January 29, 2004 14:03 | Technology

More camphone info

I'm somewhat frustrated in my search for a mobile phone that will satisfy me. I've narrowed it dow to the Nokia 6600, Sony Ercisson P900 and Handspring Treo 600.

Whichever one I end up getting (if!), I will have to compromise on one of the features that are key to me:
1- a good camera
2- Bluetooth
3- text input method

The P900 was my top choice. Somehow I prefer handwriting recognition over keypads. The Nokia 6600 is the worst in this category since it has only the numeric keypad. The Treo 600 has a full, albeit it tiny, QWERTY keyboard.

The P900 and the 6600 use Symbian 7 which is totally syncable with Mac OS X via Bluetooth. The Treo runs PalmOS and so far I've seen no indication of good support of Mac OS, nevermind Bluetooth (it don't have it).

Now I find out the killer. The P900 and the 6600's cameras actually take pictures at 320x240 then upsample them to 640x480. In the 6600's case this causes color distortion, artifacts and blur. In the P900's case it's worse! You get all that AND very noticeable hatching effects. Total crap.

The Treo takes beautiful pictures. But it is useless to me because of the lack of Bluetooth/Mac support... and Palm OS leaves me cold. At least Symbian does IM and IRC etc...

Sigh. So no Treo. 6600's input (numeric keypad) is a pain.. and the P900's horrid picture quality makes me shudder.

So I ask again: why can't these people get it right?


I think the Treo's pictures are the best out of this bunch, but you should maybe go with the Sony for the synch issues.

Or go totally old-skool and by a Polaroid camera and take it everywhere... shake it! shake it! like a Polaroid picture!

At least it will be cool for as long as people still love "Hey Ya"

Hehehee... :)

I've shaken one too many times to that song already... ;)

I would think again about the Treo 600. I have had no problems synching my 270 with OS X, and it synchs well with any of Entourage, Palm Desktop, or Address Book/iCal/etc. As well, it's trivial to install a program that will do handwriting recognition for its Palm OS notwithstanding the keyboard. You use whichever is most convenient at the time. Don't forget as well that though the kybd is tiny, the 180/270s were very very usable (this is why the Palm Tungsten leaves me cold - it's terrible). I can't imagine they've gone backwards in that respect. The big question is price with that model, and jumping through the hoops you need to jump through to get one here. (Unless you know something I don't)

The treo 600 is a swiss army knife of gadgets. Its biggest compromise is the camera. So if you need a good qual camera then this is not your device. But the rest just rocks - I have Sprint's all you can eat Vision data service and I have now pretty much stopped opening up my laptop for e-mail, web browsing, blog reading and posting.

Isn't it amazing that we have these things at all? I mean, our grandparents would never have imagined that we'd be having nitpicky discussions about the merits of pocket-size devices that can take pictures, receive video, let you talk to anyone from anywhere, and browse the Web (The effing Web!)

But on topic, In reality, what you want is a pocket-sized iBook running OS X with an iSight built-in, Ink handwriting or voice interface, GSM/GPRS/WIFI/IP telephony...

I don't know from synchin' with Macs, but I should warn you to not judge the cameras by those three photos alone.

I don't know if those are your only sources or if they're just the ones you're using as examples. But in the first case, the photo was taken at night in spotty lighting conditions, which will cause "color distortion, artifacts and blur" with almost any low-end digital camera (or even a film one).

The photo of the Porche is awful as a 640x480, but when you consider it's an upsample from what is essentially a cheapo Web cam, it's not so bad.

The banana picture is lovely, but keep in mind that it appears to be a professionally-made image using bright colors and graphic elements -- which look good no matter how crappy the camera.

...which begs the question of "what do you want the phone-cam for?"

Don't expect to use *any* phone-cam for sharp and beautifully composed photography. They're all cheapos, with very little control over exposure, white balance, or anything else. Plus, the lenses are tiny and unprotected, which means they will always be dusty and often smeared or foggy.

In other words, a phone-cam is good for photographic stuff from a purely practical point of view. For example, you see a poster of an event you want to attend, and instead of writing down the info, you take a picture of the poster; or you see a car for sale that you think your friend might be interested in so you take a couple of snaps, including one of the sign with the phone number; or you want to show your girlfriend that you really are at Times Square and not hiding out in a cabin in Vermont, etc.)

Alternatively, you use the camera's shortcomings to its advantage by making blurry and ethereal "artsy" pictures, sort of a "Lomo effect."

But don't expect the quality and versatility you get from a full-on digital camera. That's like expecting a pocket MP3 player to replace your home sound system.

Thanks everyone! :)

Michael: Hrm. But no Bluetooth. And Bluetooth expansion modules apparently aren't supported. Why must they cripple their product so? As for getting it, expansys.ca sez 60 days for unlocked ones. :)

Blork: wow thanks for your in-depth comments. All I can say is "I am not a photographer". I.e.: it's not about super control or anything... All I want is clear pictures. Not blurry/bad. (The pictures I linked were just examples.. there are many out there.. Thanks for pointing out the inherent weakness in those I did link.. makes sense... ;)

There are many reasons I want one of these 3 phones. The herewith mentioned "issues" are merely that: the "issues" with some of the sideline functionalities of the phones under consideration. The quality of the camera, the ease of synch... Other than that they fulfill the trully important needs of mine which can be summed up with "Always on, never alone" (Contact Mngt, Availability Mngt, Instant Messaging (not SMS).

Again, thanks gang. :)

I have read that Rogers will have the 600 out in mid-February to mid-March, BTW.

About the bluetooth thing - I never really thought about it because I don't use it at all. I don't have a problem with using USB cables. After all, the device has to plug into something anyhow, which means cables are in the mix anyhow.

Honestly, I don't really get the significance of bluetooth at this point. Theoretically yes, but practically?

Cool, though it'll be locked.

re: bluetooth. I don't mind plugging the thing in for power every few days. I do mind plugging it in for sync duties.

Filetransfers, syncs, etc etc... I don't understand your question Michael? Wireless is here and it is soo much more practical. No fumbling with wires, plugging and unplugging, knots and tangles... The single most annoying part of owning all these gizmos is, bloody hell, having to pull out the goddamned cables everytime I want to do something...

Funny, the argument is usually reversed... people don't understand theoretically how wireless technology can make their lives X amount better.. until they try it, practically.

For sure I get that, but when I plug my 270 in it is also hooked up to sync. I don't have any trouble with wires to sync than I do to recharge batteries. At work I just sync through the IR port on my laptop.

So I agree that Bluetooth would be preferable, but it's among my lowest priorites at this point.

Maybe I just have to use it though!

Stay away from the treo 600! no bluetooth, no sdio bluetooth either, crap camera, crap connection, weighs a ton, has exterior antenna, crashed repeatedly (luckily hotsynced) etc etc. Only thing good about it is how fast that tiny keyboard goes once you realise you're not gonna hit the wrong key by mistake. Got the 6600 now, but can't recommend that either, clunky OS, no chat-style texting, not too much freeware around, boring in general, but at least it's an ok fit in your pocket, pretty light too.