Until recently, wireless handheld access to digital networks, the Internet, and email was a distant dream. Then Handspring created a device that looks like a Trekkie's tricorder, was about the size of a pack of Marlboros, and that could accomplish most any task we perform using phones and computer networks.
The Treo is the latest and greatest from Handspring, a competitor of Palm Computer Corporation. Sprint PCS has been inundating us with advertisements for its PCS Vision service which appears to be nothing more than a fancy phone service with pretty pictures. But it is more.
Up until now, a leader in wireless messaging services was Cingular Wireless that, using Research In Motion's (RIM) Blackberry device. Largely text-based, the Blackberry (named after the shape of the keys on the device) has been the primary way to send and receive wireless messages.
The Treo has now raised the bar. Based on the virtually bulletproof Palm operating system (PalmOS), there are 1000's of programs from those as simple as a phone book and calendar to as complicated as exportable time and billing applications and Java enabled Internet browsers. SprintPCS, through its Vision service and its Business Connection software application, makes it possible to synchronize the Treo with an office desktop computer that is permanently connected to the Internet via a cable modem or other device with an always on connection to the Internet.
Setup was not without incident. But less than a week after taking delivery of the $499 device, it began wirelessly checking and receiving emails that were being sent and received simultaneously on my office desktop computer via Microsoft Outlook. Unbelievable. Within two weeks it was doing slideshows, complex financial calculations, and amortization schedules.
Service is available in a number of different levels. I chose eight Megabytes of downloadable data and email and 2000 minutes of cellular service. Although the technology in the Treo is leading edge, unfortunately, wait times on hold with Sprint were excessive during a number of calls that were necessary to address service difficulties in accessing the Sprint network. The smooth jazz themes on hold with Sprint grew tedious, neither the website nor "Claire" the virtual service representative were much help.
The Treo has a color touch screen and is also a Third Generation (3G) cellular telephone and a pretty good speakerphone too. A handheld computer, Internet / email device, and digital cellular telephone: The Treo is a very smooth trio indeed.
More information on Palm OS computers and the practice of law can be found at www.centrallaw.com.
Author: W.F. "Casey" Ebsary, Jr. www.CentralLaw.com. W.F. "Casey" Ebsary, Jr. is a Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyer in Hyde Park, whose practice focuses on technology issues.