Since my vintage Treo 180 has been a bit sketchy lately – randomly shutting itself off or freezing up – I decided it was time to get myself a more modern phone that wouldn’t fail me, at least not as much.
That phone was not to be the Motorola v400.
My first impression was that this was a very cool little compact phone. It featured all the usual suspects: GPRS, camera, phonebook, text and MMS messaging. Plus it had a calendar app, and Apple claimed it would work with iSync. Yea. So I gave this thing a whirl.
First of all, the phone operating system itself left much to be desired. I found some of the commands to be not terribly intuitive, and sometimes spent an inordinate amount of time trying to find out how to do something that should have been simple. Reading the manual was little help, and didn’t cover things that I needed. Settings for mywirelesswindow.com were hard to find – I should say, I never was able to find exactly what I needed, the interface provided few clues, and setup never happened in the long run. It shouldn’t have been that complicated.
The camera itself wasn’t too bad. The 640×480 resolution seemed decent enough on the phone’s screen and made some nice desktops. But alas, we’ll never know how those pictures really look on a computer screen or embedded in a web page because despite two calls to Cingular support we could never get MMS to work.
Finally, syncing via iSync was an outright failure. Despite my best efforts, I could never get iSync to recognize this phone. I don’t know if the overpriced USB cable was the culprit or if it was the phone’s port itself, but at this point I was turned off enough that it didn’t matter. This stuff is supposed to work out of the box, and I don’t have a ton of time to troubleshoot every damn feature that the device ships with. At some point, something just has to work the way you expect them to the first time, and the v400 was not meeting any of my expectations by now. Even if I had managed to achieve a synchronization, from what I learned on message boards about this turd is that getting your photos off the device and onto your Mac required emailing each individual photo as an attachment to yourself. It has a USB cable, so WTF not? And since internet messaging setup was a failure anyway, the point was moot.
Now that I’ve sent the thing back to the Cingular store, I’ve had time to evaluate what I really want in my next phone:
- First of all, I have decided that I really want Bluetooth. My PowerBook has it, ready and waiting, so why bother with the hassle of a USB cable anymore? I want to set up a bridge via BlueTooth to my PowerBook so I can have a GPRS modem without having to take my phone out of my bag. (The 12″ PowerBook G4 lacks a PCMCIA card slot, so the option to put a GPRS card in there isn’t available.)
- Next, I want to be able to pull down my images from my camera-enabled phone directly to my computer. I don’t want to have to deal with sending one message for each photo. This is a must.
- Regarding that camera – surely I can do better than 640×480 pixels. I will probably seek out the maximum resolution I can get away with for my next device. As a designer, I will use this feature frequently.
- Stereo headphone jack. Or better yet, stereo bluetooth headset option. Even better: noise-canceling stereo bluetooth headset. There – that oughtta do it..
- The device itself needs to be stable and sturdy. No flimsy moveable parts. Flip phones do not interest me as much as a more solid body casing. I have a three year old son who likes to pick up shiny objects that might be lying around, push all the buttons, and perform quantum mechanics experiments by smashing said device against hard objects to see what particles fly off.
- Finally, everything needs to just work. I don’t want to spend anything more than a minimal amount of time setting this thing up. If the software sucks or it isn’t interoperable with whatever else I’m using, I will return it.
I realize that this might seem a bit picky. But the Treo 600 costs upwards of $600. I can find PCs for cheaper than that. It better work, dammit!
I hear rumors that a Treo successor may be in the works, that sports the one thing missing from this device that I want: Bluetooth. If we see Bluetooth in the next rev, I may upgrade. The only thing about the Treo 600 is that it’s still just a bit bulky. When I compared my friend’s Treo 600 to my 180, the dimensions were about the same.