Jul 01 2006

Handheld Help

<i>BizTech</i>'s Review Team examines two options that sizzle.

The Palm Treo 700w


The Palm Treo 700w


By Jeff Sheen


We have had a few end-users compare the 700w to devices that cost hundreds of dollars more, and they still select the 700w.


End-user advantages: With the Windows Mobile 5 operating system built in, the Palm Treo 700w puts Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint right in your pocket. And its intuitive design and keyboard works, even for the fat-fingered among us. It is not the same experience as using a computer, but I've typed e-mails of a few paragraphs in length without cursing.


For those who mainly need to check e-mail when outside of the office, it works commendably.


Recommended for these end-users: Most non-hardcore users, like your sales, marketing and recruiting staff, will want a lighter phone with less e-mail/network capabilities. But your IT staffers and Microsoft techno-geeks won't be able to get enough of it.


Why the 700w Works for IT


The 700w integrates well and syncs with your Exchange 2003 server, so you don't have to install any software on your desktop. The Treo 650 required a desktop application to integrate with and push e-mail out. If the power went out or the machine got turned off, so would your mail. The 700w offers true Direct Push and Global Address List (GAL) lookup. At my company, we store all end-user cellular phone numbers in the GAL, so you can look up anyone at any time from anywhere.


With the Microsoft Messaging and Security Feature Pack (MSFP) on the phone and SP2 for Exchange 2003, administrators can remotely wipe lost phones and set password requirements. There's nothing like seeing a panicked executive, who just lost his phone, relieved when you initiate a remote wipe. However, the remote wipe actually wipes the next time the phone syncs. If the sync is set to manual, it won't wipe until someone forces the sync.


The 700w also supports Virtual Private Network/Remote Desktop Capabilities. It's not the easiest thing to do with a touch screen, but I was able to remotely disable a user account, which was better than driving to the office!


Palm Treo 700w Disadvantages


The remote wipe and GAL Lookup features require three technologies to be in place: the MSFP, SP2 for Exchange 2003 and Windows Mobile 5. All three of these technologies are relatively new, and not every organization has had an opportunity to upgrade yet. If any one of these is missing, most of the neat syncing features are lost.


Battery life varies. The MSFP has improved for those who use Direct Push, but it's still only 24 to 48 hours, which is disappointing given the weight. You may want some kind of holster. Additionally, programs continue to run even after you click the "X" to close them out. You can see which programs are running and kill them, but it's a pain. This might shorten battery life (and it also takes up memory).


Unlike the Palm Treo 700p, it's not easy to use the 700w as a modem for your laptop to connect to the Internet, but third-party add-ons are available to enable modem connections.


MSRP: $499



The UT Starcom XV6700


The UT Starcom XV6700


By Jeremy Dotson


A friend told me that he wished he could give his current phone back and get the XV6700. I love this well-designed gadget because it's rich with features that your end users will appreciate and because it has a geek-factor of 10.


End-user advantages: The XV6700 sports a slide-out keyboard, making the keys much easier to use than those little bumps you get on other phones. Microsoft ActiveSync allows end users to wirelessly synchronize everything from their profile on an Exchange server or share files through a Universal Serial Bus (USB) cable. The XV6700 also uses the Windows Mobile 5 operating system, which offers Mobile Office with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. Once connected to the home or office network, the built-in WiFi allows the end user to surf the Internet, map network drives, share office documents and perform most of the functions of a notebook computer. It can dial up and access the Internet (at 1xEvolution-Data Optimized broadband speeds where available) from anywhere your wireless provider has a signal, eliminating the need for hot-spot searches or stops at Starbucks for your office road warriors. The device also supports streaming media via Windows Media 10.


Recommended for these end-users: This is appropriate for IT staffers, workers who travel and executives who aren't intimidated by feature-rich phones.


Why the XV6700 Works for IT


Who needs a notebook? The XV6700 takes advantage of Exchange 2003 Service Pack (SP) 2. The server can alert the device when new mail arrives, causing the phone to sync. This eliminates the cost of getting "push" functionality on other devices. Pocket Internet Explorer removes most of the headaches of surfing the net with a limited proprietary browser. Many third-party applications are available to do much more, such as a 5250 emulator to view and control your AS400, a remote desktop tool or a registry editor for those special enhancements. Combine that with the built-in Internet and Virtual Private Network (VPN) capabilities, and you could practically run the office from this phone.


XV6700 Disadvantages


Although there's a lot to love about the XV6700, in some respects it's a better computer than a phone. Why? Voice dial packages are available at additional cost, but it doesn't come standard. Integration with Bluetooth earpieces isn't up to par when using voice dial. The phone itself, in terms of the quality/volume of the voice communication, also needs improvement.


The camera is a nice option, but it does not permit the user to control the shutter speed, and the default shutter speed is a bit slow. At 1.3 megapixels with 8x digital zoom, the picture quality is good, but not for objects in motion. Third-party plug-ins, such as ATEKsoft's CoolCamera, retail for less than $20 and can replace the built-in camera and improve quality, if picture taking is important to your business.


MSRP: $299–$499
depending on plan


CEO takeaway
There’s no doubt that phones are part of the productivity arsenal. But before authorizing the purchase of a $300 device, run through this checklist:
• Are there third-party applications that IT can utilize for remote access?
• Is there built-in synchronization with my company’s existing e-mail server?
• Does it support my company’s existing productivity suite of applications, such as word processing, spreadsheets and presentation tools?