Wednesday, April 23, 2003

The Trouble With Treos


Hello? Hello? Can you hear me?

So went a recent conversation as I was using my wife's Treo 180. It turned out that the other party could hear me just fine. I couldn't hear the other end because the Treo speaker had died. If I closed the lid about half-way, just so, the speaker would come back to life, but this was a very awkward way to use a near state-of-the-art cell phone pda.

I say near state-of-the-art because the Treo 180 has, remarkably, retained its value, being surpassed only by HandSpring's newer models, the Treo 270 and 300. The Treo line is among the lightest, easiest to use, fit-in-your-shirt pocket phone pda on the market. HandSpring kept the 180 current with a free GPRS upgrade - a fast, persistent connection to the internet that doesn't require an ISP. My wife doesn't use this feature, partly because the service costs extra, but also because she just isn't the type to surf the web on a phone pda. Regardless, it's nice to know GPRS is available. HandSpring, for a limited time, also offered Treo owners a free license to RecoEcho Plus -- software that brings graffiti back to life on models equipped with keyboards. RecoEcho uses the entire screen for stroke recognition, and like the standard grafitti area, reserves the left half for characters and the right half for numbers.

Now, after 51 weeks of faithful service, the speaker no longer works. Fortunately for me, HandSpring's warranty is valid for 52 weeks, which was an unusual violation of Murphy's Law*. Forget about entering a todo item; I called HandSpring support ASAP. I knew this needed to be resolved with an exchange program. Alas, it was Saturday, and after speaking with a HandSpring rep, I learned they did not deal with exchanges on weekends. I would have to call again Monday. That Murphy's law could prevail began to gnaw at me.
The weekend gave me time to wonder if the ear-bud / microphone would work in place of a speaker. My wife humored me as I dialed from the house phone to her Treo. Of course we didn't expect to hear the Treo ring, which it didn't. But when we spoke, she could not hear me, nor could I hear her. End of wondering.

Monday came and I placed my call to HandSpring. I had to be rerouted to T-Mobile, my carrier, but overall hold time amounted to a mere 7 minutes. I described the problem and gave the rep the serial number on the SIM card. He also had me punch up some numbers on the Treo to retrieve some additional information. In the end, I received a working Treo 180 in two days although three to five days is the norm. For those who find that too long, there is an expedited service which delivers in 24 hours, but that incurrs a charge. After testing the replacement unit for a day, I sent the broken Treo to T-Mobile in their pre-paid return mailer.

Overall, I was quite impressed with HandSpring and T-Mobile customer service. And my wife was impressed with me for getting her phone working again so quickly. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, here are a few things you can do to beat Murphy's law:

  1. Be ready with the serial number
  2. Be polite to the service rep
  3. Return the broken device promptly
  4. If you buy a handheld with moving parts, such as the Treo or Tungsten T, save yourself some anxiety and purchase an extended warranty

*Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. For more Murphy's laws, click here.