Saturday, July 29, 2006

PalmOS is dead! Long live, umm, umm...

Palm is giving up on Access developing the Linux based PalmOS that is supposed be be a successor to PalmOS 5. Instead, they are doing it themselves.

The Treo700p is at version 5.4.9... which has an end of the line version number feel (If you remember that Other 4.9 piece of software... Windows ME). If Palm does release a linux based OS in early 2007, that might be a viable alternative, but carrying legacy PalmOS overhead might be a royal pain. But I don't see a GSM PalmOS based Treo in sight, and my phone is showing its age.

And thus, I'm hedging my bets by researching alternatives for that inevitable day.

I've been looking at the Nokia E61 as an alternative to the Treo. It isn't available in the US, except at the Nokia store in Chicago, but it does support quad band GSM & UMTS for data. The price, at $400 is competitive with other unlocked phones I've seen. Let's look at the highlights I care about:

  • An excellent web browser: The E61 does run Symbian 9.1, which now supports Nokia's KHTML based browser, kin of Apple's Safari, and which from all reports is the hands down best browser available for small devices at the moment. If you have ever used the browser in a Treo, let alone less capable devices, you know how much the inferior browser hampers the capabilities of the device. A workable browser, sitting on the tail of functional desktop browsers, is a notable improvement.

  • Mac Synchronization Support:
    There exists an OS X iSync plugin for the device, so that's good. A phone without synchronization is no go for me at this point. I'm done entering data into a phone. That's what full size keyboards are for.

  • Unfortunately, the Nokia E61 seems to have a very significant bug in accessing mail on an IMAP server. This crosses a red line for me... IMAP mail is essential for any product, and if the product doesn't handle mail reasonably well compared to Chatteremail on my Treo 650, I can't upgrade.

Now of course if Apple introduces an iPhone in August... all bets are off.

I am going to assume that any apple phone will be tied to Apple's ecosystem, which I can stomach, since I do happen to be heavily invested in the Apple environment, but imagine a non Apple GSM phone with an excellent browser, and Gdata over the air synchronization, supporting open standards, at least a 320x320 screen (or more) and plenty of on phone storage... maybe in two more years.

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