Handspring Treo Communicator 180
Kyocera Smartphone QCP-6035
A pair of combo PDA/cell phones make it north of the border
Treo Communicator 180

Smartphone QCP-6035
It's a cruel fact that the same people who are busy enough to make heavy use of their cell phones are also likely to have a PDA they consider indispensable -- and quickly discover that carrying two devices that are individually very compact and convenient is in fact awkward and frustrating. Now that Palm-based PDA/cell phone combos are trickling in to Canada (other models by Handspring and Kyocera with colour screens, for instance, have yet to appear up here), some of their prayers are being answered.

The dual-band, single-mode GSM/GPRS Treo Communicator is wonderfully compact, with a screen about the size of one of the smaller Palms -- minus the Graffiti handwriting-recognition area. (The space-saving aesthetic carries over into Treo's cradle: It doesn't have one. Charging and synchronizing is accomplished through a simple USB connection.) The Blackberry-like thumb keyboard is easy to get used to, but having to switch between it and the stylus is a little troublesome -- that is, unless you dial straight from the Address application, in which case you don't need to go anywhere near the keyboard.

In contrast, the larger, tri-mode digital PCS Kyocera Smartphone lets you use it as a phone without ever activating the Palm OS; leaving the protective cover (which looks like a flip-out mouthpiece) on allows you to use the buttons on the exterior and speak normally. Even though you can access all of your phone numbers without the Palm, it's as tedious to search through them as on any cell phone. Open the cover, and you've got a full-size Palm handheld, complete with Graffiti area. Unlike the Treo, you can't dial directly from the Address app, but you can set up a speed-dial list with little trouble.

Otherwise, both handhelds have similar features. Both include wireless Web-browsing software, a vibrating alert, and a hands-free option (though the Treo includes the earphone and mic). The 16 MB Treo has SMS, while the 8 MB Smartphone has a wireless fax.

One tip: both phones include full-screen dialers that practically beg for fingerprint smudges on their screens. Throw in a few clear protective screen covers and whoever receives one of these as a gift -- even if it's you -- will thank you later.

Originally appeared in The Computer Paper (December 2002)
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