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Accessories Not In The Box.. A Guide For New Treonauts

As is increasingly often the case I get to meet newly minted Treonauts pretty much everywhere I go.  Recently yet another friend got his first Treo 650 and after playing around with it for a couple of weeks he naturally called me up asking me to help him understand and choose the accessories that were not in the box.

Let me start by running through what is in the box:

  • Obviously the Treo 650 smartphone…
  • One 1800mAh rechargeable battery
  • One AC wall charger
  • One USB HotSync cable (does not charge)
  • One mono 2.5mm jack corded headset
  • One stylus

Basic Upgrade
The ‘in the box’ kit is not a bad one but certainly not a great one either so let me start by first upgrading this kit to something that I would consider more appropriate for a mobile professional.

  1. Upgrade to a spare 2400mAh battery which will provide you with 33% more power than the standard one and will come extremely handy when you’re traveling.
  2. Upgrade to a lighter slim wall charger.  The one included in the box weighs 100g while the slim wall charger is only 50g.
  3. Upgrade to either a plain or retractable USB Sync & Charge cable.  I much prefer the retractable version as it is much smaller and easier to carry as well as weighing only 25g compared to the 52g for the cable in the box.
  4. Upgrade to either one or all the options below:
  5. Get a set of three spare stylus as chances are that like many you are bound to need one sooner rather than later.

Standard Kit
Having taken care of the ‘basic’ upgrade let me now move on to dealing with all the things that are not in the box and which most if not all Treonauts add to their kit:

  1. High at the top of the list is a case to carry and protect their precious and beloved Treo.  Tastes vary widely as to which case is best (read my Top Treo Cases post).  My personal favourite is the Seidio Shield Holster which holds your Treo firmly and securely in place while allowing for quick removal thanks to its top latch.
  2. To further protect their investment most Treonauts will immediately fit a screen protector to avoid irreparably scratching it as well as a cleaning cloth to keep it free from dust and dirt.
  3. One of the greatest benefits of the Treo is the ability to easily add memory expansion via SD cards – currently up to 2GB in size and hopefully soon 4GB.  I personally carry close to 20GB in storage via some 12 SD cards but then again I am arguably somewhat of a power user…
  4. A Palm cradle kit will provide the perfect ‘station’ to charge and HotSync your Treo while at work at the office or with a spare one next to your bed at home so that it’s fully charged when you wake up in the morning.
  5. Evidently many mobile professional Treonauts will spend a lot of time in their car and so both a car charger and vehicle mount will prove essential.

Advanced Kit
Now that the ‘standard’ kit has been taken care of above I can move to the accessories that the more ‘advanced’ Treonaut will need:

  1. The single accessory that I have come to value and enjoy using the most with my Treo is undoubtedly a GPS navigation solution and I cannot more highly recommend that you seriously get one if you haven’t already done so – you will categorically not regret this investment.  For the Treo 650 I am personally attached to the TomTom Navigator 5 GPS Bundle but the Palm GPS Navigator is extremely good and much cheaper.  For the Treo 700w I recommend the CoPilot Live Pocket PC GPS Bundle.  Also, if you already own a GPS unit you can simply purchase the GPS software separately.
  2. As a mobile professional you might want to ‘leave your laptop behind’ and in this case the addition of a portable keyboard for your Treo will prove essential.  I personally like the Palm Wireless Keyboard (not for Treo 700w) but most Treonauts appear to prefer the more expensive ThinkOutside Stowaway Bluetooth Keyboard instead.
  3. Getting into the ‘professional’ kit there is the addition of WiFi which unfortunately neither the Treo 650 nor Treo 700w have built-in…
  4. A small but important addition for the frequent traveling Treonaut who has opted to purchase a spare battery would be the small and lightweight (only 50g) Seidio Portable Battery Charger which can be used with your PC’s USB port or with either the USB Car or Wall Adapter.
  5. Finally, in the car or at the office professional Treonauts can use a portable Bluetooth speakerphone to hold a phone conference or simply to have a completely handsfree setup.

There are a few more miscellaneous accessories that will appeal to particular individual needs but overall new Treonauts will be better equipped to experience the full potential of their Treo when they have their full standard kit.  Once they’ve grown comfortable using their Treo they’ll be able to further extend their enjoyment by graduating to the advanced kit.

Treonauts are always more advanced


Posted by Andrew on April 13, 2008 at 10:51 AM
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Essentials: Getting the Right Gear for your Treo 680, 750, 700 & 650

Over time wherever I go whether it’s in town or when traveling I must have come across at least a couple of hundred Treonauts and at least that many if not more via email.  While I didn’t get a chance to meet or talk to all of them individually the few dozen or so that I did get to speak to invariably have a ton of questions about how to enhance their Treo experience. 

They are most often particularly keen to know more about what ‘gear’ they should get after having purchased their Treo 650 and I will try to answer the what and why of this question below – something which proved surprisingly difficult to do.

To make it easier for you, friends or colleagues to return to this reference page in the future you can simply point your browser to http://guide.treonauts.com.

Screen Protectors ($15.95) are in my opinion one of the first and most important items to get and I personally stuck one to my Treo as soon as it came out of the box.  Clearly a $15 item to help protect a $700 investment should be a complete no brainer.

A Cleaning Cloth ($4.95) falls in the same category as the screen protectors and is a simple and cheap means to keep my Treo clean from face and finger oils which can periodically cover the screen and keyboard.  I always have at least one of these or similar cloths in my pocket.

Alongside the screen protectors, a Stereo Adapter ($5.95) was the very first accessory that I purchased because our Treo has a 2.5mm stereo jack and at the time I only owned 3.5mm headphones.  Although I have since upgraded to a dedicated set of 2.5mm headphones to listen to music and watch movies I still use the adapter today with, for example, my Bose Quiet Comfort II noise cancelling headset when travelling.

If you own a Treo chances are that like me you’re traveling around quite a bit.  Therefore, the bulky and heavy charger and hotsync cable that comes in the box will not be the best to carry on the go.  Instead, I highly recommend using a light and small USB Retractable Sync & Charge Cable ($15.95) that works extremely well and which I always have with me.

If you never lose the stylus that comes with your Treo you can consider yourself to be extremely lucky.  However, if you just know that this is one of those things that will just have a bad habit of going missing in your hands than you’ll want to get a spare set of three Pen Stylus ($12.95) – which also has the benefit of including a built-in pen for those maddening moments where you just can’t find something to write with anywhere else.

Depending on your use and budget the question of how much additional external memory via an SD card you should get will vary greatly – I am evidently not the norm as I currently carry 13GB worth of SD cards with me at all times.  However, generally speaking, there are three main scenarios for which there are different needs.  The first is for low usage such as a few pictures and work documents and here a single 512MB ($44.95) or lower SD card will be sufficient.  The second is for medium users who will have one or more 1GB SD cards ($69.95) which will typically be used to store a combination of music, movies and files.  The third and last scenario (in which I undoubtedly fall) is typically for people who are using their Treo as their main MP3 player, portable movie player and file backup system with multiple 1GB SD cards ($69.95), 1GB PLUS SD cards ($89.95) or 2GB cards ($99.95).

Unless you happen to have a built-in SD card reader on your PC your SD cards will be fairly useless without also having a USB SD Card Reader ($19.95) to easily and quickly copy and transfer files from your PC to your Treo.  SD card readers come in all shapes and sizes but again because I always need one on the go I settled for this one which is among the smallest and lightest around.

Not everyone may want to do this but many Treonauts are increasingly finding that their Treo is an excellent MP3 player thanks to applications such as Pocket Tunes Deluxe and they are foregoing the purchase of another standalone player preferring instead to carry only one device.  If like me you fall in this category then you’ll want to own a Retractable 2in1 Headset ($34.95) which allows you to listen to music and make calls via the same unit.  Additionally, thanks to an application called MagicButton you can now use this particular headset as a remote control with Pocket Tunes.

One of the most eagerly anticipated features of our Treo 650 was its Bluetooth capability.  There are now a multitude of Bluetooth Headsets ($30 to $100) that you can choose from and I recently reviewed eight of the best.  If your typical call stretches over 10 or 15 minutes, that you spend over one hour on calls per day and that you are likely to make calls while driving then you’ll undoubtedly want to buy your own Bluetooth headset.  In my review, I have personally concluded that Palm’s Wireless Headset ($59.95), Sony Ericsson’s HBH-662 ($84.95) and Plantronics Discovery 640 ($89.95) are among the top three.  If you’re ready to shoot for the top-of-the-line though then my choice is the Jabra JX10 ($129.95).

Alongside choosing the right Bluetooth headset, choosing the right case for your Treo can prove to be challenging among the myriad of options.  This is probably the single accessory category where I have found the most divergence in opinions and personal preferences among Treonauts and my review of “A Case of Cases for All Cases” was a case in point (no pun intended).  Also read my “Top Treo Cases” review.  On a personal basis, the two cases that I have latched on to and which I use daily are Seidio’s Shield Holster ($27.95) and the foofpod fabric pouch ($28).  Additionally, the egrips ($12.95) are excellent to prevent your Treo from slipping out of your hands or another surface.

Although, as I mentioned earlier, the retractable S&C cable is my preferred method for syncing and charging while on the go I nonetheless prefer to have the convenience of a dedicated cradle both at home (by my bedside) and at the office (on my desk).  For home I use Palm’s Cradle Kit ($39.95) which has the benefit of also including a built-in spare battery charger while at the office I use Seidio’s INNODock Cradle ($39.95) which has the benefit of an audio-out jack which I can connect to a set of external speakers.  There are also a couple of other cheaper options.

If you travel a lot and prefer to leave your laptop behind instead only using your Treo for work then you’ll need a small and light wall charger such as the Rugged Wall Charger ($14.95) or if you have already have the retractable S&C cable (or any other USB sync or charge cable) then an easy option is to simply get the S&C Wall Adapter ($9.95).  Finally, if you also happen to own Palm’s Bluetooth headset then Seidio’s new Retractable S&C Duo Cable ($19.95) which allows you to power both the Treo and headset simultaneously will be ideal.

Additionally, if you plan to use your Treo smartphone’s Bluetooth Dial Up Networking (DUN) or reverse DUN and your PC does not happen to have built-in Bluetooth capabilities then like me you’ll need to purchase a USB BLuetooth Adapter ($24.95) to do so.

Depending on where they live, many Treonauts are likely to spend an inordinate amount of time in their cars – more often than not making or receiving calls on their Treo – and having the right gear here will be as important as anywhere else.

Firstly you’ll want to have a spare Car Charger ($12.95) for your Treo and here again if you happen to have Palm’s Bluetooth headset you’ll be able to charge it as well with this unit.  Next you’ll want either a basic Vehicle Mount ($29.95) or a more sophisticated one such as Seidio’s G2500M Car Kit ($129.95) which benefits from an internal speaker for calls and music – either the mount or car kit will also prove essential if like me you decide to invest in a GPS solution for your Treo.

                          GearSeidiCarKit

The essentials below will not be for everyone either because of their cost or because their use is so specific that it may not be relevant to you.  However, I own all of the accessories below and have found them to be extremely useful in particular circumstances.

Although the battery on our Treo seems to last forever, there will nonetheless be some power users whose daily Treo routine will be so intense from either calls or data usage that carrying a Spare Extended Battery ($39.95) will be an absolute must.  For example, I always carry one when travelling as I am often unable to find the time to plug-in to recharge during the day and I find it easier and safer to carry a spare battery in my pocket or briefcase.

Whether in the car, office or at home, the addition of a USB powered FM Transmitter ($49.95) is absolutely great if you want to listen to the music on your Treo via the more powerful and higher quality speaker on your stereo.  The benefit is that it doesn’t require any batteries while the drawback is that it’s a little large but otherwise it works extremely well.

Although I haven’t yet had a chance to review this category (but will in the next couple of weeks) I have found using a standalone Bluetooth speakerphone such as the Supertooth II ($109.95) particularly in the car but also at the office to be incredibly easier, more convenient and often providing better voice quality than using a Bluetooth headset.  With a clip the unit attaches to the visor and you can easily answer and reject calls at the press of a button.

Not many Treonauts use a standalone keyboard but those who do can’t live without one as they often use it with their Treo instead of a laptop as their main data entry device.  Evidently typing a few lines or even paragraphs is OK with the small built-in keyboard on our Treo but for longer documents either an infrared or Bluetooth keyboard will be an absolute requirement.  I tested and reviewed both options a little while back and eventually settled on Palm’s Wireless Keyboard ($69.95) because it was the cheapest and overall best one available.

I’ve only recently had the opportunity to test and review various GPS solutions for our Treo but Oh Boy what an amazing discovery it has been.  As I wrote in my review, I will never again travel anywhere without a GPS unit and I am absolutely over the moon with the TomTom Navigator Bundle ($299.95) that I ended up selecting and I’ve been using it almost on a daily basis since then.  Alternatively, I am told that the TomTom Navigator 5 + GPS Bluetooth ($279.95) is actually even better because the unit’s chipset is SiRF star III instead of star II which I currently have.  At any rate, anyone who has a car and can afford it should add one of these GPS solutions to their Treo – it really is quite amazing to experience how well it works.

I have been evaluating enfora’s WiFi Adapter ($149.95) (the only WiFi solution available for our Treo) for a couple of weeks now but have not yet had a chance to write a full review.  What I can tell you is that my experience has been extremely good, that the unit is significantly smaller and lighter than I had thought and that I have been impressed by how easy it proved to setup and use – a piece of cake.  Among others, it is the ideal solution if you’d like to leave your laptop behind when attending a conference for example but want to access your email and surf the web while you’re there.  The only drawback is that instead of using the Treo charger, enfora’s WiFi requires its own separate and somewhat bulky one which I thought was rather dumb.

Evidently not everyone will need or be able to afford all of these accessories (my own bill would come in at some $3,000 or so…) but it is however worthwhile noting that – in sharp contrast to days past – you will be able to reuse many of these accessories with future Treo smartphones so most of your investment will be considered ‘safe’.  Additionally, they will also have a good resale value should you wish to upgrade at a later time.

Many people will focus on buying software as their main means to enhance their Treo by making it more fun and useful.  However, as I hope you will be able to appreciate from this list, I feel quite strongly that these accessories are more than just some “nice to have gear” but instead form an integral part of delivering a superior Treo experience.

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Treonauts always have the right gear


Posted by Andrew on April 12, 2008 at 04:51 PM
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