Palm, and a Blackberry. Then I bought a Treo 650, which combined the Palm and cell phone. Then I only had to carry two devices.
While that was an improvement, it was still annoying to have to carry two devices. I still had to remember to charge both devices at night, and to carry both charging cables when I traveled.
Then my company set up GoodLink Wireless Messaging. GoodLink provides all the functionality of a Blackberry, providing access to your email, as well as your calendar, contacts, tasks and notes that are in Outlook. GoodLink does not use the built-in Palm applications, but installs its own versions of these programs.
Like the Blackberry, with GoodLink you don't have to give a send/receive command. Email sent to your Outlook mailbox automatically goes to the Treo. In my experience, emails tend to hit the Treo a few seconds before they show up in Outlook.
Updates to your calendar, tasks or notes in Outlook are synced very quickly to the Treo, and vice versa. Like in Outlook, meeting requests come to your Inbox and can be accepted or declined from the handheld. Alarms in Outlook will also trigger alarms on the Treo. You can choose to have alarms vibrate the Treo (in addition to or instead of an audible alarm).
Of course GoodLink can make calls or send emails to phone numbers and email addresses in your Outlook contacts. You can also dial a number in an email message, or send an email to an address in a message, by highlighting the number or address and pressing the center navigator button.
While your Outlook contacts are stored on the Treo, you can also access your company's Global Address List in Exchange when composing an email on the Treo. As you enter an email address, the software will display everything it knows of that matches what you've typed (matching both first and last name). This includes your Outlook contacts, and other email addresses that you've sent mail to.
Along with the matching names, it also displays a Lookup command. Select this to search the Global Address List. The software will display all names from the GAL that match what you've typed.
There's a time saving feature called Autotext, which will automatically expand an abbreviation into a word or phrase. For example, if you type "appt" in a GoodLink text field, it will automatically expand to "appointment." If you type "eom" it will expand to "end of month." You can edit this list to add abbreviations that aren't included, or delete those you don't need.
The GoodLink applications on the Palm do not provide the full capability of Outlook. Some obvious omissions are an inability to enter repeating appointments or tasks on the Treo. However, once you enter repeating appointments or tasks into Outlook, they display correctly on the Treo.
As I write this, Lotus Notes is not supported. According to a note on the web site, "We're putting the finishing touches on this new product that will mobilize Lotus Notes with end-to-end enterprise-class security. Thereby giving your mobile workers real-time access to their e-mail, contacts, calendars, and more—all with the familiar look, feel, and functionality of Lotus Notes." They do not mention a timeframe for when this will be available.
Since GoodLink is running on a Treo, you have all the functionality and advantages of using a Palm computer. Perhaps this is just a personal preference, but I've always felt that the Palm has a much nicer interface than the Blackberry. It's easier to navigate the programs and screens on a Palm/Treo, plus there are thousands of Palm applications available to meet just about any need you can imagine.
I have found that GoodLink shortens the battery life of my Treo. This makes sense, as it can continually receive data pushed from the server. While I could previously make it through two or three days on a single charge, now that I'm using GoodLink I have to recharge my Treo every day. But I have no problem making it through the entire day, so I don't see this as being a problem.
With a Treo 650 and GoodLink, I have realized my goal of carrying only one device. In addition to replacing my cell phone and Palm, this has also replaced my Blackberry. There was no compromise involved -- I still have the full functionality of all three devices.
If your company is looking for a solution to mobile email, or looking for an alternative to the Blackberry, you should take a look at the Treo and GoodLink.
Charles Olsen is a writer, trainer and MIS professional. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles Olsen is a writer, trainer and MIS professional. He presents classes on Palm computing and time management on the Palm, and writes a monthly column about handheld computing for the HAL-PC magazine. He can be reached at email@example.com.