Treo 700P to Blackberry 8830 WE

I received an email from my boss last month confirming the inevitable. I would be receiving a configured Blackberry shortly and I was expected to use it. As with many long time Mac users, my organizer of choice had been a Palm. I used a Palm III something or other and then moved to a Tungsten T which I really liked. I was able to keep my calendar at work (Outlook and then Lotus Notes on a pc) synced with my macs at home. Last year, I got the Treo 700P (Sprint) and ditched the Tungsten as I plunged into a smartphone for the first time. Now this shiny black Blackberry 8830WE shows up and since I won’t be cowed by technology (at least phone based technology), I dove in. After a month of fairly heavy use, I can provide a comparison between the two.

I think the easiest way to compare these two products is to highlight the major differences. Both get the job done but each has it’s advantages. In no particular order:

Voice Dialing

Unbelievably, the Treo 700P does not support voice dialing out of the box. There is no good reason for this when voice dialing is supported on disposable phones. The BB 8830WE has voice dialing. It doesn’t seem to work as well as the voice dialing on my vzw motorola phone but perhaps it’s still getting used to my New York accent.

Global Roaming

Sprint/VZW users get to carry a useless brick when traveling abroad to GSM only areas. Carry the BB 8830WE and that is a thing of the past. The World Edition has both CDMA and GSM capabilities and switches automatically. Soon after I got the BB, I traveled abroad and had no luck. Seems the ‘smart dialing’ feature wasn’t smart enough to realize I was roaming globally (although the connection manager seemed to know it) and failed to prepend the +1 keystrokes I needed to call back stateside. Of course, I didn’t get that far in the manual before I traveled so I didn’t know how to prepend the ‘+’ key (hold the zero button for a couple of seconds). The ‘+’ key is supposed to automatically sense and send the appropriate access code for the country you are roaming in so you can call out on the foreign network. I’ll try this over the summer when I travel again. The Treo 700P does not support global roaming.

Direct Push Email

The BB came with my employer’s enterprise email system (Lotus Notes) already configured. The BB is essentially a mirror email client to the desktop application. Move things on the desktop, they move on the BB and vice versa. The BB keeps its broadband connection active. If the network drops, the BB reconnects automatically. My Treo used to time out and require reconnecting manually. You can configure as many POP3/IMAP email accounts as you want using the BB and its associated provider’s web page. You can filter emails to limit what gets sent to the BB. All your email can be consolidated on a single screen which can be handy and a pain in the rump depending on your perspective.

Email on the Treo used a third party application called Versamail. This program keeps your accounts separate and can be configured to poll the POP3/IMAP accounts periodically for email.

Category Filtering

Here’s where the Treo has a significant advantage in my opinion over the BB. Using one of the third party conduit managers (the excellent PocketMirror or Intellisync), you can keep your calendar, address book and tasks separate based on category filtering. I do not like having my personal contacts, tasks and appointments on my work desktop. With the Treo, it wasn’t a problem. I would back my Treo up at home on my personal mac with everything and just have my work related items on my desktop. With the BB and it’s wireless sync, I can’t filter based on category.

Calendar Features

I’ve used the various Datebk releases to manage tasks and appointments with ease. The BB calendar is horrible. The agenda view is passable but the weekly view is horrendous. The BB calendar needs work or better yet, a third party enhancement.


Yes, my Treo would lock up periodically. There’s the infamous, “beam, receive and reset” feature but every so often, I’d look at the time on the Treo and it would be a couple of hours behind. Time for a soft reset. I had to hard reset the Treo once. As a veteran of the Palm hard reset, I always knew the Palm Desktop would restore the handheld easily but it didn’t make the several minutes of that process any easier to stomach. I had read about how rock solid the BB was but I’ve had to do the three finger reset once when voice dialing hung in an initialization loop on me.

Mass Storage Mode

When I plug my BB in via USB on my Mac (Tiger) or PC (XP), the mini-sd card shows up on the desktop. No need to use a card reader. Just drag and drop files. It’s a good thing because getting the mini-sd card in and out of the BB is not easy and not for the weak of stomach since it feels like the card holder is going to break. You could move files onto the Treo’s card using Palm’s software but mass storage mode is superior.


If you add all this up, you have to come away with the impression that the BB is better overall and I would agree. As a business platform, no question the Blackberry has more attractive functionality. It works much better with our enterprise system than the Treo did. However, as a personal smartphone, I believe the Palm has advantages. The Palm has a tremendous amount of third party enhancements available for the Palm OS and superior calendar and task management.

17 thoughts on “Treo 700P to Blackberry 8830 WE

  1. Good commentary….I too have just transferred from a work Treo to a personal BB 8830 World Phone and so far I love it…except for one item I haven’t yet mastered.

    I call my voicemail (Verizon) and am prompted to enter my pincode and a #. I set the number lock to enter that combination and I can see it appear in small characters on the screen, but it isn’t getting transmitted to voicemail….which keeps asking me to enter the data…and I do, but it doesn’t send.

    I managed to get around this entry problem by creating a speed dial number which has my phone number, a couple of pauses and then the pin number and # and that gets me in fine…

    However, once I listen to a message, I often want to delete it using the 7 code, but again, the system is not recognizing my command once it asks for it.

    Am I not hitting the right key combination to transmit these codes?

  2. Thanks for commenting!!

    Speed dial is the best way to auto dial the pin stuff as you’ve found out. I have Sprint so I have the option to check voice mail without a pin. I’m guessing your keyboard is locked during calls. The Treo had this function but I don’t see it in the 8830 documentation. Might be vzw specific.

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  5. I have tried 3 different smart phones, the Treo 750P, Sprint Touch and the most recent, Blackberry 8830WE. First, let me get the poorly rated one out of the way, the Touch. It’s not for those who rely heavily on their phone to be productive outside of the office. It has some good mimicking features similar to the iphone but doesn’t come close. Not sure if many experience the same problems I did with my Touch but the on-screen keyboard would constantly fall off-sync, even while using it. I had to realign the thing all day. I ditched it for the Blackberry

    I still have the Treo 750P for personal reasons and the Blackberry for work and my own business. They both have their own different advantages but if I had to ditch one, it would be the Treo. Big and bulky compared to slim and prestige.

  6. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Seems like we are in agreement.

    I avoided a smartphone for a while because of the general disappointment I experience with “multi-use” tools. The Palm organizer is superb but the Treo isn’t a great phone (bt hangs, general OS hangs, etc.) The Blackberry is an excellent phone and broadband gateway but a very poor organizer and barely acceptable email client (until they support rich text email out of the box).

    Since I have to hang on to my Blackberry, I’m very tempted to go back to a Palm organizer as an accessory.

  7. I received my 8830WE as part of a bundled telecommunications package, and hoped I’d have as much luck with it as I did my Treo, but alas, the BB is THE WORST excuse for a smartphone I can imagine.
    *The inability to save, open, and review MS Office documents (via SD card) is appalling.
    *Constantly truncated emails are annoying, and something I never had an issue with my Treo.
    *Yes, the 8830 does have voice recognition, but literally 3 out of every 5 times I use it the system fails to recognize the correct contact.
    *The lack of an “explorer” for the SD card. Maybe I’m just naive or dumb, but if there is a method for looking around the SD card via the phone interface (vs. my PC) then I can’t find it. If the “Media” icon/area is where I’m supposed to be then why can’t I see files in the basic media area?
    *I have a difficult time hearing (gunshot accident) and the BB has very little ability to adjust the volume, whereas the Treo could be adjusted through quite a wide range.
    *The SD card holder, as mentioned by someone else, is insanely flimsy, and I much prefer the ease of inserting a card into the Treo, though admittedly I do enjoy plugging the BB into the USB and accessing the card in that manner.

    All things being equal I would NEVER recommend a BB to anyone who really uses their phone for document intensive work exercises (like me).

    I can’t wait for DataViz to finish developing their Documents To Go software!

  8. Bob,
    Excellent points! I’ve had pretty good luck with the voice recognition on the BB but at least it has the capability out of the box.

    You can not browse files on the SD card on the BB. Maybe there’s a third party app for that but it does seem odd not to provide some file management out of the box.

    Based on my experience with two third party apps (SplashID and Viigo), I will be shocked if DocsToGo runs with any kind of efficiency. SplashID runs so sluggishly when writing to the database, it appears to be bombing. Syncing (PC only, harumph) is painful and buggy on my XP box. Awful. The UI is equally as bad. I’ll put most of this on the RIM OS rather than the app but I could be wrong.

    Viigo is horrible. It interfaces poorly with the browser and will bomb.

    I’ll be satisfied with rich text email out of the box and some sort of a calendar upgrade.

  9. I went through 3 generations of Treos (600, 650, 700P) before switching over the Blackberry Pearl permanently this winter. I agree its calendar isn’t the best, but it does the job for me. Funny you talk about categories on Palm because I never really used them there, but I use them EXTENSIVELY on the BBP. Specifically, based on the David Allen’s GTD strategy of creating “contexts” to do certain tasks. The BBP’s ability to categorize tasks within multiple categories (vs just one for Palm) has given me the flexibility to create tasks I can filter through later by context and also view within the BB calendar via setting due dates and reminders.

    BBP doesn’t have quite the battery life as the Treos, but it’s 1/2 the size, 2x as fast online, and doesn’t lock up on me nearly as much as Palm.

    Miss the massive Palm SW library, but couldn’t consider going back until Palm gets smaller, faster, and more stable.

    – C

  10. I’ll have to check out the category functionality you mentioned.

    The Palm is certainly getting smaller (Centro) but I’m not so sure about stability. Having an open OS with a ton of 3rd party apps will compromise stability to a certain extent but I share your frustration with my old Treo just plain locking up for no apparent reason.

    I will be interested to see what RIM does when iPhones start hitting enterprise application later this year.

  11. I’ve just switched from a Treo 650 to a BB8830 (both for work). One thing I can’t figure out … on the Treo there was the little “house” button that would, no matter where I was, take me directly to the home screen. Is there a way to do that on the BB? Some kind of keystroke or shortcut or button that goes directly to the home screen without having to hit the “back” button a thousand times?

  12. Treos when added to a Goodlink server has a topshelf advantage. On a business point of view, management to overall email functions, folders, calendars, tasks, etc are automatically sync’d to your exchange server.
    BB8830 do not have business tools to support your needs as far as organization. It’s a tale of search and fustration while the inbox has a cluttered feel to it.

    Personal use: The Treo Palm O/S has a ton of downloadables for free and without restrictions. Freeware/Shareware can easily be found in Forums there are great and an guide a simple minded person to a vast array of knowledge.
    BB8830, no reason to use for personal use. Games you have to pay for. Why do it?

    Treo… hands down, son!

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  14. The best feature of the 8830 is the automated switching between networks. It’s hard to imagine a casual user being able to figure that our without having to find the manual for an explaination.

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