How Many Gadgets? by Charles Olsen

I like gadgets. I've bought many of them over the years, and I've used many of the ones that I bought. Some are more practical than others. My light saber makes sounds just like the ones in the movies, but while my magic wand looks as cool as any in the Harry Potter movies, it has not helped me conjure the Dark Mark.

On a still more practical note, I've carried a cell phone for years. It's proven to be very useful.

Then I discovered Palm computers, and found them to be very useful as well. I not only carried my calendar and contacts and notes, but even wrote articles and stories on the Palm.

Then my boss decided that I needed to have 24/7 access to my email, and my company gave me a Blackberry. While the Blackberry gave me access to my email and other Outlook information (Appointments, Tasks and Notes), it wasn't worth a darn as an organizer. I stuck with the Palm for that.

Which means that for years, I carried three gadgets: cell phone, Palm and Blackberry. Their functions overlapped, but not enough that I could get by without any one of them.

I'm actually not fond of bleeding edge technology, especially when I'm paying for it out of my own pocket. For years I resisted the Treo, a device which combines a Palm and cell phone. I finally gave in and bought a Treo 650.

The T650 has almost the full functionality of a Palm. It comes with the standard primary applications: Calendar, Contacts, ToDos and Memos. You can also load any Palm software. Some additional programs come pre-loaded, including Audible (a great way to listen to audio books, magazines, and other content) and Documents To Go (which provides Word and Excel compatible word processor and spreadsheet capability).

The Treo 650 is also a good phone. Maybe that seems obvious, but I have found cell phone devices that I didn't care for at all. For example, the Blackberry 7290 that I carry is a fully functional cell phone, but the shape makes it awkward to hold and use as a phone. The T650 has a comfortable shape and feel.

It's also a decent speakerphone, which is nice for hands-free operation. There's also a headset jack which takes a standard cell phone headset, and it has Bluetooth capability as well.

Not enough? OK, it's also a digital camera. You can take stills and video. The resolution is only 640x480, but you can still take some decent pictures with that.

Since it is a phone, you also have Internet access. You can connect to the web using the browser, and you can check and send email.

The Treo has a small but adequate QWERTY keyboard. Even with my big fingers, I can type fairly well if I'm careful.

I was pleased to see that the Treo uses the same sync cable that my Palm Tungsten T5 used. I didn't have to crawl behind my computers at home and at work to replace the cables before I could start synching.

If you decide to buy a Treo, be sure to get the right one for your carrier. There are different models for Sprint, Cingular and Verizon. While they appear identical on the outside, they will not work on the other carriers' networks.

If you already have cell phone service and are just buying the Treo to replace your current phone, the price is a hefty $500. If you're starting up the service when you buy the phone, it costs $299.

The Treo 650 has replaced both my cell phone and my Palm, so I now carry only two devices: the Treo and Blackberry.

Is it possible to get by with just one device? I believe it is. My company just set up GoodLink, from Good Technology. GoodLink can put your Outlook Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Tasks and Notes onto the Treo. With this, the Treo can now take the place of the Blackberry as well.

I'm just starting to check out GoodLink, so I'm not ready yet to write about it in depth. I'm not too pleased with it at the moment, because on the day I wrote this the Sprint PCS data network had been having problems for most of the day. While the phone part of the Treo worked just fine, I couldn't get a data connection which meant that the email and other Outlook functionality was offline for me. Of course that's not GoodLink's fault -- my co-worker who uses a Cingular Treo was not having any problems at all with GoodLink that day.

I'll write more about my experiences with GoodLink and the Treo 650 in my next article. If you just can't wait to check out GoodLink, the web site is at

Charles Olsen is a writer, trainer and MIS professional. He can be reached at

© 2006 by Charles M. Olsen