Tech Market WatchBy Perry Wu
In the last three months, four people have phoned me to ask about how to get their Palm Treo mobile phones fixed in China. I've owned a variety of Palm and Handspring applications over the last 6 years, and rarely have I had major problems.

But many users around the world, and in China, have had multiple problems with their Palm Treo phones. If you talk to Nokia, Ericsson, or Motorola users, rarely will you find a user who has had a hardware or software problem on their phone. But for Palm users, it seems only Microsoft has more angry users in the technology sector.

I'm not a Palm expert, nor am I in their paid stable of consultants. In fact, I plan to write a book one day about all the technology hijinks I've seen in China, and you can bet one chapter will be devoted to Palm in China–I have lots of saved emails between myself and their marketing and customer service people that would make investors quiver.

That being said, I do have a few voodoo tricks for maintaining the durability of your Palm product (most likely now either the Treo 650 or Treo 700). I call it voodoo because it seems these four tips are not documented anywhere and instead are derived from the vibes (not the vibrate mode) I get from my phone.

Tip #1: Don't use the stylus.

Your phone is like a human being. The more you aggravate it, the more likely it is to shutdown on you. I "feel" that using the stylus causes too much unnecessary interaction between the phone and the software. And if you touch too many things at once, the phone will freeze. Instead, use the nifty toggle button under the screen. This way you can free the phone from too much stimulus and let it concentrate on its key [sic] functions.

Tip #2: Keep your battery over 50%.

If you used the Treo 600, you know that the embedded battery was your one shot at keeping your phone juiced. It was not removable, so you had to treat it with care. Unbelievably, very few of the people I know read the Treo 600 manual that said you SHOULD keep the battery topped up at all times. This is counter-intuitive because we are often told that we should constantly drain our batteries and fully recharge them to ensure longer lives. No, the Treo 600 clearly said in its manual that you should constantly keep it topped up. I followed this rule and was able to let my Treo 600 live for over three years–a centenarian by Treo years.

But what about the Treo 650 and 700? Well, they have removable batteries and the Palm manual says that it's ok to drain and fully recharge your battery. However, again I "feel" that the best thing to do is to keep your battery with at least 50% power at all times. Why? Because when the battery gets low, it can start to affect the other software, and it's possible for bad things to happen. Again, I'm no expert, but I have faithfully followed these rules and have yet to have a Treo nightmare.

In order to keep your battery up, I suggest buying some spare batteries and multiple rechargers. I own two batteries and four rechargers. I keep one recharger next to my bed, one at my desk in the office, one in my suitcase for when I travel, and one in my briefcase as a backup. You can never be too prepared.

Tip #3: Use a phone jacket.

Treo mobile phones are slippery. If you have slightly sweaty palms or keep your phone on a dirty table, your phone can easily be affected from the pollution around it. Keep your phone safe with some sort of full-body prophylactic.

I often go to the gym during lunchtime, so while I'm on the treadmill people will call me. Picking up the phone with my sweaty hands and putting it to my sweaty ears can also cause erosion of the phone. What do I do? I use a Bluetooth headset with my Treo in the gym so my hands don't even get near my phone.

Tip #4: Different pockets have different moisture levels.

If putting the Treo in your pocket, make sure the screen is facing away from your body. It's bulky enough, but if you are wearing jeans and want to put the phone in your front pants pocket, you should definitely not point the screen against your skin. If you do, you'll see condensation on the screen–I'm a cold-blooded fellow and even I can cloud my screen.

Also, the Treo manual tells you to be careful about putting your Treo near credit cards or keys because the Treo has some high-powered magnets. When I wear a suit, I always devote my inside right jacket pocket to my Treo (the left pocket is too close to the heart and I don't want radio waves affected my blood flow).

Fixing It In China

In the last year, Palm has launched official services with CECT to market and support Palm products in China. If you really have a bad problem, call CECT at 800-820-0835 and they do have both English and Chinese helpdesks. I have not heard any good reviews of their customer service and the emails I have sent on behalf of other users don't inspire me either.

Few people use Blackberry in China. Only recently did it arrive, and even now I know of nobody who uses one. Palm was here first, and has been able to grab the early adopters.

Pre-Treo, I was an avid Nokia user. My Nokia never broke. Now Nokia is starting to unveil new smartphones with QWERTY keyboards, and with all the delicate, ridiculous hassles of maintaining my Treo, I look forward to the day when Nokia sits again in my pocket, screen facing out.

About the author:
Perry Wu is a writer and correspondent for and can be reached here at the site. Perry Wu does not hold any positions, long or short, on any of the Chinese or American company securities mentioned in this article.


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