I recently did a very geeky post about the Treo650 and all the apps you can put on it. I’m gonna swing back the other way and do an ungeeky post this time. I recently became the proud new owner of a Nokia 6680, and I’ve decided to do a head to head comparison of the two units. But instead of doing a really deep dive into the details, I’m just gonna skim and try to provide tips for those of you thinking something along the lines of “I want a spankin new high tech phone, but I’m not quite sure which one to get”. Russ provided his overview of the 6680 and the apps he runs. I’m just gonna talk about the plain out of the box systems. First, of course, we need a bit of the basic info. Each of the photos below links to a much much larger version if you want to check out some of the details. Much larger, you’ve been warned.
The two devices are about the same size. The 650 is a bit larger in terms of height and width, but definitely thicker. The real clincher is the external antenna on the 650. If you lopped off the antenna on the 650 I would be comfortable saying the devices are about the same size and leave it at that. With the antenna I have to say that the 650 is the larger device. And the 6680 definitely weighs much less than the 650. I’m normally not all that weight sensitive, but the difference was obvious. Of course the screen on the 650 is much larger, so it’s not like that weight is just extra fat.
Lets start out with the basic interface. Major differences are the touchscreen and PC style keyboard on the 650. The Treo derives from the Palm line of PDAs, so it has a stylus. That’s the little fake pen that you use to tap on things on the screen to get things done. Some people love it, some people start foaming at the mouth and spouting obscenities when you talk about pen based interfaces. So depending on which camp you fall into that could be a mark for or against the Treo, I leave that up to you to decide. One additional point I will make is that the Treo really requires a screen protector if you’re going to be keeping it around for a while. This has been an issue with all the PDAs down since the beginning of time, if you don’t want to scratch up the glass of your screen you really need to use one. And the protector detracts from the visual clarity of the screen. The 6680 doesn’t have a touch screen, so they can put nice hard plastic over the screen and you don’t have to worry about it. I’ve been using the screen protector that came in the box with my Treo and it has worked out well, I don’t really mind the bit of blurring caused by the extra layer of plastic. Then there’s the keyboard. I think it’s quite well done on the Treo actually. I expected the keyboard to be very cramped and difficult to use, but it hasn’t been. I suspect if you had fingers too much larger than my own it would start to get difficult. However the shape of the keys and the way that they’re rounded makes for pretty easy typing. There’s also the resolution of the screen itself, the Treo really blows away the 6680 here. I actually use the PIM features in my phones, the calendar in particular. Unfortunately I have way more to do than my tiny little brain can keep track of, so I let my devices do that for me. Although the screen seems somewhat equivalent when navigating the home screens on the different devices, that’s just because the design of the icons and the screen is much better on the Nokia. Taking a look at something like the calendar really shows how much more you can get on the Treo screen:
The Treo can display the whole calendar and even show approximately what time during the days I have appointments when in month view. The 6680 can show me which days have appointments by marking the corner of the day. Also, I apparently can’t sync the 6680 with my Mac. Perhaps not even with addon software. To be fair, I had to get addon software to sync the Treo, so I need to do some looking around to find what I can do with the 6680. Maybe I can weasel the Treo version of the Funambol conduits out of someone, cause the 6680 does work with that. My poor poor data. I’m told it wants to be free, but every device I have seems to be bent on information subjugation.
Next up is the web browser. Wow. I guess I didn’t really appreciate how primitive the Nokia browser seems compared to Blazer until I had both devices in front of me. Part of it derives from the screen resolution I’m sure, there’s a ridiculously small amount of text on the 6680 screen compared to the Treo. But the reformatting of pages in general to fit the screen also seems to work better on the Treo. My standard test is using Bloglines mobile to check on some feeds. The Nokia browser gets all thrown off by elements that it’s not able to render down into the right size. Say you have a forms table that it can’t shrink enough, the entire post wraps to the width of that table, and you end up scrolling side to side in order to view anything. Blazer deals with that no problem, leaving the table larger than it wants to, but wrapping the post at the right length. It’ll even only show the horizontal scrollbar when the oversize table is onscreen. Not too shabby.
There are a zillion things to talk about still, but I have to go to sleep soon so I can head off to the day job tomorrow. So I’m just gonna leave you with some shots from the cameras. I expected the 6680 to really shine here. It has two cameras, one VGA resolution and the other 1.3 megapixels. The 6680 has a flash as well. The Treo has just a VGA resolution camera and no flash. Here are the images as a set:
- 6680 VGA resolution camera
- 6680 1.3 megapixel no flash
- 6680 1.3 megapixel with flash
- Treo 650 VGA camera
These are all indoor pics, so it is biased. But for the indoor set I think the Treo did fantastic. The details of the images come through better, although the color is definitely washed out. And the size is much better on the Treo. The VGA image from the Treo is 88k, while the VGA image from the 6680 is 176k. Ouch. Moving that much data around, no wonder the Nokia folks had to invent another memory card format to conserve battery power ;-) To be really fair though, I’ll have to snap some outdoor pics as well and see how they compare. Hopefully I can get those up soon.
I was expecting this race to be neck and neck. I’m really liking the multithreaded core of Symbian and the button driven interface. But you only get one chance to make a first impression. And I think the first impression is that the Treo is going to spend a lot more time in my pocket. Maybe I’ll get pissed of it crashing on me all the time (it does) and turning off the phone for no particular reason (something else it does) or the terrible battery life it gets (about 20% battery charge remaining after a day of moderate use). That could certainly drive me back to the 6680 and see what I can get working there. But I’m not sure I’m ready to drop all the coin necessary to fully trick out the thing. A lot of the aps on that list top $20. 5 apps and I’ve spent another hundred dollars. Ouch. Maybe a crash every now and again isn’t that bad by comparison.