The Treo 650 (Can a Smart Phone Become My Main Brain?) Article


Updated 05/12/2005


I’ve never been a mobile phone junkie, but I’ve been wanting a new phone
pretty much since the day I upgraded to the Motorola T720 a year ago. I quickly
came to the realization that I didn’t like flip phones at all. When the phone
would ring while I was driving, I would fumble around trying to pull it out of
my pocket and then would need 2 hands to open it. I wanted a candy bar phone
again… But, since I wasn’t a phone junkie, I just resigned myself to using it
for a year till I could then upgrade to something else.

I don’t really use my phone that much, but I always have it in
my jacket pocket or gear bag just in case. Along with the phone, I also carry
whatever PDA I’m currently using. Lately that has been the
HP hx4700 iPAQ. I’ve not used a Palm OS
PDA as my main PDA in a long while. Actually, the last time I did, it was with
the Tungsten | T… ages ago in other

Recently I have found myself pining away for a Smart Phone. I thought I
lucked out when I received 2 Windows Mobile Smart phones at the last Mobius
conference that I attended. Unlucky for me, GSM coverage in my area is sorely
lacking. I tried both phones with Cingular and AT&T SIM cards only to discover
that neither could get an adequate signal where I live. The best carrier in my
area is Verizon. I actually have a tower about .5 miles from my house. This
allows me to even use a mobile phone in my basement if I like.

When Judie and I attended CES earlier
this year, we met up with Dan Parson’s, who hosts The Gadgeteer. He had the
Treo 600.
He kept using it to check his email and do work on his web server while we were
all at a restaurant. Very cool! Judie had reviewed the 600 a year earlier. At
that time, I figured if she didn’t like it enough to buy one after the review,
that I probably wouldn’t either. So I didn’t.

After seeing Dan’s phone, I started wondering if the Treo would be a good
phone for me. It was available for the Verizon network. But PalmOne had recently
come out with a newer model, the 650. The only carrier with the newer model was
Sprint, and like Cingular and AT&T, coverage at my house was pretty much nil. I
didn’t want to buy an older model like the 600, so just put it out of my mind.

Then I started hearing about some ingenious hacker types that had found a way
to hack a Sprint Treo 650 for use on the Verizon network. The conversion
required a special cable and some software tweaking, nothing I wasn’t adverse to
doing, but I tend to be lazy and felt it was a bit of a hassle, so I again, I
just put it out of my mind.

The 650 instantly jumped back into my mind earlier this week when I decided
to do an eBay search on "Treo 650 Verizon". Instantly I found people selling
hacked phones ready to activate. No cables, or hacking needed. I didn’t need to
procrastinate any more, I pressed the Buy It Now button and had myself a Treo
650 for $659 with next day shipping included.


Played hookey from work so that I could be at home to receive the Treo…
10:30am, DHL knocked on my door and handed me my new toy. I opened the Sprint
branded box and pulled out the 650. It was smaller than what I thought it would
be. Bigger than my Motorola, of course. After all, it’s not just a phone but a
full blown Palm OS PDA as well.  I find the Treo very comfortable to hold.
It’s solid and heavy… my favorite combination. Along with the fact that it
doesn’t flex or creak when I squeeze it, I’m very happy with the build quality
of this device.

As always, the first thing I did was plug it into the included AC adapter for

3hrs later when the charging indicator LED turned from red to green, I was
ready to activate it on the Verizon network. This required me to call consumer
service and be a big fat liar. According to some folks in the Treo forums,
Verizon can either be nice or not so nice if you tell them the truth. I’ve
always been of the mind that honesty is the best policy, but since I just spent
$659 bucks, I decided to forego my morals for the day ;o) The customer service
person that picked up the phone was super nice. I told him that I had purchased
a phone off eBay (not lying yet…) and that I wanted to activate it. He asked
me if I had the ESN (Electronic Serial Number). I told him yes (still not
lying…) and gave it to him. Then he asked me the make and model of my phone. I
told him it was an Audiovox 9100 (liar liar pants on fire!). At that point, he
told me to turn off my phone, turn it back on and dial *228 and then press 1
after it picked up. Approximately 10 seconds later my phone was activated and he
tested it by calling me. Easy and simple, just the way I like it! He asked if he
could do anything else for me, so I told him that I was interested in a data
plan. I ended up adding a $4.99 mobile web plan to my account thinking it would
allow me to check my email and surf using the Treo. He then asked me to go
through some steps to make sure the new plan was working correctly, but none of
the steps / menu picks matched what I had available on the Treo. Oops! I told
him it was all working fine as I thought I could figure it out later by
myself… I hung up with Verizon and did a little happy dance.

I proceeded to install Palm Desktop from the CD included with the phone. Soon
I had synced my new Treo with Outlook and was joyous to see that all my
contacts, notes, and calendar items and synced perfectly. At this point, I
started to remember just how much faster Palm OS syncs as opposed to Pocket PCs
with ActiveSync…

I spent the rest of the night surfing Palm OS software site trying to find
all my old fave programs.

Before I turned in for the night, I tried to get the web browser to work and
was unsuccessful at connecting. The phone kept giving me a PPP time out error.
Frustrated, I emailed the person I bought it from and went to bed.


My first full day with a Smart Phone…

I left the Treo on the charger all night and would leave the phone / radio
powered on the entire day. This was going to be my first day to see what the
battery life was like. Unfortunately, this was also a very busy day at my day
job, so I didn’t have a chance to really goof around with the phone for most of
the day. During the day I
probably powered the Treo on 10 times or less to check memos, calendar items and
the address book. I didn’t play any games or read any books. Just used it for
light PIM type usage. As far as using the actual phone, I only made 1 or 2 very
short calls. By late afternoon, the battery indicator already showed that
it was about halfway drained. This kind of worried me…

In the little time that I did use the Treo for PDA related tasks, I
immediately found myself missing the ability to write on the
display. The lack of a Graffiti area felt very strange to me. That said, the
ability to navigate through most applications while holding the device in one
hand is pretty easy for the most part. I’m still getting used to it though…

Placing calls just using one hand requires that you first press the Power/End
button, then press the center navigation select button to unlock the keyguard
(aka hold feature). Then you can either press the blue number keys on the
keyboard or use the on screen number pad to dial a number. If you need to look
up a number in your contacts list, you can just select the contacts quick button
on the screen and then start typing in the letters of either a last name or
first name that you wish to dial. As you type, the list of matching names will
get shorter and shorter till the one you want to dial is either left in the
list, or you can scroll to it and press select to dial. Using this method to
dial a number that you don’t often dial isn’t bad at all.

For numbers that you dial all the time, you can assign speed dial buttons /
letters to. Once you do this, it’s as easy as pressing the Power/End button,
pressing the keyguard unlock button and then holding down the speed dial letter
for the number you would like to call. Some people might think this is too many
steps… I’m going to install the included voice dialing demo soon and try it

I need a case or something for this phone. So far I’ve been transporting it
in a old leather drawstring Vaja bag and then stowing it in my gear bag. Not too
efficient… Until I get a screen protector, I don’t feel confident just putting
it in my jacket pocket.

On the drive home from work I was happy to find out that the screen is still
viewable in bright sunlight and with sunglasses  on. I was also happy to
notice that the signal strength all day was as good or better than my old
Motorola T720. Even in my basement. Yay!

The person I bought the phone from called me to talk about my question
concerning web surfing. He let me know that the $4.99/mo. Mobile Web package
would not allow me to do what I wanted and that I would need a regular data
plan. He told me to call Verizon and tell them that I had a Treo 600 and that I
wanted a high speed data plan. Argh, that means calling and fibbing again…

Put the Treo on the charger for the night and decided not to charge for a few
days to see how well the battery really performed.

03/03/05 & 03/04/05

The max volume level on this phone is excellent! Love the speaker phone too.
And I’m really happy that the alarms for the calendar are polyphonic! Yay! I
haven’t tried to install any additional ones yet… Like most phones, you can
assign different sounds to different phone events, like voicemails, known caller
and unknown caller. Out of the box you can’t assign individual tones on a per
caller basis though.

Spent some time sending and receiving SMS messages. Too bad the Treo doesn’t
have a predictive text feature. No big deal really since it has such a nice
keyboard. The keyboard is quite small though. People with large finger tips may
have problems pressing more than one key. I either hold the phone in one hand
and just use my thumb to press keys, or I hold it between both hands and use
both thumbs. The dual thumb method seems to work better when I want to write
more than a couple of words at a time.

The keys are hard plastic with definite tactile feedback when pressed. The
layout is QWERTY, but each key has up to 4 different characters assigned to it.
To activate each character, you can either press the key alone, or with a Shift
button, Alt button or Option button.

The entire keyboard is backlit which is invaluable when trying to type in the
dark. The keys above the keyboard (except for the Home and Menu keys also light

The only other buttons on the Treo include the large volume rocker button on
the left side, user assignable side button and the ringer on/off slider switch
on top.

Lgreenberg in the
comment area
for the review mentioned that I could have just purchased a non-hacked Sprint
Treo 650 and then add a $5/mo. feature to the phone that allowed free roaming on
Verizon towers. I was like DOH, I wish I would have known this sooner. That and
the fact that Sprint’s data plans are much lower than Verizon’s had me bummed
for awhile. I ended up writing the seller to see if he would honor his return
policy. I figured I could sign up with Sprint and go for the roaming deal. Then
someone else mentioned that if I ended up roaming, that I would not be able to
use the data plan on a Verizon tower… I decided to check with Sprint later to
see if they actually might have equipment on the Verizon tower .5 miles from my

03/05/05 & 03/06/05

Had planned to really get to know my new Smart Phone during the weekend but
ended up doing other stuff instead. You know how weekends can be…

I did sign up on PalmOne’s site for the free 128mb SD card that Treo 650
owners are entitled too. This is to help make up for the fact that this model
has less available memory than the previous model. The 600 had 24mb available,
while the 650 only has 23mb. 1mb might not sound like anything to really get
torqued about, but it’s the fact that the 650 uses Non Volatile RAM on the 650.
This memory type enables the device to not lose your data if the battery goes
dead. Great stuff, but the memory also uses larger block sizes. This means that
programs on the 650 take up more space in memory than the same programs on a
600. Clear as mud? Anyway, people were pretty unhappy about this problem, so
Palm decided to offer a free 128mb SD to all Treo 650 owners. I was able to go
to PalmOne’s site, enter my phone’s serial number and the serial number for the
software CD and badda boom, badda bing, I am getting a free card. Not that I’ll
probably use it in the Treo, but it isn’t costing me a cent. I’m off to search
for a good deal on a fast 1gb SD card!

I think that first battery charge problem was just a fluke. I didn’t charge
the Treo for 4 days, and it still had over half the battery left. I still need
to do some better testing though.


Monday’s, gotta love them. Or not… On the way to work I had to make a
couple of calls, I was surprised that I can now make calls one handed without
even really thinking about it. Even looking up a number in the address book
wasn’t too difficult while trying to keep my eyes on the road. I still need to
install the voice dialing demo software…

Finally got around to calling Verizon today to dump the Mobile Web add-on and
add a high speed data plan. Removing the add-on was a piece of cake. Getting the
data plan was a little hairy. When I first asked, she seemed confused and asked
what kind of data plan I was wanting. I told her something so I could surf the
web and check email. Then she asked me what phone I had. I told her a Treo 600
(…and let the lying commence!). She questioned where I got the phone because
their records were showing that I had an AudioVox. I told her I got it on eBay
and then she wanted to know if I needed to activate it. I told her no, that I
had already done that last week. So then she wanted me to tell her the serial
number (ESN) for the phone. I told her the one she had on file, and she was even
more confused, but she then said that there were three plans. For $20, a 20mb
plan and for $44.99 an unlimited data plan. I told her that I wanted to try out
the $20 plan. So she tries to add it to my phone, but keeps mumbling that it
won’t work. She puts me on hold, tries again, and still can’t get it. Finally
she asks me to hold and tells me that she’s going to get a tech to come on the
line. I’m thinking oh oh, here we go… The tech gets on the line and asks me
point blank if I have a Spring Treo and I figure I’ll just come clean, and I
admit that I do. I never do say it’s a 650 though… He then tells me that even
though the phone will work as a phone, that they can’t guarantee that it will
work for data. I say that I know it will because other people are successfully
using it. He then says that he can get a 2nd level tech to come on to help. At
this point, the original person I was talking to says she can handle it from
here and she lets him get off the phone. She then tells me that she’ll just go
through the back door and add it for me. I’m like YES! But she
tries and tries and isn’t successful. She finally mentions that for some reason,
the only option that is coming up is for the unlimited plan, the $5 and $20
plans aren’t showing up. I tell her to go ahead and add the $44.99/mo. plan.
Bingo! She gets it to go in and within seconds, I’ve connected and am surfing to
Google using the built in Blazer web browser. Life is good!

I immediately go over to my friend Bill’s desk and show him the phone with
the Google site up. He grabs it from me and proceeds to search on lewd keywords.
Why? Because he could ;o)

Although surfing on the Treo isn’t ideal, it does work and the speed isn’t so
slow that it makes you want to crawl the walls. I’m not sure I’ll keep the plan,
but I will use it for one month and just see how useful it is to me. Since I’m
around a full sized computer 95% of the day, it is probably going to be

On the way home from work, I stopped at the local Sprint PCS store and asked
the guy behind the counter if he knew if the tower near where I live had Sprint
equipment on it. He gave me a blank stare and said that he didn’t think so and
that there was going to be a tower going up in my area in the next couple of
months. He couldn’t tell me exactly where it would be going though… Since I
have yet to even hear back from the person that sold me the Treo 650 regarding a
return, I figure I’m stuck with this one and will just deal with the higher data
plan charges. That is if I even keep the data plan after one month…


Was very much missing Graffiti today, so I installed Graffiti Anywhere. This
is a great freeware app that allows you to write Graffiti anywhere on the
screen. I still want to try a couple other solutions too, but I don’t want to
bog down the Treo with a bunch of software right away. I want to see just how
well the stock apps do their job. So far I’m quite happy.

Had a meeting this afternoon where I didn’t want the phone to ring. It was so
simple to just flip the ringer on/off switch on the top of the phone. No endless
menu navigation was needed. Turning this switch to the off position actually
turns off all system sounds which is cool. If a phone call does come through,
while the ringer is off, the phone will vibrate.


Wanted to test the audio quality but realized that the Treo has a mini phono
jack instead of a regular sized (3.5mm) jack. Unfortunately an adapter is not

Also came to the realization today that a reset switch is not handy at all.
At first I didn’t even think there was one, but then found it under the battery

Becoming quite accustomed to navigating with my thumb on the 5 way navigation
pad. It’s 2nd nature now.

Received the free 128mb SD card in the mail today. That sure was fast, and I
took the free shipping method! I still need to buy a 1gb card…


Tested my data connection today.  Here’s a short list of websites that
worked fine: The Gadgeteer, eBay, my local bank, CNN, C-Net, My Yahoo, Slashdot,
and more…

The only site I had problems with (so far) was PayPal. A popup that said it
was trying to download non Sprint content  asked if I wanted to download a file.
I said ok and it downloaded an error message into my Memos and then went back to
the site I had been on before trying to load PayPal.

Blazer doesn’t seem to allow you to click on links until page has finished
loading. This is kind of a pain for really large pages like CNN. When I would
try to click on a link, it would give me an java error… Are there any better
browsers I should be trying?

As far as speed, I used
to check that out. Trying the 200k test, I
only got 19kbit/sec on my first try. Granted, I was testing in the basement and
only had 1 bar of signal strength… A 2nd test upstairs with 2 bars signal
strength gave me a result of 33kbit/sec. Hmmm, crummy results. It feels faster
than that. Not sure what I should be expecting from Verizon though. I’ll do a few more tests tomorrow at

Configured Versamail and was able to download email from my Gadgeteer POP3
account via a hotsync and through
the phone wirelessly. However, I wasn’t able to send mail through the phone. I kept getting an
authorization error… All the settings were taken directly from my desktop, so I’m not
sure why it wouldn’t work. I will be trying other clients soon. Versamail also
caused my Treo to soft reset at least twice. Not cool.

I stumbled upon a really cool FREE program called Win-Hand that is a PC
Anywhere type of program. Set up was a snap, and soon I was seeing and
interacting with my XP desktop on my Treo! Of course it was slow as could be,
but the wow factor was totally there. I was even able to type in a window on my
XP via the Treo.


I’m very surprised at how much I’m loving this phone / PDA combo! I used to
say that I would never want a phone that was also a PDA because I felt that
either the phone or the PDA would suffer from being combined into one device.
I’m here to say that I was wrong when it comes to the Treo 650. Everything is
integrated so well that it’s a pleasure to just have one small device instead
of two devices.

So far everything about the Treo has really captured me.  The screen is
bright, and crisp. Yeah, it’s not as big as my hx4700, but that’s ok. The only
thing I really would like the large screen real estate for, would be surfing. I
can deal with it. Reading ebooks on the screen won’t bother me at all.

Battery life seems to be excellent so far. System speed is wonderful. The
built in camera is ok. I have a real camera (Nikon Coolpix 8800) for pictures

I think the major joy so far with the PDA part of this device has been coming
back to Palm OS. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I came back. It’s
just like putting on a comfy pair of jeans. I forgot what it was like to use
quick loading, easy to use apps. It’s actually making me excited about PDAs

I’ve only been using the Treo 650 for a little over a week, but in that time
I’ve only turned on my hx4700 iPAQ once. I don’t find that I am missing it at
all. So, what is the answer to question in the title of this article: Can a
Smart Phone Become My Main Brain? It is a resounding YES. To Judie’s
dismay, my hx4700 iPAQ is officially retired. I may even eBay it…

In a few weeks after I really get used to the Treo 650, I’ll be posting a
follow up to this article talking about my favorite applications and hardware
accessories to use with it. So stay tuned…


I said in my last entry that I would update this article in a few weeks.
Those few weeks have actually turned out to be almost 8 weeks now. Time sure
flies when you’re having fun!

I’ve had the Treo 650 for a little over 2 months and I’m still loving it just
as much as the day I received it. It has turned out to be a great PDA and an
equally great phone.

Even though I rarely use the phone to surf or do wireless email, I haven’t
turned off the Verizon data plan yet. I’m afraid as soon as I do, I’ll be sorry.
Since I work in an office at a computer all day long, about the only time that I
do use the phone for data is when I’m waiting to meet a friend for lunch, or
while waiting for an appointment at a doctor’s office. That said, checking email
with the Treo is a joy with SnapperMail.
This application is definitely heads and shoulders above Versamail which comes
loaded with the Treo. Some other apps that I have been enjoying using are:

Avantgo – News download app
BackupMan – My favorite backup program

– Adds tons of extras to the Treo to make it even better
Cleanup – Gets rid of deleted app
Calorie King Diet Diary – Keeps
track of calories and exercises
Graffiti Anywhere – Freeware app that
allows you to write Graffiti on the Treo screen
eReader – My favorite ebook reader
Noah Pro – Simple dictionary program
Today – Freeware
today screen that shows upcoming appts, tasks and emails.
AcidSpider – Great solitaire game
TCPMP – Great freeware video

I even converted an entire movie from Windows Media Player format to play on
the Treo. The conversion took forever, but it was just a matter of dragging the
video file to the hotsync app and letting it automatically convert it. Yes, I
actually watched an entire movie on the little screen using the built in
Pictures and Video app. This application is pretty limited to features, but it
got the job done. The movie was the infamous Napoleon Dynamite. Having it on my
Treo was actually pretty handy because I was able to watch it while being sick
in bed one day.

As far as accessories, there are really only two things that I’ve been using
with the Treo. The
T65 iVolution case
, and the

Seidio USB Sync/Charge cable
. As of this writing, they are my favorites.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, I’m very happy with all aspects of
the Treo 650. Battery life has been excellent, phone volume and reception are
great, and the PDA integration with the phone is unrivaled as far as I’m
concerned. I’m really liking just carrying around one device now instead of two.
The only things that can make this phone better would be more memory and built
in GPS. But as it is, I don’t see myself upgrading to another phone in quite a
while. I don’t think I’ll even spring for a real Verizon 650. I’ll just stick
with my hacked Sprint version.

Check for best price on Treo 650’s here.

Posted in: Articles
{ 245 comments… add one }
  • JEMShoe May 15, 2005, 3:21 am

    FjT wrote:

    I really like the treo 650 but my main concern with it is the screen size. I do a TON of reading on my Tungsten T (yes, still on the original tungsten) and am worried that the treo would be too small to read on. Can anyone comment on reading experiences on the Treo?

    I too held onto my TT for 2.5 years, as I saw nothing that was good enough for me to put it away. And I read almost every night on my TT. After 6 months of being on the fence, I just got the T650 this week…because I wanted my TT contacts on a phone (I thought about getting a i500 but it is STILL $300 :confused: …might as well get a T650).

    I loaded up TealDoc on the T650, set up the exact same settings as on my TT and opened the same document on both PDAs. They both showed 13 lines per screen, but the T650 (45mm x 45mm) on half brightness looks sharper and somewhat brighter than my TT (55mm x 55mm) on any brightness. Do the math…13lines/45mm = 0.28mm/line. 13lines/55mm = 0.23mm/line. You will not miss the 0.05mm per line šŸ™‚

    I did not really want the T650 when I bought it cause I love my TT and my very durable Samsung N200 flip phone (which can and has take(n) a drop to concrete). But after a day of loading apps (plus the newer apps) and browsing the web on it, using my bluetooth headset (HPH-65), I like it so far as a PDA…it is more powerful than the TT (except gotta get voice recorder).
    I still have not gotten use to it as a phone. But it has only been 2 days for me.

  • trophyofgrace May 17, 2005, 2:13 am

    This should be good news for you, Julie šŸ™‚

  • Julie May 17, 2005, 2:46 am

    Hmmmmm…. I’ve been paying $44.99/mo. for unlimited data. So this looks like my bill will actually go up by $5 šŸ˜›

  • MitchellO May 17, 2005, 3:37 am

    so have you decided to keep the data plan?

    i’d love to have an unlimited data plan. i’d do away with my wifi sd, but cant afford fifty dollars australian a month for it. :\

  • Julie May 17, 2005, 4:01 am


    I’m keeping at at least though June. I’m hoping to use it with PDAnet on my vacation at the end of the month. I’ll use the Treo as a modem for the computer I take with me šŸ™‚

  • MitchellO May 17, 2005, 6:14 am

    I’ve used my XDA Mini for a modem several times and it works great!! Expensive, but works. Do you know of any extension for firefox that lets you turn off pictures like you can on PocketIE? Would be good for surfing when on GPRS. ATM, I only use MSN and email when on GPRS. On the phone I surf, but without pics.


  • Julie May 17, 2005, 1:53 pm


    No plugin needed. Just click on Tools > Options > Web Features and uncheck Load Images šŸ™‚

  • MitchellO May 17, 2005, 9:40 pm

    Thank you thank you thank you!!!!

  • corinthos May 17, 2005, 10:20 pm

    The Treo 650 is on the top of my list right now as an upgrade from m500.
    Second on my list is getting-harder-to-find Tungsten T3. What’s been holding me back is (a) price, (b) having cell & pda integrated into one unit and having one function go bad could lead to costly replacements, and if you change cell phone services to something not compatible with the Treo 650, you’ll end up having to get another phone and lose that all-in-one advantage and end up with a bulkier-than-necessary PDA plus separate cell phone, (c) since the device is integrated, I’ll be holding it more than I would a regular cell phone, and I am somewhat concerned about possible harm to your health by carrying it close to you most of the day. (b) and (c) might not turn out being issues at all, but they’re what has been holding me back mostly. Oh, and (d) i got my eye on the LifeDrive…

    Just curious what thoughts, if any, you Treo 650 owners have about my above concerns.

  • MitchellO May 17, 2005, 11:51 pm

    I dont have a treo, but an xda mini and i carry it with me all the time and its better than carrying two devices. i am posting from it right now actually. it is awesome to have a device that does it all without mucking around with bluetooth connections. i did that with my ipaq 4355 and t610 and this is much better.

  • JEMShoe May 18, 2005, 6:01 am

    The center button on the T650 does not select apps in the tabs on LaucherX (see but I found a workaround:

    The 5W up and down will select the tabs.
    If you hit the letter of an application in the tab (eg ‘s’ for splash*) it will highlight the first app in the tab beginning with that letter. Subsequent hits of that letter will highlight the other apps of that letter.
    To activate that app, hit the ENTER button (next to the period button (.)).

  • JHoff80 May 21, 2005, 9:28 pm

    This may not be too important to you, since you said you don’t check your email too often on the Treo, but you really should check out Chatteremail if you have an IMAP account. It gives you push-email functionality, but also works in the background and can download or send messages and attachments when you’re in another program.

    It also works with POP email, but in my opinion isn’t as necessary without the IMAP email.

  • Lars May 24, 2005, 3:51 am

    This is a comment and a question about the Verizon data plan for the Treo 650.

    I walked into a Verizon store today and said decisively to the salesladay that I wanted to buy the Treo 650 to replace my Kyocera 7135 (also a Palm OS phone/PDA). She brought the Treo to the counter and I was ready to hand over my credit card until she told me I need a data plan costing about $45/mo. on top of the 500 min./mo. voice plan I already have. I told her, no, I don’t want a data plan; I just want to use my Treo like I have always used my Kyocera, applying data minutes to my total plan minutes, making no distinction between voice and data. I had been using my Kyocera that way now for 2 years and I was happy with that. She told me those who have tried that with the Treo 650 sometimes received $2,000 bills because the Treo is “always on,” using up all of the minutes from any plan and lots more just by syncing repeatedly and automatically. I told her I don’t want it to do that; I am happy just syncing my PDA at my desktop with a USB cable making wireless sync unnecessary (or perhaps only rare), checking email intentionally (not automatically) only when I want to. She told me I could do it that way by manually turning something off, but every time I sync the frequent wireless sync would turn itself back on and stay that way unless I made a point to turn it off after every sync. That was too much trouble and too hazardous so I told her that was a deal breaker (and that I appreciaed her candor in explaining all that to me up front). The cost of my basic monthly service would have risen from $60 to $105. I was willing to pay $300 ($400 – $100 for new-every-2) for the phone but not the extra $45 every month just for a data service I don’t need.

    In other words, I just want to buy a few minutes of data each day to check my email when I want to check it, and not when I don’t, and occasionally to check out a web page. I don’t want a separate data plan; instead, I want my data minutes to be part of an overall voice/data plan, just as I have enjoyed for 2 years with Verizon and my Kyocera 7135.

    So that is my comment and it amounts to a warning for anyone interested in the Verizon Treo 650: Ask about data plans before you buy it.

    And now to my question: Does anyone know of a way around this? What settings must be changed to make the Treo 650 work like the Kyocera 7135 in this respect and can they be set so they stay set?

  • Altema May 24, 2005, 5:16 pm

    Lars wrote:

    So that is my comment and it amounts to a warning for anyone interested in the Verizon Treo 650: Ask about data plans before you buy it.

    And now to my question: Does anyone know of a way around this? What settings must be changed to make the Treo 650 work like the Kyocera 7135 in this respect and can they be set so they stay set?

    I don’t have a Treo, but have worked around this issue on other phones by controlling which connection is used for data. It is the GPRS connection that they are referring to which is normally “on”. Other carriers ignore GPRS minutes and measure the data quantity. If Verizon tries to bill this type of connection for minutes, well, that would explain the insane amounts. What you need to do to use regular minutes for data is change the default data connection to GSM and define a dialup number. This also requires CSD (Carrier Switched Data) services enabled on your phone by Verizon.

    I wish I could be of more assistance, but not having a Treo and not being with Verizon limit experimentation. At least it may nudge you in the right direction…

  • swturski May 24, 2005, 8:56 pm

    To the above reply, Verizon is CDMA, not GSM. I find no setting to change networks. The Treo has much less phone preferences than a normal cell phone šŸ™

    In buying two Treo 650’s yesterday, one for myself and one for my wife, I was forced into buying the $45 (x2) data package for unlimited web access. I do want it on my Treo, but not on my wife’s. I was told a similar story, that the Treo can go online by it self and if you do not have this plan, you will rake up thousands of $’s in a bill. It looks to me that the web browser will only go online if you tap the icon, then answer yes to the question…go on line… If you do not do this then how can the phone go online? If you never set up any email, then it shouldn’t go online for that either. $45/month is a lot to pay for a data plan when you really won’t use it. Does anyone know if this “phantom going on line” is true, of if it is just a Verizon ploy to sell more data plans. Has anyone dumped the data plan a month or two after activating? Judy, you plan to do this and I wonder if you will be able to??? This could be a big issue to many users that just want the PDA/Phone bundle.

  • swturski May 24, 2005, 8:58 pm

    “Judy, you plan to do this and I wonder if you will be able to???” …oops, I ment Julie šŸ˜€

  • Altema May 24, 2005, 9:06 pm

    swturski wrote:

    To the above reply, Verizon is CDMA, not GSM. I find no setting to change networks. The Treo has much less phone preferences than a normal cell phone šŸ™

    My bad, I forgot it was CDMA. Sounds like Verizon is trying to burn users with those steep prices. Through a different carrier, I was able to get a $19.99 unlimited plan for my phone (S66), and a $4.99 basic data plan for my wife’s T616 which uses minutes. I’m sometimes online dozens of times a day for email and browsing, and she only checks her email maybe twice a day which takes about 45 seconds, so the plans fit well.

  • Julie May 24, 2005, 9:30 pm

    I haven’t used my data plan hardly at all, but don’t plan on deciding to dump it until after my vacation is over next week. I want to use the Treo as a modem for my Sony U71.

  • swturski May 24, 2005, 9:47 pm

    Once you get started web surfing, it is addictive. I have had my phone just about 30 hours and have spent about 3 hours playing around on the web….I guess it will wear off quickly as it has the speed of dial-up. I actually bought something on today, I knew what I wanted and it took about 10 minutes to navigate thru the purchase. It would be nice if more web sites (like yours) have pda friendly mirror sites.

  • Julie May 24, 2005, 10:13 pm

    I’m not sure by your comment if you meant that we have a mobile version, or don’t have one… we actually do have a gadgeteer lite front page that should show up when you surf here from your phone. Unfortunately, we don’t have a way to do the same with the forums.

  • MitchellO May 24, 2005, 11:53 pm

    You have a u71!! You gotta post a review of that!!

  • Lars May 25, 2005, 12:57 am

    Julie wrote:

    I haven’t used my data plan hardly at all, but don’t plan on deciding to dump it until after my vacation is over next week. I want to use the Treo as a modem for my Sony U71.

    Julie, if you do dump the data plan, after your vacation, I would really appreciate your comments as to how that affects utility and billing for the Verizon Treo 650.

    You say you are hardly using your data plan at all and yet Verizon seems to be telling me you can’t help but use it, incurring 4-figure bills if you don’t have the data plan. I don’t want that to happen to you but this is an issue that cries out for further explanation and, I hope, some solution to the problem. Nobody wants to throw an extra $45 – or worse – down the drain every month when heavy data use is not what the phone was purchased to do. I do understand that it CAN be used that way, and that’s nice, but it would be a real extravagance for someone like me – and like you, too, I believe you said earlier – who spends most of his or her day in an office with a desktop computer.

  • Julie May 25, 2005, 2:21 am


    Review of the U71 will follow the week I come back from vacation šŸ™‚ I’m going to use it as my travel computer.

    Before I turned on the dataplan, I had no problems with extra charges because I couldn’t get the phone to use my regular minutes for surfing. That said, I have a hacked Sprint phone… Maybe that’s why it didn’t work? I know Verizon had a lot of trouble turning on the data plan for me on this phone…

  • MitchellO May 25, 2005, 2:47 am

    What did you get the U71? How much? Do you like it so far?

  • Julie May 25, 2005, 12:46 pm

    I got it from It’s a really cool little computer!

  • _Q_ June 17, 2005, 3:04 pm

    palmOne has released updaters for the Sprint and unlocked GSM versions. Among other things, this allows the memory optimization we’ve all been waiting for.

    If you’re using a “hacked” 650 like Julie’s, it’s probably best to check with those sources before installing any version of the updater, especially for ones like this that have carrier-specific settings.,Kb=PalmSupportKB,ts=Palm_External2001,case=obj(38344)

  • trophyofgrace June 17, 2005, 3:59 pm

    Yeah that really puts people using hacked versions of the product in a very unique situation. It may be worth your while to reset this device back to Sprint settings, sell it, and then buy a Verizon-branded Treo. That way you’re guaranteed to get the updates, if what the updates offer is important to you…

  • pmiller9 June 27, 2005, 6:24 am

    Hi Julie,

    Thanks for your great article on the Treo 650. The article helped me make the decision to finally make the jump to a new piece of gear! I’m on the Verizon network and I ordered the the 650 5 days ago. It just arrived today! I’ll be sure to post my experiences with the Verizon network.

    I have a question. In the article, you mentioned that PalmOne was providing a free 128MB SD card to Treo 650 customers. I checked the PalmOne site and I couldn’t find where to sign up for the card. Could you point me in the right direction?

    Thanks, Phil…

  • MitchellO June 27, 2005, 7:18 am

    They have probably ended it. It may have just been for a “limited time”. I think you can get an update now that fixes the memory problem.

  • Andy Leviss June 27, 2005, 9:17 am

    No, they haven’t ended it. It was never available for Verizon customers, because the Verizon Treo was launched after the memory issues were fixed, so there’s no need for it (well, of course we would gladly find a use for a free card, but…).

  • joeray1 August 23, 2005, 5:53 pm

    I would suggest that everyone who has a 650 get the insurance offered by your cell provider. My phone got wet, not very and I dried it out – the next day it worked for 10 min. and now it is trash. Took it to Sprint, cant be fix, told the same thing when I called Palm. So my 2 month old phone in mint cond. is worth zip and cant be fixed. You would think the phone could be fixed but noway from what they tell me. Anyone want to buy a nice paperweigh?

  • Danimal September 23, 2005, 11:41 pm

    Questions about Treo 650 usage patterns…

    Hiya, one and all! I’m in the market soon for a new phone, and I’m considering the 650 to replace my old flip-phone and my Clie TH55. I wanted to ask some questions, though, of some heavy PDA users regarding the 650:

    1. If you read a lot of ebooks, how have you found the 650 compared to other Palm PDAs? I read ALL THE TIME on my TH55 (probably primary usage of it). Is the quality (backlighting, color, crispness, etc) just as good? I know resolution is smaller, but is the pixel-size also smaller? Any specific impressions from any long-time ebook readers?

    2. How is the MP3 (or whatever format digital music) playback? Julie: I think you mentioned in your review that the phone only had a mini-headphone jack. Have you (or anyone else) tried using the 650 as an mp3 player? Can you play music while doing other palm things? And what happens when a phone call comes in while playing music?

    3. Is there a voice recorder? I don’t remember seeing it on the specs, so I’m guessing not, but I thought I’d specifically ask

    4. Are there any wired remotes for headphones that would interface with the 650? In particular, to be able to at least mute the line (any generic wired remote would probably do this), and possibly additional functions (like next track, pause, etc.)

    Thanks, one and all!

    I’m still waiting for the all-in-one end-all device*, but it’s not quite here yet, so I’ll keep hoping and just keep upgrading. šŸ™‚


    * Phone + HD-based mp3 player (multiple GB) + decent digital camera (at least 3MP with some basic camera functions: flash, 2x-3x optical zoom, etc) + PDA
    I remember a few years back posting on this forum this very “wish gadget”, and thinking how far off it was. Now it seems oh-so-close.

  • Glennjh December 4, 2005, 1:26 am

    I have bought a second hand 650 from a work associate and don’t want to muck it up with too many apps yet. My question is for Julie and all other Cingular users out there.
    Can you use Media net to connect to your isp? 19.95 a month beats the pda connect amount.
    Also Julie you mentioned the Today program in your original article, but it is not on your list of palm software you regularly use. Is the list out of date? Has your use of the Treo change a lot since going to Cingular
    Keep up the good work.

  • Julie December 4, 2005, 2:26 am


    1. I have found the display to be just fine for ebook reading. The display is bright and clear. I use ereader and it doesn’t bother my eyes at all.

    2. I have an iPod, so I don’t use the Treo to listen to music. That said, audio quality is really good. Yes, you can do other things while music is playing. If the phone rings while music is playing, the playing stops and the call answering screen is displayed.

    3. There isn’t a voice recorder app built in, but there is at least one I’ve seen that allows you to create voice recordings and record phone conversations.

    4. I think this is what you’re looking for:

    Media Net is what I use. As long as Cingular doesn’t realize that you have a smartphone, you can use it just fine šŸ˜‰ You don’t connect to your ISP though, Cingular becomes your ISP. You can use it for surfing, emailing, IM’ing etc.

    I still use Today (I need to update my gear diary). You gotta love freeware:

    I use my Treo more now that I’m with Cingular. The signal strength is better than with Verizon. I love the Treo and am glad I got another one.

  • _Q_ December 4, 2005, 2:28 am

    Glennjh wrote:

    Can you use Media net to connect to your isp? 19.95 a month beats the pda connect amount.

    Media Net won’t reliably work for the Treo. Thinking the same way Julie did, I used to have it (had it on the phone before the Treo, bought my Treo directly from Palm at the Roadshow, and switched the SIM) and got huge overage charges when I started using the Treo. Had to step it up to the PDA Connect level. Media Net is designed for more basic phones with smaller screens that are only getting WAP (text-based) pages, as compared to HTML like the Treo or other PDAs. YMMV, as Julie’s case indicates, but it didn’t work for me.

    Also, they can identify the model of phone by the IMEI (one of the serial numbers). It’s printed on the label under the battery, and also available from the phone screen (Menu + I will bring it up). It’s also transmitted to the network for calls and data traffic.

    There is a 29.99 plan for 10 Mb, which may be a better bet if you’re not doing that much email or web browsing.

  • lgreenberg December 7, 2005, 1:16 am

    The only difference between Media Net and PDA Connect is the ability to access certain secure web sites.

  • meledi March 11, 2006, 7:57 pm

    I read your article about the Treo 650 and I have to tell you that I was and am just as excited as you appear to be with your new phone/pda. The only difference is that I purchased mine as an upgrade through Verizon. At first I too went with the unlimited data package for $49.99 but then I recently downgraded to the $20 plan. The pda is the best by far! I have had over 4 palm pda’s and never thought I would get a phone pda combination for the same reason you mentioned. So, when I got the Treo I actually kept my cell phone and just used the Treo as the pda with internet capability. After only 1 week I got rid of the extra phone and now use the Treo for everything. That was over 8 months ago! I’ve been looking at the Treo 700 but I’m not sure I want to go with Windows based system. Palm offers alot of software and I don’t want to give that up!;)

  • Julie March 12, 2006, 12:50 am


    I’m still using the Treo 650 as my main phone and PDA. I’ve had ‘affairs’ with other phones, but I keep coming back to it because it does everything I need. Now the only thing I need to make it pretty much perfect is to find the best bluetooth headset for me. So I’m on a hunt. I’ve reviewed one so far and am testing another one right now. Let’s just say that my quest continues…

  • meledi March 19, 2006, 12:31 am

    I’m using a bluetooth headset that I got on ebay. Actually, I purchased it to use with a V710 Motorola bluetooth phone but I find that it works great with my Treo 650. Unfortunately it doesn’t have a brand name on it so I think it’s just a generic brand. Only paid $26!

  • meledi March 19, 2006, 12:37 am


    Just in case anyone is interested. I can also watch movies on my Treo 650 using Pocket DVD Studio and Kinoma Player/Producer. Of course it requires at least a 512 memory card for 1 movie but if you can invest in 1gb or even a 2gb you can carry several movies with you. It’s pretty cool!

  • dougom August 20, 2006, 7:32 am

    Julie wrote:


    I’m still using the Treo 650 as my main phone and PDA. I’ve had ‘affairs’ with other phones, but I keep coming back to it because it does everything I need. Now the only thing I need to make it pretty much perfect is to find the best bluetooth headset for me. So I’m on a hunt. I’ve reviewed one so far and am testing another one right now. Let’s just say that my quest continues…

    The continuing dearth of new Palm OS PDAs is forcing me to consider getting a smart phone. But still, he hesitates. Why does he stand there on the sidelines, not moving, only thinking?

    I don’t like thumbpads. It a personal thing: two fingers on my left hand dont work well. Them bitty keypads are a pain.

    That there Treo thing looks too wee bitty to be a goodsized PDA (My ol’ Zodiac has a 480×320 screen, by thunder!), and too durn big to be a phone.

    I can’t grafitti on the screen? Oh, wait; I can with an add-on? OK, then.

    One SD slot. *One* SD slot? But my Zodiac has two, and I have two 2Gb cards. Oh, the bliss!

    Now that I’m done ranting, some questions: On some palm devices, the higher-density SD cards are troublesome because of the Fat 32 vs. Fat 16 issue. I presume the same is true on the Treo. 27Mb of available non-volatile RAM ain’t a whole lot, so I’ll be putting a lot of stuff on cards. Has anyone run a 4Gb card with the Fat32 hack on a Treo?

    I have logitech bluetooth headphones *with* a transmitter. I was wondering whether said transmitter could be used with a standard bluetooth earpiece on the Treo. My transmitter would appear to have quite a bit more range than the Treo’s internal transmitter, and that would help from running the Treo’s battery down by using the bluetooth. Any guesses?

    Finally, remapping buttons. I know there is an unassigned button on the Treo. Could one reassign, say, the volume buttons to perform another function in a particular app? In eReader, it would be cool if the rocker button enable page up and page down.



  • MitchellO August 20, 2006, 11:13 am

    I just bought a Sony Ericsson M600i. Builtin thumboard, QVGA Touchscreen, 3G (UMTS) and pretty good one handed operation. Perfect size as well. Excellent size for both a phone and a PDA. Well done Sony šŸ˜€

  • _Q_ August 20, 2006, 1:37 pm

    MitchellO wrote:

    I just bought a Sony Ericsson M600i. Builtin thumboard, QVGA Touchscreen, 3G (UMTS) and pretty good one handed operation. Perfect size as well. Excellent size for both a phone and a PDA. Well done Sony šŸ˜€

    The one negative (for some of us) is that that device doesn’t have 850 mHz, which some of us (namely US users) need. Some US areas may only have 1900, but unless you spend almost all of your time in those areas, you’re putting blinders on both for phone and Internet/email use.

  • MitchellO August 20, 2006, 10:38 pm

    _Q_ wrote:

    The one negative (for some of us) is that that device doesn’t have 850 mHz, which some of us (namely US users) need. Some US areas may only have 1900, but unless you spend almost all of your time in those areas, you’re putting blinders on both for phone and Internet/email use.

    Yeah thats really the only problem with this device.

  • maceyr August 21, 2006, 4:18 pm

    I got myself an unlocked GSM in March and love it. Previously owning a Zire 71, this is a step up. I love the thumbpad because it allows me to input quickly and easily (they may seem tiny but aren’t too hard to type). Love having the camera and video. As for Graffiti, it’s still there. Just install Graffiti Anywhere and you can use G2 on the screen.

    My only gripes is that it’s an NVFS device, which is the cause of many problems with regards to stability, memory, crashes, etc. Had it not been an NVFS, it would have been so amazing.

    Now that it’s my main phone, yes, it has become my main brain since I do a lot of stuff with it.

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