Buying Guide to Treos and BlackBerrys

If you’re one to keep up with today’s technology, you may soon discover that you’ve accumulated quite a collection of gadgets. Your laptop, cell phone, mp3 player, camera, camcorder, handheld gaming system – of course you need them all, but lugging around all that stuff can begin to be a bit overbearing. The solution? Put all of life’s necessities into one slim, two by four inch device.

Treos and BlackBerrys are well known in the technology market’s line of personal digital devices, or PDAs, but which is right for you? Both PDAs, while sharing many common traits, have their own unique style and design. This short guide will give you an idea of the differences between the two in order to pick the right one for your lifestyle. Before buying a PDA, be sure to check it out in person just to make sure that it is a comfortable fit for your life.

Operating Systems

There are two operating systems on the market today for PDAs: Microsoft’s Windows Mobile and Palm OS. Depending on what Treo you purchase, you may have either one of these operating systems, but purchase the BlackBerry and you are going to get Windows Mobile.

One of the big perks of Palm is its compatibility. It can synchronize with either Windows or Apple run computers, a big plus if you find yourself in contact with both of these operating systems. The BlackBerry does have the option of purchasing special software called PocketMac to allow it to be compatible with Apple computers, but if you are a Mac user, you know how frustrating it can be to not be able to transfer data onto PCs and you may want to consider going with a Treo that has Palm on it to eliminate the problem.

Palm is also set up to exchange information between many e-mail programs such as Lotus Notes or Microsoft Outlook with its e-mail program VersaMail. It often comes with the software package or can be added on for an additional $30, a small price to pay if you use different systems at work and at home. For working with other Microsoft programs, Palm offers DataViz’s Documents To Go Professional Edition which can translate files into different programs, like your Microsoft Office files.

Windows Mobile’s selling point is that it nearly completely mimics the desktop version of Windows. While this may seem like a plus, some users find this operating system more difficult to manage than Palm. Have no fear though, with time the system is conquerable. Windows Mobile does offer a much more enhanced stylus writing system than the Palm, which only utilizes a program called Graffiti in which users learn a more computer friendly set of symbols. The three different options offer a Graffiti style system, printed text, and recognized cursive. The input area is also not built into the device itself, but appears on screen when you call it, allowing for a much larger screen.

Windows Mobile of course synchronizes perfectly with all Microsoft programs, even allowing you to view PowerPoint presentations. If you plan on mainly utilizing Microsoft programs, Windows Mobile would be the right operating system for you. Multimedia and gaming software are much more abundant for Windows Mobile, suiting both work and play desires.

Size and Shape

When it comes to size and shape, the Treo and the BlackBerry offer their own distinctive traits. One of the BlackBerry’s selling points is its larger QWERTY keyboard, otherwise known as the arrangement of the alphabet’s letters on a standard keyboard. This allows for quick e-mails and notes once the user adapts to the smaller keys. While the Treo also has a QWERTY keyboard, the keys are much smaller and closer together and, in the end, not as text friendly. There are accessory keyboards you can purchase for either the Treo or the BlackBerry. Many are wireless, smaller, more compact, and foldable. You can even purchase a virtual keyboard which works by beaming an image of a keyboard on any flat surface. However, if you are planning on doing a lot of quick, on the go e-mails or other typing the BlackBerry’s keyboard may be better suited for your needs.

The Treo and BlackBerry are virtually the same length with the Treo only beating it by the tip of the antenna. The BlackBerry is wider due to its keyboard and larger screen, but the Treo is slightly thicker than the BlackBerry. When you go to purchase a PDA make sure to hold each potential candidate and bring with you any bag, purse, or clothing item you foresee using the most to hold the PDA. It should feel comfortable in your hand, not too bulky or delicate, and should be easy to access from any place that you plan on keeping it on your person.

Model Options

With so many different models of both Treos and BlackBerrys, it’s become hard to specifically point out the differences between the two makers. What doesn’t appear on one BlackBerry is featured on another and what one Treo lacks another has made a point to improve. Make a list of what capabilities you want your PDA to have. Is wireless Internet a necessity? What about GPS or heavy multimedia? Or maybe you would rather think about what you don’t need, such as instant messaging or voice command functions. Whatever your purpose, both the Treo and the BlackBerry lines will have a PDA for you.

Keep a few things in mind, such as battery power. Will you be using your PDA often, such as for listening to music or wireless Internet? If so, you are going to want a rechargable battery and maybe even a few extra batteries just in case. Some functions, such as the ones above, will drain your battery much faster than simply turning your PDA on for a minute to check your calendar or look up a word in an electronic dictionary.

Also think about the amount of memory you will need. If you are going to be storing a lot of pictures, music, or videos a PDA with more memory is what you will need. You may also want to consider a device with an expansion slot where memory cards can be used to hold extra files or programs.

Whatever your need, a Treo or BlackBerry can suit it. While they differ in a few main areas, the new models that are continually be made are slowly eliminating the gap. Be sure to look at specifications online and the actual product in the store and consider carefully what you do and don’t need in a PDA.

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