Greg Hughes has a great write up on a bunch of "smartphone" PDA type devices. I have never used a Blackberry, and probably never will because it requires that middleware be installed, and Microsoft just isn't going to do that. So I am stuck to chose between Windows based Mobile devices and devices that support Exchange ActiveSync (The Treo 650 is one).

I think Greg raises excellent concerns about the Audiovox 5600 and the Siemens SX66 (or whatever your carrier calls this thing, there are at least 3 different companies hocking this device, and none of the companies who place their name on the device actually make it).

Greg has this to say about the Audiovox 5600:

"But the software apps are a little glitchy, and I lost count of how many times this thing either reset itself or required me to pry the battery out of the back and replace it in order to get it started and working again."

"Audio quality was good. It's small and compact and has a certain "neato" quality. But it doesn't allow me to quickly and efficiently communicate, except via voice calls."

And this to say about the Siemens SX66:

"Bluetooth worked better than any of the other devices in hands-free mode, and the keyboard makes it more accessible and usable than the Audiovox device by far. But the keyboard's pimple-style chicklet bubble layout was painful to use in the real wold - keys are tiny and way too close together unless you;re six years old (probably not the target market). Battery life was pretty awful, especially if you use the WiFi at all.

"To top it all off, this morning I grabbed the device and went to turn it on, but it did not respond. Yet, the little green service light was flashing so I knew it had power to it. I pulled the battery put it back (the Windows Mobile version of CTRL-ALT-DEL), but still no response. I started driving to work and tried it again while I was stopped for coffee at the local store. Voila! Up it comes, but totally reset, nuked, blown away, default ROM settings - everything I had set and stored before was gone. Good thing the important stuff was on my SD card... I've read and heard rumors of serious software problems with this phone, and when you combine that with the lame keyboard that looks cool but isn't at all usable, well... Returned, with prejudice."

And this is my point. These devices are not reliable enough to use as a phone. My Treo has missed a single phone call in 30 days and that was due to some third party application that I run that is buggy (but I can't live without for now).

Greg was not a fan of the Treo 650, and I agree that they keyboard is a bit cramped, but the Blackberry is no option for me, and I happen to like the 650. The number of excellent applications available for the device + the form factor are what hold the device ahead of every available Windows Mobile device.

I do agree that the usability of the Palm OS could be better. It takes to may steps to do simple things, and the OS constantly launches and quits applications since you can only run one at a time. This makes multitasking or even doing a single task across multiple apps take longer than it should. Windows Mobile is much more efficient across applications.