My Mobile Dilemma – Real “Smart Phones” Finally Arrive

When it comes to High-Tech-Gadgets I tend to be a pragmatist. I’m not a gadgets because they’re cool guy.


For years I’ve tried to make the move to Windows Powered Phone devices.


…..  and failed.


I have kept coming back to my Samsung A530 Phone. It’s not fancy, it doesn’t have a Camera, Sync with my Computer, fetch email from my Exchange Server, but it’s a good, the battery lasts days, it’s a convenient size that fits and stays clipped to my belt – it’s just a good serviceable tool.


So I carried my A530 phone and my PocketPC.


When the Samsung i600 phone came out I thought “this is the phone I’ve been waiting for.”

It was a pretty good phone factor, color screen, and Windows Powered, so it synchronizes my data with Outlook via the desktop or via Exchange over the air


It’s a good phone, but a lousy PDA. The small screen real estate, lack of stylus or touch screen and PAINFULLY slow network connection made the phone – well just a phone – and not as good as my non-Windows device. (Though the i600 has an external battery with an optional extended life battery that powers the phone for a week without a charge.)


Verizon was not carrying other Windows Mobile Devices at the time and I was frustrated with their service. At the same time T-Mobile came out with the HP H6315 PocketPC Phone Edition.

Now I’m NOT a Hewlett Packard fan, but the iPaq line seemed pretty solid (if not their service) and so I went with it.


It was a huge mistake. The device never worked for me, the phone service was terrible, the data network seemed non-existent and T-Mobile dropped the phone after a very short period of time.


Then – the strange marriage happened. Palm announced their intent to release a Windows Mobile powered Treo (The Palm Treo 700w) to be carried by Verizon Wireless.

Now Plan has always been good at Hand-Held  design. I’ve owned dozens of PDA type devices including a Palm 3, a Palm 7, and a standing personal favorite, the Palm V. The Treo is a great form factor.


At the same time Verizon announced the availability of the XV6700.

Firstly, my Verizon service experience has improved (more on this in a future post), secondly they seem to have really improved their data network.


I couldn’t decide on which one to get. The Treo has that great form factor and great reputation, but the VX6700 has the dual (Portrait/Landscape) display mode and a large keyboard (for a phone).


So I got them both.


The Palm arrived first – it was easy to set up both to get started AND to get connected to my Exchange Server.


The data network is fast and reliable, for web browsing as well as email synchronization. The screen is great and the form factor is precise. It’s large enough to use for reading, browsing, etc and small enough so that the over-all phone experience is also fine. The keyboard is small, and takes a little getting used to, but after a few days of use I was comfortable using the keyboard (with thumbs or one handed) to reply to email.


An unexpected surprise is that the screen resolution is bright and easy on the eyes so reading ebooks with the PDF reader has become an added travel benefit. And with the integrated SD card I can leave a number of ebooks (and MSDNEvents Webcasts) on the card.


My favorite Plantronics headset works just fine too.


The Treo is filled with features that I haven’t started to explore yet – but I’m certain about the usability of the device to a point that I’ve decommissioned both my Samsung phones. Even if I end up not liking the VX6700, the Treo can easily serve as my Prime phone.


As to the VX6700, I’ll have to post a follow up with the experience – I just activated it today. Looks like it will be fun as well. More on that next week.


Lastly – I’m a developer and the development experience on mobile devices has not been very good up until NOW!


With the recent release of Visual Studio .NET 2005 and the Compact Framework 2.0 the development experience has really ARRIVED. From my perspective it’s not a simple version bump, CF 2.0 coupled with VS2005 & SQL Mobile finally delivers a GREAT development experience.


On top of that, Windows Mobile 5 just kicks ass. The combination makes for interesting application development opportunities.


Common dialog style access to things like the camera, picture viewer, Mobile Outlook store, etc coupled with the Events Notification Broker to detect phone specific feature events, like an incoming phone call or a new phone being taken along with access to the embedded GPS, and fast internet access mean the sky is the limit.


Hats of to the Windows Mobile 5 team and the Compact Framework team, Palm, and (though you never though you would hear me say this) Verizon Wireless.


If you would like to see Windows Mobile Development in action – visit to find a free event near you. We’re doing Smart Client including Mobile Development all this quarter.